2018 European champion Boglarka Devai has spent the two years since winning her vault title trying to come back from serious injuries and surgeries, and it seems her patience and hard work has paid off, as she came back with an emotional win in front of a home crowd at the Szombathely Challenge Cup in Hungary.
Despite the injuries, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, despite the setbacks, Devai looked sharp and solid in her competition this weekend, performing a Yurchenko double with a few small leg form deductions and a few steps back, and then a lovely Lopez with a perfect front layout shape and just a step on the landing. Her 13.95 average was a little under two tenths ahead of the rest of the field, and when she realized she would get the gold, she burst into tears, so overcome by the feeling of finally being back out there and doing big things after being away from the sport for so long.
The Ukrainian first-year senior Anastasiia Motak also competed a Yurchenko double for her first vault, and it was much improved compared to the vault she showed in prelims, with tight form in the air and just a slightly buckled landing. Her second vault, a Yurchenko half-on front pike half had just small leg form issues, but this one again was also stronger than the previous day, and it was nice to see her make these improvements to be able to come in and take the silver with a 13.775 average, marking the first international medal of her senior career.
Her teammate, the veteran Angelina Radivilova, won the bronze with a 13.625, competing a Lopez with just slight leg separation and a bounce back on the landing, and then a Yurchenko full with a large hop back. Though fourth-place Jasmin Mader of Austria had cleaner vaults – perhaps the cleanest of the competition – her lower difficulty left her a tenth behind Radivilova with a 13.525.
Lisa Zimmermann of Germany finished fifth with a 13.5, Csenge Bacskay of Hungary was sixth with a 13.2, Tijana Korent of Croatia was seventh with a 13.125, and Aneta Holasova was eighth with a 13.1, and I’m happy to report that this was an entirely fall-free final, which is so rare, and was so unexpected given the current training circumstances around the world.
On bars, Ukraine’s Diana Varinska took the gold with a 13.4, overcoming a few form issues – like bent knees going into her Jaeger in the Tkachev half to Jaeger series – to come out on top thanks to a start value several tenths ahead of the rest of the field. Her Chow to Pak was especially strong, as was the handstand before the series, and she stuck her full-in dismount with her feet slightly apart.
Behind her was Lara Hinsberger of Germany coming in for the silver. She had an absolutely beautiful routine with a high piked Jaeger, clean Pak, and toe front half dismount for a 12.8. It was especially nice to see her hit her van Leeuwen so well in this routine after she had a scary fall there in qualifications, but she had no issues at all in the final with this or any other skill in the final.
Zimmermann, coming over from the vault final, took the bronze with a 12.7. Her routine was considerably more difficult than Hinsberger’s, but it was much sloppier, with a late handstand out of her clear hip full, an arched van Leeuwen, a low piked Jaeger, and some leg separation throughout, but overall, it was a hit routine, capped off with just a small hop on her stalder front half dismount.
Just missing the podium was Elina Vihrova of Latvia, who had a simple but clean routine that earned a 12.55, showing a clean handstand before her clear hip, a stalder to blind full, excellent straddle jaeger, bail, toe shoot, and double pike with a small step.
Mader finished fifth with a 12.25 for a hit routine, Zoja Szekely of Hungary was sixth with an 11.75 after falling on her Church, though she came back to hit the rest of her difficult routine, albeit with a few wild elements and some form breaks, Marta Pihan-Kulesza of Poland was seventh with a 10.4 with an unfortunate routine that saw her drag her knees on after toe full on the low bar and then jump off on a muscled blind full, and Bacskay was eighth with an 8.5, catching a Hindorff and Pak, but then falling out of a couple of handstands and either coming off of the bars completely or taking extra swings to regain her rhythm.
The second day of finals began with an absolute surprise of a beam podium, where Christina Zwicker of Croatia took the gold with a 12.8, Vihrova won silver with a 12.25, and Holasova snagged bronze with a 12.1 after the top contenders all struggled with falls and mistakes.
Zwicker’s routine was lovely, with clean and fluid leaps, a solid triple flight series, and a layout full dismount. She was so steady and precise here, it was clear her execution was going to be enough to put her on the podium even with lower difficulty, but ultimately her careful, calm routine won out over difficulty, which is such a rarity in this sport.
Vihrova, meanwhile, started out with a daring punch front mount immediately followed by a punch front tuck, both of which were very strong. She was also solid on her flight series, and despite a few small wobbles and going a little low and long on her double full dismount, she was able to pull off a medal. Holasova also pulled off a risky mount, hitting her layout stepout with just a little step back, followed by a triple flight series with a break at the hips, though she fought and held on. The rest went well, and she nailed the double pike dismount with just a small step to earn the third world cup medal of her career.
Missing the podium by just a tenth was Bacskay, who had a hit routine I’d say was just about as good as those from Vihrova and Holasova, though her difficulty was just a little too far behind for her to match their totals, and she finished fourth with a 12.0. She also had a layout stepout mount, which she hit with bent knees and a wobble, but overall despite a few minor form issues, it was an impressive hit routine from her, especially coming back from such a rough time on bars the day before.
Varinska, who was hoping to get gold here, was fifth with an 11.95 after falling on her split leap to side aerial, Noemi Makra of Hungary was sixth with an 11.9 showing several large wobbles and some form breaks but no falls, Tina Zelcic of Croatia was seventh with an 11.8 and though her leaps were fabulous, she struggled with a few wobbles throughout, and then Pihan-Kulesza was eighth with a 10.35 after missing several connections and dealing with multiple large breaks throughout. Shockingly, there were no falls, but the routine was a struggle for her to get through from start to finish, and it was clear the score was going to be a low one.
Finally, on floor, we saw a gold medal performance from Radivilova, who earned a 13.2 for one of the better sets I’ve seen from her in a long time. She started out looking a little iffy on her Memmel to illusion turn, and she had a big bounce on her 1½ through to triple full, but the arabian double front to stag and double pike were both solid and strong, and between her difficulty and overall execution, she easily proved to be the best in the field.
Pihan-Kulesza overcame her bars and beam traumas to win the silver with a 12.9, giving her all in her Madonna “Vogue” routine with a 2½ to front pike (just a little wild with a step out of bounds), arabian double front to stag, phenomenal quad turn to illusion, and front double full at the end. Her out-of-bounds step in the first pass cost her three tenths in penalties, which was unfortunate, because before the penalty, she would have tied Radivilova with a 13.2, and would have won the tie-breaker based on execution to win the gold, but these finals clearly did not want to go her way, so I’m considering the silver a lucky break.
We saw Zimmermann on the podium for a second time here, as she got a 12.8 for bronze, showing a clean 2½ to front tuck with a small hop forward, a double pike, a 1½ to front full, and a stuck double full at the end. Her execution was lovely throughout on both her tumbling and dance, with her triple turn and double turn in front attitude both highlights.
Varinska placed fourth with a 12.4, just coming up a bit short and with some landing deductions on most of her passes, Makra was fifth with a 12.2, showing an awesome quad pirouette but going out-of-bounds on her 2½, Vihrova was sixth with an 11.55 after putting her hands down on her front tuck through to double tuck, Szekely was seventh with an 11.5 with just a few form breaks here and there, and Zwicker was eighth with a 10.7 after falling on her double pike.
In the men’s floor competition, Rok Klavora of Slovenia won a tie-break to take the gold ahead of Ilyas Azizov of Kazakhstan after both scored a 14.0 while Petro Pakhniuk of Ukraine earned the bronze with a 13.9. Nariman Kurbanov of Kazakhstan won pommels gold with a 14.6, while Robert Seligman of Croatia won silver with a 14.35 and Matvei Petrov of Albania won bronze with a 14.05, and on rings, Vinzenz Höck of Austria took the gold with a 14.15, upsetting Ukraine’s Igor Radivilov, who landed low on his double double dismount and wound up with a 13.8 to take the silver while his teammate Yevgen Yudenkov won bronze with a 13.75.
Radivilov came back to win the vault gold with a 14.15 average despite falling on his tsuk double pike, yet his piked Dragulescu was good enough for him to win a tie-break ahead of the Czech Republic’s Ondrej Kalny, who was super clean on his kaz 1½ and Yurchenko double to also earn a 14.15, getting the silver. Sebastian Gawronski of Poland, meanwhile, took the bronze in this super close race with a 14.025. Pakhniuk won the p-bars gold with a 14.95, while Milad Karimi won silver with a 14.3 and Yudenkov won his second bronze with a 14.1, and on high bar, Tin Srbic of Croatia won gold with a 14.65, Karimi won another silver with a 14.15, and Hungary’s David Vecsernyes won bronze with a 14.0.
Full results and live blogs are available here.
Article by Lauren Hopkins