Mori Leads Italy to Mediterranean Gold

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Lara Mori of Italy

Lara Mori had quite the week in Tarragona, winning the all-around and floor golds with a couple of fantastic performances in the individual finals, but it was leading the young Italian team to the top of the podium at the Mediterranean Games that is perhaps her biggest accomplishment.

With so many injuries in Italy at the moment, the senior national team is quite depleted, with Mori working overtime these past couple of years to keep everything together. At 19, Mori is the sole member of last quad’s A team still competing at a high level right now, and though she started out the 2018 season looking a little tired, she has worked her way back to top shape just in time to become the star of the Mediterranean Games, and her four solid routines in the team competition helped Italy take the team gold just under a point ahead of France.

Mori, who was second in the all-around in prelims, also fought back in that final to win the gold by over a point with a 53.200, looking the best on beam I’ve seen her in quite some time, and though she had falls on her toe full in the bars final and then on her layout stepout mount and side somi in the beam final, she came back to absolutely dominate on floor, winning another title by over a point with her whip to stuck full-in, 2½ to front layout, triple full, and nearly stuck double pike, earning a 13.600 to end her meet on a high note.

The others on the Italian team – Martina Basile, Caterina Cereghetti, Giada Grisetti, and Francesca Linari – are all first- or second-year seniors, with the exception of Grisetti, who just turned 18. None in this group would be top options if everyone on the senior squad was healthy, but it’s great to see them get some big senior-level international team experience because those who are out now are not likely to be back in time for Euros or worlds, so several of these girls will be making some of the bigger teams later this season.

Grisetti made it into the all-around, bars, beam, and floor finals alongside Mori, finishing fourth on all but beam, where she won the silver medal with a 13.366, showing a switch ring, triple acro series, full Y turn, Onodi, and double tuck with a hop back on the dismount. Grisetti missed her Ricna on bars, she was a bit messy in the floor final, and she also made mistakes in the all-around final, where she earned a 51.350.

The others all got two-per-country’ed out of the finals thanks to Mori and Grisetti’s strong prelims performances, but Basile and Cereghetti contributed strong work on vault for the team, while Linari hit beam and floor.

The French team – led by 2016 Olympians Louise Vanhille and Marine Boyer – looked great overall on vault and floor, but with most of the bar workers left back home and with some mistakes on beam in the team competition, they were held back to the silver medal behind the Italians.

Vanhille doesn’t have insane difficulty right now, but she was consistent in all of her performances, leading the all-around in prelims and then going on to win the silver medal in the final with a 52.050. Qualifying to every event final she attempted, Vanhille also won the gold on bars, showing a shaposh to huge Pak, Maloney to bail to toe full to Ray, clean Jaeger, and lovely double layout for a 13.166, and she won the bronze on beam with a solid routine in addition to placing seventh on floor, landing her double layout out-of-bounds, but otherwise looking as great as she did all week.

We only saw Boyer on vault and beam here, competing an excellent vault in the team competition and then going on to win beam gold, nailing her front aerial to split jump to tuck jump half, layout series, side aerial to split leap to side somi, and double pike for a 14.033. She looked fantastic, and I’m glad to see her holding back on competing all four events until she really needs to later this year.

The rest of the French gymnasts in Tarragona were a B-team group, including Grace Charpy, Morgane Osyssek, and Sheyen Petit. Petit was solid in the team and all-around competitions, finishing sixth all-around with a 50.600 in addition to making the floor final, where she performed mostly clean but simple passes, though a mistake on her front layout to front full held her back to eighth place. Charpy, meanwhile, did her best work on beam and floor, while Osyssek put up a solid vault in the team competition.

With a lot on the line in front of a home crowd, Spain sent the best of the best to the Mediterranean Games, and it paid off, with a team bronze medal.

Ana Perez, the leader of the team who also won bronze in the all-around with a 51.450, had a couple of mistakes here and there, including falling on her piked Jaeger in the bars final to finish fifth with a 12.433, though she came back from that to hit beam for a 12.666, finishing fourth for a routine that included a switch to switch half, punch front, and lunged double tuck dismount.

The big fan favorite of this team, however, was Cintia Rodriguez, who absolutely stunned on floor to get the bronze in a nail-biter of a wait that saw her tie Grisetti’s 12.466, but then win the tie-breaker on execution. While her tumbling itself was clean, including a stuck double full, her performance overall was magical and had the crowd in a standing ovation at the end of the final, making this an incredibly special moment for the Spanish team.

Paula Raya also medaled here, getting the silver on bars for a routine that included a toe full to Gienger, Jaeger, and stuck full-in for a 12.700, Helena Bonilla made the all-around final, finishing ninth after a fall on bars, and Nora Fernandez contributed a solid vault in the team competition, though she had some errors on bars that held her score back.

This group is likely to be the same team we see at Euros and worlds if all goes according to plan, but if not, the team has a couple of other strong contenders – like Laura Bechdeju and Andrea Carmona – waiting in the wings. They look super healthy as a program right now, and have a chance at both the team final at Euros as well as qualifying a full team to the 2019 world championships if they can stay that way.

Rounding out the team competition was Egypt in fourth, Turkey in fifth, Slovenia in sixth, Greece in seventh, Portugal in eighth, and Cyprus in ninth. For Egypt, Farah Hussein and Farah Salem placed fifth and eighth in the all-around final, respectively, while Lucija Hribar of Slovenia was seventh, and Tutya Yilmaz of Turkey was tenth.

The vault final saw Nancy Taman of Egypt come out on top, winning the gold medal with a 13.899 after showing a great DTY and a handspring front pike half with a step out-of-bounds. The Slovenians Tjasa Kysselef and Teja Belak won the silver and bronze, with Kysselef showing a nearly stuck Yurchenko 1½ to average a 13.733, while Belak fell on her handspring front layout full, though hit her Yurchenko 1½ with a lunge to average a 13.499.

Göksu Üctas Sanli of Turkey was fourth with a 13.399, hitting her Yurchenko 1½ and tsuk full well, Argyro Afrati of Greece was fifth with a 13.333 for a clean FTY and handspring front tuck half, Hussein was sixth with a 13.216, Evangelia Monokrousou was seventh with a 12.399, and Anastasia Theocharous of Cyprus was eighth with a 12.249.

In the bars final, behind Vanhille and Raya at the top of the podium was Hribar with the bronze, showing a solid straddle Jaeger, bail to toe shoot, and double pike with a little step, looking NCAA-ready with how well she performed this routine to earn a 12.533. Behind her were Grisetti and Perez, and then Yilmaz in sixth with a 12.033 for a hit routine with some form issues, Mori in seventh, and Salem in eighth, falling on her Hindorff to earn a 10.466.

With Boyer, Grisetti, Vanhille, and Perez in the first four spots in the beam final, we then saw Vasiliki Millousi of Greece in fifth, and though I was hoping for this to be a medal-winning routine, she crashed her side somi onto the beam and basically circled around it, earning just a 12.166, though the rest of her routine was mostly good. Hussein was sixth with an 11.933, falling on her tuck full series, while Belak was seventh with an 11.866, wobbling a bit but holding on, and Mori finished eighth.

Üctas Sanli followed Mori with the silver medal on floor, bouncing her opening double pike out-of-bounds, but otherwise looking solid, including with a stuck 1½ to front full in the middle, earning a 12.533. Rodriguez and Grisetti were just behind her, and then Mandy Mohamed of Egypt was fifth with her gorgeous routine, including a great whip to double tuck, for a 12.400, Kysselef was sixth with a 12.300for a hit set, and then Vanhille and Petit finished seventh and eighth, respectively.

Full results of the competition are available here.

Article by Lauren Hopkins

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