Whitlock is top of the floor

Briton upstages Japan's Uchimura with double triumph, US' Biles wins her third gold

Max Whitlock performing a routine in the floor final, which he won to earn Britain their first Olympic gold medal in gymnastics. He later added a second gold on the pommel horse apparatus.
Max Whitlock performing a routine in the floor final, which he won to earn Britain their first Olympic gold medal in gymnastics. He later added a second gold on the pommel horse apparatus.PHOTO: REUTERS

RIO DE JANEIRO • United States gymnastics dynamo Simone Biles remained on course for a record haul of five women's titles in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday, but Britain's Max Whitlock outshone Japan's Kohei Uchimura with his double gold.

Biles became the first American woman to win the Olympic vault title and the first to win three golds at the same Games after her team and all-around successes.

The 19-year-old Texan can claim two more on the beam and floor, which would see her become the most decorated female athlete in Olympic gymnastics history.

However, she had to share the limelight in the Rio Olympic Arena as Whitlock stole the spotlight from Uchimura, who had been looking to add to his team and all-around gold but finished fifth on the floor.

Whitlock's floor gold with a score of 15.633 was a first for Britain in Olympic gymnastics, and he came back an hour later to add a second in the pommel horse (15.966).

"It's just an incredible feeling," said the 23-year-old, who had been favourite in the pommel horse as the reigning world champion.

"I couldn't really take it in on floor. I had my job to do on pommel horse. I had to get back to the training gym and refocus."

"King Kohei" was clearly off form as he hopped off the mat early in his routine. A dejected Uchimura left his chair to watch as Whitlock stole the show, and was told to return to his place by an official.

Uchimura had succeeded in his bid to win the team gold with Japan and retained his all-around title. He leaves Rio on a low point but focused on Tokyo 2020.

There were wild celebrations as Brazil duo Diego Hypolito (15.533) and Arthur Mariano (15.433) won silver and bronze on the floor.

"For me this is a gold," said an emotional Hypolito, 30, a two-time world champion who fell in Beijing 2008 and London 2012.

"Winning a medal today was the most important thing in my life."

Whitlock led a British 1-2 on pommel horse ahead of Louis Smith (15.833), with Alexander Naddour (15.700) giving the US men their first gymnastics medal with bronze. It was Whitlock's fifth Olympic medal and third in Rio after winning the team bronze.

Propelled by her lightning-fast run, Biles led the way on both her vaults including the difficult "Amanar", despite a slight hop back on the landing. Her combined score of 15.966 was enough to clinch gold ahead of world champion Maria Paseka of Russia (15.253).

"It's something I wanted so badly, so I just tried to keep a good mind going into vault," said Biles, who has three world championship medals but never gold on the apparatus. "It means a lot to me."

The only apparatus final that Biles has failed to qualify for was uneven bars, where Russia's Aliya Mustafina successfully defended her title ahead of American world champion Madison Kocian.

"Now I can say that uneven bars are my best apparatus," said Mustafina, after taking her seventh Olympic medal and second in gold.

It was the first gymnastics gold in Rio for Russia, who were only cleared to compete the day before the Games got under way, amid the fallout of state-run doping accusations.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 16, 2016, with the headline 'Whitlock is top of the floor'. Print Edition | Subscribe