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Five new champions as Montreal Worlds draw to a close

Publication date : 09/10/2017

Before the curtain came down on the Montreal Worlds Sunday, the second day of apparatus finals saw four new World champions emerge for the first time: Pauline Schaefer (GER) on Balance Beam, Zou Jingyuan (CHN) on Parallel Bars, Mai Murakami (JPN) on Floor and Tin Srbic (CRO) on Horizontal Bar. Kenzo Shirai (JPN), the first-time gold medallist on Vault, was “the man” of these Worlds with his three medals, two of them gold.

Shirai by a hair on Vault

The last-minute withdrawal of 2012 Olympic Vault champion Yang Hak-seon (KOR) added an ingredient of suspense to the final, where Japan’s Kenzo Shirai claimed his second World title of these championships, his fifth overall. With two clean vaults, both highlighting his extraordinary twisting ability, Shirai won his first World Vault title by a mere one thousandth of a point, the smallest margin possible in the sport.

With a flawless first vault, Ukraine’s Igor Radivilov put himself in contention for gold, but a large step on the landing of his second left him holding silver. In Yang’s absence, Kim Hansol stepped up to make sure Korea had a presence on the podium, his performance depriving four-time World champion Marian Dragulescu of a new medal by 0.05.

The men's Vault podium

Schaefer takes the crown on Beam

With the reigning World champion on Beam Simone Biles of the USA absent in Montreal and Olympic champion Sanne Wevers of the Netherlands not advancing out of the qualification round, the Beam title was up for grabs. In the final, Germany’s Pauline Schaefer, the bronze medallist from the 2015 World Championships, put on a show with the original skill named for her and elegant execution to grab gold. Her countrywoman Tabea Alt, the top qualifier, took bronze. Between the two stood American Morgan Hurd, adding Beam silver to the All-around gold she won Friday night.

The Balance Beam podium

Zou dominates competition on Parallel Bars

The first performer to take to the Parallel Bars Sunday, China’s young Zou Jingyuan set the bar very high both in terms of difficulty and execution. Only Ukraine’s Oleg Verniaiev, the 2016 Olympic champion on the event, was able to rival Zou’s flawless routine. The 2016 Olympic All-around silver medallist, frustrated in his efforts to medal up to that point, produced his most polished exercise of the week, salvaging his Worlds with a silver medal and continuing his run of appearances on all major Parallel Bars podiums since 2014. Unlucky in Thursday’s all around, Russia’s David Belyavskiy won the battle for the bronze behind the two leaders, pocketing his second medal after silver on Pommel Horse.

The Parallel Bars podium

On Floor, Murakami finally gets her gold

While the Japanese men have banked numerous gold medals throughout the years, the archipelago has only produced one female World champion in Keiko Tanaka (Balance Beam, 1954). Mai Murakami ended the drought Sunday by winning the title on Floor. With fourth place finishes in the All-around and on Beam, the 21-year-old had already demonstrated the potential of the rising Japanese generation en route for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Murakami's superior difficulty on Floor relegated American tumbling dynamo Jade Carey to silver by just 0.033, while Great Britain’s Claudia Fragapane’s entertaining exercise resulted in her first individual World medal, a bronze.

The Women's Floor podium

Srbic, the new name to beat on Horizontal Bar

In a final where the high-flying antics of half the field resulted in major mistakes, Croatia’s Tin Srbic turned in an impeccable exercise to emerge as the new World champion. The medal is the first World gold for Croatia.

2013 and 2014 World champion Epke Zonderland of the Netherlands, the 2012 Olympic champion, still has the capacity to make the crowd gasp, as he did when he hung onto the bar with one hand following a release move gone awry and finishing calmly to one of the biggest ovations of the night, having literally hung on for silver. His teammate Bart Deurloo, who packs almost as much daredevilry into his routine as Zonderland, took bronze, putting two “Flying Dutchmen” onto the podium.

The Horizontal Bar podium

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