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Kohei Uchimura and Japanese men claim gold in gymnastics team final

Kohei Uchimura on vault in Olympic team final
Copyright 2016 The Associated Press

Kohei Uchimura and Japanese men claim gold in gymnastics team final

The gymnast known as "Superman" finally won the Olympic team medal he's wanted his whole career

Kohei Uchimura has said repeatedly that he cares more about winning team gold than winning another all-around title in Rio. "Winning the individual gold would make me happy, but the team gold means you get five times the happiness," Uchimura stated. 

The Japanese men looked to have fifty times the happiness after beating out the field in the men's team final at the 2016 Rio Olympics and earning a long-awaited gold.

With a combined score of 274.094, Japan finished over 2.5 points ahead of Russia, with China, the 2008 and 2012 Olympic team champions, bumped down to third.

This is Japan's 13th Olympic team medal of any color and seventh gold medal, with the previous Olympic title coming 12 years ago in Athens. 

With Kohei Uchimura competing on all six events and floor phenom Kenzo Shirai earning the second-highest score of the competition, 16.133, for his twist-filled floor routine, the Japanese men stayed ahead of the pack.

The Russian men were thrilled to win their first team Olympic medal since 2000. While the Chinese men looked visably crushed to finish third, they were ultimately gracious in defeat. Zhang Chenlong told the AP, ""Japan has won gold. We are very happy for them because every athlete has done utmost."

The U.S. men repeated their performance from the London Olympics, finishing fifth again. With three of the five members of the 2012 team returning for Rio, they hoped to finally erase the bad memories from London.

The U.S. men started on a dismal note with a fall on floor from Alex Naddour, but regrouped to get through their nemesis, pommel horse. Solid scores on still rings led to even better scores on vault, then the highest score of their day, a 15.700 from Sam Mikulak, on parallel bars. They had an outside chance to making the podium, especially after strong routines from Chris Brooks and Sam Mikulak on horizontal bar.

Last up was Danell Leyva, a world championships medalist on horizontal bar. He made it through the majority of his routine cleanly with just one release and catch left--which he just barely missed. After spending a few moments on the floor collecting himself, Leyva remounted the bar to finish his routine.

The U.S. men's final combined score was 269.752.

Final standings: 

1. Japan
2. Russia
3. China
4. Great Britain
5. United States
6. Brazil
7. Germany
8. Ukraine

The women's team final will take place on Tuesday, Aug. 9 at 3 p.m. ET. 

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