Maras master of the high bar

Vlassis Maras sent the Greek crowd home in raptures at the end of the men’s European gymnastics championships in Volos on Sunday. The 23-year-old Athenian stunned his rivals with a thrilling display on the high bar that earned him a score of 15.725 and the gold medal, his third in the European championships, apart from his championship golds. His score left him clear of the field and Maras watched as the final three competitors all fell from the bar. «I am very good at the high bar and I will keep reminding them of this for as long as I compete,» Maras said yesterday, having given his answer to what he considers was an unfair judgment in the Athens Olympics, which had kept him out of that event’s final. «I now feel I can relax – that is, until the next competition, of course,» he said, referring to the world championships this fall. Maras’s success made up for the absence of Greece’s two established leaders in gymnastics – Olympic rings champion Dimosthenis Tambakos, who was overlooked for this event, and Vassilis Tsolakidis, who failed to qualify for the final of the parallel bars that was won by Slovenian Mitja Petkovsec. However, more hope for the Greek side came from Michalis Doulkeridis, who won gold on the junior’s floor exercise and silver in the vault. «I will work hard to enter the men’s squad and join the team preparing for the Olympics,» the 18-year-old said. Russian domination The Russians were the most successful nation at the championships, winning 12 medals overall, with the Germans a distant second with seven. After winning the team event for the first time since 2000 on Saturday, the Russians picked up two more gold medals on Sunday through Anton Golotsutskov in the floor exercise and Alexander Safoshkin on the rings. Golotsutskov also took a bronze in the vault while Sergei Khorokhordan earned silver on the high bar behind Maras. Romania also had a good day, with Marian Dragulescu winning gold in the vault with a score of 16.587 and Flavius Koczi producing the only score above 15 on the pommel horse. Dragulescu also collected a silver in the floor exercise while teammate Alin Jivan made it a Romanian one-two in the vault. Veterans Jordan Jovtchev of Bulgaria and Ivan Ivankov of Belarus both earned podium places. The 33-year-old Jovtchev picked up the 20th medal of his international career when he took silver in the rings, while 31-year-old Ivankov claimed his 22nd medal at world and European championships when he took bronze on the parallel bars. Last year’s joint gold medalist Andrea Coppolino of Italy had to settle for the bronze on the rings. (Reuters, Kathimerini)

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