MONTREAL • Xiao Ruoteng led a Chinese one-two in the men's all-around event at the World Artistic Gymnastics Championships on Thursday, filling the vacuum left by the injury withdrawal of six-time champion Kohei Uchimura.
The 21-year-old, who was not on China's team at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics last year, totalled 86.933 points, overtaking Russian David Belyavskiy on the final rotation for the gold.
He became the first Chinese man to take gold in a major global individual all-around competition since Yang Wei at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
"I'm very satisfied with my performance," the Beijing native said. "This victory means everything to me."
Belyavskiy seized the lead from Xiao on the penultimate rotation with a superb performance on the parallel bars.
But the Russian fell on his final routine, on the horizontal bar, and dropped to fourth place - just off the podium as he was in Rio last year.
"I only thought of doing the exercise from A to Z without any thoughts, without falls, but it happened," the 25-year-old said. "Maybe I'm just lacking some luck. I have three more finals, so I'm going to concentrate on them."
Gap to silver medallist Lin Chaopan of Xiao Ruoteng's winning score of 86.933.
Lin Chaopan grabbed silver with 86.448 points and Japan's Kenzo Shirai earned bronze with 86.431.
The medals were a much-needed boost for China as the country looks to recover after a disappointing showing in the men's competition at the Rio Olympics, where they took only a lone bronze in the team event.
Shirai opened with a strong floor exercise in his bid to keep the men's all-around title in Japanese hands. But he slipped back on the rings, unable to follow in the footsteps of Uchimura - who won every Olympic and world title from 2009 until last year but hobbled out of qualifying on Monday with a left ankle injury .
"If Kohei was competing, I would have probably been fourth," the 21-year-old was quoted by The Japan Times as saying. "I don't feel like I've surpassed him. My next goal is to become No. 1 in Japan."
Oleg Verniaiev was favoured for the crown in Uchimura's absence.
The Ukrainian came within a whisker of beating the Japanese star in Rio last year but endured a disastrous night in Montreal.
A fall on the pommel horse, his second apparatus, dropped him to 19th. He worked his way up to sixth before falling on his final horizontal bar routine to finish eighth.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS