UNIVERSIADE: Taiwan scores rare gymnastics gold (update)

Taipei-Taiwanese gymnast Lee Chih-kai delivered when it mattered most, nailing his routine in the finals of the men's pommel horse at the 2017 Taipei Universiade on Wednesday to win only Taiwan's second men's gymnastics gold ever at a Summer Universiade.

Lee finished with a score of 15.300, topping Oleg Verniaiev of Ukraine (15.033), who was crowned men's all-around champion at the games on Tuesday, and Tomomasa Hasegawa of Japan (14.591).

"This is the best performance of my gymnastics career and I hope I can even do better in the future," Lee said after his triumph.

Lee's gold was Taiwan's eighth at this year's Universiade. Taiwan's only other men's gymnastics gold at the Universiade was won by Huang Yi-hsueh on the vault in 2005.

Prior to the Universiade, the 21-year-old Lee was perhaps best known in Taiwan for his leading role in "Jump! Boys," a documentary about boys training for gymnastics competitions.

Lee first got into gymnastics when he was six years old, and he often used his gymnastics skills to attract customers to his mother's vegetable stall at a traditional market that earned him the nickname "the market's Ah-kai," the role he plays in the documentary.

Wednesday's gold represented the perfect ending to that story, he said, but it also symbolized the beginning of another chapter in his life -- the pursuit of an Olympic medal.

Lee was Taiwan's first gymnast to compete at an Olympics in 16 years when he qualified for the Rio Summer Games in 2016. But a month before the games, he suffered a foot injury that forced him to pull out of the men's all-around competition.

He did compete in the pommel horse event in Rio, but failed to make the finals.

Lee signaled he was ready to emerge at the Universiade on Aug. 19, when he finished third in qualifying for the pommel horse finals behind Verniaiev and Hasegawa.

He then tied for the top score on the apparatus with Verniaiev during the all-around finals Tuesday and pronounced himself confident of taking gold in the individual event on Wednesday, a promise he fulfilled with a near-perfect display.

While Lee excelled, countryman Hsu Ping-chien, who had finished fifth in the qualifying round on the pommel horse with a score of 14.375, finished a disappointing seventh on the apparatus on Wednesday with a score of 13.000.

Source: Overseas Community Affairs Council