Gymnastics-Dalaloyan reaches all-around final despite recent Achilles injury

Gymnastics - Artistic - Men's Pommel Horse - Qualification
Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Gymnastics - Artistic - Men's Pommel Horse - Qualification - Ariake Gymnastics Centre, Tokyo, Japan - July 24, 2021. Artur Dalaloyan of the Russian Olympic Committee in action on the pommel horse. REUTERS/Lindsey Wasson

TOKYO, July 24 (Reuters) - Russian gymnast Artur Dalaloyan prevailed over a recent Achilles injury to clinch an unlikely spot in the all-around final at the Tokyo Olympics on Saturday, competing on the vault and floor despite having planned to sit out the events to spare his leg.

The 25-year-old severed his Achilles in training before the European Championships and had surgery in April. He recovered partially and was named to the Russian men's Olympic team.

Dalaloyan finished fourth all-around in the first subdivision of qualifications, behind compatriot Nikita Nagornyy and China's Xiao Ruoteng and Sun Wei. The top 24 gymnasts - a maximum of two per country - will qualify for the all-around final on July 28.

Dalaloyan, who hadn't been sure he would compete at all given his health, was in tears on the sidelines, bending over on a chair after the floor exercise.

"I was filled with joy that I found the strength to compete on the vault and floor," said Dalaloyan, the 2018 world all-around champion. "But I also had feelings of frustration because I expected more of myself."

The Russian men's team took silver at the 2016 Rio Games and have not won gold in the event since 1996. They are looking to improve on their result from the last Olympics.

Russian athletes are competing in Tokyo as representatives of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) because the country was stripped of its flag and anthem for doping offences.

Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman

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