Kelly Simm, the 20-year-old member of Great Britain’s 2014 worlds team, is typically known as one who is always keen to help out but has never quite risen to stardom of her own.
That changed at this week’s Summer Universiade, a multi-sport event showcasing university student athletes, many of whom are competitive at the elite level. In gymnastics, the field was mostly representative of current worlds-level gymnasts, including those from power countries like Russia, Australia, and Japan, making Simm’s all-around win all the more exciting, as she had to defeat a pretty strong field to get it done.
Simm actually came into the all-around final as the third-best from qualifications, where the field was neck and neck with the top three all within under two tenths of one another. Simm had mistakes that day in addition to a fall on beam, but by the time all-around finals rolled in, she had tidied up and looked to be on fire, finishing with a 56.332 to best her qualifications score of 54.8 by a point and a half. Simm was best on vault and bars, with scores of 14.333 on both of the events she considers to be her strongest, and also put up solid scores of 13.866 on beam and 13.8 on floor to add up to one of her best overall performances of her career, giving her a major international individual gold medal.
It didn’t stop there, however. In event finals, Simm got the silver medal with a 14.233 average on vault, got the bronze on floor with a 13.966, and then tied for fourth on bars, where she was a bit weak but managed to make it through with no falls, earning a 13.566. It was an excellent week for Simm, who goes home as the most decorated individual medalist of the meet (Great Britain didn’t send a full team, so there was no team finals medal available for her).
Asuka Teramoto of Japan, who qualified in fourth after a fall on beam, ended up winning the silver medal with a 55.965 after a performance that was about as equally strong as Simm’s. She showed great and consistent work on her first three events, though her typically lower-scoring floor came in at just a 13.466, holding her back a bit. She picked up a second silver medal for her lovely and clean work on bars, earning a 14.233 there, and placed fourth on floor with a 13.533, just a step up from her all-around performance there.
In third place was her teammate Natsumi Sasada with a 55.432, a very strong effort after qualifying in fifth due to a fall on bars. Beam was Sasada’s standout on this event, coming in at a big 14.5, which was the highest event score of the all-around final. Unfortunately, while she looked like she might be a shoo-in for the apparatus gold, she had several falls in the final and scored only a 10.8, though she came back nicely on floor to hit her routine for a 13.433, placing fifth.
Filipa Martins of Portugal led the all-around qualification thanks to mistakes from most of the other competitors, and while her performance in finals was pretty much identical to her qualifications effort (she had a 54.95 on the first day and bumped up slightly to a 54.998 in finals), she only managed to place fourth once the top three were competing at stronger levels. She was fairly balanced on all four events in the all-around, and then moved on to show great work in finals as well, including nabbing a beam bronze with a 13.366 for a hit routine thanks to falls from some of the top competitors. She also tied for fourth on bars with a 13.566, though unfortunately a fall on floor put her eight there.
In fifth all-around was Polina Fedorova of Russia. The 2014 worlds alternate qualified in second place and like Martins, performed well on both days, but was bumped down in finals a bit. With a 54.232, she too was mostly balanced, including identical scores of 13.733 on bars and beam, though floor was a bit of a weakness for her. She had more success there in event finals, however, hitting a fantastic set for a 14.2 to win gold; she was also the silver medalist on beam with a 13.733 for her lovely work there.
Farah Ann Abdul Hadi of Malaysia was sixth with a 53.199, one of her best performances to date thanks to her especially strong work on vault and floor, where she went on to place fifth and sixth in the apparatus finals, respectively. Daria Elizarova of Russia was seventh with a 53.066 and won vault bronze averaging 14.0 as well as floor silver with a 14.133, and Emma Nedov of Australia rounded out the top of the all-around field with a 53.064 for eighth. Nedov was a major gold contender for beam, but a fall in the final left her in fifth place with a 12.733.
In addition to the all-arounders, there were several specialists who stood out in event finals. Maria Paseka of Russia nailed a pretty fantastic Amanar in the vault final to earn a 15.4, helping her to a 14.75 average there with a Lopez as her second vault (she stepped out-of-bounds on that one, however). She then went on to get a somewhat surprise bronze on bars, looking strong and steady there to earn a 14.1.
Her teammate Ekaterina Kramarenko was the bronze gold medalist with a 14.8 for her fantastic and clean routine. Finally, Yu Minobe of Japan won the beam gold with a 14.0, showing some nervous mistakes there but easily winning in a field that ended up being a bit messy and careless.
In the team competition, the Russians – featuring Fedorova, Elizarova, Paseka, Kramarenko, and Alla Sidorenko – won the gold medal with a 165.5. Japan was about three points behind with a 162.45 thanks to the strong work from Teramoto, Sasada, and Minobe in addition to Wakana Inoue and Sakura Yumoto. Interestingly, while the majority of Russia’s team could be considered a B team at best, with the exception of Paseka, Japan’s team here at Universiade actually features several upcoming worlds team members, which is made up of mostly older athletes aside from two young first-year seniors.
The host team from South Korea – featuring Heo Seonmi, Eum Dayeon, Park Jisoo, Park Eunkyung, and Park Seyeon – won bronze with a total of 160.4. The other two countries sending full teams included Malaysia in fourth with a 152.4 and Australia in fifth with a 128.9, cut down a bit there thanks to only one athlete ending up competing on floor, as neither Georgia Rose Brown nor Mary-Anne Monckton ended up showing routines there.
Article by Lauren Hopkins