Russia’s Nicolae Krukov Wins the Gold Medal
Tianjin, China – American Blaine Wilson from Columbus, Ohio demonstrated that he is a threat to contend for a medal in Sydney by placing fourth in the individual all-around at the 1999 World Gymnastics Championships in Tianjin, China.
Wilson, who hit all of his routines throughout the evening, finished just outside the medals, only 1/1000th behind third place finisher Jordan Jovtchev from Bulgaria. It has been 20 years since an American male has finished this high in the individual all-around. In 1979, Kurt Thomas won the silver medal in Fort Worth, Texas, and Bart Conner finished fifth.
“Blaine definitely proved that he is one of the best gymnasts in the world,” said Yoichi Tomita, U.S. men’s coach. “He did a very good job today, and you can not take anything away from him. It was a blast down there today, you can’t get much better.”
Russia’s Nicolae Krukov won the gold medal with a point total of 57.485, followed by Naoya Tsukahara of Japan with 57.337 for the silver. Jovtchev accumulated 57.212 points, and Wilson, 57.211. Yewki Tomita (Tucson, Ariz.) finished 25th with 54.549.
Wilson did not miss throughout the evening, as his scores ranged from a low of 9.325 on the rings to a high of 9.687 on the vault, where he successfully landed his front double somersault, which had been challenging all year. Wilson moved from 17th following the first rotation to a solid 5th place by the end of the third rotation. Jovtchev was in the top three throughout the evening. In the sixth and final rotation, Wilson landed a 9.487 on the pommel horse to move ahead of Huang Xu of China, who had breaks throughout his high bar routine, and scored an 8.987.
Wilson scored 9.60 on the floor, 9.50 on the high bar, and 9.612 on the parallel bars. The evening was a redemption for Wilson, who in 1997 missed in three events, and finished 10th in the all-around in Lausanne, Switzerland.
“All I had to do was stick rings, and I could have almost won the meet,” said Wilson. “These are all stepping stones toward Sydney. If this is what it is going to be like, then I am going to have to focus on the little things.”
“I am better off knowing where I am in the meet and knowing how many tenths I need to pick up,” he added. “I was six for six, I can’t argue with that.”
Yewki Tomita was pleased with his performance, which included a 9.3 on the high bar, a 9.4 on the parallel bars, and a 9.587 on the pommel horse.
“It was really special out there,” said Tomita. “Competing against all the best guys in the world is like a dream come true. This first time for me has been a great experience, regardless of what happened out there.”
Competition continues tomorrow with event finals, and concludes on Saturday with event finals and closing ceremonies.