Three defending champions among favourites on first day of men’s apparatus finals
DOHA: Three already-impressive gold-medal tallies could be boosted as Japan’s Kenzo Shirai, Great Britain’s Max Whitlock and Greece’s Eleftherios Petrounias try to defend their titles on the first day of men’s apparatus finals at Aspire Dome on Friday.
All-around champion Artur Dalaloyan of Russia tumbles into the floor exercise final as the top qualifier, although he and Shirai shared the same score in qualifications.
Dalaloyan’s higher execution executive broke the tie in his favour, but he will need to perform flawlessly to block Shirai, already legendary for his riskier twisting skills, from his fourth world floor title.
Whitlock’s whopping 7.0 difficulty score in Monday’s team final, to which he referred as “my big routine,” could make all the difference as he bids for his third consecutive pommel horse gold.
Working with a 6.7 difficulty score in qualifications, Whitlock still led second-ranked Xiao Ruoteng of China by 0.333 points. He said he is better enlightened for success here by less fortunate outings, such as his seventh-place finish at the European Championships in August.
“Mistakes have happened in previous competitions, but I reflected loads after those,” he said. “They taught me so much on how to move forward and make a clearer pathway.”
On rings, Eleftherios Petrounias of Greece is chasing his third consecutive win. He outmuscled the field in qualifications to qualify first to the final, despite looming shoulder surgery on November 5.
Petrounias, the 2016 Olympic rings champion, will perform only his second full routine in recent months in the final. After qualifications he said that, despite shoulder pain that is “sharp, like a knife,” he is familiar and comfortable enough for the challenge.
“I have done tons of this routine in my life,” Petrounias said. “I have worked very much — not full routines but so many weights, so many strength elements — so I knew that if I used my experience I could handle a full routine.”