Uchimura fall caps horror show from favorites Japan

Sat Aug 6, 2016 8:36pm EDT
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By Pritha Sarkar

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Dethroning champions China is the number one target for Japan at the Rio Olympics but after a day of falls and botched landings in men's qualifying on Saturday, Kohei Uchimura and his team mates were left with sore bodies and bruised egos.

Uchimura suffered the most spectacular of falls from the horizontal bar -- an apparatus on which he is the world champion -- as he lost his grip following a release-and-catch maneuver and landed on his back with a thud.

The glaring errors on every apparatus barring the floor exercise by the reigning Japanese world champions meant their total of 269.294 was surpassed by China (270.461), the United States (270.405) and Russia (269.612).

London Games bronze medalists Britain, jubilant hosts Brazil -- who were fielding a full team in the men's Olympic competition for the first time -- Ukraine and Germany also qualified for Monday's team final.

Japan's woes were put in context when Frenchman Samir Ait Said and German gymnast Andreas Toba provided a painful reminder of just how dangerous gymnastics can be.

Ait Said suffered a broken leg that was left dangling from below his knee following a crash landing from the vault and had to be taken out of the arena on a stretcher.

Toba may have suffered an injury to his anterior cruciate ligament following a fall from a tumbling run on the floor exercise. Incredibly he went on to perform on the pommel horse but as he limped off that apparatus, with his arms around his team mates, it was clear his Rio adventure was over.

"I cried like a little kid," Toba told reporters. "The injury on my knee is big, but the emotional injury is way bigger. A first diagnosis said it is the ACL."   Continued...

2016 Rio Olympics - Artistic Gymnastics - Preliminary - Men's Qualification - Subdivisions - Rio Olympic Arena - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 06/08/2016 Kohei Uchimura (JPN) of Japan falls during the men's qualifications for the horizontal bar.  REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha