Just as they threatened to do following qualifications, the Chinese women came out on top today, taking the first two gold medals of the Melbourne World Cup as 2016 Olympic bronze medalist Wang Yan topped the field on vault and Liu Tingting won on bars.
The vault final actually got very close at the top, with Wang experiencing her usual difficulties with the tsuk double, coming up a bit short on the landing with her chest on her knees and a big step out to the side and over the line for a 13.9. She came back with an excellent Rudi, which only had minor form issues in the air and a small bounce on the landing for a 14.6, bringing her to an average of 14.25.
Emily Little had lower difficulty but superior execution, hitting a big DTY that looked great in the air with just a large step back for a 14.566 and then a good tsuk full with a hop for a 13.833 to average 14.199, only half a tenth away from gold.
The lack of control on her landings held her back, but even though she didn’t end up on top of the podium, it was still incredibly impressive to see her come back from a 1.2 point difficulty deficit, making up for that with solid execution. It’s early still; she’ll get there eventually.
Unsurprisingly winning bronze was the equally-clean Naomi Lee, who looked thrilled to hit a clean FTY with a small bounce for a 13.6 and a tsuk layout, also with a bounce, for a 13.166 to average a 13.383. While she wasn’t part of the battle for gold, she did have some competition for bronze and showed a great deal of confidence in her ability to hold the others back with her own solid sets.
I still think this rule is unfair…a higher single vault score means the other vault was much lower while the second person who loses the tiebreaker has a better balance between the two. Tan Ing’s other vault was a handspring front pike half, landed short with a step forward and out-of-bounds for a 12.766.
Ang, meanwhile, performed a clean handspring front tuck half with a small hop to the side, for a 13.2 and a tsuk full, a little short with a step to the side over the line for a 13.033 to place fifth.
New Zealand’s Caitlin Todd was sixth with a 13.049 average after hitting a clean handspring front pike and a tsuk layout, both with steps, while Tsz Sum Chan of Hong Kong was seventh with a 12.649 average; her handspring front pike landed a bit too far forward and caused her to stumble forward, nearly putting her knee down, though she came back with a stuck tsuk layout to finish off her meet well.
On bars, Liu looked cleaner than she did in qualifications, showing only a few small leg separations and finishing with a clean double layout to top the podium with a 14.3, posting the best E score of the day. Her Ono half and then Ono to Healy to piked Jaeger looked exceptionally strong today, though she’s still not quite up there with the best Chinese bar workers.
Luo Huan, who led the field after qualifications, looked very clean in all of her work, though coming out of her Ono to Healy to piked Jaeger, she arched over a bit in handstand and ended up doing a back giant full instead of going into her Ono half. She covered it up well, regrouping and getting her rhythm back rather than hopping back, finally hitting the Ono half before a big double layout. She took a significant deduction for the mistake, though still managed to hit well enough to take the silver medal with a 13.866.
Earning the bronze was Australia’s Rianna Mizzen, who posted a 13.433 after fighting through her opening sequence, which also gave her a little bit of trouble in qualifications. She muscled through her first skill, a Weiler kip, performing it with leg separation before picking it up into her Weiler half to Maloney to Hindorff to pak, with leg separation on the latter. Mizzen ended up finishing well, but seemed to lose steam by the end, hopping forward out of her toe full to full-in.
I was happy to see Georgia Rose Brown hit well enough for fourth, showing gorgeous lines (that hyperextension!) and only small form breaks throughout her routine for a 13.066; a highlight was her Chow to bail to Ray, and then her nearly stuck — albeit slightly cowboyed — double front.
Ang and Tan Ing rounded out the field in fifth and sixth respectively, both unfortunately counting falls in their routines. Ang earned an 11.8 after arching over her bail and hopping off, though I was impressed with her routine, which has some great skills — her Jaeger and double layout especially.
Tan Ing was supposed to compete a toe full to Maloney to bail to clear hip to toe shoot, also an impressive series, but she didn’t release in time for the Maloney and had to hop off, repeating it to hit the series the second time around. She caught her straddle Jaeger with bent elbows and performed only a single layout dismount at the end, sticking it to end up with an 11.033.
We’ll have a full men’s recap coming soon, but to hold you over, Kenzo Shirai of Japan won the floor title with a 14.7, showing some shaky landings on his insanely difficult passes; 2012 Olympic champion Krisztian Berki of Hungary won on pommels with a 14.933 for his clean set; and there was a tie between the two Chinese men, Wu Guanhua and Zou Jingyuan, on rings, with both gymnasts getting a 14.866.
The last day of competition in Melbourne is Saturday, when Wang Yan will hope to go for a second gold on floor while Liu and Luo will battle it out for the top spot on beam.
Article by Lauren Hopkins