Ghent, Belgium – Jing Feng of China was crowned the new world all-around champion today in an exciting competition that saw many lead changes. Feng scored 56.211, followed by two-time world champion Ivan Ivankov of Belarus with 56.124 and Jordan Jovtchev of Bulgaria with 56.085.
U.S. gymnasts Paul Hamm (Waukesha, Wis.), Sean Townsend (Houston, Texas), and Stephen McCain (Houston, Texas) placed 7th, 8th and 28th respectively. Hamm scored 55.335, Townsend scored 55.273 and McCain finished with 52.286.
Townsend was in first and Hamm in third going into the final rotation after five solid routines by each gymnast. However, slips off high bar in the sixth rotation knocked both athletes out of medal contention.
“This is a tough lesson, but not too many people can say they were contending to be world champion,” said Kevin Mazeika, Townsend’s coach. “I am very proud of Sean and he showed the world that he is knocking on the door. He’s got another chance on Sunday to win a medal on parallel bars and that’s what we’re going to look forward to, and then head home and look forward to 2002, 2003 and 2004.”
“This is still a positive experience for us,” said Stacy Maloney, coach of Hamm. “The team won an unprecedented silver medal yesterday. Paul is coming back from a broken ankle and didn’t really have time to properly prepare for this competition, so he did fantastic. The fact that he was in there to win going down to the last routine shows what kind of a gymnast he is. It’s going to be a positive experience because he knows that he just needs to keep doing what he’s doing and he is going to win eventually.”
“We were excited going in to the all-around and knew we had a chance to get some of those medal spots,” said McCain. “Paul and Sean were right in there. Every good gymnast has had this happen to them. Eventually you end up clinching it when it really counts. For us to come in and get a team medal, and to finish where we did in the all-around, I think this has been a complete success. This is just going to make Sean and Paul even hungrier.”
World Gymnastics Championships competition continues Friday with the women’s all-around. The U.S. will be represented by Tasha Schwikert, Mohini Bhardwaj and Tabitha Yim. Event finals will be contested Saturday and Sunday. Townsend and McCain will compete for medals on the parallel bars and floor exercise.