Eleftherios Petrounias books Tokyo 2020 spot in rings after beating required score at Doha World Cup

The Greek "Lord of the Rings", the Rio 2016 champion in the apparatus, scores 15.500 and wins in Qatar to seal ticket to Tokyo.

By ZK Goh
Picture by 2021 Getty Images

The Rio 2016 artistic gymnastics champion on still rings, Eleftherios Petrounias, will be at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in 2021 to defend his title after successfully obtaining qualification at the final opportunity on Friday (25th June).

Greece's Petrounias, who needed to win at the FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Cup event in Doha, Qatar and do so with a score of at least 15.333, confirmed his spot in the Japanese capital with a 15.500 result, more than half a point ahead of second-placed Arthur Zanetti of Brazil.

The "Lord of the Rings", as he is known, performed the most difficult routine of the eight finalists, receiving a 6.3 difficulty score, while also topping all competitors with the best execution score (9.200).

Petrounias suffered a setback in his qualification when he only finished fourth on rings at the 2019 Worlds after an injury-hit season.

That, coupled with Greece not sending a team, meant he would have to rely on the FIG World Cup circuit to book his Tokyo spot.

Ahead of the final qualifying event in Qatar, Petrounias said on social media that he was "so ready for the fight of my life".

"Emotions are mixed, a lot of stress, scary pressure, anxiety," Petrounias – who won European Championships gold in April – added then.

"But what mostly prevails is the anticipation of the fight and the amazing feeling that I will feel after the result that will send me to Tokyo!"

Back in April, Petrounias won his fifth European title in Basel, Switzerland.

The three-time world champion beat Nikita Nagornyy, one of the favourites for multiple medals in Tokyo, to clinch his first championships title since 2018.

Now, he will get the chance to repeat as Olympic champion.