Alice Kinsella cries when she realizes she’s won the beam gold
Each of the ‘big three’ nations at the Commonwealth Games managed a gold in event finals, with England snagging a pair on bars and beam while Canada topped the vault podium and the host country Australia ended the meet with a gold on floor.
Shallon Olsen continued Canada’s dominance with one of her best outings on vault in her career, performing an excellent Cheng and a clean DTY with a small hop back to average a 14.566. With the title hers to lose, Olsen could’ve afforded a weaker-than-usual performance and still would’ve come out on top, but she wasn’t taking any chances and proved here why she was so unbeatable.
Her teammate Ellie Black was really the only other gymnast in the final with the difficulty to get close, and she too was in top form in this final, competing a handspring front layout full with an excellent landing followed by a tsuk 1½ with just a small step back to average a 14.233. If she cleaned up her layout shape on the first vault and her slightly loose knees in the second, I could see her getting close to a 9.5 E score on both, but form aside, both vaults are SO solid and dependable.
Australia’s Emily Whitehead did such a fantastic job in this final, the Australian commentators called the medal for her before the last competitor even went up, with her Yurchenko 1½ especially strong. She showed excellent extension there and took only the tiniest hop forward, and then on her tsuk full she had some leg separation right before landing, causing her to land a bit staggered with a hop, though her higher level of difficulty held her ahead in the standings as she averaged a 13.849.
This was only a third of a tenth ahead of fourth-place vaulter Holly Jones of Wales, who had two of the cleanest vaults of the session, but she was held back by the low difficulty of her second vault. Jones had a beautiful Yurchenko 1½ to start with just a baby step forward, and the form in her handspring front tuck half was incredible, with only slight leg separation in her tuck just as she came in for the landing, which she stuck cold to average a 13.816.
Fifth-place Shannon Archer of Scotland, sixth-place Georgia Godwin of Australia, and seventh-place Cara Kennedy of Scotland were all within about a tenth of one another, all showing strong work. Pranati Nayak of India unfortunately put her hand down on her tsuk full before then opening up late on her handspring front tuck full, sitting it to finish last.
Georgia-Mae Fenton brought in England’s first gold medal of the Games, coming into the bars final as the one to beat and accomplishing exactly what she was expected to do with her gorgeous and super difficult set. With a Derwael-Fenton to Ezhova, excellent Maloney to clear hip to Ricna to bail to toe full to toe shoot, and stuck full-in, Fenton was undeniably the best in the field in every way, with her one noticeable flaw just some slight leg separation right before she landed the dismount. Just as she did in prelims, Fenton put up a 14.600 here, allowing her to lead the field at a great margin.
Working with the same level of difficulty as Fenton, we saw Brittany Rogers of Canada wind up with the silver, which was especially impressive in my eyes given that prior to the Games, Rogers hadn’t competed in eight months. Rogers had a few more noticeable form errors than Fenton, adjusting after catching a few skills and she always has some bent knees in her van Leeuwen, but otherwise this is an excellent set that she seems capable of doing in her sleep, and she picked up a 14.200 for her efforts here.
The race for bronze was actually a bit more intense than the race for silver or gold, but in the end it was Georgia Godwin who managed to stand out ahead of the others, earning a 13.433 after nailing her hop change to Weiler to Weiler half to Maloney to Pak, kipping out of the Pak instead of connecting it to the toe-on to van Leeuwen before catching a piked Jaeger and landing her double pike a bit deep. It wasn’t her best routine, but in a final where everyone was a bit weak compared to their prelims routines, she was definitely a step ahead of the rest.
Right behind her was teammate Georgia-Rose Brown, who had a few close catches, missed a connection between her Chow and Pak, and cowboyed her double front dismount, hopping back on the landing to put up 13.233, and Canada’s Isabela Onyshko — who looked likely to sneak into the medals with a clean set — had an arched handstand into her clear hip full, which ended up looking super wild, though she somehow managed to keep the flow going into her Maloney to Tkachev before dismounting with a cowboyed double front of her own, hopping it forward to earn a 13.200 for fifth place.
Kelly Simm of England struggled with a late toe full causing her to miss a connection to her Chow to Pak, and she also had a short handstand out of her clear hip as well as a short double layout dismount with buckled knees and a hop forward, scoring far lower than she had been earlier in the Games to post a 12.966 for sixth place. And the Welsh gymnasts, Maisie Methuen and Latalia Bevan, rounded out the field in seventh and eighth, respectively, with Methuen earning a 12.775 for a solid routine though she was docked for repeated short handstands throughout, and Bevan only managed a 10.500 after getting stuck in her blind change and hopping off, only to fall again on her straddle Jaeger.
England snagged another gold medal in the beam final, as all-around bronze medalist Alice Kinsella stepped up to the plate with an excellent routine to take the title by seven tenths.
Kinsella was killer in this final, with a couple of minor checks and two steps forward on her dismount the only struggles she faced. Her side aerial to layout stepout was especially nice, as was her lovely double spin, getting her to a 13.700, the highest score on beam in any session at the Games. Kudos to Kinsella for becoming a star of this meet for England, under an incredible amount of pressure. Despite her young age, she performed all week long with the maturity and confidence of someone years beyond her level.
I was thrilled to see Georgia-Rose Brown finally end up on the podium here after coming in the dreaded fourth place both in the all-around and on bars. Going up last, Brown knew exactly what she needed to do to wind up on the podium, and she made it happen, showing just a tiny check on her side aerial, but otherwise looking lovely and solid, with her full Y turn, leaps, and double full dismount the highlights, getting her to a 13.066.
That total was just enough to edge out Kelly Simm, who also had a disappointing individual competition to this point, missing out on all-around and bars medals after doing so well to lead her team to silver. But thankfully Simm still managed to get the bronze here with a 13.033, wobbling slightly on her layout series and then showing a larger wobble on her sideways-facing straight jump full, but performing the rest well enough to finish a solid five tenths ahead of the rest of the field. It was so nice to see her finally get that little bit of individual glory, and I hope she’s going away from these games so proud of what she accomplished under tough circumstances.
I was definitely hoping Isabela Onyshko would pull off a medal here after mistakes earlier in her competition, and it was looking likely that with a hit routine, she would probably challenge for gold. But unfortunately, Onyshko came off right away on her tuck full series, and though she did a great job with the rest of the routine — her full Y turn to full pirouette, switch ring to jump series, and double full dismount were all excellent — she wasn’t able to come back from that fall and ended up fourth.
Emily Whitehead wasn’t a podium favorite here due to a lack of difficulty, so while she had a solid routine with only some minor issues, she ended up fifth with a 12.500, Ellie Black was sixth with a 12.366 after falling on her layout series, Maisie Methuen started out with a super solid triple flight series but was quite short on some of her splits in addition to having a large wobble on her double spin before performing a wild triple wolf spin and then performing her double full dismount with helicopter legs and a step for a 12.266 for seventh place, and her teammate Latalia Bevan was eighth with a 10.700 after over rotating her double spin and falling in addition to looking short on a few elements and wobbling throughout.
Last but not least, Australia finally got a gold medal in the final hour as Alexandra Eade crushed her floor set to post a 13.333, edging out the competition by a third of a tenth. Eade stuck her double layout at the start of her routine before landing her 1½ through to double tuck well, performing a clean front tuck through to double full, and finishing with a solid double pike to tumble her way into the history books as a Commonwealth Games champion.
Latalia Bevan ended up coming back from her weak bars and beam finals to become the only non-English, Australian, or Canadian medalist at these Games with her brilliant and gorgeous Swan Lake routine that caught the attention of every gym fan on the planet. Her tumbling isn’t super difficult, and so hops on a couple of her landings hurt her a bit, but with her fabulous artistry and gorgeous leap positions, Bevan was able to reach an 8.5 E score to post a total of 13.300 for the well-deserved silver medal in what ended up being a super close final.
Just behind Bevan was Shallon Olsen, who had the most difficult set in this final, and she performed it very well, putting up a 13.266 for the bronze. With a great double double, a front tuck through to stuck double tuck, piked full-in with a hop and her chest slightly down, and a triple full coming up a tad short with a couple of steps, Olsen was able to surprise for a medal, her third of the Games after golds with the team and on vault.
One of those Olsen edged out was her teammate Ellie Black, who had an excellent set of her own — one of her best-performed, I think — but she wasn’t credited for a tenth of her difficulty, so despite a strong E score, she ended up off the podium by less than a tenth with a 13.200. Black had a great front full through to double pike, a super clean front double full to front tuck with a tiny hop, and a stuck double full to finish, but I’m guessing the judges likely took issue with some of her dance elements, which is where the majority of her deductions usually come in.
Georgia-Rose Brown also performed beautifully but was held back by difficulty, putting up a 13.100 for fifth place. Brown had a gorgeous Memmel turn to switch leap full at the start of her routine, and she also performed a beautiful split ring leap to switch leap, showing fantastic extension and shapes. In her tumbling, the only major issue was the cowboying in her double tuck, but overall this was a tremendous set.
Welsh gymnast Emily Thomas ended up sixth, earning a 12.866 after landing her double layout a little short, skidding backwards on her whip to double tuck, rebounding forward on her front full to front full, and hopping to the side on her double pike.
England’s Taeja James, who led the floor final with a huge 14.100, unfortunately had some major mistakes in her finals set, stumbling back her 1½ through to messy triple full out-of-bounds before also bouncing back her double tuck out-of-bounds, and though she finished with an awesome stuck 2½, it was too little too late, and she ended up seventh with a 12.666.
Her teammate Alice Kinsella also didn’t fare well here; after starting out with a solid 1½ through to 2½, front tuck through to double full, and double tuck, she ended her routine sitting her double pike out-of-bounds, ending her competition on a low note, though with a medal of every color in earlier sessions and with one of the steadiest competitions of anyone there, I don’t think Kinsella can be too upset.
At the end of the Games, Canada walked away the most-decorated team with a total of six medals, including three golds, two silvers, and one bronze. Australia matched them with six of their own — one gold, two silver, three bronze — while England ended up with five — two gold, one silver, and three bronze — showing all three teams pretty close despite Canada coming in as the one looking most likely to dominate. It ended up being a much tighter competition than expected, making for an exciting meet every step of the way.
Full results from the Commonwealth Games can be found here.
Article by Lauren Hopkins
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