Russia & Chinese Taipei Lead The Headlines For Men's Day One At Worlds

The men's competition has officially started in Stuttgart for the 2019 Artistic Gymnastics World Championships. Although the men have competed only one day so far, it has already been an eventful meet.

Chinese Taipei stuns with fantastic team score

Despite not even qualifying to team finals at last year's world championships in Doha, Chinese Taipei has greatly improved.

The Taiwanese men currently sit in second in team qualifications behind Russia with a score of 250.093, which would have been good enough to qualify to team finals last year in fifth. Today's qualifications score is nearly 12 points higher than their team score from Doha. They earned an event total of 41.000 or higher on every event with their highest being a 42.849 on vault.

Chinese Taipei is aiming to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics next year. The nation hasn't qualified to the Olympics in artistic gymnastics since 1964, when the Olympics were coincidentally hosted in Tokyo.

"I think a 250 [team score] will get us into the Tokyo Olympics," head coach Sadao Hamada said. "That was my whole plan. I calculated everything. We started with basics. Then they started improving and finally, today was harvest day."

Lee Chih Kai delivered an outstanding performance for his team, contributing on all six events. He currently sits in third in the all-around standings with a score of 84.481.

Russian men already dominating after Day One

The reigning silver team medalist are starting off on a very strong note with the top score on every event, leading to a top team standing after Day One. Led by 2018 all-around medalists Artur Dalaloyan and Nikita Nagornyy, the Russians have a score of 42.000+ on every apparatus, including a huge 44.399 on vault.

"I am happy with the team's result," David Belyavskiy said. "We did everything very well today."

Nagornyy and Dalaloyan are also leading the men's all-around standings halfway through qualifications with scores of 87.333 and 86.532, respectively. 

No luck needed on pommel horse for Ireland's Rhys McCleneghan

Specialist Rhys McCleneghan wowed on his signature event today to earn the highest score on pommel horse on the first day of qualifications with a a big 15.200. McCleneghan also had the highest execution score with a 8.900. 

"It was great," McCleneghan said of qualifications. "I was so happy with how it went. I can not really ask for more. Hopefully I'm getting to the finals and potentially get my Olympic spot." 

The Irishman is the 2019 European and Commonwealth Games pommel horse champion. Tokyo 2020 would be his first Olympic Games.

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