The second of four apparatus world cups this season was held in Doha, Qatar over the weekend, where the Romanian gymnast Sabrina Voinea – the daughter of Olympic medalist Camelia Voinea and a fan favorite on the gymternet since she was just 10 years old – finally made her senior debut, making three of the four finals she attempted and stunning on beam and floor to win a pair of gold medals.
Things didn’t actually go Voinea’s way in the vault final on the first day of finals. She hit her Yurchenko double, albeit with a weak block and some iffy form throughout, but her difficulty helped her to a 13.733, which was high enough in this field and she’d only need to simply hit her second vault to medal. However, in her attempt on the Yurchenko half-on front pike, she ended up a bit low coming off the table and had to significantly tuck her legs to get it around, and then landed too far forward, with the momentum taking her down to her knees. After qualifying in third place, she wound up in fifth here with an average of 12.466.
Voinea came back strong the next day, though. On beam, she was rewarded with a 6.0 D score after hitting a roundoff layout full series, switch leap, switch half to split jump, back handspring layout stepout, full turn, front aerial, side aerial, split jump half, and double tuck with a small hop to earn a 13.766. There were a number of deductions throughout, but I think staying on under pressure was a massive win for her, as was earning the highest international score of her career, with this score a full seven tenths higher than any other beam performance she’s done outside of Romania, and it was a well-deserved gold ahead of some fantastic competitors, including last year’s junior and senior European balance beam champions.
Finally, on floor, Voinea hit the most difficult set in the field to take the title by nearly a point, competing a Popa, double double with a hop back, double layout with some form in the air but a good landing, triple spin with a stumble out, a switch leap to switch full, front tuck through to triple full with a step back, tour jeté half, and double tuck for a 13.600, another international personal best for the 15-year-old. Again, there were some issues with her form throughout, but I’m so impressed with the work she’s done to make this better than it’s ever been, especially in terms of her double double and in her leaps. She’s a delightful performer, and has the talent to go incredibly far in the sport.
2022 world bronze medalist Coline Devillard of France led the field on vault with two strong and clean hits for a 13.800 average, while Nordic vault champion and Euros finalist Camille Rasmussen of Denmark won the silver with a 13.333 average, hitting a Yurchenko double full on her first run, and eight-time Olympian Oksana Chusovitina of Uzbekistan bumped up from fourth in qualifications to land on her second podium of the season with a 12.916 for bronze.
The bronze medal here and at Cottbus give Chusovitina – who is hoping to qualify to world championships as a specialist – in first place on the overall world cup rankings with a total of 40 points. With up to eight eligible to qualify on each apparatus, I don’t think Chusovitina will have any problems making it at this point, and think she could even sit out the rest of the series and still get a berth, especially as most of the other top-ranked gymnasts will either qualify individually or as part of a team at continental championships later this year.
First-year senior and reigning junior European beam champion Anna Lashchevska of Ukraine won the gold medal on bars with a 13.500 as well as the silver on beam with a 13.200, an incredible achievement especially as she missed both finals in Cottbus a week earlier, and she currently leads the series rankings on bars with a total of 37 points, though she’s one who will almost certainly qualify to Antwerp at Euros next month. Nathalie Westlund of Sweden won silver on bars with a 13.233, Serita Mikako of Japan also earned a 13.233 but a lower execution score held her back to the bronze, 2022 European beam champion Emma Malewski of Germany won the bronze on beam with a 13.233, Hatakeda Chiaki of Japan won the silver on floor with a 12.9, and Breanna Scott of Australia won the bronze on floor with a 12.8.
In addition to Chusovitina leading the world cup series rankings on vault and Lashchevska leading on bars, a pair of Cottbus gold medalists from Japan held onto their leads on beam and floor despite not appearing here, with Okamura Mana topping the beam charts while Kokufugata Azuki leads floor. Both gymnasts are tied with Voinea at 30 points, but the Japanese women win the tie-breaks on both events having earned higher apparatus scores. Again, though, with Japan almost guaranteed a team spot at Asian Championships, their points will ultimately be redistributed when the time comes.
The men’s competition in Doha saw some of the top world-class athletes battling on each event, with 2020 Olympic champion Liu Yang of China winning gold on rings, 2019 world champion Carlos Yulo of the Philippines winning gold on floor, and 2022 world champion Artur Davtyan of Armenia winning gold on vault with a 15.083 average.
After winning in Cottbus last week and leading the Doha qualifications, Artem Dolgopyat of Israel scratched from the final here, I believe to be preventative with an injury. He was still able to pick up eight series points from prelims, which, combined with 30 points from winning gold in Cottbus, brings him to a total of 38 points to lead the overall rankings.
His departure left the top of the podium pretty open, especially as top contender Yulo struggled in the previous week, but Yulo had no problems in this final, taking the title with a 14.833, more than six tenths ahead of Japanese superstar Minami Kazuki, who debuted a double back with three and a half twists, but lost some important tenths with his overall execution to win the silver with a 14.2. Jumping ahead in a tight race for bronze was Great Britain’s Luke Whitehouse, who performed an incredibly tough set that included a massive triple back tuck, and though he struggled with his execution, his 13.966 was just enough to slip ahead of Turkey’s Adem Asil with a 13.900.
Nariman Kurbanov of Kazakhstan improved on his bronze in Cottbus to win the gold here with a 15.400, notching an incredible win against 2022 world champion Rhys McClenaghan of Ireland, who won the silver with a 15.033. Kurbanov also leads the series rankings at the halfway point with a total of 50 points, while McClenaghan is a close second with 41. Shiao Yu-Jan of Taiwan and Sugino Takaaki of Japan had matching scores of 14.833 in this generally excellent final, but Shiao had the better execution here and ended up taking the bronze.
This weekend was the first time we’ve seen Liu since 2021, when he won the Chinese National Games title just weeks after taking Olympic gold. He managed to jump right back into top form here, showing difficult work and nearly tallying a 9.0 execution score to put up a 15.366 total, more than three tenths ahead of reining world champion Asil, who had a 15.033 for what was pretty much an equally great routine, and whose 41 total points make him the overall series leader at this time. Nikita Simonov of Azerbaijan won the bronze with a 14.8, but this was a super tight field overall, and that includes qualifications, where there were a number of potential medal contenders who didn’t even get into the final.
Davtyan was as brilliant as ever in his vault performances here, putting up a 14.966 for his first vault – a Dragulescu with a lunge back – and then a 15.033 for his second vault – a gorgeous handspring randi that sailed off of the table – to average a 15.083 for gold. Having also won gold in Cottbus, Davtyan has a perfect 60 points to lead the overall vault rankings by 22 points, so I think it’s safe to say he has all but secured a spot at worlds. Coming in for the silver medal here was Igor Radivilov of Ukraine with a 14.899 average for two of his stronger attempts, while Yulo won the bronze with a 14.883 average, also doing phenomenal work in yet another incredibly deep field.
Ukraine’s Illia Kovtun is in a similar position as Davtyan, winning the gold on parallel bars here with a 14.966 after also winning in Cottbus to lead the series rankings with a perfect score of 60 points. Though he’ll be a top contender for a worlds berth at Euros, it’s nice to have a backup plan! Yulo picked up his third medal here with a 14.933 for the silver, once again doing beautiful work from start to finish, while Olympic medalist Ferhat Arican of Turkey won the bronze with a 14.733, narrowly edging out Maeda Koki of Japan with a 14.7.
Finally, the gold on high bar went to Japan’s Kamoto Yuya with a 14.333, while Olympic medalist Tin Srbic of Croatia came back from missing the Cottbus final to winning silver here with a 14.3, and Ahmed El Maraghy of Egypt surprised to win bronze with a 13.966, climbing up from eighth in qualifications after improving his own routine in addition to seeing some struggles from other contenders. Kovtun was fifth here with a 13.766, and after also finishing fifth place in Cottbus, he leads this series ranking as well, with his total of 32 points across both meets ahead of the 30 points from both Kamoto and his teammate, Kawakami Shohei, who won in Cottbus.
Next up in the series is the Baku World Cup in Azerbaijan this weekend, with qualifications beginning Thursday.
Article by Lauren Hopkins
4 thoughts on “Voinea Checks Off Senior Debut With Dynamite Wins in Doha”
“Again, though, with Japan almost guaranteed a team spot at Asian Championships (…)”. Isnt’Japan already guaranteed a team spot ?
The two japanese winners were great, esp. on BB. Such depth ! It’s interesting they already have tons of expercience at home as seniors when basically very few of us were aware of such talent (I certainly wasn’t !). But the way Japan selects its world team it’s not a given thing we see them in Antwerp. We could easily have again 2 japanese for the BB EF for the 3rd year in a row.
Has Ukraine got a competitive 3rd WAG gymnast these days ?
No, teams have to qualify to worlds this year via continental championships (unlike in previous years where the top 24 qualified from the mid-quad worlds to the next worlds in the cycle).
Japan’s BB depth is WILD, I’m obsessed! They’re doing tremendous things on that apparatus. I actually worried last year that beam would be the event to keep them from making the team final in Liverpool because while they have a lot of great BB specialists, none of them were on the team…and then the ones on the team who had never really even been standouts on that event suddenly were getting massive scores! It still blows my mind that Watanabe won the world title, I never would have predicted that in a million years (especially since she was originally the alternate)! From what I’d seen at domestic meets, she was always fine on that event, sometimes really good, but I never would have been like “FUTURE BEAM CHAMPION!” hahaha. But something clicked for her, I guess! Just incredible, and now they seem to have a million specialists on the event. They usually name their team by picking the three all-arounders from the NHK Trophy and then two specialists a month later, and I think while they usually go with a VT+FX specialist and then focus on UB, this year they’re probably going to be looking very carefully at a beam standout to keep that gold tradition going.
Ukraine has a few others who should be on the team for Euros. Lashchevska and Hubareva are the strongest, but they also have Daniela Batrona who is very good (though has been injured), Valeriia Osipova who is good when she’s healthy, and Marharyta Kozlovska and Yuliia Kasianenko also are pretty solid. I think the war has created an issue for a lot of its “borderline A team” gymnasts, those who could have been productive for the senior team had their lives not been interrupted. A couple who have turned senior in the past couple of years have just vanished from the sport, which is a bummer.
I was 100% sure (now only 99%) that teams that made the team final at the 2022 worlds were automatically given a ticket to the 2023 worlds, so they don’t have to qualify through continental championships. GB Italy France for the European countries are already qualified so any other country must place a top 10 (not inclunding these three) next month at Euros. That applies to China Japan and Brazil for their respective continental championships
As for Japan on BB I think it’s the country that understands the current code the best, in terms of fluidity and constant action. Not that their difficulty is wild but their work is very eye pleasing. Nobody certainly expected that top 3 at worlds last year, and nor the top 3 at euros I think.
UKR: hasn’t Osipova recently retired ? With a couple of raising countries in Europe (FIN SWE TUR) I sadly don’t expect them to qualify a team to Antwerp. But they should be able to send theiir top 2 at least