BEIRUT

Olympics

High-flying Zonderland soars to high bar gold

LONDON: Epke Zonderland of the Netherlands produced a spectacular horizontal high bar routine to claim Olympic gold in the men's final and earn a standing ovation at the North Greenwich Arena on Tuesday.

Zonderland's display gave him a huge score of 16.533, to leave Germany's Fabian Hambuchen with the silver medal and defending champion Zou Kai of China with bronze.

The Dutchman's routine contained a sequence of three consecutive releases -- a Cassina, a Kovacs and a Kolman -- that brought the crowd to their feet and earned him congratulatory embraces from both Zou and Hambuchen.

It made him the Netherlands' first Olympic gymnastics gold medalist since the Dutch women's team prevailed in the team event on home soil in 1928.

A high-quality final saw China's Zhang Chenglong set the early pace with a score of 16.266, less than two hours after he came off the apparatus in the parallel bars final.

Zou was bidding to retain his title from Beijing four years ago and claim his sixth Olympic gold medal, and he replaced Zhang at the top of the scoreboard with a routine that gave him a mark of 16.366.

Hambuchen, who took bronze in Beijing, went even better, delighting the arena with a high-octane routine and punching the air with his fist after a perfect dismount.

The German's score of 16.400 looked good enough for gold, but 26-year-old Zonderland outstripped all of his rivals with a gravity-defying display of agility that ended his country's 84-year wait for Olympic gymnastics gold.

 

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