Iordache Returns at Sainté Gym Cup

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The French-hosted Sainté Gym Cup in Saint-Étienne this weekend saw the host team take the gold, led by seniors Alison Lepin and Léanne Bourgeois, who also won the senior all-around title with a 49.900.

But the big news surrounded the return of Romania’s Larisa Iordache, who hasn’t competed since last July, when she was fighting to earn her country’s single spot at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, which ultimately went to her teammate Catalina Ponor.

The Romanians didn’t come with a full team hoping to place in the team final, but rather brought three individual gymnasts — Laura Jurca and new senior Ioana Crisan in addition to Iordache — as they begin their preparation for next month’s European Championships at home in Cluj.

Iordache looked really strong on bars in both days of competition, getting a 14.05 on the second day of competition which is really solid for her under the new code, though her beam isn’t quite where she’d like it to be if she wants to fight for a medal in Cluj. She struggled a bit there on both days, with her day two score of 13.2 her best of the meet. She definitely has some polishing to do in the coming weeks, but with a few more outings, she’ll definitely be in the mix.

Jurca looked okay on bars and a little rough on beam, performing only on the first day of competition, while Crisan was in a similar boat with the same events. It was funny to see all three Romanians who were at once known for their beam work ending up showing some of the better bar routines at this meet, but Crisan actually looks like she could eventually be a big help to the team on that event, posting a 13.1 on day two, an excellent score for Romania.

As for those that competed in the team competition, the squad of Lepin, Bourgeois, first-year senior Janna Mouffok, and junior Aline Friess, who won the silver medal in the junior all-around competition with a 48.500, won the team final with a score of 101.600, nearly eight points ahead of the team from Belgium. Bourgeois contributed top scores on vault and floor, while Lepin was strongest on bars and floor, with her bars set especially significant, earning a 14.0, one of the highest scores of the competition.

Mouffok also contributed on bars with her 12.75, while Friess put up a 12.25 on beam. In addition to Bourgeois and Friess winning all-around medals on the first day of competition, Lepin placed fourth in the senior competition with a 48.950 while Mouffok wasn’t far behind, finishing sixth with a 48.000.

In addition to the French team, Grace Charpy and Alix Scandella competed as individuals, with Charpy taking the all-around bronze with a 49.050 after a solid day across the board while Scandella competed on vault, but then withdrew from the rest of the competition due to injury.

The young Belgian team included the experienced Julie Meyers guiding three 2003-born juniors, including Fien Enghels, Julie Vandamme, and Margaux Daveloose. Meyers put up the top score for the team on vault, but had several struggles on beam, earning just a 9.9 there, though the juniors ende dup being strong enough to help them to the silver medal a point over Spain with a 94.100.

Meyers also earned an individual silver medal in the all-around, putting up a much stronger performance on beam to finish just a tenth behind Bourgeois with a 49.800. Enghels was fifth in the junior all-around with a 47.150, followed by Vandamme in seventh with a 46.500, and Daveloose in eighth with a 45.700, with all three each contributing two scores apiece in the team event.

Spain, with only three junior competitors, finished with a 93.100 to earn the bronze. Violeta Sanchez was the standout for the team, winning the bronze medal in the all-around with a 47.850 while also contributing four scores in the team competition, putting up the top on vault and bars, but struggling a bit to bring in big numbers on beam and floor.

Paula Norberto ended up 10th all-around with a 44.350 while also putting up solid scores on vault and bars in the team competition, while Mar Palliso was 12th with a 43.550 and posted the team’s top scores on beam and floor. Non-team gymnast Carlota Ortega also competed on three events in the first day of competition, with an 11.0 on floor her strongest.

The Italian team as they had several individual top all-arounders in the junior competition, with Alessia Canali winning the gold after earning a score of 48.950, Deborah Salmina finishing fourth with a 47.450, and Emma Grisetti finishing ninth with a 44.550. Additionally, senior Emanuela Petrean also competed, but was weak overall, finishing last in the senior competition with a 41.100.

None of these performed in the team competition, however, and those who did compete were at a lower level and unable to challenge for a medal, finishing just a few tenths behind Spain with a 92.750. Seniors Chiara Vergani and Lisa Uggeri finished 11th and 12th in the senior all-around with scores of 44.800 and 44.050, respectively, while junior Arianna Bellan was 11th in her division with a 43.850.

Austria actually brought their top performers to this meet, so it was a shame they ended up having a series of mistakes that kept them from getting in the medal mix. Jasmin Mader was fifth all-around with a 48.450 after a decent competition on day one, but she ended up having a really rough beam routine in the team event, falling a couple of times to post just a 9.95 there. Marlies Männersdorfer, seventh all-around with a 47.350 and the strongest floor routine on the first day of competition, put up a solid vault score for the team but then she ended up struggling on floor, and without that score and a good score from Mader on beam, the team was left unable to challenge.

Bianca Frysak was ninth all-around with a 45.150 with Tamara Stadelmann right behind her, finishing 10th with a 44.900. Frysak struggled a bit on bars and beam in the team competition, but Stadelmann ended up putting up the team’s top floor score with her 11.75 in the final.

The team from Israel was also a strong one, but they were only able to put up one score on bars and beam after losing Ofir Kremer to injury, taking them out of contention for the team race. Gaya Giladi had a 13.55 on vault and an 11.6 on floor in qualifications, which were the team’s strongest scores of the meet, though Tzuf Feldon showed improvement in the final with an 11.15 on beam and an 11.55 on floor while Ofir Netzer had a consistent performance across both days.

A few individual gymnasts also competed here in addition to the Romanians, including seniors Thea Nygaard of Norway (eighth all-around with a 46.350) and Wilma Malin of Finland (13th all-around with a 43.500) and juniors Iida-Maria Vänni of Finland (sixth all-around with a 46.500) and Meeriellen Sukari of Finland (13th all-around with a 38.800).

Full results from the competition are available here.

Article by Lauren Hopkins

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