South Korea’s Yang Hak-seon vaulted his way to gymnastics gold in 2012, and now the North wants to steal his crown. Game on…
North vs South
It was a handspring front layout with a triple twist. With this somersaulting vault at the 2012 Games in London, Yang Hak-seon won South Korea its first-ever Olympic gold medal in gymnastics.
No gymnast had ever before created such an airborne work of art. The young star, just 19 at the time, soaked up the applause, and the sport had a new move: ‘the Yang Hak-seon’. Unsurprisingly, he won gold again the next year at the World Artistic Gymnastics Championships.
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But then the tide began to turn. At the following year’s event, Yang fluffed his landing on his last two attempts and was dethroned – by a North Korean, no less.
The new world champion and superstar of vaulting is Ri Se-gwang. The experienced Ri is having something of a second gymnastic spring at the age of 31. Unlike fine technician Yang, the North Korean scores highly thanks to speed and power as he twists his body in the air.
Medals haul 1896 - 2012
But, in Rio, Yang hopes to strike back. There’s no way he wants his Olympic crown ripped from his head by a North Korean, and for history to be rewritten a second time.
Rio 2016 Summer Olympics will be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on Aug 5-21