Little Breaks Up Chinese Dominance in Melbourne

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With 2016 Olympic floor finalist Wang Yan of China dropping out of the race due to a sore ankle, the doors opened up for several other competitors to take the gold on floor in Melbourne.

It was hometown hero Emily Little who ended up taking advantage of this, breaking up the Chinese dominance that saw Wang and teammate Liu Tingting take the first three golds when she posted the top score on floor to win her third medal of the meet.

In the first final of the day, beam, Liu showed an Olympic-caliber routine that included a punch front pike mount with a little bobble, front handspring to front tuck with a step, switch ring to back handspring, split leap to side aerial, front walkover to Yang Bo to Korbut, front aerial to stag jump, and a double tuck, stuck cold. Aside from the early bobbles, this was a brilliant routine, earning a 14.766 to defeat the reigning Olympic champion by almost three tenths.

Sanne Wevers had a fabulous routine of her own, improving on her qualifications routine to match Liu’s difficulty, though she lost out on gold due to a slightly lower execution score.

The Dutch Olympic gold medalist actually was pretty perfect for the most part, including on her back handspring mount, wolf jump full to full-twisting back handspring, double L turn, side aerial to side aerial, and gorgeous triple pirouette. Her famous turn series — the L turn to full spin to double spin to split leap to straight jump full — was almost flawless, but she ended up having a big wobble on the final skill, putting a damper on what could’ve been a gold-winning routine. She saved the skill and then brought her Steingruber dismount back, hopping on the landing, to get a 14.5.

Little ended up winning the bronze with a great set that included a punch front mount, punch front with a slight wobble, solid bhs loso, a few clean singular elements, and then a double pike with a big step back for a 13.233. Her difficulty in comparison to the top two was pretty low, because she hasn’t yet taken advantage of some of the new code’s bonuses and connection values, but she went up and did her job, and it was more than enough to get on the podium.

China’s Luo Huan was hoping to challenge for a medal, but had many bobbles throughout her routine, including on her roundoff layout, full turn, and front aerial, missing the connection to her sissone to Onodi…which she also wobbled on. Even after all that, she was still in the running for bronze, but then landed her double pike back a little too far on her heels, causing her to flip onto her back to count a fall and only earn a 12.866.

The remainder of routines also had falls, including fifth-place Emma Nedov of Australia on her bhs bhs layout, sixth-place Tan Ing Yueh of Malaysia on her side aerial to loso (though her tour jeté half was lovely and she also had a beautiful double spin and stuck gainer layout), seventh-place Estella Matthewson of New Zealand on her bhs loso, and eighth place Ang Tracie of Malaysia on her side aerial to loso (and just like her teammate, she also had a great double spin and a generally good command of beam artistry and presentation).

On floor, Little wasn’t giving up her gold for anything, coming out on fire to earn a 13.4 for her beautiful stuck double layout, tucked full-in with a hop, front tuck through to double tuck with a bounce back, and double pike with a hop. Yes, the landings were a little bouncy first pass aside, but it was a stellar routine and you could see on her face how much heart and soul she put into that routine.

Her teammate Georgia Godwin surprised for the silver after placing sixth in qualifications, showing a double layout with a small hop, a slightly cowboyed double tuck, also with a hop, great Memmel turn to full spin, and a double pike to finish, landed a bit low with a hop to earn a 12.8.

In third was Liu, who seemed a little tired in this routine after giving her all on bars and beam. She did have a solid triple full to punch front tuck, but then lost gas on her 2½ and sat it before finishing her routine with a double tuck, taking just a small step there. Despite the fall, she still managed a 12.733, winning the bronze medal for her third prize of the meet.

I was hoping Ang would medal here, though her difficulty was a little too low to allow her to take advantage of Liu’s fall, and she ended up in fourth with a 12.466. Just like beam, Ang’s presentation on floor was top-notch, and I don’t think her smile left her face once throughout her energetic and fun routine. She also gets a nod for her dance elements, which were exact and precise (especially on her Popa), and she also threw in a few unique combos, like a full L hop turn to switch side. Her tumbling was pretty basic, with a front full, double pike, and double tuck with a stumble forward, but I really enjoyed this routine and hope to see her at more world cups in the future.

Her teammate, Tan Ing, was fifth with a 12.0, hitting her double tuck, double full with a couple of steps, lovely triple turn, and front full with a hop, and not far behind were the kiwi girls, Matthewson and Isabella Brett, both still 15 and just excited to be there. Matthewson earned an 11.833 for her hit routine, while Brett stumbled her 2½ out of bounds and put her hands down to earn a 10.8.

As for Wang, it didn’t look like she was seriously injured, but she was icing her ankle after warm-ups, and likely withdrew from the final to stay healthy for the rest of the season. The vault gold medalist is set to compete at the next two world cups in Baku and Doha, so we hope a little rest was all she needed and that she’s able to come back strong to take home more gold.

All results from the competition are available here, and we’ll have a full men’s recap coming up tomorrow! Next up in the world cup apparatus series is Baku in two weeks, while the all-around world cup series kicks off this weekend in Newark, New Jersey with the American Cup.

Article by Lauren Hopkins

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