Zhang despondent after losing world title

Zhang Boheng takes to the skies on the horizontal bar during the men's all-around final in Liverpool (Pic: Simone Ferraro)
Zhang Boheng takes to the skies on the horizontal bar during the men's all-around final in Liverpool (Pic: Simone Ferraro)

By Tom Harle at the M&S Bank Arena

China's Zhang Boheng was crushed to lose his world all-around title and settle for silver at the World Championships in Liverpool.

Zhang has been on a redemption mission since being overlooked for the Tokyo Olympics, where Daiki Hashimoto won gold.

He beat the Japanese to last year’s world title but couldn’t repeat here.

Zhang conceded significant ground to Hashimoto on the first rotation, only posting the ninth-best score of the night on floor while his rival excelled with a score of 14.666.

The 22-year-old revealed he attempted a less complex routine due to ongoing physical issues.

“I did reduce some of my difficulty in my floor routine on purpose, because I am not 100 per cent fit. I am still battling with wrist and waist injuries.

“After two sections of podium training and the team final, I definitely felt a bit tired. That is why I would rather make it safer to reduce the difficulty, aiming for better execution."

He soared from ninth to third with a strong showing on pommel horse and then a superb rings routine, comfortably the most difficult attempted by any gymnast in the final, saw him climb to second.

“I will just give myself a five out of 10, especially because I did not manage to stick my landings. I used to have an advantage on rings and parallel bars, but today I did not perform my best, which did not allow me to gain much. “

But Hashimoto couldn’t be unseated and ensured the all-around title returned to Japan for the first time since 2015, while Zhang lost his crown.

“I was not thinking about my ranking too much before the competition. To be honest, after getting gold last year, I did not put myself in a high position.

“I am still eager to fight out there and hungry for gold. I took the competition very seriously. Obviously, I wanted to be the defending champion but unfortunately it was not my day.

“I hope I can improve my landings and update my difficulties in order to fight for gold again next time.”

Zhang and Hashimoto's rivalry looks set to define the years to come in men's gymnastics, particularly with the Paris Olympics in mind.

“He did great today, especially on pommel horse, floor and horizontal bar. I think we are both strong contenders.

“In competition, it always comes down to who performs the best and it was him today."

The World Gymnastics Championships Liverpool 2022 will be one of the largest international sporting events ever to be held in the city. Over 500 gymnasts from more than 70 countries will compete at the M&S Bank Arena from 29 October to 6 November 2022. Tickets are available at www.2022worldgymnastics.com/tickets.