By Clare Fallon
LONDON (Reuters) - Arthur Zanetti could have won a medal for his psychology skills as well as his prowess on the rings when he became Brazil's first Olympic gymnastics champion on Monday.
Zanetti had put defending champion Chen Yibing in his sights after the Chinese beat him to the world title last October, and he upgraded the difficulty of his routine to match his rival's.
"Now I'm number one, but I have him to thank for coming this far because it was by training to beat him that I managed to do it," Zanetti told reporters after holding back tears as he kissed his gold medal on the podium.
The 22-year-old Zanetti came to London with a plan to produce an easier routine in qualifying and slip through to the final under the radar while all eyes were on Chen.
It worked. Zanetti qualified fourth and the world took little notice.
He also had the good fortune to perform last of the eight finalists at the North Greenwich Arena, giving him the advantage of being able to see what score he needed to dethrone Chen.
With the Chinese man already playing up to the television cameras, convinced he had won with the opening routine, Zanetti produced a steady and strong performance.
Not even a step back on landing the full-twisting double layout somersault that ended his routine denied him gold.
His qualifying score had been 15.616. His final score was 15.900 to Chen's 15.800.
"When I looked at his score I said: 'It is not impossible," Zanetti said.
"I knew it was very difficult but not impossible and my concentration and all my long years of training paid off."
Brazil had nurtured hopes of gymnastics gold since Daiane dos Santos won the women's floor world title in 2003.
A favorite in the 2004 Olympics, she stepped out of bounds on her first pass and stumbled on her second, ending up a disappointed fifth.
In 2008, hope turned to double world champion Diego Hypolito, but he also failed after a fall on the floor. Another fall in London meant Hypolito did not qualify for the floor final in North Greenwich.
The pressure, then, was all on Zanetti. Not that it worried him.
"I did a lot of psychological work," Zanetti said of his preparations to deal with that pressure.
"It's not easy to withstand the pressure; I did a great deal to cope with the pressure"
Next time, in 2016, there will be even more pressure as defending champion but there will also home advantage in Rio de Janeiro.
Chen, having announced his retirement after Monday's defeat, will not be back, but Zanetti will be ready for it.
(Additional reporting by Pedro Fonseca, Editing by Greg Stutchbury)