Stars of Asiad

(Asiad) For 'God of Vault,' gold comes before style

2014/09/23 13:49

By Park Sojung

INCHEON, Sept. 23 (Yonhap) -- For all the dramatic flair that his eponymous move "Yang 2" carries, South Korean gymnast Yang Hak-seon says he'd rather play it safe at the Asian Games final in the men's vault.

"I'll have to see on the day of the final if I should indeed go for 'Yang 2,'" said the two-time world champion in an interview with Yonhap News Agency on Monday. "My scores would suffer if I attempt it and fail. Winning the gold is more important."

   Yang has two vault moves named after himself: the "Yang" and "Yang 2." The first one sees him turn three cycles in midair, and Yang 2 requires an extra half rotation.

Both are worth 6.4 difficulty points and are only matched by his North Korean rival Ri Se-gwang's "Ri" at the ongoing Asian competition.

South Korean gymnast Yang Hak-seon (L) faces stiff competition with North Korean Ri Se-gwang at the upcoming Asian Games final in vault. (Yonhap file photo) South Korean gymnast Yang Hak-seon (L) faces stiff competition with North Korean Ri Se-gwang at the upcoming Asian Games final in vault. (Yonhap file photo)

A decision by him to scrap "Yang 2" may be especially prudent, as Yang, South Korea's first and only Olympic gold medalist in gymnastics, is reeling from a hamstring injury that cut his practices short before the Asiad.

"It still hurts when I squat or sit in a chair," he said while taking a break at the Namdong Gymnasium, the venue for the gymnastics competition, in Incheon. "I was on painkillers at the team final but being nervous seems to have worked in my favor.

"I hope that remains the case at the upcoming competition," Yang added.

South Korea won team silver in men's artistic gymnastics on Sunday, led primarily by its stellar displays in the vault.

At the team final, which doubled as the individual qualifiers, the 21-year-old cruised to a second-place finish in vault for a spot in the individual medal deciders. Ri surpassed Yang by a slim margin of 0.025 points.

But Yang was unfazed by the top North Korean seed despite having been outdone by the 30-something man in the preliminary rounds.

"My technique had a lower starting score of 6.000, but my execution was far better than his," Yang said. "His dismount lacked a kind of elegance, and that will probably hurt his scores later on."

   Ri and Yang will go third and fifth, respectively, at the individual vault final slated for Thursday, which gives Yang some leeway to decide which techniques to execute.

Yang will be vying for his second straight gold in the Asian Games.

sojungpark@yna.co.kr

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