Gymnastics: Britain's Whitlock, Japan's Shirai defend world titles

Shirai, third in Thursday’s men’s all-around competition (above), kept his crown with 15.633 points. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

MONTREAL (AFP) - Britain's Max Whitlock captured his second consecutive pommel horse title and Japan's Kenzo Shirai took his third floor exercise crown as defending champions dominated Saturday (Oct 7) at the World Gymnastics Championships.

All five apparatus titles decided at Montreal's Olympic Stadium went to those who had taken crowns in 2015 at Glasgow in the previous edition of the worlds.

Whitlock, the reigning Olympic champion, defended his title with 15.441 points to 15.100 for Russia's David Belyavskiy. China's Xiao Ruoteng was third, .034 further adrift.

The 24-year-old Englishman, also the reigning Olympic floor exercise champion, was third at Rio in the all-around and took 2012 London Olympic bronze in team and pommel horse.

Shirai, third in Thursday's men's all-around competition, kept his crown with 15.633 points, defeating Israel's Dolgopyat Artem by 1.1 with American Moldauer Yul third on 14.500.

Defending world champion Shirai, a Rio Olympic champion in the team event who also took a bronze medal last year in the vault, became the youngest man to win a floor exercise world crown four years ago at Antwerp with a title at age 17, then followed up with another world gold in 2015 at Glasgow.

Greece's Eleftherios Petrounias, the reigning Olympic champion, won his second consecutive world rings crown with 15.433 points, downing Russia's Denis Abliazin by .10. China's Liu Yang was third on 15.266, .008 ahead of France's Samir Ait Said.

Chinese 17-year-old Fan Yilin, who shared the 2015 world uneven bars crown with three rivals, put herself alone atop the event by taking the title again with 15.166 points, .066 ahead of 16-year-old Russian Elena Eremina, who was third in Friday's all-around competition.

Belgium's Nina Derwael was third on 15.033, earning her homeland's first world medal.

Russia's Maria Paseka won her second consecutive women's vault world crown with 14.850 points, beating American Carey Jade. Swiss Giulia Steingruber took third, just .01 ahead of Canada's Elsabeth Black.

Paseka, 22, won at Glasgow in 2015 and was second in the event at last year's Rio Olympics after placing third at the 2012 London Olympics.

The injury-hit event concludes Sunday with the last individual apparatus finals.

Romania's Laris Iordache, a two-time world all-around medalist, tore an Achilles tendon warming up for floor exercise before qualifying on Wednesday - three days after Japanese superstar Kohei Uchimura pulled out of the men's qualifying with torn ligament in his ankle.

In Uchimura's absence, China's Xiao Ruoteng won the men's all-around title while US teen won the women's all-around crown.

US standout Ragan Smith, who suffered a right ankle ligament injury on a warm-up vault Friday before withdrawing from the all-around, also pulled out of Sunday's women's floor exercise final.

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