Olympics Rio 2016

Bullied champ's last laugh

Showing flawless style and poise, Eleftherios Petrounias of Greece was the only gymnast in the rings final to hit the 16-point mark, relegating the 2012 champion Arthur Zanetti of Brazil to the silver medal on Monday.
Showing flawless style and poise, Eleftherios Petrounias of Greece was the only gymnast in the rings final to hit the 16-point mark, relegating the 2012 champion Arthur Zanetti of Brazil to the silver medal on Monday.PHOTO: REUTERS

RIO DE JANEIRO • Bullied as a child for his height, Greek gymnast Eleftherios Petrounias hit back at his tormenters on Monday as he claimed the Olympic rings gold in Rio.

The 25-year-old flexed his muscles with a display of power and control to crush his rivals with an unbeatable 16.000 points.

"We worked so hard for this result. It came as I expected," he said.

Before the Games, he had revealed how he had been bullied and is now involved in an anti-bullying campaign.

"I was bullied about my height. But now it does not bother me, because I know that if I were taller, I could not do what I do as a gymnast," said the 1.64m gymnast, who added the Olympic gold to his world title in artistic gymnastics.

The 25-year-old edged out 2012 champion Arthur Zanetti of Brazil in the final, who lost out on the top prize by 0.234 of a point while Russia's Denis Abliazin had to settle for the bronze (15.700).

Petrounias, showing off his bulging biceps and the Olympic rings tattooed on his upper back, delivered a routine that combined moments of perfect stillness with a rapid series of somersaults.

He became the first Greek since Dimosthenis Tampakos in 2004 to win the rings. It was his country's second gold in Rio.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 17, 2016, with the headline 'Bullied champ's last laugh'. Print Edition | Subscribe