GLASGOW (Reuters) – Triple gold medallist Artur Dalaloyan proved the standout gymnast at the men’s European Championships, adding two individual apparatus triumphs on Sunday 24 hours after leading Russia to the team title.
Dalaloyan, the 22 year old European all-around silver medallist last year, took gold in both the vault and the parallel bars as well as bronze in the floor exercises at the SSE Hydro Arena.
“My favourite medal was the team medal, because everybody in Russian gymnastics worked towards it,” said Dalaloyan, delighted at how he had grown as an athlete at these championships.
“Two years ago I wasn’t a part of the main Russian team. Back then I was a boy and not a man. Now I feel as though I have grown up and have an understanding of what I want to get from gymnastics.”
Dalaloyan had been spurred to do better, he said, by a mistake that he had made on the floor.
That error had helped give Britain’s Dominick Cunningham the chance to strike gold in that event, a particular delight for the 23-year-old after he had ended the team event on a crushing low.
Cunningham had slipped off the horizontal bar twice with Britain locked in battle for the gold on Saturday, a calamitous routine that helped open the door for the Russian gold.
“It’s crazy, this is what dreams are made of,” he said of his redemption.
Cunningham’s victory helped make up for the home crowd’s disappointment at seeing a sub-par performance from Max Whitlock, with the Olympic champion only finishing seventh in his signature pommel horse event.
He even came off the apparatus during his routine, leaving him to sigh: “I’ve just had one of those days again and hopefully there won’t be many more of them.”
Instead, victory went to 19-year-old Rhys McClenaghan, who could celebrate the first-ever European gymnastics medal for Ireland.
“I said at the start I wanted to make history for Ireland again, and why not make it the gold? I mean business when I come out here, and it’s all paid off,” said the teenager, who also beat Whitlock on the pommel horse when competing for Northern Ireland in this year’s Commonwealth Games.
“I look at the positives all the time and the thing here is that I still scored 14.0 even with a one-point deduction for the fall,” said Whitlock, after watching McClenaghan score 15.300.
Eleftherios Petrounias, Greece’s Olympic champion on the rings, was again in a class of his own in that discipline, winning with 15.466, the highest mark of the day on any of the six pieces of apparatus.
Switzerland’s Oliver Hegi, silver medallist last year, graduated to gold in the horizontal bar with a 14.700 score.
(Reporting by Ian Chadband, editing by Pritha Sarkar)