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Gymnast Lee Chih-kai aiming to turn perfection into invincibility

2021-08-04
Focus Taiwan
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Gymnast Lee Chih-kai performs his routine in the men's pommel horse final.
Gymnast Lee Chih-kai performs his routine in the men's pommel horse final.

Taipei, Aug. 3 (CNA) For Taiwanese gymnast Lee Chih-kai , his flawless performance of the challenging "Thomas Flair" on pommel horse at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics only kindled his ambition to further perfect the routine into invincibility.

The 25-year-old won a silver medal in the pommel horse on Aug. 1, the first Olympic medal ever won by a Taiwanese athlete in gymnastics.

He nailed his 45-second routine, centered around the move named after late American gymnast Kurt Thomas, in which he skillfully maneuvered around the pommel horse on alternate hands while swinging his split legs in a continuous circular motion.

Yet the score it earned -- 15.400 -- was not good enough to prevent Britain's Max Whitlock from winning his second consecutive Olympic pommel horse gold medal with a 15.583.

Lee's 8.700 for execution was the best of any gymnast, even better than Whitlock's 8.583, but his 6.7 for difficulty was 0.3 points lower than Whitlock's 7.0 -- essentially the margin of defeat and the fuel that is powering Lee as he looks ahead.

"I did my best. I have no regrets," Lee said after his performance, determined to come back better.

"Right now, I'm the 3.0 version of Lee Chih-kai, and I'll push to evolve further by beating Whitlock."

When he defeats the veteran champion, it will be the birth of "Lee Chih-kai 4.0," he said, expressing his wish to achieve a "Thomas Flair" maneuver the world has never seen.

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