RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — The routine wasn't even complete when Uladzislau Hancharou started celebrating.
His body still a couple stories off the ground during the men's Olympic trampoline final on Saturday, the 20-year-old from Belarus pumped his fist as he floated back to earth.
"I think I know I did quite well," Hancharou said. "At the end I felt very good about it. It was an explosion of feelings."
Hancharou received another jolt moments later when his score of 61.745 posted to put him in the lead with just reigning world champion Gao Lei of China remaing. Gao's set — the most technically ambitious of the meet and one that included six triple-twisting jumps — lacked Hancharou's crispness, something Gao acknowledged when he shook his head as he finished.
"I was just trying to use the routine that had the highest difficulties, and my goal of course was to win the gold," Gao said.
It didn't happen. Gao settled for bronze behind Hancharou and defending Olympic champion and Chinese teammate Dong Dong, who added a third Olympic medal to the gold he captured in London and the bronze he earned in Beijing.
"I'm not disappointed," Dong said. "I think that (Hancharou) did very well. He was outstanding. I watched him with admiration."
Hancharou started jumping when he was 6, a bit of a late start in a country where trampolinists often begin training at 4. He rose quickly through the ranks and wasted little time making an impact at the highest level. He took bronze at the world championships in 2014 and was the runner-up to Gao last fall. While Gao opted to continue adding difficulty to his set of 10 skills that often take the gymnasts upwards of 25 feet in the air, Hancharou opted to go the other way, choosing precision instead.
"It's all about tactics," Hancharou said.
The gold was the first for Belarus in Rio de Janeiro, a moment Hancharou would have preferred to enjoy with the other five members of the Belarussian national team. Yet he's the only one that qualified for the games and his steady performance helped end China's decade-long run at the top. Hancharou's victory was the first by a non-Chinese athlete in a world championship or Olympics since 2005.
Hancharou joked he would put his medal "under his pillow" when he heads back home as he prepares to enter the prime of his career.
At 27, Dong finds himself on the other end of the spectrum. He admitted he was tired after competing in his third Olympics and is unsure how much longer he'll keep going.