Lefteris Petrounias will pursue, in Tokyo, an achievement that no other Olympian in the still rings has achieved for almost half a century, proving that he was born to break records. His possible dominance in the final next Monday (02/08) will turn him into one of the multi-gold winners in the Olympic History of the sport, but also the only one with two consecutive titles after 1972!
To date, in the entire history of the Olympic Games, only two legendary athletes have won two gold medals in the still rings competition: Albert Azarian of Armenia, who won representing the Soviet Union in 1956 and 1960, and Japan’s Akinori Nakayama, winner of the 1968 and 1972 Games.
Next to them, the Greek “lord of the rings” will seek to add his own name, claiming a corresponding “repeat” at the stadium in the Ariake area of the Japanese capital.
Indicative of the enormous difficulty of the project is also the fact that in the last 40 years only three athletes, in different individual competitions in men’s artistic gymnastics competitions, have successfully defended their Olympic title: Spaniard Hervasio Defer in vault (Olympic 2000 & 2004), Chinese athlete Kai Zhou in the floor gymnastics (2008 & 2012) and Japanese “King” Kohei Uchimura in the men’s all around (2012 & 2016).
Of all the “gold” Olympians in Rio, Lefteris Petrounias and Briton Max Whitlock on the pommel horse are the only ones who will be present in the finals of the competitions in Tokyo, with the prospect of entering this “club” of the elite if they win again.
The 30-year-old still ring specialist will, in fact, have an additional motivation to stay on top: “My goal is to become a” gold “Olympian for the second time in a row. It is not easy in Gymnastics, but I have my children in mind. It would be great to write history here and have something to show my babies when they grow up,” was the statement hosted by the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) after his impressive appearance in the qualifier, where he won with 15,333 points.
The still rings final will take place on Monday, August 2 (11:00 – 11:35 Greek time) and based on the draw, Lefteris Petrounias will execute his program 7th among the eight finalists.
Opponents of the Greek champion will be, in order of appearance in the final, Brazilian Arthur Zanetti (5th with 14,900 bp in the qualifying round), Chinese Hao Yoo (8th with 14,800 p.), Chinese Yang Liu (2nd with 15,300 p.) , Russian Denis Ambliazin (7th with 14,800 p.), Turkish Ibrahim Colak (4th with 14,933 p.), Frenchman Samir Ait Said (3rd with 15,066 p.) and Turkish Adem Asil (6th with 14,800 p.), who will take to the rings last, right after Petrounias.