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1ST LEAD Uchimura edges Verniaiev for back-to-back all-around gold By Frank Thomas, dpa

Europe
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Rio de Janeiro (dpa) - Kohei Uchimura emulated legendary countryman Sawao Kato when he claimed back-to-back Olympic all-around gymnastics golds for Japan on Wednesday in a dramatic battle with Ukraine‘s Oleg Verniaiev.

Uchimura snatched the gold from his rival on the last apparatus, the high bar, with a final tally of 92.365 points from a 15.8 score to Verniaiev‘s 14.8.

Verniaiev had 92.266 and Max Whitlock got Britain‘s first medal in the event in 108 years since Walter Tysall‘s silver in 1908, a bronze with 90.641 points.

"Oleg performed superbly," Uchimura said. "I thought I had lost at one point. I tried not to look at his performance."

Verniaiev would have won with a 14.9 score in the high bar but a slight forward stumble on landing likely cost him gold.

"I respect Uchimura," the silver-medallist said. "I said after the worlds I‘d beat him in Rio. Now I say I‘ll beat him next time.

"I am disappointed. I was so close to gold. I‘ve never trained so hard for an event."

Uchimura, who also earned team gold the previous day, stretched his unbeaten run in the event at world championships and Olympics to seven years. He is the first man since the icon Kato in 1968 and 1972 to win successive Olympic all-around golds.

"Six world championships and two Olympic wins in eight years is a great victory. I‘ve raised the bar," the 27-year-old Uchimura said.

"I devote myself to this event. But a new wave of athletes are coming."

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