Rio 2016: ′King Kohei′ defends all-round gymnastics crown to clinch third gold | The 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang | DW | 11.08.2016
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Olympics

Rio 2016: 'King Kohei' defends all-round gymnastics crown to clinch third gold

The gymnast known as 'King Kohei' becomes the first man to successfully defend his title since countryman Sawao Kato in 1972. The 27-year-old snatched the title after a thrilling battle with Ukraine's Oleg Verniaiev.

Gymnastics superstar Kohei Uchimura landed his third Olympic gold on Wednesday as he defended his all-around crown, but the Japanese superstar was forced to come through his toughest test in a decade.

Two days after winning a first team title with Japan, the 27-year-old snatched the title with a daring routine on the horizontal bars, eclipsing Ukraine's Oleg Verniaiev by just 0.097. Britain's Max Whitlock won bronze in the Rio Olympic Arena.

Uchimura had trailed his rival Verniaiev for the final four of six rotations but pulled out a spectacular horizontal bar routine to seal his seventh Olympic medal since Beijing 2008.

The gymnast known as 'King Kohei' becomes the first man to successfully defend his title since countryman Sawao Kato in 1972, and Uchimura also equals Kato's record of three Olympic medals in men's all-around.

Japan also join the Soviet Union on a record six Olympic titles in the event.

Rio Momente 10 08 Gymnastik Kohei Uchimura Japan

Uchimura snatched the title after a thrilling battle with Ukraine's Oleg Verniaiev.

Whitlock, a two-time world all-around medallist, gave Britain a first Olympic men's all-around medal since Walter Tysal's silver in 1908.

Competing in the same group as Uchimura, the Ukrainian challenger to Uchimura's title led Saturday's qualifiers and pulled ahead on the rings with a 0.467 advantage on the Japanese at the half-way point.

Uchimura nailed his vault despite a small hop back on landing, scoring a highest 15.566 of the night.

A massive 16.1 by Verniaiev on parallel bars threw down the challenge to Uchimura, who replied with a 15.600.

Going into the final horizontal bar rotation -- off which Uchimura had tumbled in qualifiers -- just 0.901 separated the pair.

And showing nerves of steel Uchimura drew gasps from the crowd at every soaring acrobatic twist of his daredevil routine.

He stuck a perfect landing to score 15.8 with Verniaiev delivering a less spectacular show on the apparatus losing out with 14.800.

Uchimura has now been unbeaten in the all-around since his silver at the 2008 Beijing Games -- with seven Olympic titles to go along with his 19 in world championships - including ten world golds.