North Korea’s Ri Se-gwang first stumbles then soars to Olympic men’s vault title

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 16 August, 2016, 3:39am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 16 August, 2016, 9:27pm

A big stumble backwards after his first soaring leap could not prevent Ri Se-gwang from becoming the first North Korean man to win the vault title at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro on Monday.

The double world champion also became only the second man from his country to win an Olympic title following the success of Pae Gil-Su on the pommel horse at the 1992 Barcelona Games.

WATCH: golden moments on Day 10 at the Rio Olympics

The 31-year-old from Pyongyang stuttered backwards following his first vault – a piked double-front summersault with half twist. The effort earned him 15.616.

He also stepped backwards from his second vault landing.

But there was so much difficulty packed into his Tsukahara full-twisting double back effort – a skill which he invented and is named after him – that the flawed landing did not affect his score too much and he was awarded 15.766.

Ri beat Russia’s Denis Abliazin by 0.175 of a point.

WATCH: relive the action involving Hong Kong athletes on Day 10 at the Rio Olympics

Japan’s Kenzo Shirai, who missed out on a medal on his signature floor exercise event on Sunday, won bronze with 15.449.

Shirai edged out 35-year-old Romanian Marian Dragulescu on the tie-break rule after both earned the same average score.