The young Chinese gymnasts competing in Szombathely this week pulled in three of the medals in the first day of competition, while on the mens’ side, hometown hero Krisztian Berki won the pommel horse gold with a score that would’ve matched Louis Smith’s silver medal routine in Rio.
China’s 2016 Olympic alternate Liu Jinru, 16, won the vault medal in Szombathely, competing her solid Rudi for a 15.0 and then sticking to just a super clean tsuk layout for a 13.733, averaging a 14.367 for gold despite her lower-than-average difficulty.
Emily Little of Australia led the vault field coming into the final, but got somewhat low execution scores on her DTY and then on her tsuk full, averaging a 14.216 for silver. Hungary’s Boglarka Devai had the highest combination of difficulty, but also got a bit hammered for her DTY form and then put her hand down on her Lopez, averaging a 14.15.
World cup regular Tjasa Kysselef of Slovenia, who was announced as the overall world cup vault champion for 2016, hit both of her vaults very nicely to average a 14.017 for fourth place, and both Dorina Böczögő of Hungary and Yana Fedorova of Ukraine also had solid execution but difficulty too low to help them factor in for medals, instead placing fifth and sixth with scores of 13.667 and 13.533, respectively. Jasmin Mader of Austria was seventh with a 13.233 average, hitting her FTY well but falling on her second vault, while Rosanna Ojala of Finland was eighth with a 13.15, mostly due to her low difficulty, as she vaulted only a Yurchenko layout and a handspring front pike.
On bars, 2015 Asian Championships team member Xie Yufen won gold with a 14.066, showing some form issues in her very difficulty routine capped off with a double layout dismount. Her teammate Lyu Jiaqi, a first-year senior who earned the bronze on bars in Anadia earlier this year, won the silver medal with a 13.866, also hitting her routine with a few form issues throughout.
Zsofia Kovacs, who represented Hungary at the Olympic Games in Rio this summer, was the bronze medalist on this event, hitting a great effort that probably would’ve won gold had she not put her hands down on her full-in dismount, earning a 13.0. The gap between Kovacs and fourth-place Ojala was a wide one, with Ojala earning a 12.3 for what was actually a great routine for her, making it a fantastic day for the veteran Finnish gymnast in her world cup debut.
The Czech gymnast Veronika Cenkova had some form issues in her routine, which was downgraded from when we last saw her and included only a layout flyaway dismount, earning an 11.933 for fifth place. Hungary’s national all-around champion Luca Diveky sat her dismount to place sixth with a 10.9, and both Jasmin Mader of Austria and Ivana Kamnikar of Slovenia had multiple falls in their routines, placing seventh and eighth with scores of 10.7 and 8.366, respectively.
Over on the men’s side, Jorge Vega of Guatemala had a fantastic floor routine, hitting all of his difficult tumbling well for a 15.0. This gold was his first world cup medal, and while he didn’t make it to Rio this year, he shows tons of promise for the future! Rok Klavora of Slovenia, who has competed in nearly every world cup this season, won the silver medal with a 14.933 for his super clean routine, while Yuto Kato of Japan — yes, the younger brother of two-time Olympian Ryohei! — won the bronze with a 14.833, showing awesome twisting combinations and great difficulty, but nearly sitting one of his passes.
Krisztian Berki, the 2012 Olympic pommel horse champion and specialist who missed out on this year’s Olympic Games after missing the event final at worlds last year, easily won the gold on this event with a 15.833, nearly a full point higher than the silver medalist. The score would’ve beaten Louis Smith’s 15.833 in the Rio event finals in a tie-breaker, and even though it’s hard to compare competitions — especially as this one was held in a place that likely had very friendly judges on his side — it shows just how much stronger the already deep pommels final in Rio could have been. Hopefully he pushes forward to 2020, where the specialist qualification process will be much more fair than it was this quad.
The silver medal here went to Wu Xiaoming of China, who had a solid routine for a 14.9, while Illia Yehorov of Ukraine reached a 14.5 for bronze. Robert Seligman of Croatia, a four-time world cup medalist on this event who like Berki missed out on Rio as a specialist who didn’t carry over after placing eighth at worlds last year, was a favorite here for silver, but he came off the horse during his routine to place fifth with a 13.866. Fuya Maeno of Japan was another strong contender with a fall, placing seventh with a 13.666.
Finally, Ali Zahran of Egypt won the rings title with a 15.233, a score that just managed to edge out Zhang Yunlong of China’s 15.2. It was a great performance from Zahran, who reached one of his top scores ever and his second rings gold of the year after winning the African Championships title this spring. As for Zhang, this was the first major international meet for the 20-year-old.
Three-time worlds competitor Dang Nam of Vietnam was the bronze medalist with a 15.033, winning the first world cup medal of his career. It was a great routine, though his knees buckled on his dismount, causing him to take a step forward. The next four gymnasts down the line each placed within two tenths of Dang’s score, making this the closest event in the competition thus far, as Eduard Yermakov of Ukraine was fourth with a 14.933, Federico Molinari of Argentina was fifth with a 14.866, and both Rokas Guscinas of Lithuania and Wu Xiaoming of China tied for sixth with a 14.833.
Ukraine’s Yevgen Yudenkov had the difficulty to be a medal contender here, but mistakes in his routine put him in eighth with a 14.466.
The competition continues this afternoon with beam and floor finals for the women, and vault, p-bars, and high bar finals for the men. On beam, 2008 Olympian Adela Sajn will hope to carry her lead from qualifications onto the medal podium, though she’ll face stiff competition from nearly everyone in today’s field. Böczögő is hoping to win her first world cup gold of the year on floor, and with her level of difficulty way ahead of everyone else, she should be able to make it happen if she hits.
For the men, Lukasz Borkowski of Poland should show clean work on both vaults to be the biggest contender for gold, but look for Vietnam’s Le Thanh Tung’s massive difficulty as well. On p-bars, the medals should spread between China, Japan, and Vietnam, and if Wu Xiaoming improves his execution from qualifications, he could get gold at his very first world cup competition. High bar will come down to whoever does the cleanest work, with Kenta Chiba of Japan leading qualifications in that respect, though his teammate Fuya Maeno and 2016 Ljubljana world cup bronze medalist David Vecsernyes will be right on his heels.
Article by Lauren Hopkins
On-site reporting by Fran Elsner