(L-R) Daiki Hashimoto (Japan), Brody Malone and Arthur Mariano (Brazil) pose during the medal ceremony of the men's high bar final at the 2022 Gymnastics World Championships on Nov. 6, 2022 in Liverpool, England.
No one can accuse Brody Malone of taking it easy.
Since winning his first U.S. title and making his Olympic debut last summer, the American gymnast hardly stopped, going straight to his junior season at Stanford, then defending his national title, all while picking up five international assignments between the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 and this week’s Gymnastics World Championships in Liverpool, England.
On Sunday, competing in his 19th and final routine of the world championships, he delivered what might have been his best. The 22-year-old native of Summerville, Georgia, cruised through his power-packed high bar routine to score 14.800 and claim his first world title. In the process he held off the defending Olympic champion Daiki Hashimoto of Japan, who scored 13.700 for second.
Malone’s world title was the second in two years for the U.S. men, after Stephen Nedoroscik won the pommel horse in 2021.
Though the high bar has often been a strength for the U.S. men, with guys like Paul Hamm, Jonathan Horton, Danell Leyva and Sam Mikulak having all medaled on the Olympic or world championships stage since the turn of the century, Malone becomes just the second American to actually win a world title the event. The other was Kurt Thomas, who won the world title in 1979 as part of his historic six-medal haul there. (U.S. men have won four Olympic gold medals in high bar, with the most recent being Trent Dimas in 1992.)
Malone was already on that list of world medalists in the event. Competing a little more than two months after making his Olympic debut, he won the high bar bronze medal at last year’s world championships.
This year’s world championships got off to a rockier start for Malone, as he opened the week with some uncharacteristic mistakes. However, he came back to place fourth in the men’s all-around final on Friday, then was as sharp and strong as ever in Sunday’s high bar final.
Swinging with such power that it looked like he was trying to break the high bar, Malone connected his series of difficult release moves and complex swing combinations before landing with just a small hop. Hashimoto, who has emerged as the next great men’s gymnast and won the all-around title in Liverpool, competed immediately after Malone but was unable to match him. Neither was anybody else.
Malone was able to take a rare break from the sport after this year’s national championships, when he planned to head home to northwest Georgia for a week of TV, potato chips and frog gigging.
He’ll head back to the Bay Area now, though he still won’t have much of a break as his senior NCAA gymnastics season is set to begin on Jan. 14, 2023.