Alexander Shatilov won a bronze medal at the Artistic Gymnastics World Championships in Tokyo yesterday morning, securing a place at the London Olympiad in 2012. Shatilov, Israel's leading male gymnast, tied third in the floor exercise with Diego Hypolito of Brazil, with a score of 15.466. On Friday he finished 13th in the all-around event.
Japan's Kohei Uchimura, who on Friday night became the first man in history to win three all-around titles, took the floor exercises title with 15.633 points. This was his second gold medal in about 18 hours. Zou Kai, the Beijing Olympic and 2009 world floor champion, won the silver medal with 15.500 points.
Shatilov, who won Israel's first-ever World Championship medal in 2009, will be the country's great Olympic hope when he sets out for London next summer. "I was in good form and my routine was flawless," the gymnast told Haaretz. "I already knew the other results before I began, so I knew that if made no mistakes I would guarantee my place in the Olympics, which was my main aim here. A medal in London is within reach. I'll do everything possible that it will be yellow and shining."
"We're happy and completely unsurprised," said Israel Gymnastics Federation head Raanan Varshaviak. "We wanted this to happen, we expected it to happen and it happened. After the first day I saw his rivals' marks and was afraid that Alex wouldn't make it to the final. When he won the medal, tears filled my eyes. Gymnastics is one of the three showpieces of the Olympic Games, together with swimming and athletics. We definitely expect a medal."
Varshaviak was also very clear about what Shatilov has to do in order to guarantee a medal: "His technique is almost perfect but he has to take more risks, and if that's what I think, I'm positive he knows it as well."