Gymnastics: Uchimura-powered Japan top qualifying, book Rio ticket

Gymnastics: Uchimura-powered Japan top qualifying, book Rio ticket
Japan's Kohei Uchimura competes on the pommel horse on the third day of the 2015 World Gymnastics Championships at the Hydro Arena in Glasgow on October 25, 2015.
PHOTO: AFP

Defending men's all-around champion Kohei Uchimura powered Japan ahead of arch rivals China to lead qualifying and book their ticket to the 2016 Olympics at the world gymnastics championships on Monday.

Led by Uchimura and newcomer Kazuma Kaya, the Japanese men qualified for Wednesday's team final in first place, nearly two points ahead of their Chinese rivals.

Uchimura fell during his floor routine on the first of two days of qualifying but that did not prevent him from achieving the highest all-around score over all six events with 90.654 points, as Japan also topped the team event with 358.884 to China's 357.027.

The top eight teams in qualifying also booked their ticket to the Rio Olympics.

"At the beginning of the exercise it was fine, but at the end, I couldn't perform as I had wished," said Uchimura, who won world floor gold in 2011.

The 26-year-old Uchimura and Japan are determined to win a first team gold in 37 years in Glasgow's Hydro Arena on Wednesday night.

Uchimura has won five Olympic medals including the 2012 all-around gold, and 16 world medals - seven in gold - but the only title missing is the team title with the Chinese winning 10 of the last 11 world titles.

China have also won two Olympic gold medals ahead of Japan and last year's world title was decided by just one tenth of a point.

"It's hard to say what we need to do to beat the Chinese in the team competition, because it's never happened to me," said Uchimura, who has given the quest for team gold precedent over his bid for a sixth consecutive all-around title on Friday.

"If we knew what we needed to do, we would do it." Ukraine's Oleg Verniaiev qualified second best for the all-around just 0.433 behind Uchimura with Britain's Daniel Purvis third best.

Deng Shudi led China and ranked fifth all-around, although he fell in the first rotation on pommel horse.

Great Britain qualified third (354.417) with Russia (352.692), the United States (350.332), Switzerland (350.127), Brazil (349.057) and South Korea (346.166) completing the top eight for the finals.

Biles, USA eye women's gold

In the women's event, Simone Biles will lead Olympic champions the United States in their bid to defend their team title in the Hydro Arena on Tuesday.

The US women topped qualifying, with two-time defending all-around women's champion Biles leading the way in the vault, beam and floor to top the all-around individual competition.

Biles, 18, will be joined by US teammates including Olympic all-around champion Gabrielle Douglas and Olympic floor champion Alexandra Raisman, who both fell during qualifying, in a bid to win gold.

"We've just been going for so long and I think we needed a bit of a mental break, so that's where a lot of our mistakes came into play," said Biles.

"But once we get a little mental break, I think we'll be good," added the Texan, who finished ahead of Swiss Giulia Steingruber and Douglas in qualifying for Thursday's all-around final.

Russia, the 2014 bronze medallists, qualified in second position, topping the Americans on uneven bars despite struggling on the floor with newcomer Seda Tutkhalian their top all-rounder.

Great Britain qualified in third ahead of 2014 silver medallists China. Also challenging for medals are Japan, Canada and the Netherlands, who qualified for the Olympic Games for the first time since 1976.

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