|American Danell Leyva performs on the parallel bars en route to winning the gold medal at the World Gymnastics Championships. (Koji Sasahara/Associated Press)|
Leyva gives US gold in finale
TOKYO - Danell Leyva’s parallel bars routine was practically flawless, certainly the best he’d ever done.
Now he had to wait to see if it would be good enough.
There were four gymnasts to come yesterday, including all-around champion Kohei Uchimura. But the first brushed his backside against one of the rails, and the next two took hops, no matter how slight, on their landings.
“It was pretty crazy, to be honest,’’ Leyva said. “I actually didn’t think I was going to [win]. Seeing everyone’s score going up, it was like another heartbeat I was able to get. Like OK, OK.’’
When Uchimura’s legs wobbled on a handstand, Leyva’s heart went into a full-blooded pound. The 19-year-old from Miami had a gold medal, the first by an American man at the world championships since 2003.
“It’s great to finish the way I did,’’ Leyva said.
Capped a banner world championships for the entire US team, too. All-around champion Jordyn Wieber and Aly Raisman added bronzes yesterday to give the Americans seven medals, four of them gold. Only China won more, with 12, and the United States matched the Chinese gold for gold.
The women claimed their third team gold, and Wieber became the sixth American woman to win the all-around. McKayla Maroney gave the United States its third straight vault title. The US men won their first team medal since 2003, a bronze, and Leyva gave them multiple medals for the first time since Paul Hamm won three, also in 2003.
Oh, and the London Olympics are less than a year away.
“That sends a really huge message to other countries and judges that we’re coming in really strong for next year and the Olympics,’’ said Wieber, who missed a fourth medal on uneven bars by about .3 points. “It shows that we’re working hard and we’re going to be back even stronger next year.’’
China rounded out its medal haul with Zou Kai and Zhang Chenglong going 1-2 on high bar, and Sui Lu and Yao Jinnan taking the gold and silver on balance beam. Yang Hak-seon of South Korea won the men’s vault title with the hardest vault ever attempted, and Kseniia Afanaseva of Russia claimed the floor title after being a late replacement for Viktoria Komova.
Uchimura didn’t win any more golds, but a bronze on high bar gave the Japanese star a complete set. He won golds in the all-around and floor exercise, and a silver in the team competition.
“I don’t think about winning the gold medals or having the gold medals,’’ said Uchimura, the first man to win three all-around titles. “I’m just concerned about the performance, a good performance. And as a result, it’s been good to win golds.’’
Leyva had hoped to give Uchimura a run for his gold medal in the all-around. But the American sat down on his vault landing, then took a nasty-looking fall off the high bar that left him in last place.