At the Gymnastics World Championships in Antwerp, Vinzenz Höck is the big hope for a medal from an Austrian perspective. The man from Graz is one of the best ring gymnasts in the world and wants to continue his strong performances in the World Cup in Belgium. “The goal is clearly to qualify for the final. “It’s not easy, but it’s definitely realistic,” said Höck, referring to qualification on Saturday. The final of the top eight will not take place until seven days later.
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It’s all about medals and an Olympic quota place for the 2024 Summer Games in Paris. “I have to get to the final and be really good there,” said the 27-year-old from Innsbruck. A medal is of course the dream, said Höck, the 2020 European Championship silver medalist. And anything can always happen in the final. “The field is so close together that you can’t afford anything. The favorite doesn’t always have to win in the final.”
The artistic gymnasts have a total of three individual quota places up for grabs on the rings for the 2024 Summer Games in Paris. One of them in Antwerp, the remaining two at the 2024 World Cup. Höck’s biggest competitor is the Greek Rio Olympic champion Eleftherios Petrounias. “There is competition, but everyone won’t make it to the final.” A large proportion of the Olympic tickets are allocated via the team rankings. The favorites in Antwerp come from China, the duo Liu Yang and You Hao have to be beaten.
APA/AFP/Fabrice Coffrini Höck is going for his first World Cup medal in Antwerp
“Be one of the top people”
“The results show me that I am one of the top people,” said Höck, who narrowly missed out on a World Cup medal in fifth place in Japan in 2021. In any case, he impressed this season with the World Cup victories in Tel Aviv (Israel) in June and in Szombathely (Hungary) in September as well as with the triumph in the overall World Challenge ranking. In March he successfully completed his degree in mechatronics after 15 semesters. Höck can now call himself a qualified engineer. “Now the priority is on sport.”
What caused him more trouble? “Gymnastics has presented me with more insurmountable challenges,” said Höck and laughed. The studies were demanding, but he enjoyed doing it. “For me, mathematics and programming are like solving puzzles.” In Antwerp, the multiple national champion can now fully focus on his performance on the rings in his eighth World Cup participation.
Höck raves about Biles
Just like Simone Biles, who could become the most successful gymnast in history. The 26-year-old is in the squad of the US Gymnastics Association and would achieve something historic with another medal in her sixth World Cup participation. With 32 medals so far at the Olympic Games and World Championships, she is currently tied with Larissa Latynina from the former Soviet Union. The return to Antwerp is also something special for Biles: As a 16-year-old, she won the World Championships gold in the all-around for the first time there ten years ago.
Höck raved about the exceptional athlete. “She’s already the best gymnast of all time,” he said. “What she delivers is disgusting. She is always impressive to watch; she jumps higher than most men. She feels like a little rubber ball.”