On August 20, the all-around competition at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games concluded with Seda Tutkhalyan becoming the second Russian to take the title.
After a sloppy qualification day, Tutkhalyan and Brazil’s Flavia Saraiva – the two biggest favorites for the all-around podium coming into the competition – were able to clean up enough to come out on top.
Tutkhalyan had an incredible day on her first three events, so her fall on floor wasn’t enough to take her out of contention, while Saraiva had just about her best possible day though still landed two tenths behind Tutkhalyan due to her lower difficulty on vault and bars.
I have to mention that even after Tutkhalyan’s fall in the final moments of her floor routine, she still came off the podium with a smile for her coach and for Saraiva, all three of whom embraced in a group hug in the most adorable display of sportsmanship I’ve seen.
The gymternet loved the potential for drama with young girls from Russia and Brazil – the former and current homes of Alexander Alexandrov – competing head-to-head, but the girls themselves always had smiles, high fives, and hugs for one another, and at one point, Tutkhalyan even helped Saraiva pin her number back on after beam.
It was absolutely beautiful, and though it’s common for the men to be free in their expressions of international camaraderie, I wish it’s something we saw more often among the women who instead fall under the dramatization of rivalries dating back to the Cold War.
In addition to the gold and silver medalists, Great Britain’s Ellie Downie was happy to reach a bronze medal even with a fall on floor thanks to her solid consistency elsewhere.
Wang Yan of China had a fall on her Weiler kip on bars as well as on her Barani on beam, though these falls aside her routines were performed remarkably, and she still managed to place fourth. Sae Miyakawa of Japan fell on her front layout to double front on floor but hit everywhere else for fifth, and though Italy’s Iosra Abdelaziz had a clean day, her difficulty was not enough to help her to a spot higher than sixth.
Laura Jurca of Romania, one of the favorites for a podium spot, had rushed bars and beam performances and some missteps on floor, rounding out the group of front-runners for a seventh place spot.
1. Seda Tutkhalyan, Russia, 54.900
On vault, Tutkhalyan vaulted a DTY with just a tiny hop, and looked much cleaner than she did in her attempt in qualifications, though it’s still by no means a vault with good form. She brought in a 14.4 here to start her day.
She continued on bars, performing a Maloney, pak salto, van Leeuwen, toe full to low Tkatchev, and a double front dismount with just a step back. She was mostly clean, aside from some messy legs on her van Leeuwen, earning a large 14.05.
Her beam routine was a strong effort, featuring a nice roundoff layout to start. Her leaps were lovely, and she hit her front aerial to sheep jump, though the sheep jump had some messy leg form. She took just a step on her 2.5 dismount, coming down from the podium with a big smile for a great routine aside from some minor issues. Her routine brought in a solid 14.0.
Tutkhalyan finished on floor beginning with a beautiful whip whip through to double pike, a 1.5 to front layout, and a 2.5 to punch front tuck. Unfortunately, she fell on her final pass – a double tuck. The fall wasn’t devastating, however, as she still earned a 12.45, enough for the title by two tenths after her otherwise spectacular day.
2. Flavia Saraiva, Brazil, 54.700
Saraiva vaulted the simpler FTY, though she is capable of a DTY. Her full looked lovely and incredibly clean, landing with just a hop slightly back and to her right for a 13.9.
On bars, Saraiva has relatively low difficulty. She did well, though, and competed a high Tkatchev, clean pak salto, toe shoot, and full-in dismount for a 12.95, looking thrilled with her performance. Her bars aren’t the cleanest, but she works quickly and efficiently, and for the most part, ler legs look glued.
Moving to beam, she made up for a fall in prelims beginning with a solid bhs loso loso series. Her front aerial to sheep jump looked a bit better than Tutkhalyan’s, her side somi was light and clean, and she took just a step on her double pike for an excellent effort, earning a solid 14.05.
On floor, Saraiva opened with a strong tucked full-in, and continued with a 1.5 to front full, a double pike with a tiny hop back, and a slightly underrotated triple full with messy legs to finish. Best of all was her performance of the routine, which has so much joy and energy from the very beginning. She most definitely picked up a ton of fans during her time in Nanjing thus far due to her enthusiasm and good sportsmanship. Her floor earned a 13.8.
3. Ellie Downie, Great Britain, 54.150
Downie vaulted a huge DTY, getting a ton of height and distance, though she bounced quite a bit back, getting a 14.75.
On the uneven bars, she had a much better day than in qualifications, hitting her shaposh, full to Tkatchev, bail to Ray, and big near-stuck double layout, earning a 13.35. Her handstands weren’t exactly clean and there were a few form issues but it was a very strong effort.
As the last up on beam, Downie hit her punch front tuck with no problems. There was some missed footing on her standing arabian, but she kept it on with a tiny fight. Her double turn was awesome, though she followed it up with a tentative bhs loso and side somi with a check. She dismounted with a 2.5 hopped forward. There were no major problems in her routine, but rather lots of small ones, though she was very pleased with her performance, for which she earned a 13.15.
Downie finished on floor, unfortunately beginning with a sat arabian double pike, though she continued nicely with a 1.5 through to 2.5, arabian double tuck, and a stuck double tuck to finish for a 12.9.
4. Wang Yan, China, 53.800
On vault, Wang went with her tsuk double full out of a 6.0. Her body line wasn’t exactly straight and her legs were somewhat messy, but she still managed to bring in a 14.65.
Bars are not Wang’s event, and she peeled off almost immediately on her Weiler kip, hitting the mat hard as she swung through the skill. She continued nicely, however, with a Jaeger, pak salto clean, toe shoot, and clean double layout with just a smal step back, earning an 11.95. She seemed to put it out of her mind quickly, however.
Continuing with beam, Wang fell immediately once again on her tucked Barani, unfortunately. Her switch ring was solid, as was her perfect bhs bhs layout. She had a nice punch front tuck to split jump, lovely front aerial to sheep jump (the best of the bunch), switch leap to wolf jump, and triple full with just a step. An outstanding routine aside from that one unfortunately first skill, collecting a 13.4 (a higher score than most hit routines, I might add).
On floor, Wang hit her 1.5 through to triple full with just a step to the side to steady herself. She continued with a great half-in half-out with just a step, a 2.5 to front half, and a stuck double pike to finish in front of a roaring home crowd. A shame about her bars and beam falls, as she had a great shot at the title, but it was nice to see her come back with such a dynamic floor performance for a 13.8.
5. Sae Miyakawa, Japan, 53.300
Miyakawa’s DTY was probably one of the best vaults of the day, getting a great push off of the table and showing very clean form throughout. She landed with her chest slightly down and with her feet a few inches apart, but it was a lovely vault and she earned a 14.7.
On bars, her stalder full was lovely though did have some leg separation. She hit her pak salto, her toe shoot went a bit dead though she covered it nicely, and her piked Jaeger was huge, but then she missed a couple of handstands before her nice double layout dismount, bringing in a 12.65.
She moved to beam, where she had some checks at the beginning, but hit a nice front aerial, punch front tuck, and back tuck. Her roundoff layout was also very nice, and she hit her double pike dismount with a lunge back, earning a 13.4.
On floor, she had a similar problem with her front layout to front double front as she had in qualifications, this time falling forward and out of bounds close to the edge of the podium. Her 1.5 to front double full was slightly underrotated, though she hit it, as she also did with her 2.5 to punch front. She finished with a solid double layout with just a slight hop back, ending well after an unfortunate start to her routine for a score of 12.55.
6. Iosra Abdelaziz, Italy, 52.550
Abdelaziz began with an incredibly clean FTY on vault, showing almost no problems aside from a hop back on the landing and a lack of distance for a 13.75.
Bars went very well for Abdelaziz, who has a lovely line on the event and competed nice combinations, like a Maloney to stalder, Tkatchev to bail to toe shoot, and an Endo half before her full-out dismount, which she stuck. She did have minor leg separation issues, but earned a nice 13.35.
On beam, she had a lovely mount, bhs bhs loso series, front aerial, and 1.5 dismount with a small hop. She had a sizeable hop on her switch leap half but was mostly steady in her exercise, bringing in a 12.5.
Abdelaziz finished with a decent floor performance, hitting a double full, double tuck with a slight stumble back, and nice double pike, earning a 12.95.
7. Laura Jurca, Romania, 52.100
On vault, Jurca vaulted a DTY, looking clean and solid in the air and landing with just a step back, earning a 14.6.
She continued on bars, hitting her Ricna, pak salto, clear hip half to Ray, Gienger, and full-in dismount, though looking rushed throughout which meant some messy form. She attempted to do a double pirouette on the high bar but made it 1.5 of the way around before swinging down again. It was an ambitious effort, though one that unfortunately didn’t work out. She earned a 12.3 here.
Her press mount on beam was lovely, as was her bhs loso, though it seemed she cut out the second loso, meaning no series bonus. She was a bit short on her leaps, by about 10 degrees or so, but her front aerial was solid. She dismounted with a 2.5 with a hop out to the side, earning a 13.0.
On floor, Jurca entertained the crowd with her dance, but had problems with her tumbling, including a sizable leg up on her full-in and then putting her hands down after landing her triple full poorly. She had a nice 2.5 to punch front tuck, and finished well with a double tuck for a 12.2.
Article by Lauren Hopkins