It was another big weekend for elite gymnastics, so enjoy it while you can! After Worlds, we’re in a dead zone until the spring. Worried you missed something? Don’t be. We’ve got you covered!
Chinese Worlds Team Named
After some internal selection competitions held over the past week, China’s provisional World Championships team is set. Eight gymnasts were included, with the six who will actually get to compete to be named following continued preparation and possibly not until after podium training in Glasgow.
The eight who made the cut include Chen Siyi, Fan Yilin, Huang Huidan, Mao Yi, Shang Chunsong, Tan Jiaxin, Wang Yan, and Zhu Xiaofang. Notably missing is 2014 World beam silver medalist Bai Yawen as well as 2014 Worlds alternate Xie Yufen, neither of whom have had great seasons.
Update: As of this afternoon, Zhu has been removed from the list and Chen has been named alternate, according to Baidu.
Aliya’s Out of Worlds. But Maybe Not.
Covering Aliya Mustafina’s training is like covering a tennis match, there’s so much back and forth. On Friday, we reported Aliya Mustafina’s decision to skip World Championships this year due to back pain that has significantly limited her training, keeping her away from Round Lake for over a month. Valentina Rodionenko confirmed this, stating that the decision is for the best, as it will give her time to get healthy for the Olympic Games next summer.
That is, until everyone fell on everything at the Russian Cup and Rodionenko started to panic. By Sunday, Mustafina was once again gung ho about training for Glasgow despite her extended absence, her pain, and the fact that it’s almost impossible for a 21-year-old to go from out of shape to elite competition-ready in just three weeks before they leave for Worlds. She’s made magic happen before, so time will tell if she can do it again.
The gold medals this year went to Daria Spiridonova in the all-around, Maria Paseka on vault, Alla Sosnitskaya on bars (shocked much?), Maria Kharenkova on beam, and Ksenia Afanasyeva on floor. There were several “unofficial” wins with gymnasts who didn’t technically qualify to finals earning the top scores, including junior Angelina Melnikova in the all-around and Viktoria Komova on bars.
While the meet was a veritable mess from start to finish, there were small rays of hope throughout, including Paseka’s beautiful vaults and excellent bars, Afanasyeva’s super consistent floor, Komova’s bars when they’re fully hit (double double ya’ll!), and Spiridonova’s newfound consistency (aside from her fluke fall in the bars final, of all things).
Following the meet, the Rodionenkos named the provisional Worlds team, which includes Afanasyeva, Kharenkova, Komova, Paseka, Spiridonova, and new senior Seda Tutkhalyan. The seventh member – either an alternate or a replacement for one of the above if Mustafina comes back – will be named at a later date. [Results] [QF Recap] [AA Recap] [VT/UB Recap] [BB/FX Recap]
Elisabeth Seitz has been hit or miss in recent years, but after this weekend it’s safe to say she’s fully back in the game, winning the national all-around title and looking her best since London. She narrowly defeated Pauline Schäfer and Sophie Scheder, the three placing within three tenths of one another and called “the Hambüchens” by national coach Ulla Koch.
The three were also successful in event finals, where Schäfer captured vault and beam gold while Seitz and Scheder battled it out with their huge 6.6 d-score bar routines, Seitz again coming out on top 15.466 to Scheder’s 15.433. On floor, the gold was shared by Leah Griesser and Marlene Bindig. [Results] [AA Recap] [EF Recap]
Oh, and Pauline Tratz wore the most fabulous leo of all time like the special unicorn she is.
Osijek World Challenge Cup
It was a big week for Puerto Rico in Osijek with 21-year-old Paula Mejias surprisingly capturing two gold medals, sneaking in after mistakes from favorites Marcia Vidiaux of Cuba on vault and Dorina Boczogo of Hungary on floor.
Ruby Harrold of Great Britain marked her international return with a gold on bars while her teammate Rebecca Tunney finished just two tenths off the beam podium. On beam, it was veteran Jade Barbosa who took the title with a 14.225 for her beautiful and confident routine. [Results] [Recap]
Marta Pihan-Kulesza returned to competition after an injury this past spring, but a full point penalty on vault put her in bronze medal position behind teammate Katarzyna Jurkowska in first and Lisa Ecker of Austria in second. Pihan-Kulesza was dominant on beam and floor, however, and her teammate Gabriela Janik had the top score on bars.
Hungarian junior star Zsofia Kovacs placed fourth in the all-around after posting the highest score on vault, though her team – without three of their strongest competitors who were busy in Osijek – was missing a score on bars and came in third place. Host team Austria won the match while Poland finished in a close second after counting several errors. [Results]
Northern European Championships
Welsh junior Latalia Bevan was the star of the show in Limerick, Ireland at this year’s Northern European Championships, which featured competition from the Scandinavian countries and the British Isles. Bevan took the title in the all-around on Saturday, and on Sunday, the 14-year-old defended her beam title while also winning floor.
This marks the second year in a row a Welsh junior has walked away with gold, as Maisie Methuen accomplished the feat in 2014. In addition to Bevan’s success, Iceland also nabbed two golds, with Norma Robertsdottir placing first on vault and Irina Sazonova winning bars. [Results]
The big international junior meet of the year, Junior Japan International, begins tomorrow in Yokohama. Over the weekend, both Romania and Italy will host their national championship meets, while Hungary has their annual Hungarian Grand Prix taking place in Szombathely.
Article by Lauren Hopkins