In the final day of competition at the 2014 Commonwealth Games held at the SSE Hydro in Glasgow, Scotland, Ellie Black of Canada finally got her gold with an incredible performance on beam, the event on which she’s worked hardest to clean up.
Her work paid off, as she finished about 1.3 points ahead of anyone else in this messy rotation where wobbles, falls, and a missing leap series were the cause of much drama throughout. But amidst the mini traumas, Black was tremendously clean, aggressive, and confident in her performance of incredibly difficult skills and combinations.
Australia’s Mary-Anne Monckton, who took home the country’s second silver medal of the Games, was pretty wobbly throughout though made up for it with her great difficulty, while Georgina Hockenhull of Wales quietly picked up her second bronze with an elegant routine.
On floor, we saw several instances of going out of bounds, but there were no falls, making it for a very exciting final. Though Claudia Fragapane, who picked up her fourth gold medal here, was easily the strongest and nearly a point above the rest, the remaining seven were all within eight tenths of one another, making it one of the closest final races I’ve ever seen. Lauren Mitchell picked up another silver for Australia even with a hop OOB while Black took home a bronze, officially joining the “I have a medal in every color” club.
Overall, I thought judging was much better today than it had been, though they were still pretty strict with everyone in terms of execution.
BALANCE BEAM RECAP
1. Ellie Black (Canada) – 14.9 (6.4/8.5)
From start to finish, this was easily one of the best routines of the entire week. Though she started the routine with a bend at the waist after her double turn, she went on to nail her punch front pike, bhs layout, and bhs to tuck full, all of which were superb. She took a tiny pause between her switch to switch half, and then she had a tiny fight to keep her punch front tuck steady, but by this point she knew she was done and hit a solid 2.5 dismount with just a tiny hop forward. An excellent routine. When her score came up, her coach smiled and said “now THAT is a score, huh?” What they’ve been waiting for since Monday!
2. Mary-Anne Monckton (Australia) – 13.666 (6.0/7.666)
Poor Monckton went up early and held onto her first place score for the entire rotation until Black annihilated everyone, but the two seem to be close and celebrated their routines – and their medals – with huge smiles and hugs. Monckton was a bit sloppy in her routine, so it really was her difficulty that saved her here, but at least there were no falls. She started with a forward roll mount, a fluid side aerial to loso, and a lovely full L-turn, but then had a big bend at the waist on her switch to switch half. She wobbled on her front aerial, the sheep was okay, and then the switch ring…she actually lost her footing but somehow managed to save it, amazingly, after a fight. She finished with a scissone, a side somi (with yet another bend in half), and then a near-stuck double pike.
3. Georgina Hockenhull (Wales) – 13.466 (5.5/7.966)
This was an elegant routine from the young Hockenhull, who began with some lovely combinations, including a solid bhs loso, switch to switch side, and front aerial to scissone. Her full turn was great, there was a small check on her side aerial, her switch half was nice though not connected to anything, and she had a small check on her side somi. Her switch ring was very nice, and she landed her double back well. I enjoy her style a lot, though she seems a bit serious and didn’t even really smile when she found out she had medaled! Her teammate and coaches were more excited.
4. Elizabeth Beddoe (Wales) – 13.666 (5.1/8.266)
Beddoe actually had a stronger effort than her teammate Hockenhull, but placed a tenth out of medal contention due to her much lower start value. She started her routine with a very smooth switch to switch half to wolf jump, and then an illusion turn with a slight bobble. She continued with a small check on her side somi, a bhs loso with what looked like slightly bent legs, a gorgeous double turn, and a front aerial before hitting her lovely roundoff to 1.5 dismount.
5. Claudia Fragapane (England) – 13.133 (5.2/7.933)
England’s golden girl was pleased with her routine, though she was missing leap components and lost about half a point in her start value; with the leaps, she likely would have earned bronze. Fragapane started out strong with a switch leap to a wolf jump, and then a wolf jump full on its own, which was cool to see. She then had a sizable wobble on her bhs layout, a front aerial, and a sheep jump with questionable form. Her standing full definitely took a bit too long to prep, and she landed it with a leg up, but it still looked good in the air. She finished her routine with a side aerial before a bhs bhs into her double pike, taking a step out to steady herself.
6. Lauren Mitchell (Australia) – 13.0 (5.9/7.1)
I think Mitchell came with start values in mind, because when she finishes her routine she goes off to the side where she furiously begins counting on her fingers, probably going over her routine in her mind and adding her routine components together. She submitted yet another enquiry into her start value today, though it was again denied. Mitchell started well with a switch mount, a leap to front punch, and a wolf jump to a split leap. She then unfortunately fell on her bhs bhs layout series, as she didn’t get quite enough of a punch out of her layout and just couldn’t land it properly. She hopped back on for a switch ring with a check, one of her better wolf 2.5 turns, a front aerial, and a switch to switch half with a bit of a pause between before dismounting with a bhs bhs to double tuck (her landing was deep and she bounced back a bit).
7. Isabela Onyshko (Canada) – 12.666 (5.6/7.066)
I need her to get more consistent because I think she’s one of my favorite ‘discoveries’ from this competition. Onyshko has this air of seriousness about her, but then smiles and laughs when with her teammates, and though she looks somewhat fragile, she always accepts falls and mistakes with the greatest composure. I love her and hope we see a lot more of her in Canada’s future. Unfortunately, she fell on her very first series today, her bhs bhs layout. She climbed back on for a front aerial to split jump to slightly weak wolf jump and then a lovely tour jete full to scissone, a full turn with her leg at 180, and a nice switch ring. Her side aerial was nice, as was the switch to standing back loso (though the connection was a little slow), and she finished with a bhs bhs double tuck dismount with just a step.
8. Becky Downie (England) – 9.833 (4.5/5.333)
Oy, what a routine…but I chose this photo among any of the others because despite everything that happened, she came off the podium smiling and waving to fans before shrugging and letting her coach know she was fine, just a little off today. Nothing you can do about an off day, and she’s old and wise enough to understand this. You could tell she was waiting more excitedly than anxiously for her score, and when it came up, she burst into laughter. It may have been a different story had she not killed it on bars yesterday, but I loved her calmness, her resilience, and her maturity.
From the start, this was a mess, with a fall straight away on her front punch. Downie took a breath and climbed back on for her side aerial to loso, which was way off-line and she fell again. She got up on the beam a third time…and fell immediately on her full turn at 180 degrees. At this point she knew there was no point, but kept going and since she no longer had any pressure, the rest of the routine was mostly smooth sailing for her lovely switch to scissone, full turn, front aerial to split jump (a wobble here but she saved it), side somi, and switch leap. She dismounted just a layout, knowing she’d never medal in a million years and wanting to save her ankle, which was a smart decision – there’s no telling what could have happened on her double pike! But kudos to her for reacting to this so beautifully.
FLOOR EXERCISE RECAP
1. Claudia Fragapane (England) – 14.541 (6.0/8.541)
Surprise, surprise, another gold for Frags! This routine really was incredibly worth it, however. She easily had the best routine of the bunch, no questions asked. So much power and energy, and I like that her personality completely fits her music. She opened with her huge full-twisting double layout and then immediately hit a stuck double layout for pass two, looking like she was on fire. She took a step out of her double arabian and landed with her chest a tad low on her double pike, but this was her fifth day of high energy competition in a row, so the fact that she still had this much in her at the very end was impressive. Great Britain has definitely found a new star in Fragapane.
2. Lauren Mitchell (Australia) – 13.833 (6.0/7.933/-0.1)
Finally, a medal for Mitchell! One of her better routines in the competition, though once again her execution was pretty slammed…I’m gonna go with her leaps being the problem both here and on beam? She opened with a piked full-in, which looked nice in the air and was landed well. Her double arabian landed OOB, so she couldn’t add the stag leap, but she came back strong to hit the 2.5 to punch front and then had a nice landing on her double pike. I wish she had a better time in Glasgow, but there’s no doubt in my mind she’ll be on Peggy Liddick’s mind for Worlds.
3. Ellie Black (Canada) – 13.666 (5.7/8.166/-0.2)
Her ending pose is lovely, but it doesn’t really translate well to a photo of this size! Ellie opened with a great double layout, though right away you could tell her leaps weren’t fully extended. I get it, though…she pretty much competed the all-around three times between Monday and Friday, so coming off of her beam gold high, she was probably exhausted and willing to give up little deductions on her leaps in order to save energy for her tumbling. For her second pass, she did what I screamed she should have done in the all-around competition – took out the 2.5 through to double pike! She kept the 2.5 (which looked a bit messy) but did it through to a double full, which she stepped OOB but at least she didn’t fall. Her front full to double back looked great, and though her double back was cowboyed, it was a hit pass to end her week in Glasgow.
4. Stephanie Merkle (Canada) – 13.433 (5.5/7.933)
This was a great outing for Merkle, and I really enjoy her music and choreography, which reminds me of an international spy movie kind of theme. She opened with a great tucked full-in and followed it up with a 2.5 to punch front tuck, which is landed well but the form as she went through that 2.5 was super helicopter-y. Her triple full looked great (though again, she loses form as she gets closer to the end) and she finished with a double tuck which was a little underrotated but she had no problems landing it.
5. Jessica Hogg (Wales) – 13.166 (4.9/8.266)
Jessica’s routine was definitely one of the best executed routines and she was also one of the more artistically-inclined of this group of gymnasts. It was a very mature and lovely routine to watch, and her tumbling was great as well. This could be a fantastic NCAA routine, now that I think about it. Someone sign her up! She opened with a tucked full-in and then went into a fantastic double pike for her second pass. She only had three passes in her routine, and finished with a double tuck with a slight step back. While the three passes made her exercise considerably less difficult than everyone else’s, I definitely sometimes prefer three clean and strong passes to four crazy fumbled ones.
6. Hannah Whelan (England) – 13.133 (5.4/7.833/-0.1)
Another great performer here, letting her maturity carry her through a very nice artistic floor exercise, even though her tumbling isn’t exactly top notch. Whelan opened with a tucked full-in, which she stumbled OOB. She followed it up with a 2.5 to nice punch front layout, a double tuck, and then a double pike into a controlled lunge. Again, not the exciting tumbling you’ll see from girls like her teammate in this same final, but lovely to watch for its performance quality.
7. Charlotte Sullivan (New Zealand) – 13.033 (5.5/7.533)
I love Sullivan so much. She has the opposite problem as Whelan…some really nice tumbling but almost zero artistic appeal, as she’s never really fully there with her expression or presentation until the very end when she smiles this smile that lights up the entire arena. She looks okay in her movement but nothing is done with purpose…for example, if she has choreography that takes her to the corner before a tumbling pass, she pauses awkwardly when she finishes the dance, waiting for the tumbling rather than making it all flow from one bit into the next. She’s young, though, so it could be something she can figure out with age, just like Whelan. Also, New Zealand gets points for looking super classy in black, white, and silver all week, and they’re easily winning the bun competiton. Beautiful. Sullivan opened with a triple full, and continued with a double pike, a 2.5, and a high double back, which she stuck.
8. Kirsten Beckett (South Africa) – 13.0 (5.4/7.9/-0.3)
If it wasn’t for her wild OOB in her opening half-in half-out pass, she would have landed fifth instead of last, because it was an otherwise great routine. Her second pass was a perfect double arabian, the third was a 1.5 (which seemed way too easy for her), and she finished with a double back, landed with her chest a bit low but she definitely hit it. I can’t wait to see her get everything under control and have it come together all at once, kind of like it did in qualifications. She’s very good but gets lost in her routines at times and I know she’s better than that!
The floor final closed the women’s artistic gymnastics competition at the 2014 Commonwealth Games. England finished with eight medals, including five gold, one silver, and two bronze. Australia will return home with four silver medals; Canada snagged a gold, a silver, and a bronze, all from Black; and the remaining bronze medals went to Wales (one for the team and the other for Hockenhull’s beam) and India (the country’s historic first women’s Commonwealth Games medal for Dipa Karmakar on vault).
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Article by Lauren Hopkins