The star of this year’s European Youth Olympic Games, 13-year-old Ksenia Klimenko of Russia, added two more golds to her collection after also winning gold in the team and all-around finals while also picking up a silver to finish the meet with five total medals.
The beam and floor titles went to Klimenko, thanks to a pair of great routines, and narrowly missed a fifth gold on bars when she finished with a 14.066, just a third of a tenth behind the champion, Elisa Iorio of Italy, the only non-Russian to win a gold medal at this meet. In addition to Klimenko’s two event victories, her teammate Valeria Saifulina got an individual gold of her own when she captured the vault title.
Saifulina competed a clean Yurchenko 1½ and a solid Yurchenko double to average a 14.149, finishing just a tenth ahead of the silver medalist Denisa Golgota of Romania, who also won the silver medal on this event at Euros last year. Saifulina had the second-highest difficulty in the final, and while she’s not the cleanest, she more than did her job to take the title, and while Golgota had the better DTY, her second vault, the tsuk full, had a big bounce back and wasn’t difficult enough to match Saifulina’s total.
In third was Asia D’Amato of Italy, the all-around silver medalist and the frontrunner for the title. Unfortunately, D’Amato’s Yurchenko double, which is usually stellar, wasn’t landed as well as we’re used to seeing, and her impressive second vault, the Lopez, had some form issues, getitng her to a 14.016 average, just over a tenth behind the champion. I loved seeing all three in this final end up so close, and while I was really pulling for D’Amato to take this one, I agree that the ranking is correct and it’s always nice to see execution win.
Rounding out the final were Emelie Petz of Germany in fourth with a 13.783, Dominika Ponizilova in fifth with a 13.783, Sanna Veerman of the Netherlands in sixth with a 13.616, Iorio in seventh with a 13.366, and Csenge Bacskay of Hungary in eighth with a 13.033. The first three in this bunch all had really lovely attempts, especially Petz, but Iorio crashed her DTY — which she had struggled on earlier in the meet — and Bacskay sat her Yurchenko 1½.
Iorio came back in fighting form to win bars, though, a huge comeback considering she didn’t even make the final! The D’Amato twins, Asia and Alice, got in with Iorio’s mistakes in qualifications causing her to miss out due to the two-per-country rule, but Alice D’Amato graciously stepped aside so Iorio — who had the biggest shot at gold among the three — could compete.
In the end, the strategy worked, and Iorio hit her HUGE 6.0 D routine to win the gold with a 14.1. Iorio caught her Ricna to Pak, her Maloney to bail to Ray, her Endo half to Tkachev, and she finished with her Endo full right on top of the bar going straight into her double front half-out.
It was beautiful and should have won. Second chances are rare in this sport, but I hate seeing medal-worthy routines miss finals. Of course, I also hate when federations make swaps because half the battle of winning a gold is hitting in qualifications, but in this case it seemed like everyone wanted Iorio to get that opportunity, and she shared her gold with a super-proud Alice D’Amato when she came off the podium, which was a sweet moment.
Klimenko’s routine was also great, getting a 14.066 for her van Leeuwen, toe half to big piked Jaeger to Pak, Maloney to Gienger, and double front half-out with a hop. Her routine outscored Iorio’s in the execution side of things, though the two were so similar in this sense, it ended up being Iorio’s difficulty that pushed her ahead, and rightfully so.
No one could touch these two, so the rest of the fight was for the bronze, which Asia D’Amato won with a 13.333. Her routine was easier than the other two, but she was mostly clean, aside from a low Tkachev and some nervous leg separations on some skills as well as a large hop forward on her double front dismount.
D’Amato got the medal over Varvara Zubova of Russia, in fourth with a 13.300, though she was a surprise to make this final in general and wasn’t really expected to get on the podium (though her routine was solid and it was cool seeing her get so close to a medal considering it’s not a strength of hers). Anastasiia Bachynska of Ukraine was fifth with a 13.033, Veerman was sixth with a 12.833 for a good and promising routine aside from a few form errors and a repeated pirouetting sequence, Leonie Meier of Switzerland was seventh with a 12.433, and Petz was eigith, getting an 11.000 after completely missing her Jaeger and not getting credit for the skill.
On beam, Klimenko got a 13.866 for hands-down the most difficult routine of the bunch, and she did a great job with it as well. In addition to nailing difficult sequences like a side aerial to layout stepout, front handspring to front tuck, and front aerial to split jump to sheep jump, she also showed great fight. Klimenko had lots of bobbles and near-misses in this set, but each time she fought through and stayed on, which is commendable.
With Klimenko so far ahead, the race for silver and bronze was a great one, with all seven in the field capable of getting on the podium. With all seven so close in terms of their difficulty, it came down to the gymnasts who had the best performances on this particular day, which just happened to be Asia D’Amato getting her third event medal with a 13.266 for silver and Amelie Morgan, winning Great Britain’s only medal of the meet with her 13.233 good enough for bronze.
Beam is the weakest event for the young Italians, but D’Amato was great here, hitting her flight series with ease before cleanly getting through the rest of her skills, showing nice extension on her leaps and just a slight check on her full Y turn before dismounting with a double pike.
Morgan began her routine with a lovely back handspring mount before competing a bhs bhs loso with a slight bobble, (it would be cool to see her eventually connect that series to the mount). The rest of her routine was solid, finished off with a double full dismount, giving her just what she needed to get her medal.
The other two who ended up being in direct contention were Bachynska in fourth and the young Nica Ivanus of Romania in fifth, both scoring a 13.000, though Bachynska won the tie-breaker with her cleaner set. Both showed great work, but they were just slightly behind what D’Amato and Morgan ended up showing, putting them just a couple of tenths back from getting medals of their own.
Petz was one of my favorites for a beam medal, especially after she did so well in qualifications, but unfortunately she’s super hit-or-miss on this event, and ended up throwing away her shot with a large wobble on her front aerial after an otherwise impressive set that included a gorgeous flight series, switch leap to split leap, punch front with a slight wobble, and double tuck with a small hop.
Ending up with a 12.566 for sixth place, it was a disappointment for sure, but hopefully she will improve on today’s issues for the future She’s so nice to watch on this event, so I hope she gets her consistency issues under control, especially now that Germany is shaping up to be such a great beam team. She could add a ton of value someday if she fixes her problem areas.
Saifulina ended up in seventh with a 12.000 and Iulia Berar of Romania finished eighth with an 11.333, both having falls that took them out of contention.
Finally, on floor, Klimenko picked up yet another gold for a simple but well-done routine that included a 2½ to punch front, double tuck, 1½ to front full, and clean double pike for a 13.266. I was secretly hoping Petz would take the title after killing it with her double arabian to stag, clean double full, and double tuck, her tumbling definitely stronger than Klimenko’s for the most part, though overall the two had similar-level performances and Klimenko ended up winning out, beating Petz’s 13.133 by just over a tenth.
I thought beam was going to be insanely close, but floor ended up being even crazier, with all six gymnasts ranked third through eighth finishing within three tenths. But Celia Serber of France ended up standing out a head above the rest, earning a 12.866 for the cleanest routine among this group, which included a tucked full-in, double pike, front tuck through to double full stuck cold, and a double pike to finish, getting France’s first and only medal of the meet.
A third of a tenth behind her in fourth was Bacskay, who had an excellent routine for a 12.833, followed by Morgan in fifth with a 12.666, Bachynska in sixth with a 12.633, Hungary’s Bianka Schermann in seventh with a 12.633, and Zubova in eighth with a 12.566. None of these gymnasts really had any problem areas in their routines, but rather it was just little things like steps on landings and legs on leaps that kept them away from what ended up being the most exciting final of the meet.
Article by Lauren Hopkins