This weekend’s world cup competition came to a close in Doha, Qatar on Saturday with a second gold medal for Giulia Steingruber of Switzerland on floor while Romania’s Catalina Ponor proved her comeback is on track with a big win on beam.
Ponor scored her second 14.65 of the weekend on the event after hitting a solid routine where her only issue was a slight wobble after her switch ring. Otherwise, she performed her tricky set – including an Onodi to back handspring layout and a switch leap to Omelianchik – incredibly well, finishing up with a near-stuck double pike before waving happily to the crowd.
Behind her was Thauany Araujo of Brazil with a 14.15 for silver and Ana Filipa Martins of Portugal with a 13.9 for bronze. Araujo had a slight stumble on her back handspring to two layout stepouts, but otherwise looked clean, finishing with a double pike, while Martins was super solid throughout, including on her flight series, full Y turn, and 2.5 dismount with a small hop.
Unfortunately, Zsofia Kovacs of Hungary found herself in fourth place for the third time in a row after stumbling on her roundoff layout series, earning a 13.7 for her effort after recovering well. She tied Bai Yawen of China, though I’m not sure how, as Bai put her hands down after her roundoff layout and was fully bent in half on her double pike dismount.
Vasiliki Millousi of Greece was sixth with a 13.425 after a clean routine, and she probably could’ve finished second to Ponor had she not crashed her double pike after an otherwise stellar routine. Steingruber fell on her back handspring layout series to earn a 13.25 for seventh, and Luo Huan of China was eighth with a 12.575 after falling on her Onodi and putting her hands down on her double pike dismount.
On floor, Steingruber came back nicely from her beam fall to earn a huge 14.7, cleanly nailing her double double, double layout, and double pike in addition to showing great poise on her dance elements, and big amplitude on her jumps and leaps. It was her second gold of the weekend and the third time she has earned a 14.7 or higher on this routine in the past month!
The silver medalist was Romania’s Diana Bulimar with a 14.125, while Kovacs finally found herself on the podium for her excellent routine, earning a 13.925 there. Bulimar, who is still dealing with some knee pain from the injuries that sidelined her for most of the quad, lacks difficulty in her routine, but made up for it by looking clean the whole way through, hitting her double layout, tucked full-in, double pike, and double tuck with only a stumble on the final pass. Kovacs, meanwhile, performed a double layout with a small hop, a tucked full-in with a hop, a 2.5 with a step, and a solid double tuck.
Ilaria Käslin of Switzerland finished 0.025 behind Kovacs after an excellent routine of her own, showing a great triple full, a double tuck with a little bounce, and then a stumble out of her 2.5. The landing on the last pass is what kept her from the podium, but otherwise it was a great routine and she showed true finesse on her choreography and presentation.
Rounding out the field was Xu Chujun of China in fifth with a 13.625, Argyro Afrati of Greece in sixth with a 13.175, and Sarah Voss of Germany and Dora Vulcan of Romania tied in seventh with scores of 12.9. Xu had good work with a few stumbled landings, Afrati could use a little more control in her tumbling but I loved the ambition of her big 1.5 through to triple full opening pass, Voss also showed that control is an issue for her, while Vulcan’s work was very simple with a hop out-of-bounds on her double pike and a big stumble forward on her double tuck.
As a whole, I was impressed with most of what we saw in finals at Doha, especially from the gold medalists. But I find the highlight was the performance we got from Kovacs in her first major international meet as a senior. While she ended up so close yet so far from most of the podiums, she showed a great attitude and looked truly honored when she finally received the bronze for her floor. Hungary can expect lots of big things from this gymnast!
Article by Lauren Hopkins