Warrior spirit drives China's Xiao into title defence
DOHA: After flubbing twice in Monday’s team final, defending champion Xiao Ruoteng of China will have to deploy more than a warrior’s credo to retain his crown in the men’s All-around final at Aspire Dome on Wednesday.
“I need to do my best and fight to the end,” said the 22-year-old Xiao, who outscored second-ranked Nikita Nagornyy of the Russian Federation by 0.234 points to lead qualifications.
Xiao enters the final as a favourite for gold, but to remain on top he will need to avoid mistakes such as the two he committed Monday, when China barely bettered the Russian Federation for team gold.
The All-around final will offer Nagornyy another confrontation with Xiao, after whom he directly and dramatically competed on horizontal bar in the closing moments of the team final.
While Nagornyy’s last-ditch effort was not enough to help his team knock China off the top step of the podium, the self-assured Russian rates himself a direct match for his Chinese rival.
“(Xiao) is a very strong gymnast, but I think I have a lot of qualities to compete with him as an equal,” Nagornyy said.
Sam Mikulak of the USA, who qualified third to the final, is employing a tried-and true maxim in his quest for his first world all-around medal.
“This is the most comfortable that I have ever been on this grand of a stage,” said the genial 26-year-old. “I stick to what I have been doing.”