Posts Tagged ‘Beth Tweddle’

2010 Apparatus World Champions, Part 1

Sunday, November 14th, 2010

Four different gymnasts were awarded the gold medals during the women’s apparatus finals of the 2010 World Championships, held in Rotterdam last month. All-around queen Aliya Mustafina didn’t win any gold medals in finals, but she did come away from these World Championships with five medals in all and bragging rights as the only Russian lady to claim a medal after their shared team gold.

Alicia Sacramone won her first vault title, bringing her total number of World medals to nine. Nine medals is the record for most won by an American, and Sacramone’s gold puts her in a tie for first with Shannon Miller and Nastia Liukin. She demonstrated explosive power and good form on her layout Rudi and Yurchenko double full, and her 15.200 average put her ahead of all-around champion Aliya Mustafina, who experienced some judging controversy in this event final. It seems she wasn’t given credit for the layout position for her Yurchenko half-on layout front full. The Russian Federation rightly complained that it can’t be downgraded to a pike position since the FIG itself acknowledged that it’s impossible to do more than a half twist in a pike, and that this particular vault does not exist in the pike position. The silver medal here ended any hope that Mustafina could sweep all the gold at this World Championships. Missing from this World Championships was vaulter extraordinaire Hong Su Jong, who was embroiled in a controversy of her own after being registered to compete with yet a third different birth year. The North Korean delegation has been banned from competition through to 2013, leaving certain event finals without some serious contenders.

1. Alicia Sacramone (USA) 15.200, 2. Aliya Mustafina (RUS) 15.066, 3. Jade Barbosa (BRA) 14.799

Alicia Sacramone (USA), Vault Gold, 2010 World Championships

Beth Tweddle earned another World title on the uneven bars with her high-flying routine that included a toe-on Tkatchev-half immediate barani to the low bar. It was an amazing day for Great Britain. In addition to Tweddle’s gold, the country also celebrated Louis Smith’s silver on pommel horse and Daniel Purvis’s bronze on the floor exercise. Tweddle held off He Kexin and Huang Qiushuang, both of whom dropped to the mat and out of medal contention.

1. Beth Tweddle (GBR) 15.733, 2. Aliya Mustafina (RUS) 15.600, 3. Rebecca Bross (USA) 15.066

Beth Tweddle (GBR), Uneven Bars Gold, 2010 World Championships

Ana Porgras nailed her delightful beam routine for Romania’s first medal at the Championships, despite the fact that some her most interesting choreography has been removed. Mustafina ruined her chance for six medals with a fall on her standing Arabian. Ukraine’s only female finalist, Yana Demyanchuk, was on track for a great routine (awesome roundoff-full and full turn with leg at horizontal…with a flexed foot!) before stumbling backward on her double pike dismount.

1. Ana Porgras (ROM) 15.366, 2(tie). Rebecca Bross (USA) and Deng Linlin (CHN) 15.233

Ana Porgras (ROU), Balance Beam Gold, 2010 World Championships

What a wonderful way to end the World Championships! Lauren Mitchell improved upon her silver medal at last year’s Worlds to win the gold this time. Using the same music, Mitchell stuck her tumbling passes (Arabian double front to leap, piked full-in, 2.5-twist to front layout to scale, double pike, and of course that really cool triple turn down low). Mustafina showed her lovely routine for the fourth time in Rotterdam, but unfortunately she didn’t go for the triple turn with leg at vertical so it will not be named after her this time. Two favourites, Sandra Izbasa (ROM) and Ksenia Afanasyeva (RUS), both had a disappointing time in Rotterdam. Izbasa lost valuable points after landing out of bounds after her amazing 1.5-twist through to triple twist, and Afanasyeva put her knee down on her opening double layout and both hands down on her closing double pike.

1. Lauren Mitchell (AUS) 14.833, 2(tie). Aliya Mustafina (RUS) and Diana Chelaru (ROU) 14.766

Lauren Mitchell (AUS), Floor Exercise Gold, 2010 World Championships

Russia Reigns

Monday, May 3rd, 2010

Russia reigned supreme at the European Championships held this week in Birmingham, England. Junior gymnasts from this country won every single gold available, with Larisa Iordache of Romania tying for top honours on the floor exercise. Viktoria Komova and Anastasia Grishina packed a 1-2 punch in the all-around, and they even managed to split apparatus golds between them. Both have loads of difficulty and a style very much reminiscent of the Soviet greats that came before. Indeed, Komova is the daughter of 1986 Goodwill Games champion Vera Kolesnikova.

Viktoria Komova (RUS), 2010 European Championships, Balance Beam

The Russians all entered their beginning poses on floor exercise with a flourish. Grishina’s superior technique is evident at 0:27 with her floaty leg-up double turn to double stag jump and at 0:35 with her triple twist.

Anastasia Grishina (RUS), 2010 European Championships, Floor Exercise

Sometimes I ask myself why I love it so much when the Russian gymnasts succeed. I think the main reason is that the Soviets from years past are the very epitome of what gymnastics should be, and I want that tradition to be passed along to the new crop of gymnasts. Unfortunately, the other former Soviet republics are struggling; former powerhouses such as Belarus have fallen off the gymnastics map. The results of the Ukrainian gymnasts at these European Championships are particularly upsetting given their rich legacy in the sport. They managed just one bronze from senior Natalia Kononenko on the uneven bars, and no junior gymnasts qualified to event finals at all. (Is it true that two of the Ukrainian junior gymnasts come from gyms where they still train on wooden balance beams?!).

Natalia Kononenko (UKR), 2010 European Championships, Uneven Bars

What a tricky routine, performed with fantastic form! It was lucky for Kononenko that she hung on to the bronze, as Youna Dufournet (FRA) would have bumped her to fourth place had her coach not accidentally touched her following her Def.

Another reason I want the Russians to achieve great results is that the routines they display show the winning combination of artistry and difficulty in a time when many gymnasts simply forgo choreography.

Viktoria Komova (RUS), 2010 European Championships, Floor Exercise

I really appreciate all that Beth Tweddle has done for British gymnastics, but she should have to show more than just spectacular tumbling to earn gold medals on floor exercise (2009 Worlds and now 2010 Europeans). Anyway, there’s no disputing that her uneven bars are among the best in the world. Unbelievable!

Beth Tweddle (GBR), 2010 European Championships, Uneven Bars

I hope these European Championships mark the start of an upward trend in Russian gymnastics. Komova and Grishina have proven they have what it takes to lead Russia to great success in the future. Davai!

2009 World Champions

Monday, November 2nd, 2009

The 2009 World Championships in London have drawn to a close, and I must say I was extremely impressed with the quality of the gymnastics in this post-Olympic rebuilding year. This competition offered the first glimpse into the next Olympiad, which will culminate with the 2012 Olympic Games in the same O2 Arena.

Kohei Uchimura (JPN) was the undisputed king of the all-around, winning by a 2.575 margin. His form is simply impeccable, especially on the twisting skills. Even in slow-motion, you can see that his ankles stay together perfectly during this Yurchenko 2.5-twist. The direction was superb as well, as he landed square on the line. Note how he spots the ground while heading into the last half-twist.

Marian Dragulescu (ROM) returned from a brief retirement to claim the titles on his best events, floor and vault.

China showed off its enormous depth with three newcomers who won gold: Zhang Hongtao on Pommel Horse (an unbelievable 9.6 Execution score!), Yan Mingyong on Rings, and Wang Guanyin on Parallel Bars.

Here’s Zhang’s routine:

Yan demonstrated unique ways of getting into the strength skills, and he continued to rack up the start value thanks to his jam-packed routine and his full-twisting double layout dismount.

Wang threw every trick in the book on his way to the gold medal:

Zou Kai (CHN) won high bar thanks to his 7.5 Difficulty score. This routine is from the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, where he also won gold.

American Bridget Sloan’s high level of difficulty and her consistent performances were the keys to her all-around success. In this routine from the preliminary round, highlights include the toe-on piked Tkatchev and the full-twisting double layout dismount.

Kayla Williams (USA) rose to the highest level of the sport in meteoric fashion as she won the vault title.

Chinese He Kexin, who has grown since the Olympics, won the uneven bars title by a massive 1.125 margin. Her D Score alone was 0.8 higher than the nearest competitor.

Deng Linlin (CHN) earned her country’s sixth gold medal of the Championships with this consistent routine.

Beth Tweddle gave the hometown crowd something to cheer about with her victory on the floor exercise. It’s a pity she didn’t qualify to the uneven bars final, as she would have provided the only real challenge to He Kexin’s dominance. While her choreography was the least inspiring of all the finalists, her tumbling and landings were outstanding.

Honourable Mentions:

Daniel Keatings (GBR), for rallying to the silver medal in the all-around and making history for his country, and for earning the Longines Prize for Elegance.

Lauren Mitchell (AUS), for earning silver medals on both balance beam and floor exercise.

Koko Tsurumi (JPN), for proving that it’s not just the Japanese men who win medals! Her all-around bronze was the country’s first for a female since 1966.

Ana Porgras (ROM), for demonstrating a level of artistry not often seen from her country since the 1980s. How unusual to see a Romanian whose weakest event is vault and who swings a mean bar set!

Elsa Garcia (MEX), for being a very deserving winner of the Longines Prize for Elegance and for having a great sense of humour when she crashed her vault in a very ungainly position!

Youna Dufournet (FRA), for overcoming past inconsistencies and having a fantastic World Championships!

Timothy McNeill (USA), for overcoming so many injuries to place 7th overall in his first World Championships.

The BBC (GBR), for showing so many routines and discussing the technical aspects of the sport. I really appreciate how the commentators pointed out the differences in technique in the double-twisting Yurchenko vaults of Yekaterina Kurbatova (RUS) and Kayla Williams. It was also interesting to hear why the judges were deliberating so long over Ariella Käslin’s vault; in the end they gave this Swiss gymnast full credit for the layout position, even though she piked after blocking off the table to gain extra rotation.

No report on the 2009 World Championships would be complete without a tribute to Yuri Ryazanov, who achieved the greatest result of his career in London.

“The final started badly,” he said of Oct. 15’s all-around competition. “After my pommel horse routine the judges deliberated for a long time [because of a mistake on my dismount]. As a result, it reduced my A-score by 0.9. I was 21st of the 24 finalists. I was ashamed almost to tears. But I calmed down and I realized that I had nothing to lose. I said to myself, ‘Yuri, don’t give up, this is not your last worlds, try to look dignified.’ After that I decided to add more difficulty on the remaining five events. And although I had another mistake [on high bar], it was enough to win a medal in the end.” (International GYMNAST Magazine Online)

In a tragic turn of events, Yuri Ryazanov passed away five days later after a car accident in his native Russia. RIP.

(Photo from International GYMNAST Magazine Online)