- The two-time Asian Games men’s vault champion finishes a disappointing seventh in Stuttgart after a poor first effort put paid to his medal chances
- The gymnast joins local swimmers and windsurfers to have made it to Tokyo next year
Gymnast Shek Wai-hung became the fifth individual athlete from Hong Kong to book a ticket to next year's Olympic Games after finishing seventh in the men's vault at the world championships in Stuttgart on Sunday.
Competing against the world's best gymnasts in the final, Shek, who was third in qualifying, failed to deliver on his first vault, a performance that blew his chances of winning a medal.
His execution score of 7.933 in the first jump was the lowest among all eight finalists and although Shek recovered in his second attempt, it wasn't enough to place him in the top three. The average score of the two jumps decide the winner.
Nikita Nagornyy, the Russian athlete who won the all-around title in Stuttgart, was crowned champion with a score of 14.966. His compatriot, Artur Dalaloyan, was second on 14.933. Shek managed 14.466 " 0.2 less than his qualifying mark.
Hong Kong Gymnastics Association chairman Cheung Siu-yin said Shek needed to improve his mental strength because he has always failed to show his true colours when it mattered.
"When he competes in the final, he is under pressure and would struggle," said the chief. "The execution score in the first jump showed he made a big mistake. After that, he was able to recover and finish it well on the second jump.
"But he has now qualified for the Tokyo Games and has time to fix the problem. We would need to sort this out with the coaching staff and the sports science specialists at the Sports Institute."
The top three individual apparatus finalists at the world championships automatically secured tickets to Tokyo but after discarding those who have already made it through the team event, Shek, who turned 28 last week, was able to represent Hong Kong for what will be his second Olympics.
He was the first gymnast from Hong Kong to qualify for the Olympics when he represented his team at the 2012 London Games. Shek won the men's vault title at the Asian Games in Incheon two years later but a nagging shoulder injury hampered his performance in the qualifiers for the 2016 Rio Games. Shek then won back-to-back Asian Games vault titles in Jakarta last year as well as lifting two World Challenge Cup titles this year.
So far, two swimmers " Siobhan Haughey and Stephanie Au Hoi-shun " have reached the qualifying standard for the 2020 Tokyo Games, along with two spots in the men's and women's windsurfing. Swimming also made it in two relays, the women's 4x100 metre freestyle and women's 4x200 metre freestyle.
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