August 07, 2012 10:03
Yang Hak-seon pocketed gold in the men's vault on Monday at the North Greenwich Arena in London, giving Korea its first-ever Olympic title in gymnastics.
The diminutive athlete who measures just 159 cm re-wrote the history of Korean gymnastics by amassing an average score of 16.533 points, edging runner-up Denis Ablyazin of Russia who settled for silver after recording 16.399. Igor Radivilov of Ukraine took bronze with 16.316.
Yang was always in the running to claim gold in the event at the London Games given his level of technical skill. His eponymous technique has a difficulty rating of 7.4 points, making it one of the hardest to execute. The question was whether he could fight through the nerves and perform on the day on such a grand stage.
Yang flew through his first attempt at his signature move, a triple-twisting handspring front somersault, but didn't make a perfect landing and required two additional steps. Despite dropping points, he still received a score of 16.466 due to the move's high level of difficulty.
On his second attempt, he nailed the landing perfectly and pumped his fists in the air in celebration, garnering a whopping 16.600 points.
Before Yang's golden run, Korean gymnasts had picked up a total of four silver and four bronze medals at the Olympics since first competing at the Rome Games in 1960.
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