Preview: Zonderlands high bar final

RIO – Today is the last day of apparatus finals in Rio. The women will compete on floor, while the men compete on parallel bars and high bar. With favorite Epke Zonderland, who will try to defend his title here. How does he look? We look forward to his final with high bar specialist Marijo Moznik, elite gymasts Andrey Medvedev and Hongarian gymasts David Vescerneyes.

Fight for gold
The first one up in this final is Fabian Hambuechen, Zonderlands friend and long time rival. He was in the high bar final during last years world championships and won the Olympic silver in London four years ago. Especially his execution is very good. “I think it will be very interesting final on highbar with very strong routines in this final,” tells highbar specialist Marijo Moznik. “For the medal E score will be very important.” Zonderland is second up in this final. So he know what he has to do to beat Hambuechen. In Londen he impressed the world with his flight element combinations. His D-score is higher, but he sometimes lacks a little bit in execution in comparison to the German gymnast. Israelian gymnast Andrey Medvedev thinks the judges will have a tough job tonigh. "I think that Epke in last two years started to work cleaner," explains Medvedev. " So it's not a big disadvantage for Epke that he has a more difficult D-score, but Fabian still more cleaner a little bit. I think their level is very close this Olympic, so if both of them will perform their best, it will be very difficult for judges to conclude the olimpic champion". Despite Hambuechen and Zonderland being the favorites here, nothing is certain yet. Anything can happen.

Missing some big names
We saw that during qualification. Guys like Brettschneider, Uchimura, Nguyen, Zhang en Mariono did not qualify for this highbar final because of major mistakes or falls. “We know that in the final, anything can happen,” says elite gymasts Andrey Medvedev. “But I expect from Hambuchen and Zonderland that they will be fighting for the gold.” Again, anything can happen. The big names will be missed in this final though. “Brettschneider has the most difficult elements. That is a risk, but it is a pity that we won’t see him in the finals,” says David Vecserneyes. "And Uchimura was the biggest chance for gold!" Hambuechen and Zonderland did not have a very good preparation towards these Olympic Games and every gymanst in this final will be very strong. (Read the interview with Epke Zonderland en Fabian Hambuchen about their Rocky Road to Rio.)

Medal contention
Nile Wilson will be the third gymnast in this final. He qualified in second, over Zonderland. During teamfinals and the individual all-around final, he showed to be very consistent on this apparatus. The Great-Brittain gymast could be the surprise here, he is the European Champion on this event. Cuban Larduet could also surprise us. He won the bronze during the World Championships in Glasgow last year, but only got in this final in eighth place. Moznik: “I expect that on the podium we will see one of the younger gymnasts, like Wilson or Larduet, because they have high D score and very clean executions,” There willl also be two American gymnasts in this final, Mikulak and Leyva. The last one could also be very dangerous for the podium. He won silver in Glasgow and competed in the final in London four years ago. He knows what to do to win a medal here, because he will be up last. "Leyva has a strong routine, but makes many small mistakes in his routine." Explains Hongarian gymast Vexserneyes. "I do not think Mikulak is gonna win a medal."

Support from the spectators
The last gymasts in this final are Brazilian Baretto Junior and Oleg Verniaiev from Ukrain. They will have the full support of the spectators. Verniaiev because of  his fight with Uchimura fort he all-around gold medal and Baretto Junior as the home soil favorite. That energy will definitely get these two going for a good result.

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