MacLennan retains women’s trampoline title as Hancharou soars to men’s gold

Canada’s Rosannagh MacLennan took women’s trampoline gold at Rio 2016 to become the first athlete to win back-to-back Olympic titles in the sport since its introduction to the programme at Sydney 2000. In the men’s competition, meanwhile, Uladzislau Hancharou of Belarus upset the Chinese favourites to scoop gold.

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Just as she had done at London 2012, Rosannagh MacLennan proved too strong for China’s best, staving off the challenges of Li Dan and Beijing 2008 champion He Wanna to land what was Canada’s second gold of Rio 2016. After sealing the title with a technically complex routine, the 28-year-old two-time gold medallist said: “It’s so surreal. I’m so excited and I’m really proud. I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to come out here to compete at the Olympics again. I can’t even describe it.” 

Trailing Li and Belarus’s Tatsiana Piatrenia after the qualification round, MacLennan took the lead in the final thanks to a gravity-defying performance that earned her a score of 56.465 from the judges and enthusiastic applause from the crowd. Li was next on the trampoline but could only score 55.885 points, leaving the Canadian still out front, where is where she remained after surprise contender Piatrenia, the last gymnast out, could total no more than 54.650.

Taking the silver behind the defending champion was Great Britain’s Bryony Page, who qualified in seventh but totalled an impressive 56.040 in the final. Already guaranteed a medal after Li failed to eclipse her score, Page broke down in tears following Piatrenia’s routine, overcome at the emotion of securing her country’s maiden trampoline medal.

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China’s He finished just out of the medals, 0.315 points adrift of third place. Though disappointed to have missed out on the chance to become the first gymnast to win two trampoline golds, she was pleased with her efforts: “I am proud of myself, even though it’s a shame I didn’t make the podium. The competition is really tough in China, and my coach told me that just getting to the Games is a huge success in itself, so I’ve every right to be proud of what I’ve done.”

Surprise gold for Hancharou

One day later, it was the turn of the men to go for gold, with Uladzislau Hancharou of Belarus getting the better of China’s reigning world champion Gao Lei and defending Olympic champion Dong Dong to top the podium at the Rio Olympic Arena. The 24-year-old Hancharou turned in a sparkling performance in the final to score 61.745 points, relegating Dong to second place and ending the Chinese gymnast’s bid to emulate MacLennan and win consecutive golds in the event. After qualifying in first place for the final, Gao had to settle for bronze.

Hancharou, who had never won an international competition prior to Rio 2016, owed his gold-medal-winning score to a string of high-flying triple somersaults. Though his two Chinese opponents outscored him on difficulty, the Belarusian was well ahead in terms of execution and finished comfortably clear of the field to win his country’s first ever trampoline medal. “I did my usual routine and I felt great at the end,” said Hancharou, who raised a clenched fist in celebration after realising the gold was his. “All the emotion just came out me. When I took up the sport I never thought I’d one day be good enough to make the Belarus team.”

Gracious in defeat, the 27-year-old Dong raised a thumb in tribute to the victorious Hancharou. Though disappointed to miss out on a second gold, he took comfort from the fact that he had become the first trampolinist to have won three Olympic medals, having also collected bronze at Beijing 2008.

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“I feel very proud and I’m pleased with my performance today,” said the Chinese silver medallist afterwards. “My opponents are all excellent and they did very well. I’ve taken part in three Olympic Games and I now have three medals: bronze, gold and silver from today. I am very happy with that. I am happy and proud to be a role model for trampoline. I have enjoyed the Olympic Games a lot, especially today, here in this arena, where the fans have shown me a lot of support. I think I produced a high-quality performance.”