Andy Thornton, Special to NBC Olympics
If you’re watching the men’s high bar final today and feel a bit of déjà-vu, you haven’t gone crazy. Half of the field in the men’s high bar final here in London battled it out on this exact stage four years ago at the 2008 Olympic Games. And it was a good one.
In a very controversial finish that evening in Beijing,China’s Zou Kai narrowly edged out American Jonathan Horton for the high bar gold medal by just 0.025 – the closest margin possible at that competition. The result was hotly debated because Horton threw a much more spectacular routine than his Chinese competitor in the final, highlighted by a stunning full twisting double layout over the bar to a recatch – a skill Horton first unveiled that very evening – as well as a rarely seen triple twisting double layout dismount, which he nearly stuck perfectly. The judges gave the benefit to Zou, however, because his clever combinations took full advantage of the rule-book and gave him a 0.3 edge in difficulty over the American.
In an intriguing final twist at these Olympic Games, Zou Kai and Jonathan Horton have again both found themselves in this high bar final,and a very similar scoring dilemma could very well unfold here in London. Zou Kai once again brings a less crowd-thrilling routine than Horton and some of the other finalists, but could possibly outscore all of them because of his higher difficulty score.
In addition to these two repeat Olympic finalists, Germany’s Fabian Hambuchen, the bronze medalist that evening in Beijing, will again face his two rivals and attempt to win his first ever Olympic gold on his best event. And Epke Zonderland, the leader after qualifications here and perhaps the most spectacular of them all, was also apart of that memorable final four years ago, where he placed 7th.
It will be a fascinating high bar rematch today in London,and a perfect way to end what has been a fantastic Olympic Games in gymnastics. Jonathan Horton will be seeking his Olympic gold once and for all here in this high bar final, and so will all of his fans. It will be a thriller to watch play out.
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The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.