Japan’s Hashimoto Daiki Takes All-Around Gymnastics Gold with Controversy

The 19-year-old Hashimoto Daiki (橋本 大輝) took the men’s all-around Olympic Gold on Wednesday morning, becoming the youngest all-around men’s winner in Olympic history. He already had a team silver. He previously won a bronze at the 2019 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Stuttgart, Germany. China’s Xiao Ruoteng (肖若腾) took silver and ROC Nikita Nagorny had the bronze.

Sun Wei (孙炜) of China finished fourth. Hashimoto’s teammate Kitazono Takeru (北園 丈琉) was fifth.

Hashimoto’s total score of 88.465 was only .400 higher than Xiao’s. Xiao outscored Hashimoto on the still rings with 14.533 to Hashimoto’s 13.533. He also beat Hashimoto just barely on the parallel bars with 15.366 to Hashimoto’s 15.300. They scored the same on the vault: 14.700. Neither had the high score for the parallel bars; that was Nagornyy at 15.400 in a tie with Germany’s Lukas Dauser.

Hashimoto’s win wasn’t without controversy. Social media has indicated that some Chinese fans or fans of Chinese gymnastics aren’t satisfied with the scoring, focusing on one apparatus–the vault where each athlete has one and only one attempt. Thursday, there were videos showing Hashimoto’s vault and even a side-by-side comparison of Hashimoto and Xiao. Hashimoto is shown to have taken a significant step, not only out of the guidelines, but off of the mat. Those videos were taken off of YouTube by Friday. But the vault is only one of six apparatus: floor exercise, vault, pommel horse, parallel bars, rings and horizontal bar.

Without the judges names and score sheets and an analysis of prior and the events voting patterns, it’s hard to determine that the judging was skewed in favor of Japan.

Looking on the scoring for that specific day, Hashimoto and Xiao both scored 14.700 on their vaults. They were, however, beaten by Nagornyy (14.900) and Xiao’s teammate Sun Wei (14.900). The three medalists were beaten by Turkey’s Adem Asil who received a 15.133.

Xiao barely beat Hashimoto on the parallel bars with 15.366 to Hashimoto’s 15.300. Nagornyy beat them both with 15.400. On still rings, Hashimoto only received a 13.533 to Xiao’s 14.533 but Nagornyy beat them both with a 14.666. Sun posted a 14.066, beating Hashimoto, but not Xiao or Nagornyy. Sun also received a better score for his horizontal bar (14.400) than Nagornyy (14.366) and Xiao (14.066). Hashimoto had 14.933.

One of the reports states that Xiao received a .3 penalty for not saluting the judges to signal the finish of his performance, but Hashimoto won by .4. Without the .3 penalty, Hashimoto would still have won. Overcoming a step out of bounds on the vault and taking all-around at the Olympics is not unheard of. Paul Hamm took the all-around gold in Athens after a worse landing than Hashimoto. 

Hashimoto continues the back-to-back victory for Japan in the Olympic all-around men’s gymnastics. Ushimura Kōhei gave Japan back-to-back all-around gold metals in London 2012 and Rio 2016.

Perhaps the bigger question is why Nagornyy was allowed to compete under the Russian Olympic Committee when the as a country Russia was banned due to systemic doping abuses. Without Nagornyy, China’s Sun Wei would have taken bronze.

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