Dalaloyan snatches men's all-round gold on tie-break

David HARDING
AFP
Russia's Artur Dalaloyan on his way to the men's all-around title (AFP Photo/KARIM JAAFAR)

Russia's Artur Dalaloyan on his way to the men's all-around title

Russia's Artur Dalaloyan on his way to the men's all-around title (AFP Photo/KARIM JAAFAR)

Doha (AFP) - Russia's Artur Dalaloyan held his nerve to claim his first ever men's all-around title in a thrilling finish at the world championships in Doha on Wednesday.

On a night of high tension and despite ending on the same score as China's defending champion Xiao Ruoteng, 87.598, the 22-year-old Moscovite took gold on a count back of each competitors' top five scores.

Speaking after the closest of finishes, Dalaloyan said the victory "had not sunk in yet".

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His compatriot Nikita Nagornyy took bronze, finishing on 86.331.

It capped a great comeback for Dalaloyan, who was left in tears earlier in the week after falling off the parallel bars in the team competition.

That meant the Russians lost narrowly to the Chinese but his redemption was secured in another nervy finish.

Dalaloyan took the slenderest of leads, 0.1 points, into the final discipline, the high bar, but held his nerve to set Ruoteng a tough target of 14.233.

Incredibly, the nerveless Chinese star achieved exactly that score, showing grace under pressure to produce a fine routine but ultimately ended with silver.

The Chinese were also pipped to the bronze as Sun Wei finished less than a point behind Nagornyy and just off the podium.

There was disappointment for the USA's Samuel Mikulak.

He went into the final round in third with a chance of all three medals but a high bar mark of 12.366 left him finishing in fifth place.

"I don't think I've ever been more pissed off in my life, so I think I'm going to run with that," said an angry Mikulak afterwards.

"Let anger be my fuel from here on out."

Another gymnast who might have a sleepless night is Ukraine's Oleg Verniaiev.

A stunning vault gave him a score of 15.666 and the lead at the halfway stage.

But a mistake on the High Bar left the Ukrainian, who was nursing a shoulder injury, with no chance of a medal.

However, Britain's James Hall was one of those who finished outside the medals but was certainly upbeat.

He competed consistently throughout and was rewarded by breaking into the top 10 and marking himself as a potential future star.

He eventually finished eighth but said it could be a springboard for future competitions.

"It's crazy," he said. "I've dreamed of being in a world final since I was a little boy, let alone a top 10 finish.

"Now I can push on from here and believe that anything is possible."

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