Preview: Can Anyone Catch Kohei Uchimura?
(4 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

2009 world champion Kohei Uchimura is the planet's best gymnast, and only a major mistake in Friday afternoon's all-around final can prevent him from defending his world title.

If he wins, Uchimura will become only the fifth man to win twice, following in the footsteps of Yuri Korolyov (1981 and 1985); Dmitry Bilozerchev (1983 and 1987, the latter in Rotterdam); Ivan Ivankov (1994 and 1997) and Yang Wei (2006 and 2007). It would be a thrilling moment for Japan, as Uchimura could follow with an unprecedented third world title next year in Tokyo.

But the men's all-around final has proved itself one of the most unpredictable of contests in gymnastics. The difficulty demands of the Code of Points and exhaustion after the team competition have claimed many gymnasts in recent all-around finals. An outstanding effort in the final can bring unexpected results, such as France's Benoit Caranobe vaulting to the bronze medal in Beijing.

Uchimura was far ahead of the field in qualification, but the next eight gymnasts finished within one point of each other. The medals are up for grabs this afternoon.

Let's take a look at the top 15 qualifiers to the men's all-around final:

Qualification Rank/ScoresFXPHSRVTPBHBTotal
1.Kohei Uchimura14.96615.13315.40016.33315.36615.03392.231

Kohei Uchimura
Strengths: Artistry, difficulty
Weaknesses: None

In qualification, Uchimura showed any talk of a shoulder injury was overblown, crushing the field by more than two points. However, Japan's coaches elected to keep him off still rings in team finals, a decision they may be regretting now. Uchimura scored 15.400 on still rings in qualification, but Japan instead used Kazuhito Tanaka (15.000 in qualification) in the team final, where he fell and scored 14.166. (Japan lost the gold by 1.228.)

Uchimura is so far ahead of the rest of the world that he can afford to fall in the all-around and still win. He has no weak event, and his dedication to performing "Japanese beautiful gymnastics" is a gift for everyone who loves the sport. But more than one mistake from Uchimura, howevever, can open the door for his competitors.

Qualification Rank/ScoresFXPHSRVTPBHBTotal
2.Philipp Boy14.76614.20014.56615.80015.25815.56690.156

Philipp Boy
Strengths: Consistency
Weaknesses: Exhaustion

Anyone surprised by Boy's second place in qualification must not have been paying attention to his years of great results. (Click here to read IG Online's interview with Boy from July 2008.) Boy was an integral part of Germany's bronze-medal winning team at the 2007 Worlds and first-place squad at the 2010 Europeans. A month ago, he scored 91.050 to win a tri-meet in Schaffhausen, Switzerland.

The ebullient Boy has no real weak events, and he's fun to watch on all of them. But he's the only one of the top contenders who competed all six events in Thursday's team final, and exhaustion could be a factor in the all-around.

Fabian Hambüchen may still be Germany's biggest star, but Boy is further proof of how good the German men are right now. The team took third Thursday even without national champion Marcel Nguyen, and with Hambüchen limited to four events.

Qualification Rank/ScoresFXPHSRVTPBHBTotal
3.Lu Bo14.63314.00014.96615.93315.34114.76689.639

Lu Bo
Strengths: Consistency
Weaknesses: High bar

The 25-year-old Lu is one of China's most seasoned competitors, but the team's incredible depth has left him off previous world teams. In the team final, he improved on several of his qualification scores to help China win the gold.

Lu is not as flashy as some of the other top contenders, especially on high bar, but his overall consistency can help him get on the podium.

Qualification Rank/ScoresFXPHSRVTPBHBTotal
4.Jonathan Horton14.70013.73315.23315.90014.76615.26689.598

Jonathan Horton
Strengths: Experience, high bar
Weaknesses: Pommel horse

The 2008 Olympic high bar runner-up is still looking for his first world all-around medal. Competing in his fourth world championships, the two-time U.S. champion has experience on his side. He has a weak event on pommel horse, however, and an 11.100 on the event in last year's all-around final contributed to his 17th place.

Qualification Rank/ScoresFXPHSRVTPBHBTotal
5.Daniel Purvis15.26614.60014.20016.06614.83314.53389.498

Daniel Purvis
Strengths: Execution, floor exercise
Weaknesses: Inexperience

Purvis is competing in his first major all-around final, and has nothing to lose Friday. Purvis' case is helped by his beautiful execution, particularly on floor exercise and parallel bars. An all-around medal would not be an upset if he nails his routines.

Qualification Rank/ScoresFXPHSRVTPBHBTotal
6.Yoo Won Chul14.41614.20015.46615.40014.84115.10089.423

Yoo Won Chul
Strengths: Still rings
Weaknesses: Consistency

Korea's Yoo is outstanding on still rings, where he is a finalist in Rotterdam. But consistency and a lack of name recognition are question marks for Yoo, who scored 12.466 on high bar in the team final.

Qualification Rank/ScoresFXPHSRVTPBHBTotal
7.Flavius Koczi15.00014.96614.70016.16614.83313.73389.398

Flavius Koczi
Strengths: Vault, pommel horse
Weaknesses: High bar

Koczi can outscore the field on vault, where he's mastered a triple-twisting Tsukahara, and can score well on floor exercise as well. He's relatively weak on high bar and still rings. Romania did not qualify for the team final, however, so Koczi may have more energy in the all-around than some of his competitors.

Qualification Rank/ScoresFXPHSRVTPBHBTotal
8.Sergei Khorokhordin14.40014.56614.90015.70015.17514.50089.241

Sergei Khorokhordin
Strengths: Parallel Bars
Weaknesses: Inconsistency

Khorokhordin has clean if unspectacular gymnastics and can hit six events in the final. However, he and teammate Devyatvosky earned the ire of the Russian coaches after both missed high bar in the team final. Head coach Valery Alfosov said both gymnasts will be replaced by 2012 if they don't start delivering when it counts.

Qualification Rank/ScoresFXPHSRVTPBHBTotal
9.Teng Haibin14.20014.78314.16615.86615.63314.53389.181

Teng Haibin
Strengths: Pommel horse
Weaknesses: Inconsistency, still rings

Teng, the 2004 Olympic champion on pommel horse, has shown himself to be extremely inconsistent. He was the top qualifier at Chinese nationals in August, but missed three routines in the final to finish 12th. China's best chance for a medal on horse, Teng failed to make the final in Rotterdam. However, Teng hit all his routines in the team final, and may be on a roll.

Qualification Rank/ScoresFXPHSRVTPBHBTotal
10.Samuel Hunter14.80014.70814.36615.90014.65014.66689.090

Samuel Hunter
Strengths: Execution
Weaknesses: Still rings

Like teammate Purvis, Hunter is competing in his first major all-around final and will benefit from the experience. He was barely a point out of second place in qualification, and six hit routines from Hunter will add to the excitement of the all-around final. Great Britain is a welcome addition to the upper echelon of international gymnastics, and the depth in their men's program adds to the British buzz.

Qualification Rank/ScoresFXPHSRVTPBHBTotal
11.Nikolai Kuksenkov14.36614.10014.60015.86615.13314.76688.831

Nikolai Kuksenkov
Strengths: Drive
Weaknesses: Execution

Like Koczi, Kuksenkov did not compete Thursday and may be well rested. Kuksenkov, the 2006 Junior European champion, wants to be a world and Olympic champion and comes from the great Ukrainian school of gymnastics. However, his form can be loose on several events, and a tenth here and there adds up in a tight all-around contest.

Qualification Rank/ScoresFXPHSRVTPBHBTotal
12.Danell Leyva13.90013.90014.43315.65815.23315.63388.757

Danell Leyva
Strengths: Parallel bars, high bar
Weaknesses: Floor exercise, pommel horse, vault

Leyva, second to Horton at the U.S. championships in August, can outscore the field on high bar. But he has several low-scoring events and the easiest vault of the top contenders.

Qualification Rank/ScoresFXPHSRVTPBHBTotal
13.Koji Uematsu13.26614.13314.73315.43315.40015.73388.698

Koji Uematsu
Strengths: Difficulty, execution
Weaknesses: Consistency

Uematsu fell on floor exercise in qualification, but if he had scored the same as he did in the team final he would have been second to Uchimura. In the team final, Uematsu earned the only score above 16 on high bar yet in Rotterdam. A hit performance can give Japan a 1-2 finish Friday.

Qualification Rank/ScoresFXPHSRVTPBHBTotal
14.Luis Rivera14.43314.50014.73316.23314.10014.30088.299

Luis Rivera
Strengths: Vault
Weaknesses: Parallel bars, high bar

Rivera, a 2004 Olympian, helped Puerto Rico finish a best-ever 12th in the team qualification, and qualified to the vault final. A great all-around finish would be another boost to the exciting Puerto Rican program.

Qualification Rank/ScoresFXPHSRVTPBHBTotal
18.Maxim Devyatovsky14.66613.66614.86614.93315.00014.60087.731

Maxim Devyatovsky
Strengths: Experience
Weaknesses: Inconsistency

Devyatovsky's place on the Russian team has never been less secure. He missed two routines in qualification and high bar in the team final. But he has put it together several times in the past, including winning the 2007 Europeans. He scored 90.600 to win the American Cup earlier this year, and has the potential to win a medal Friday if he can nail six routines.

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