14-year-old rising superstar Ana Padurariu led Canada to the team gold medal at the Olympic Hopes Cup in the Czech Republic today, winning the all-around and qualifying first on bars, beam, and floor with the best performance of her elite career.
With a total of 57.15, Padurariu hit her inbar piked Tkachev on bars, nailed a super difficult beam set for a 14.6, and showed solid work on vault and floor, winning the all-around title by over two points. Padurariu has won her last three all-around competitions now, and had she been age-eligible this summer, she would’ve made it on Canada’s Olympic team fairly easily, so I’m guessing the federation can’t wait until she reaches the senior level in 2018.
We also saw fantastic work from the 2003-born Amelie Morgan, who hit all four of her events for a 55.1 for the silver medal. I was especially impressed with her composure on beam, her first event of the day in a rotation with lots of falls, and she had a great performance value to her floor routine as well as a near-perfect FTY on vault. The Slough gymnast has been good so far in the small handful of competitions she’s done at the espoir level, but this was her first big international appearance and she completely blew me away, so be sure to keep an eye on her to lead the juniors in the next couple of years.
Jade Chrobok of Canada was the bronze medalist, earning a 54.3 on what was mostly a good day for her, aside from a botched Yurchenko 1½. Chrobok has been dealing with injury this year and hasn’t been performing close to the standard or difficulty level she set in 2015 and in early 2016, so it was great to see her gain some of her confidence back here as she gets closer and closer to her senior debut.
The other three Canadians rounded out the top six, with Victoria Jurca placing fourth with a 53.35, Sophie Marois placing fifth with a 52.85, and Haley de Jong placing sixth with a 52.45. All three were great on vault, which was the country’s strongest rotation overall, though the other events were a bit lacking in difficulty and there were a couple of falls as well. Still, they finished with a solid 219.2, a score that came only three points from Canada’s worlds qualifications finish last year!
The British women placed second with a 208.55, highlighting young gymnasts mostly born in 2002 and 2003 rather than the stronger international-level girls who will turn senior next year. In addition to Morgan, Taeja James placed seventh with a 51.2 after falls everywhere but vault, Zoe Simmons was ninth with a 50.9 after an especially impressive floor routine opened with a big punch double front, and Chiara Bunce was 11th with a 50.6.
Both Latalia Bevan, the team leader, and Scarlett Williams competed only three events apiece, with Bevan falling on bars and beam, but showing lovely work in floor, including a series of fouettés in her choreography. Williams, meanwhile, had very low difficulty on vault, beam, and floor, but showed mostly good work across the board, especially on vault, where she was rewarded with a 9.3 E score.
The Czech Republic had two teams, with the top team placing third and winning the bronze at home with a score of 199.85, narrowly edging out Hungary, which came fourth with 199.15. Both countries struggled with falls throughout the day, but also showed lots of promise and some unique skills from some of the top girls.
For the Czech Republic, Vendula Merkova was tenth with a 50.65, Dominika Ponizilova was 12th with a 50.4, Adela Merkova was 14th with a 49.6, Lucie Jirikova was 17th with a 48.85, Jasmina Hnilcova was 23rd with a 46.9, and Kristyna Brabcova was 30th with a 44.75. It wasn’t a great day for any of them, really, and I’m pretty sure everyone had falls on one routine or another, with beam especially rough even though they won the meet there with some very unique and beautiful dance.
Their top gymnast, Vendula Merkova, had a fall out-of-bounds on floor which was surprising, as she’s usually super clean there, and she was also a bit wobbly on beam, though she still managed a 13.3 and made it to the final. Wobbles aside, that was easily her strongest event, featuring a full-twisting back handspring, Onodi into a Y spin, a bhs loso, and her signature gorgeous back walkover through to a split on the beam. Hopefully she’ll be able to control the nerves in finals, because this is a superb routine otherwise!
For Hungary, all five gymnasts who competed placed within about a point of one another, with Noemi Jakab in 13th with a 49.7, Sara Peter in 15th with a 49.5, Nora Feher in 16th with a 49.35, Regina Medved in 18th with a 48.55, and Csenge Bacskay in 19th with a 48.35. Like the Czech girls, they struggled with some falls on bars and beam, so none of them were able to reach their full scoring potential, though there was still great work from all of them mixed in.
Jakab showed especially nice work on floor, Peter nailed her vault, and though Feher had a mistake on her pak salto, she saved the routine from a fall and still had one of the most difficult routines of the day there, easily qualifying into the final where she is a big medal contender if she hits. Medved and Bacskai were the babies of the team, both born in 2003, and although they struggled on bars, they came back very well for the rest of their day. Medved was incredible on beam and both had fun floor routines, so I’m excited to see what else they can do as they get older.
The second Czech team was fifth with a 181.75 and Norway, which sent a mostly B team, was sixth with a 172.2. For the second Czech team, Sabina Halova was their best all-arounder with a 47.4 for 21st place, and Julie Erichsen was Norway’s strongest, finishing 25th with a 46.35.
Some individuals also competed here, with Jade Vella-Wright of Australia the best in this mix, earning a 50.95 to place eighth after looking best on vault and bars. Vella-Wright turns 16 next year, and while she still needs some work before reaching a level similar to the top Australian seniors at the moment, hopefully she’ll be able to build on her foundations and get a bit more consistent going forward so she can add to the country’s depth.
Event finals take place tomorrow. We don’t have the two-vault averages available to see who qualified there, but the remaining event finalists are as follows:
- Bars: Ana Padurariu (Canada), Jade Vella-Wright (Australia), Amelie Morgan (Great Britain), Jade Chrobok (Canada), Chiara Bunce (Great Britain), Vendula Merkova (Czech Republic), Adela Merkova (Czech Republic), Nora Feher (Hungary)
- Beam: Ana Padurariu (Canada), Amelie Morgan (Great Britain), Jade Chrobok (Canada), Vendula Merkova (Czech Republic), Regina Medved (Hungary), Dominika Ponizilova (Czech Republic), Taeja James (Great Britain), Csenge Bacskai (Hungary)
- Floor: Ana Padurariu (Canada), Jade Chrobok (Canada), Amelie Morgan (Great Britain), Zoe Simmons (Great Britain), Noemi Jakab (Hungary), Jade Vella-Wright (Australia), Adela Merkova (Czech Republic), Lucie Jirikova (Czech Republic)
Article by Lauren Hopkins