Alex Shatilov won gold in the floor exercise of the European Championships in Moscow Saturday with an outstanding performance of a difficult routine.
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Shatilov’s exercise was ranked 6.4 on the difficulty scale and he finished with 15.333 points, to tie Great Britain’s Max Whitlock for gold in the final.
The gold medal is a career best for Shatilov, who has previously won silver in 2010 and bronze twice − in 2009 and 2011 − at the European Artistic Gymnastic Championships. The gymnast, who finished sixth in the same exercise at the London Olympics, is one of Israel’s great medal hopes for Rio in 2016.
Shatilov will be in Sunday's final for the horizontal bar exercise. He made the final eight in seventh place.
“Overall, the feeling was good. I prepared well,” Shatilov said after the medals ceremony. “It was my dream to finally win a gold medal and not to be second or third.”
Shatilov said he wanted to raise the difficulty rating, but the exercise wasn’t going according to plan, so he ad-libbed a little. “It could be that if I had done an even harder exercise, I would have made an error and thus lost points. The dream was fulfilled,” he said. “It’s very exciting, but you have to remember that I also have the horizontal bar final Sunday, and I hope to perform no worse than what I gave on the floor exercise.”
Shatilov also discussed his preparations for the 2016 Games. He said he feels more comfortable now than he did at the end of the London Games. “You could say I’ve matured, and I’m looking at the competitions differently,” he said. “I’m coming to do my job like I know how and to enjoy the competition, smiling during the warm-ups and not feeling pressured.”