Mistake costs Maroney gold in vault

LONDON — Krisztian Berki of Hungary won the gold medal in the pommel horse on Sunday, denying Louis Smith another British victory at the London Olympics.

Four years after a tiebreak dropped him from second to bronze, Smith had to settle for second instead of gold. He and Berki finished with identical 16.066 scores, but Berki got the gold because his execution score of 9.166 was a mere .10 points better.

“That was my goal, to come to London to win the Olympics,” Berki said. “I did my best to win and I could believe that I could win.”

With the Duchess of Cambridge, the former Kate Middleton, sitting in the front row, just a few feet away from him, Smith stared at the scoreboard with a look of astonishment.

“You have to take it with a pinch of salt,” Smith said. “If you watch it back on slow motion, you’ll usually see the best athlete won. To be beat by Krisztian, he’s one of the best pommel performers in the world and to come in second to him at an Olympic games, that’s a good feeling.”

Still, it wasn’t a bad day for the British, who have won eight gold medals on the weekend at other Olympic events.

Four years after Smith gave them their first individual gymnastics medal in a century, they got another — two, actually, with Max Whitlock taking the bronze. As the two left the arena, Smith flashed a “V for victory” sign at a TV camera.

Earlier Sunday, Sandra Izbasa of Romania won the gold in the vault as American McKayla Maroney’s rare mistake cost her victory that everyone had been certain was hers.

Maroney appeared to land her second vault on the backs of her heels. Her feet slid out from under her, and she plopped on the mat, a look of shock crossing her face.

“I already knew that I pretty much only had the silver medal. I really didn’t deserve to win a gold medal if I fall on my butt,” Maroney said. “I was still happy with a silver, but it’s still just sad.”

Zou Kai of China won his fifth career gold medal, defending his title on floor exercise. He already had one gold from China’s victory in the men’s team competition last week, and has three more from the Beijing Games. He’s got a chance to duplicate his Beijing triple on Tuesday, when he tries to defend his Olympic title on high bar.

“I was really young and inexperienced in 2008. I was just a kid who focused on the competition,” Zou said. “I’m different now and wanted to be on top of the podium.”

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