Gymnastics: Murakami rebounds to create history

Mai Murakami leaping high during her floor exercise routine at the Artistic Gymnastics World Championships in Montreal. After finishing only fourth in the individual all-around final, she won the gold in the floor exercise, and became the first Japan
Mai Murakami leaping high during her floor exercise routine at the Artistic Gymnastics World Championships in Montreal. After finishing only fourth in the individual all-around final, she won the gold in the floor exercise, and became the first Japanese woman to reach the podium in this event since Keiko Tanaka took the bronze in 1958.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Victory after all-around setback gives Japan first women's floor gold at the world c'ships

MONTREAL • Japan's Mai Murakami won the women's floor exercise crown and compatriot Kenzo Shirai captured the men's vault for his second title at the injury-hit World Gymnastics Championships on Sunday.

Murakami, a disappointing fourth in the all-around event, claimed Japan's first women's world floor medal since 1958 with a score of 14.233 points, edging out American Jade Carey by 0.033 of a point, with Britain's Claudia Fragapane third on 13.933 points.

"Winning the gold medal is proof I'm improving," the 21-year-old Murakami told The Japan Times. "It might have been the best routine I've ever done."

Not since Keiko Tanaka's world floor bronze 59 years ago had a Japanese woman reached the podium in the discipline. "The women haven't been able to win a medal, so I'm glad I was able to (win gold) for us for the first time in 63 years," Murakami said, referring to Tanaka's balance beam world title in 1954.

It was a historic finish for Murakami after she led the qualifiers into the all-around final but fell and settled for fourth place.

Shirai edged out Ukraine's Igor Radivilov by one-thousandth of a point for his third podium place of the meet on the last day of the apparatus finals at Montreal's Olympic Stadium. He scored 14.900 points to 14.899 for Radivilov, the 2012 London Olympics bronze medallist in the event.

South Korean Kim Han Sol was third on 14.766 points.

  • 0.033

  • Narrow difference between Japan's floor exercise world champion Mai Murakami and runner-up Jade Carey of the United States.

"I was able to win this gold medal by keeping my cool," Shirai, who became Japan's youngest world champion in 2013 when he won the floor event, told The Japan Times. "I was able to leave everything out there. This result will help me become a true all-around gymnast."

He took his third world floor exercise crown on Saturday after finishing third in the men's all-around.

Italy's Vanessa Ferrari injured her left leg on a landing early in her floor exercise routine and left the competition area in a wheelchair as the injury-marred competition closed.

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

And outstanding American gymnast Ragan Smith injured a ligament in her right ankle on a warm-up vault on Friday before withdrawing from the all-around and women's floor exercise final.

Zou Jingyuan captured China's meet-best fifth men's podium place by winning the parallel bars crown with 15.900 points.

He finished 0.067 of a point ahead of 2016 Olympic champion Oleg Verniaiev of Ukraine, while Russia's David Belyavskiy was third on 15.266 points.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 10, 2017, with the headline 'Murakami rebounds to create history'. Print Edition | Subscribe