Kohei Uchimura takes men's all-around
ROTTERDAM, Netherlands -- Kohei Uchimura of Japan overcame searing shoulder pain to retain his all-around title Friday, and 16-year old Aliya Mustafina of Russia won the women's event for her second gold medal at the world gymnastics championships.
Uchimura gave a command performance with six consistently good scores to win the title with 92.331 points for a huge 2.283 margin over Philipp Boy of Germany. Jonathan Horton of the United States won the bronze, 2.467 behind, and was awed by Uchimura's prowess.
"A bum shoulder, no shoulder, no arms," Horton said. "The guy is ridiculous. Uchimura -- he is a machine."
Uchimura displayed the same grace that gave him all-around silver at the Beijing Olympics and gold at the world championships in London last year. This time, pain and injury proved no deterrent in the competition that crowns the world's greatest gymnast.
"It is the adrenaline," he said through a translator.
Mustafina won with aplomb after leading Russia to the team title earlier in the week. She finished with 61.023 points, beating China's Jiang Yuyan by 1.034. American Rebecca Bross took the bronze with 58.966.
Applauding her rivals and dismissing the pressure with one star performance after another, Mustafina was oblivious to the tension.
"No pressure," she said in comments as simple as her performance was complex.
She will go for four more medals in the apparatus finals this weekend. The teenager could end up with six golds, a prospect that doesn't appear to daunt her.
"Normal, like always," she said.
This was hardly a normal day for Russia, which had not won a medal in the last world championships or Olympics. It now leads with two golds, courtesy of Mustafina.
After winning gold and silver at the last world championships and Olympics, it was a disappointing night for American Rebecca Bross, last year's runner-up, fell off the beam and Alexandra Reisman did likewise on the uneven bar.
"I tried my hardest to stay on, but it didn't work out too well," said Bross, who was able to laugh about it after recovering to win the bronze with a good floor exercise.
"Obviously, I am a bit disappointed," she said. "Not because it is a bronze medal but because I had a mistake."
Mustafina wowed the crowds all week with a rare combination of power, elevation and elegance. She combined all her talents in the floor exercise to wrap up her first major individual title.
She led from start to finish, topping her rivals in the opening vault before extending her lead on the uneven bars. She went first on the beam and nailed all of her jumps.
Uchimura has already led Japan to the team silver medal behind China on Thursday. He has also qualified for two apparatus finals this weekend.
"The first thing I want now is rest," he said after 11 apparatus performances in just over 24 hours.
Even after Friday's stunning performance, Uchimura did little more than wave and smile at the rapturous crowd of 7,000 at the Ahoy Arena, where Japanese flags were flying.
He came to Rotterdam with an inflamed shoulder and said the pain was getting worse. Still, once he focused on the competition, there was no room for distraction.
In Uchimura's shadow, Boy assumed the role of the absent Fabian Hambuechen to earn a surprise silver medal with clean routines. Horton was strong for most of the night but a few steps on his landing in the vault may have cost him the silver.
"It is 100 percent a dream," Boy said. "After the team bronze [with Germany] on Thursday. Now the silver ... It is absolute madness."
Uchimura dominated from the opening floor event, flying higher and landing steadier and softer than anybody else to open up a huge half-point margin.
If he were to show some weakness, it would be on the third event, the rings. Team officials added more skin-colored tape to his left shoulder, knowing this event would test him the most.
"I felt some tightness after the horse and they took care of that," he said.
He carried on with another nearly flawless display, swinging freely before hanging dead-still in a skip of a beat. When he nailed his landing, he had again increased his lead in the top group. Horton, however, had the best ring marks.
At the halfway point, Uchimura had made the competition his to lose. At 21, he was the youngest of the top performers.
He lined up his vault like a shooter looking for his aim and executed with the precision and height that have become his trademarks. By that time, the race for gold was as good as over.