American Fred Richard wins gymnastics worlds all-around medal in dramatic fashion
Fred Richard became the first American man to win a world gymnastics championships all-around medal in 13 years, earning a dramatic bronze on Thursday.
Richard, a 19-year-old in his worlds debut, fell on his last routine, high bar, and it looked like it would cost him a medal.
But Japan’s Kenta Chiba later fell on high bar on the very last routine of the meet, dropping behind Richard in Antwerp, Belgium.
Japan’s Daiki Hashimoto repeated as gold medalist, followed by Ukraine’s Ilia Kovtun and then Richard ahead of Chiba.
“God, this is weird,” said Richard, who was in second place going into the last rotation. “Everybody’s in the same situation — high pressure at the end.”
Richard, who has 628,000 TikTok followers, became the first American man to win a world all-around medal since Jonathan Horton, who took bronze in 2010. He’s the youngest American man to win an Olympic or world all-around medal.
Richard also became the first American man to win team and all-around medals (both bronze) at a single worlds since 2003 (Paul Hamm) and the first to ever do it at a worlds held outside of the U.S.
Richard, the 2021 U.S. junior all-around champion, could have been a candidate for the senior 2022 World team, but he became ineligible because he competed in a junior international meet earlier in 2022. A gymnast cannot compete in junior and senior international meets in the same year.
This April, Richard won the NCAA all-around title as a Michigan freshman, then placed third at the U.S. Championships in August.
He was sixth in all-around qualifying at worlds, then on Tuesday clinched the first U.S. team medal at worlds since 2014 with a clutch closing high bar routine.
Hashimoto prevailed by 1.134 points over Kovtun to become the first man to repeat as world all-around champion since countryman Kohei Uchimura in 2016.
In Tokyo, Hashimoto became the first teenage to man to win an Olympic all-around. In 2022, he became the youngest man to pair a world all-around title with Olympic gold.
Hashimoto didn’t qualify directly into the all-around final. He was third in qualifying, but also third among the Japanese, and a nation can put no more than two gymnasts into an individual final.
Japan decided before the meet that it would put Hashimoto into the final even if he was outscored by countrymen in qualifying. Chiba had the highest qualifying score, and No. 2 Kazuma Kaya was replaced by Hashimoto.
Kovtun won his second world all-around medal to go with bronze from his debut in 2021 at age 18. He has been training in Croatia during the war.
Zhang Boheng, who took all-around gold and silver at the last two worlds, was on China’s team at last week’s Asian Games rather than this year’s worlds.
Worlds continue Friday with the women’s all-around final (1:30 p.m. ET, Peacock).
Simone Biles is favored to win a sixth title, which would tie the record for both genders held by Uchimura.