Cuban gymnast Manrique Larduet secures Rio spot with high bar bronze

GLASGOW, Scotland – Cuban Manrique Larduet is going home with an even better prize than his two medals.

A bronze medal on high bar Sunday earned him a trip to the Rio Olympics, the first appearance for a Cuban gymnast since 2004.

Larduet was the surprise silver medalist in Friday’s all-around world championship, but only the medalists in the event finals were guaranteed spots in Rio.

He shared a podium with gold medalist Kohei Uchimura, the superb Japanese gymnast who won a sixth consecutive worlds all-around title, and silver medalist Danell Levya.

The American, whose family came to the country from Cuba, earned his third worlds medal.

“I felt no pressure. I was just focused on my work,” Larduet said through a translator. “I am really glad that I could get a medal because it’s my coach’s favorite event, but I didn’t think I would get the medal now.”

Larduet’s high bar routine featured several releases, with two in quick succession, and a dismount that had so much height he might as well have cleared it with air traffic control.

For a gymnast who dreamed of competing in the Olympics since he started in the sport at 5 years old, it was fulfillment of a goal.

“That means a lot to me because I also said to my teammates to trust me, that I would get a medal on parallel bars or high bar,” he said. “So I kept my promise.”

By Rachel Axon, USA Today

November 1, 2015

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