Russia Wins Its First Men's Team Gold At World Championships

The men’s team final at the 2019 World Championships caused a ton of excitement as the top eight teams came together and battled it out for the title. Here are the top three headlines from this competition, which was close all the way to the finish. 

Russian men win first World Champs gold

The Russian men’s artistic gymnastics team has never won a team gold at World Championships, despite being close multiple times. Since the mid-1990s China has dominated the men’s competition, but today, Russia gave the better performance. 

After the fourth rotation, China overtook Japan, which had been leading, and Russia slid into third. And even after the fifth rotation China was still ahead, leaving Russia trailing behind by a whole 1.394 points. In the last rotation, China’s Sun Wei fell on his layout Tkatchev. This low score, a 12.766, gave Russia the gap it needed to take first. 

Russia’s Nikita Nagornyy was solid all day long and ensured Russia the win after his incredible high bar routine anchored the team. He needed a 13.470, and won with a 14.466, giving Russia the win by 0.997. “I felt confident. I was feeling a calmness. I was just enjoying the moment I was going to compete on the bar. Because it's a level of responsibility that you can not feel anywhere outside the sports arena,” Nagornyy said about his mental state going into his high bar performance. 

Russia’s final score was 261.726 to China’s 260.729. Japan came in third, scoring a 258.159. 

Artur Dalaloyan shared that it was Russia’s loss last year at worlds that spurred his team’s determination to win this year.

The U.S. men step it up in team finals

After a seventh-place finish in qualifications, the U.S. men greatly improved during their team final performance, ending in fourth place. Although they still missed a podium finish, this was huge for them compared to their performance from Monday. 

Two-time Olympian Sam Mikulak had a lot to do with that, as he fell four times in qualifications, but scored an 86.931 all-around in the team final, anchoring every event except rings. Mikulak scored a huge 15.200 on parallel bars, and a 14.666 on floor. 

Had Mikulak scored the all-around he did today in qualifications, he would have taken second place behind Russia’s Nikita Nagornyy, rather than tying for 24th. His barely-qualifying 24th place gained him a spot in the all-around final Friday, where we will have to wait to see which version of Mikulak shows up to compete. 

The U.S. men had the third-best team scores on both floor and parallel bars, but only fifth-best on still rings and vault, as well as sixth-best on pommel horse, dragging down their average.

Mikulak told the Olympic Channel that the team’s complete turn-around in performance was due to moving on from their failures and focusing on the task ahead. “We just said forget about it. We know that that's not us. Not at all ... we have millions of great turns behind us that we all know we can do. Let's go out and do that, and that's all we really had to do is just flip the switch and really come together.” 

As a team, the United States went from a 250.359 in qualifications to a 254.578 during the team final, a 4.219 point difference. 

First Fujitsu Infinity Awards are given

The first Fujitsu Infinity Awards were also assigned today, given to the men’s and women’s teams that competed the highest difficulty at this World Championships. 

China’s men’s team and the U.S. women’s team were the first recipients of this award. Xiao Ruoteng China shared his thoughts on winning the award, and what it means for his team in future competitions. “It means we have the ability to win and we are the strongest team. I am happy about it.”

This award comes right after FIG’s decision to value Biles’ new beam dismount at only an H, on the grounds that awarding it higher value might endanger gymnasts who try to attempt the skill to gain extra point value. This award gained extra attention and discussion due to this recent value decision.

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