18 October, 2009

ART World Champ 2009: First day Apparatus Finals: China’s gymnasts once again proved their dominance

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He Kexin CHNLONDON (GBR) October 17, 2009: Once again, the O2 Arena filled up today with an enthusiastic crowd excited to see more top level gymnastics action here in London! Enter the specialists, who competed today in the first of two days of Apparatus Finals. Five apparatus were featured, three for men and two for women. In contrast to the All-around competition, one event took place after the other, giving spectators an opportunity to follow each gymnast’s routine. Here’s what they saw:

MAG – Floor
2008 Olympic Champion from China Zou Kai was the first to take to the floor this afternoon. He raised the bar for this Final, confirming his qualifying score of 15.675. American Champion Steven Legendre earned 14.950 points; lower than in the qualifying rounds. Three times World Champion on Floor Marian Dragulescu (ROU) was next with a strong routine that knocked him into the leading position (15.700). Beijing finalist Alexander Shatilov (ISR) managed a 15.575, which meant a provisional rank three. Will it be enough to maitain a medal rank? Chilean Enrique Tomas Gonzalez Sepulveda failed to give a repeat performance of the preliminaries and scored a mere 15.225. Next up was newly crowned All-around World Champion Kohei Uchimura (JPN); he, too, gave a weaker performance than at the Qualification (15.475) and ended up dropping to rank four. Uchimura’s compatriot Makoto Okiguchi (JPN), who just made it to this Final in eighth position, was awarded a 15.425 and rank five today. Last gymnast performing on Floor Matthias Fahrig (GER) scored 15.400 and finished in 6th.


Final standing:
Gold – DRAGULESCU Marian (ROU) – 15.700
Silver – ZOU Kai (CHN) – 15.675
Bronze – SHATILOV Alexander (ISR) – 15.575
4. UCHIMURA Kohei (JPN) – 15.475
5. OKIGUCHI Makoto (JPN) – 15.425
6. FAHRIG Matthias (GER) – (15.400)
8. LEGENDRE Steven (USA) – 14.950
















WAG – Vault

The first female gymnast to compete in today’s Finals was Russian Anna Myzdrikova on Vault, who qualified in fifth. She repeated her score of 14.225 points. 2009 European Champion and Beijing finalist Ariella Kaeslin was next and progressed since the preliminaries with an average score of 14.525. Not such a great day for reigning Olympic Champion on this apparatus Un Jong Hong (PRK) who struggled with her landing at both vaults. Because of the high difficulty of those vaults, she did manage an average score of 14.262, which put her in second position behind Kaeslin for now. USA’s Kayla Williams, who bull’s eyed first position in the Qualification, was next. Will she be able to repeat her phenomenal performance? The answer is yes! Flawlessly executed vaults and spotted landings brought her the highest execution scores and the lead in this Final (15.087). Mexico’s Elsa Garcia Rodriguez Blanca, who was awarded the Longines Prize for Elegance last night, qualified in eighth position. She scored 13.287 today – not good enough to boost her ranking. 16-year-old Canadian Brittany Rogers improved on her qualifying score with 14.200 and fifth position. Second to last Vault competitor Ekaterina Kurbatova (RUS) placed 10th in last night’s All-around event. Her sole Apparatus Final at these championships, she scored an average of 14.337, which pushed Hong from the medal ranks for the time being. Then came France’s Youna Dufournet. 5th in the All-Around, she fared extremely well with strong vaults and spotted landings. Her performance was awarded with 14.450 points and rank three behind Williams and Kaeslin.

Final standing:
Gold – WILLIAMS Kayla (USA) – 14.975
Silver – KAESLIN Ariella (SUI) – 13.975
Bronze – DUFOURNET Youna (FRA) – 14.625
4. KURBATOVA Ekaterina (RUS) – 13.950
5. HONG Un Jong (PRK) – 14.100
6. MYZDRIKOVA Anna (RUS) – 14.175
7. ROGERS Brittany (CAN) – 13.975


















MAG – Pommel Horse

The crowd held its breath for local star Louis Smith, Bronze medallist at the 2007 Worlds and the 2008 Olympic Games as well as 2009 European runner-up. The Pommel Horse hot shot who qualified third (15.900) was first to perform at this apparatus. To the cries of a shocked crowd, Smith lost his cool early on when he fell off the Pommel Horse. With an impressive show of character he gave a clean finish and earned 14.450 points. Croatian Robert Seligman was consistent throughout his routine and scored 14.750. Reigning European Champion and 2007 World runner-up from Hungary Krisztian Berki showed nice form, performing elegantly throughout his routine. Second in Qualification, Berki scored 16.075 today, rocketing up the ladder into first. Next was US American All-arounder Timothy McNeill whose strongest apparatus is Pommel Horse. 15.150 points have placed him in a provision second. But four competitors were yet to compete! Romania’s Flavius Koczi worked nicely through his routine and scored 14.975 points. Top qualifier from China, Zhang Hongtao, flawlessly performed a very complex routine that stunned the crowd. He was awarded 16.200 and the lead on Berki. Australia’s Prashanth Sellathurai picked up the pace, speeding through his routine. The 2006 Worlds runner-up maintained good body tension and was awarded a Bronze medal winning 15.400. Final competitor on Pommel Horse was French Cyril Tommasone, whose smooth routine brought him into fourth with a 15.225 point score.

Zhang Hongtao _CHN



Final standing:
Gold – ZHANG Hongtao (CHN) – 16.200
Silver – BERKI Krisztian (HUN) – 16.075
Bronze – SELLATHURAI Prashanth. (AUS) – 15.400
4. TOMMASONE Cyril (FRA) – 15.225
5. MCNEILL Timothy (USA) – 15.150
6. KOCZI Flavius (ROU) – 14.975
7. SELIGMAN Robert (CRO) – 14.750
8. SMITH Louis (GBR) – 14.450


















WAG – Uneven Bars

The Women’s Uneven Bars Final promised to be an exciting event with Olympic Champion and top qualifier from China He Kexin, along with last night’s three All-around medallists. Yong Hwa Cha (PRK) was also a medal candidate for this event.
He gave a fantastic routine from the get go, setting the bar high for this Final with 16.000. Who could beat that? Next to wow the crowd was Cha, who qualified third. Her spectacular routine with minor errors throughout yielded 14.650 points. Japanese Tsurumi swung smoothly into a momentary rank two (14.875), while Italian Serena Licchetta faced a battery of difficulties, ultimately falling off the apparatus. She scored a disappointing 11.950. Australia’s Larrissa Miller, fifth in Qualification, scored 14.575 today, which meant rank five at this time. All-around Champion Bridget Sloan (USA) won’t get another medal tonight. Her score of 14.600 took her to fourth, but she was overtaken by next-up Ana Porgras. The Romanian sailed through her routine, scored 14.675 and ranked third behind He and Tsurumi. In the end, all eyes were again on Rebecca Bross (USA), who qualified in second place and who still had a chance of altering the medal ranks. She gave a fluid routine, awarded with 14.675 points; she and Porgras tied for the Bronze.

Final standing:
Gold – HE Kexin (CHN) 16.000
Silver – TSURUMI Koko (JPN) 14.875
Bronze – PORGRAS Ana (ROU) 14.675
Bronze – BROSS Rebecca (USA) 14.675
5. CHA Yong Hwa (PRK) 14.650
6. SLOAN Bridget (USA) 14.600
7. MILLER Larrissa (AUS) 14.575
8. LICCHETTA Serena (ITA) 11.950
















MAG – Rings

Experienced Beijing finalist Matteo Morandi from Italy was first up on Rings tonight with incredible shows of strength. He scored 15.300. France’s Danny Pinheiro-Rodrigues came next, impressing the crowd with a very strong routine. Sadly he botched his dismount and destroyed any hopes of a medal (14.750). The last to qualify, Brazilian Arthur Nabarrete Zanetti, took up a surprising and momentary first position with 15.325 points. But big names were still to come! Next and flying the flag for China in this Final was powerful Yan Mingyong, first in Qualification. With a sleight of hand, he worked his way into the lead as expected (15.675). Five times Olympian, 36 year-old Iordan Iovtchev, swooped stylishly into second (15.575) as George Robert Stanescu of Romania followed and tied with Nabarrete Zanetti in third. That didn’t last for long; they were soon pushed out of the medal ranks by Ukrainian Oleksandr Vorobiov (15.500I), who qualified in fourth. Last competitor tonight, France’s Samir Ait Said scored 15.250, finishing in seventh just ahead of his team-mate Pinheiro-Rodrigues.

Yan Mingyong CHN



Final standings:
Gold – YAN Mingyong (CHN) 15.675
Silver – IOVTCHEV Iordan (BUL) 15.575
Bronze – VOROBIOV Oleksandr (UKR) 15.550
4. STANESCU G. (ROU) 15.325
6. MORANDI Matteo (ITA) 15.300
7. AIT SAID Samir (FRA) 15.250





























China’s gymnasts once again proved their dominance tonight after having missed out on glory at the All-around Finals. They took home a total of three Gold medals and one Silver. The US American women added two medals to their records: one Gold on Women’s Vault and a Bronze on Uneven Bars. Known for its strong tradition in gymnastics, Romania medalled twice with Dragulescu topping the Floor rankings and newcomer Porgras capturing a Bronze on Uneven Bars. All-around Bronze medallist Koko Tsurumi from Japan made her home country proud, claiming a Silver medal on Uneven Bars tonight.
Also of interest, Israel, Hungary, Australia, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Switzerland and France all take home a coveted medal from these championships.
Press conference quotes:
Marian Dragulescu (ROU) on the venue: It’s ‘very nice, very good, I was feeling very good here in London.’
On retirement after Olympics? ‘I had a few injuries in 2007, and I had some problems with my neck area. After the Olympics I had pains, so that’s why I chose to finish my career. Then after a break of about eight months, I was feeling better, no pains, so I was thinking, why not compete again? I felt I could still win medals. I’m glad, because today I won, it was a tough competition against young, powerful, tough athletes.’
Dragulescu’s coach: ‘I’m very happy because he’s back, and also, eleven years ago I took Marian into the junior national team. Then I was in Switzerland for ten years, and now I’m back in Romania, and back together with Marian, so it’s special!’
Kayla Williams (USA): ‘The O2 is beautiful, the arena is amazing, the training facilities at the David Beckham Academy were brilliant, it’s going to be a great Olympics here!’
On her last twelve months: ‘Of course I was watching the Olympics Games on TV. Really I’ve just been so thrilled with to be here, it’s been an honour to compete here and represent the USA.’
Zhang Hongtao (CHN): On arena, etc: ‘I want to thank you London for such good events, the software and the hardware are both very good!’
On pressure since Olympics: ‘Actually we didn’t have any pressure, we just came here to study and communicate with other gymnasts.’
‘After my routine I just wanted to celebrate with myself for doing such a good routine, I wasn’t thinking about the medal.’
He Kexin (CHN): On arena etc: ‘The audience are so passionate, I get excited because of them. The equipment here is very good.’
On pressure on the Chinese gymnasts after Beijing: ‘I also feel very relaxed here, there is no pressure because there is no team event here, we just tried to concentrate on the individual events. We just had our Games so our condition is a little low, the coaches just told us to do our best.’
Yan Mingyong (CHN): On arena etc: ‘I like the audience here, and I like the beautiful city here, and the beautiful venue here.’

Reported by the FIG