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Japan's Kaya takes gymnastics bronze in men's pommel horse

Kazuma Kaya of Japan, performs on the pommel horse during the artistic gymnastics men's apparatus final at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Aug. 1, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Japan's Kazuma Kaya claimed bronze in the men's gymnastics pommel horse at the Tokyo Olympics on Sunday, collecting his second medal of these games.

    Kaya, who helped Japan claim silver in the men's team event on Monday, finished behind Britain's Max Whitlock and Taiwan's Lee Chih-kai at Ariake Gymnastics Centre.

    Defending champion Whitlock earned 15.583 points, beating Lee by 0.183. Kaya, making his Olympic debut, earned 14.900 in the eight-man field for Japan's third gymnastics medal at these Olympics.

    Japan's other entrant, Kohei Kameyama, was fifth with 14.600.

    "I was able to win this bronze medal because I really concentrated on my performance," the 24-year-old Kaya said after the victory ceremony. "I came into the competition believing that something will happen if I refuse to give up, and I was able to perform the way I wanted."

    Whitlock, who also took bronze in the event at the 2012 London Olympics, opened the competition with a dynamic routine, nailing all of his elements to lead from start to finish. His performance had the highest D score, the higher the score -- the more difficult the routine.

    "It feels incredible to win today, very surreal. I can't quite comprehend what just happened. It's been a whirlwind journey, and I am massively grateful," the 28-year-old Whitlock said.

    The sixth gymnast to take to the pommel horse in the competition, Kaya appeared to be stiff at first, but pulled off a clean routine and pumped his fist in the air as his teammates watched from the stands.

    Kaya's bronze is Japan's 31st medal in Tokyo. The hosts now have 17 gold medals including Daiki Hashimoto's in men's gymnastics individual all-around.

    Kaya, who was a reserve at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, said his sights are now set on the Paris Olympics in 2024.

    "Since winning silver in the team final, I consider today's bronze to be the start in my campaign for Paris," he said. "I don't want to feel any satisfaction because I want to win gold. I want to start training now."

    The 32-year-old Kameyama, the last gymnast to hit the apparatus, almost fell but managed to hang on in his only event at his first Olympics.

    "I wanted to have a better performance, but it can't be helped," he said. "I am satisfied. It's like I'm shaking from joy and I feel like I'm still in a dream."

    In other events held at the venue, Israel's Artem Dolgopyat topped the podium in the men's floor exercise, beating Spain's Rayderley Zapata and China's Xiao Ruoteng.

    In the women's vault, Brazil's Rebeca Andrade took gold for her second medal in Tokyo after finishing with silver in the all-around event. American Mykayla Skinner claimed silver and South Korean Yeo Seo Jeong bronze.

    Tokyo Games women's all-around champion Sunisa Lee of the United States finished third in the uneven bars won by Belgium's Nina Derwael. Anastasiia Iliankova of the Russian Olympic Committee finished second.

    Simone Biles, who won four gold medals at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, did not compete. She has not done so since she withdrew after the first rotation of the women's team event on Tuesday in which the U.S. team finished second, citing the need to focus on her mental health.

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