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Nina Derwael of Belgium Beats Sunisa Lee on Uneven Bars

Nina Derwael of Belgium Beats Sunisa Lee on Uneven Bars
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Nina Derwael of Belgium Beats Sunisa Lee on Uneven Bars

Nina Derwael of Belgium Beats Sunisa Lee on Uneven Bars

Nina Derwael of Belgium took advantage of her rivals’ mistakes and nerves in Sunday’s uneven bars final to win the gold medal in her specialty.

Two-time uneven bars world champion Derwael didn’t perform as well on bars as she did in qualifying last week when she finished first, but her routine was pretty good – and pretty tough – for her to win. Looking like she was hovering in the wind, she soared over, under and between the bars and received 15.2 points for her performance. After the announcer called her the winner, Derwael wrapped herself in the Belgian flag and gave a big smile to her little cheering section in the nearly empty Ariake Gymnastics Center.

Anastasiia Iliankova of Russia was second on uneven bars, with 14.833 points, to win the silver medal. Sunisa Lee of the United States won the bronze medal with 14.5 points.

The Belgian winner was supposed to compete for gold with Lee, who is also an uneven bars specialist. Lee usually has the toughest uneven bars routine in the world and is rewarded for it with a high score.

On Sunday, however, three days after winning the all-around gold medal, Lee performed a choppy routine and failed to connect several of his skills, which lowered his difficulty score. His execution was not as clean as usual either. Once she finished her routine, she started to shake her head in disappointment.

The day before the event, Lee admitted that she felt the pressure to win gold on bars, especially after winning the all-around title.

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