Japan are chalking up the horizontal bar. But it’s not just chalk, there are no rules that dictate what gymnasts can and can’t use, so teams get creative. Most create a gross concoction of honey, spit and chalk slurry or by mixing honey and chalk with a spritz of saltwater. Former US gymnast Trent Wells used gummy bears and beer has also been used.
Whatever Japan’s Ryohei Kato is using on the horizontal bars, it’s working. 15.066. Japan in second remember.
We have our first 16+ score! The parrallel bars are traditionally China’s strongest event, and all three of their gymnasts score at least 15.800, with You Hao clocking a mesmeric 16.166, which included a double backflip between the bars. They were fifth going into this fifth rotation, about 0.7 points behind Great Britain in third. It’s going to be close!
Ukraine are down and out at the bottom of the rankings, and only playing for pride, but Oleg Verniaiev doing himself proud on the pommel horse, recording a flawless 15.633, including the wonderfully named move, a Russian Wendy.
Japan have begun to close the gap on Russia at the top, but Ivan Stretovich continues to hold his nerve on the horizontal bar. He was just a reserve before the Olympics but is proving to be one of the strongest performers here.
The scores after four events. Two to go!
Great Britain have a mixed time on the horizontal bar: Max Whitlock has a rather disappointing 14.500 – remember he fell in qualification – Kristian Thomas clocks a solid 14.833 but Nile Wilson is the pick of the bunch …
WOW! Unbelievable routine for @NileMW on high bar! A huge 15.666 for GB! #Gymnastics #Rio2016
Nile Wilson genuinely had me in tears, that was so beautiful #Rio2016
China’s Lin Chaopan tries and triple-twist dismount on the vault, but he under-rotates and stumbles. These are routines that the Chinese were doing in their sleep in qualification but it seems as though the pressure is getting to them.
In contrast, Russia are two points clear at the top of the standings. It’s a crucial lead, not least because in the remaining three events they can afford to bring the difficulty down, and make sure that they nail the execution. Ivan Stretovich, a 19-year-old making his Olympic debut, shows no signs of nerves on the parallel bars: 15.100. Nikolai Kuksenkov follows with a 15.133 and European Games silver medallist David Belyavskiy is the best of the lot with 15.800! 15.800! It’s almost as though they are thriving on the cold reception that the crowd are giving them.
Brazil and Great Britain go onto the horizontal bar. Sergio Sasaki, the Brazilian, completes his routine for 14.566, but the home crowd feel hugely aggrieved, and vent their ire at the judges from on high – boos raining down from the stands.
USA next up in the vaults, and my word, they are pumped up like Temur Ketsbaia. Jake Dalton and Alexander Naddour are particularly excited: both continuing their clench fists and shouting ‘C’mon’ well past the point than is probably appropriate. But then, this is the culmination of four years hard work and an Olympic final. Scores of 14.833 and 14.966, respectively.
Half-way through, and here are the scores!
Germany are not going anywhere! They are in second at the moment and have Fabian Hambüchen going in the horizontal bar – he won silver four years ago in London. This is probably the best individual performance we’ve seen all day, and he gets a 15.666. Germany continue to be 2016’s surprise package!
But here come Japan in the vault. Uchimura peers down the 25m track, dissecting it with one eye closed as though he’s at an archery range, and sets off at pace, nailing a 15.566 score, pumping the air. But his team-mate Kenzo Shirai goes even better! His triple twist is landed absolutely perfectly, with no step, and a wide smile to match. 15.633!
No! Next on the rings for China, You Hao, completely messes up his dismount, taking a full three steps forward and nearly falling flat on his face. He only receives a 14.800 score. It’s not terminal, but China will not shoot up the rankings with that!
Maksym Semiankiv failed to even start his high bar routine, and Ukraine have nobody else to put forward for this event, so they will automatically lose 13-15 points! That’s effectively put them dead last. Maybe there’s been an injury to Semiankiv, but that’s hugely disappointing.
But here Liu Yang comes to China’s rescue, absolutely nailing a flawless rings. A quite amazing 15.833 score. Is this the comeback?
Scores: China in sixth and USA in seventh. Wow. And just look at Germany in second. They were expected to just make up the numbers.
1 Russian Federation 106.131
2 Germany 89.931
5 Japan 88.532
6 China 88.057
7 United States 87.456
8 Ukraine 74.381
Great Britain’s baby-faced assassin, Brinn Bevan and the team captain, Kristian Thomas go in the vault, both taking on high difficulties and both taking just a single step back. Thomas backflips onto the table, double pike. 9.4 execution and 15.4 score.
The Russian Denis Ablyazin, all 5ft2in of him, is in complete control of the rings, sticking a perfect landing, and recording the best score so far: 15.700, better even than Brazil’s Arthur Zanetti, who won gold in London 2012 in this discipline.
The pommel horse is China’s weakest event, and so it proves: You Hao is hesitant on one handle and makes a sketchy dismount, not the best from him, 14.400.
Triple twist for Max Whitlock on the vault. He looks as though he doesn’t quite complete his last rotation, and lands outside the line, but because of his difficulty he still brings in 14.966.
Germany’s Marcel Nguyen starts chalking up his parallel bars and gets to work. It’s a high difficulty but a couple of missed handstands mean that he clocks in at 15.466, when normally Nguyen would expect to get 15.7ish.
We’re into our second rotation. But it’s still not going to plan for the USA gymnasts. Danell Leyva slips on his dismount from the pommel horse, manages to style it out and land cleanly on his feet, but shuffles off stage a little bit embarrassed, hoping the judges they didn’t notice. They did: 14.333. I think the USA will be staying bottom place for now.
@michaelbutler18 Love Louis, hate his mun! Can’t wait to see him & Max burn that pommel horse down.
Remember Louis Smith is only competing on one event, the pommel horse. But that brings an awful lot of pressure for 30 seconds of work.
Max Whitlock finishes with a clean double twisting, double back. Nicely done. He’s not the strongest athlete, but is very light and nimble in the air. 14.5 score.
Ooooooooooo that’s a couple of big mistakes from Sam Mikulak. He’s widely regarded as the best all-around American, and had the best individual floor score going into this final, but starts his floor routine with two massive mistakes, twice landing outside of the borders. He finished with a nice triple twist, and bounds off towards his team with a smile on his face, but he’ll be devastated with those errors. 14.866 is his score. Could have been a lot worse.
Scores on the doors. But remember, some countries have completed more events than others, so don’t get too carried away with these.
1 Russia 45.299
2 Great Britain 44.066
3 Ukraine 44.015
4 China 43.799
5 Germany 29.449
6 Japan 15.100
7 Brazil 14.400
8 United States13.566
Uchimura looks pumped and gets a noisy cheer from the crowd as he starts on the pommel horse. It’s quite amazing how stationary his head stays as his legs helicopter around. 6.2 difficulty, 8.9 execution. That’s a score of 15.1 – he would’ve been hoping for more there.
Nile Wilson, the 20-year-old from Leeds, takes to the rings, which is traditionally Great Britain’s worst event. But he looks steady and calm and happy enough with his clean dismount. Not the same fist-pump as in qualifying, but that’ll do pig, that’ll do.
Liu Yang gets things started for China on the floor, clocking in with a 14.833. That’s a good start, finishing with two somersaults, two twists.
Ukraine’s Ihor Radivilov, absolutely sticks his vault, landing perfectly in the centre, earning a 9.333 out of 10 for execution. That a 15.333 score. Wow. He was bronze medallist in London 2012 in this event, remember.
Brazil got a deafening reception. I wonder if Great Britain will benefit from doing their rotation with the hosts. A few smattering of boos for the Russian team. After a quick warm-up, we’re off!
The gymnasts are out! USA come out each bearing ice-white smiles. Britain’s team is more a mixed bag. Max Whitlock and Kristian Thomas look down to the ground, a picture of concentration, whilst Louis Smith looks straight down the barrel of the camera and raises his eyebrows. The big flirt.
Thoughts on his top knot? Predictions? Email email@example.com or tweet me @michaelbutler18.
Japan’s Kohei Uchimura has had a mixed Olympics so far. The record six-time world champion unsuspectedly racked up a £3,700 Pokemon Go bill walking around the Olympic park, then slipped on the pommel horse and fell off the horizontal bar in qualifying. He is however, probably the greatest living all-round male gymnast. Very excited to see him, he says he holds this team event as close to his heart as the individual events. Quite right, too.
Related: Japan’s Olympic hope Kohei Uchimura racks up £3,700 Pokemon Go bill
Not anything to do with tonight’s goings on, but this is great from last night:
.@Aly_Raisman‘s parents watching her uneven bars routine is my favorite Olympic sport. pic.twitter.com/XxEpzakzTF
Related: Simone Biles shows her class to stay on course for fistful of Olympic medals
The teams will be starting in about 15 minutes or so, and will pair up as they rotate around the six disciplines. First up …
Floor: USA and China
Pommel Horse: Russia and Japan
Rings: Great Britain and Brazil
Vault: Ukraine and Germany
The chances are, in reading this, you are either a gymnastics nut – the kind of person who can’t walk down the street without balancing expertly on the edge of a kerb before bunnyhopping the nearest bin – or one of a slightly more fair-weather variety, only bothering to poke your nose into all things acrobatic once every four years. The beautiful thing about gymnastics is that it doesn’t matter: marvelling at athletes simply overcoming the dangers of flipping and twisting several metres off the ground, pushing the limit of human strength, balance, flexibility and grace is more enough.
But if you are from one of China, USA, Russia, Japan, Great Britain, Brazil, Ukraine or Germany, you’ve got a little extra to get excited about. From the Ryder Cup in golf to the Davis Cup in tennis, team competitions seem to light a fire in fans like nothing else. Today’s men’s team final is made up of the eight countries, each with five gymnasts in their ranks, who will take it in turns to each perform one of six different disciplines: vault, floor, pommel horse, rings, parallel bars and horizontal bars.