2022 World Gymnastics Championships: Five more champions crowned as Brody Malone wins high bar in worlds finale

By Patricia Duffy | November 6, 2022
Five world champions were crowned on Sunday during Day 2 of Event Finals at the 2022 World Gymnastics Championships. From left to right: men's vault champion Artur Davtyan, balance beam champion Hazuki Watanabe, parallel bars champion Jingyuan Zou, floor champion Jessica Gadirova, and high bar champion Brody Malone.
Five world champions were crowned on Sunday during Day 2 of Event Finals at the 2022 World Gymnastics Championships. From left to right: men's vault champion Artur Davtyan, balance beam champion Hazuki Watanabe, parallel bars champion Jingyuan Zou, floor champion Jessica Gadirova, and high bar champion Brody Malone. (© Amy Sanderson)

LIVERPOOL, England – For the first time in more than 40 years, a U.S. man has won the world high bar title at the 2022 World Gymnastics Championships.

Brody Malone became just the second American man to rise to the top of the precarious high bar rankings on Sunday evening at M&S Bank Arena, 43 years after the late Kurt Thomas won in Fort Worth.

It was an exhilarating finale to a historic world championships in Liverpool that started on October 29. 

The 22-year-old Olympian and 2021 world bronze medalist on the event was third up in an eight-man final that included reigning Olympic Champion Daiki Hashimoto (JPN), but no one could best Malone’s mark of 14.800.

After a challenging world championships that tested his physical and mental fortitude, Malone displayed complete mastery of the unpredictable apparatus, executing the supremely difficult Cassina and Kolman skills before connecting three Tkatchev skills and dismounting with a nearly stuck laid-out double-double.

“This is definitely the icing on the cake,” Malone said. “This week was pretty rough for us. The prelims and team finals weren’t great. I did a little better in the all-around finals, and it just seemed like we were building up. This was a good one to end on.” 

Hashimoto won his second-straight world silver (14.700), and Brazil’s Arthur Mariano earned his third world or Olympic medal with the bronze (14.466).

Artur Davtyan wins vault with superior execution

Armenia’s Artur Davtyan bested defending champion Carlos Yulo (PHI) on vault with arguably two of the cleanest vaults ever performed, earning 9.500 execution scores for both his Dragulescu (double front half) and front handspring Randi (2.5 twist) to average a 15.050.

“It is thanks to our coaches and to our unity,” Davtyan said. “We have been through a lot of difficulties, and we’ve been working hard to try and improve continuously. Thankfully, we were able to achieve this gold medal.”

Yulo was the leader for much of the final. The 22-year-old successfully landed his front double pike half after falling during the all-around final just days ago (15.000) and followed with a nearly stuck Kas double (14.900) to average a 14.950 and finish with the silver.

Winning the bronze was Ukraine’s longtime vault specialist Igor Radivilov, who also executed a powerful Dragulescu (14.800) and followed with a Tsuk double pike (14.666) to average a 14.733. He received a sizable applause on the podium, likely in recognition of his and the Ukrainian team’s perseverance despite their home being embroiled in an ongoing, and unprovoked, war with Russia.

Hair ribbon spoils Skye Blakely’s chance at world balance beam gold

Skye Blakely (USA) was one side aerial and a dismount away from winning the world balance beam final when an accessory played spoiler to the 17-year-old’s medal hopes.

The sixth of eight competitors in the final, Blakely mounted the beam with her signature sequence, exhibiting poise and confidence beyond her years. She hit the standing full that gave her trouble in the team final and followed with a beautiful front walkover to front tuck. As she connected her mixed acro series, onlookers could see her white hair ribbon slowly coming undone, causing a stir. By the time she hit her front aerial, the ribbon had fallen into her eyes, disrupting her vision on a merciless apparatus. The wardrobe malfunction clearly interfered with her side aerial, and she lost her footing, kicking her leg up and touching the beam before coming off completely. 

Just one skill away from a near-perfect routine, Blakely earned a 13.300 for her set – a score that would have been at least a point higher without the fall. Even with the error, Blakely earned a 13.300 to finish fifth.

“I was the youngest person in the beam line-up, so overall, I’m proud of myself and my beam routine,” Blakely reflected.

Three-tenths ahead, Japan’s Hazuki Watanabe won the gold with a 13.600. Her routine was highlighted by a well-executed front pike mount and round-off to two-footed layout.

“At first, I was the reserve for the team, but when there was an injury, they changed it, and I got a chance to come to the world championships,” Watanabe said. “That was my first surprise. Now I have a medal too. It is all a bit surprising.” 

Canada’s Ellie Black won her first individual event world medal with the silver (13.566), and Watanabe’s teammate Shoko Miyata took the bronze (13.533).

Jingyuan Zou wins third world parallel bars title

After winning silver on rings Saturday, China’s Jingyuan Zou continued his dominance on parallel bars a year after becoming the Olympic champion.

“This is the first time I did this 6.9 difficulty routine,” Zou said. “At first, I just wanted to stick with the original plan, use the 6.5 difficulty and perform it perfectly. But I decided to perform the harder routine to challenge myself. You could see that I was a little bit rushed and shaky, and there was a little pressure. But I am satisfied with my performance.” 

For the third time in five world championships, Zou finished atop the standings Sunday. Despite two noticeable hesitations in his set, the 24-year-old easily earned the highest event score on any apparatus this worlds with a 16.166.

“This is not all I have in my pocket,” Zou foreshadowed. “I have some other skills that could raise my difficulty if I add them. But it is good that I know I can perform well in this 6.9 routine and, later, I will be confident to add to it.” 

Germany’s Lukas Dauser finished second with a 15.500, just a year after winning silver behind Zou at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. Yulo won the bronze with a 15.366.

“My coach and I couldn’t say anything, we were speechless,” Yulo said of Zou’s mark. “He’s not human. How he does p-bars is not equal to anyone. He’s the only one doing that. To me, he’s like a god. 16.1 – like, what?”

Four medals awarded in high-flying finale to women’s competition

The women’s floor final proved to be the perfect finale to the ladies’ competition in Liverpool, with an extra medal being awarded in a unique turn of events.

All-around champion Rebeca Andrade (BRA) set the pace in the final with a 13.733. She enthralled the crowd with an opening punch full through to full-twisting double back and nearly-stuck full-twisting double layout before a hop out of her double Y-turn disrupted an otherwise outstanding routine.

Jordan Chiles (USA) started the second half of the final with a show-stopping performance of her Lizzo-inspired set, taking the lead with a 13.833 and the only execution mark over an 8.000 with three routines to go.

Reigning Olympic champion Jade Carey (USA) followed with her difficult set that included a double-twisting double layout and full-twisting double layout to initially earn a 13.833, but an inquiry into her difficulty score, meant to potentially increase the mark, dropped it a tenth instead. As a result, Carey’s score was lowered to a 13.733 and tied with Andrade for the silver with Great Britain’s Gadirova twins left to go.

“It was really me and my dad’s (her coach) decision,” Carey said. “They’ve been giving me my full start value (6.100) this whole competition until today. We didn’t think my routine was any different than it has been.” 

After Jennifer scored a 13.166, what would eventually finish seventh, Jessica pulled out all the stops, throwing the highest difficulty of the final and earning the highest execution mark (8.200) to win in front an electric home crowd (14.200).

“When I focus on the dance it takes my mind away from the crowd and the tumbles and the leaps, and it makes me feel alive,” Gadirova said of her set. “That’s what I am, I love to perform and floor is one of my favourite pieces to do. It gives me such an amazing feeling.” 

With matching difficulty and execution scores, Carey’s inquiry ultimately didn’t change the color of her medal but inadvertently won Andrade a matching bronze, putting four of the world’s best floor workers on the podium instead of the typical three.