There is more to come, there is so much more to come, but the biggest test has been passed, the primary objective achieved. In front of a home crowd in the Hydro arena, the British team of Becky and Ellie Downie, Claudia Fragapane, Ruby Harrold, Kelly Simm, and Amy Tinkler combined with a mixture of youth and experience to qualify a full team for the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Were they always likely to? Potentially, but the road from potential to reality is notoriously tricky to negotiate, as many teams experienced. Were they likely to qualify in a medal position? Well, reading around, few were expecting it, I personally thought most likely 4th, with China more likely to qualify second or third.
So what happened, did China implode? Well they weren’t at their best, they they counted falls, and they can certainly improve a great deal. Here’s the thing though, so can Great Britain. We can gain over four points on bars alone should Becky and Ellie hit in TF. Becky scored 13.50 and Ellie 12.133. Their best on bars this year is 15.233 and 14.70 respectively, a difference of 4.30.
I won’t be speculating hugely on team finals, as the possibilities are endless. Eight teams, three per apparatus, Ninety six routines in all, every single score counts. We know America will have to completely bomb to not take gold, we also know that for the first time in history the British team have a realistic chance at a team medal. Whatever, the result we have stepped into the big four, and we’re here to stay.
In theory it shouldn’t matter which piece you start on, in theory it shouldn’t matter what crowd you are in front of, in theory it shouldn’t make a difference whether you are competing at the British Championships, or at the most important world championships of the quad. In practice you have to get up on the beam and stay on it.
I’m a real fan of studying the code (yes really!) and try as I might, I can’t find the clause that’s been tucked away somewhere stating that the British team must begin all major competitions on beam. We do though, and it was no different this time.
Ruby 13.60 (5.3 D 8.3 E)
How wonderful to see Ruby Harrold back competing for GB after such a long time away with injury. Kicking off the team effort on this piece with exactly what was needed, a calm secure performance with few errors, including a beautiful change to ring, and the team was off to a great start.
Amy 13.633 (5.6 D 8.033 E)
What we learned about Amy Tinkler through this competition began on beam. This young gymnast hasn’t quite turned sixteen yet, and she performed as though she were a veteran. One of the most interesting acro series out there, a gainer layout layout, recovering calmly and confidently from her foot slipping on the switch side, and a huge triple twist dismount. Two down, two hit routines.
Ellie 13.966 (5.6 D 8.366 E)
The second new senior to the team was just as impressive, Ellie hit the biggest standing Arabian I have seen in a long time, much higher and she could be the first to perform it piked. Beautiful extension on her leaps, she absolutely battled to keep the flick layout on, then a nailed two and a half dismount.
Claudia 13.233 (5.7 D 7.533 E)
Claudia was awarded the highest D score of the British team, and other than an unfortunate fall on her standing full which in her own words is a skill she never falls on, her work was excellent. She has changed the routine a little, taking out the free walkover and replacing it with a standing tuck, then going for the 0.1 bonus for linking the change leg to sheep jump. If she gets the nod for team final, she could go near to mid 14’s with a fully hit routine.
Becky 14.10 (5.6 D 8.5 E)
Becky Anchored the team’s opening apparatus beautifully. She contained the wobble from the sharply linked front to W jump, and floated the free cartwheel layout series. She wouldn’t have been awarded her full difficulty as the change ring wouldn’t be credited on this occasion, as well as the back spin, free walkover, so there is room for her score to climb further in team final. No major errors, very polished work, and one of the better double pikes I’ve seen her perform for some time.
Beam done, no falls counted. An excellent start, and worth remembering that the whole team can score in the low to high 14’s so room still for improvement.
Ruby 13.466 (5.33 D 8.166 E)
On to floor, and again Ruby opened brilliantly for the team. High double Arabian, controlling the step to keep it in bounds. Straight front double twist, lovely extension in the leaps, one and a half to straight front full, just a hop on landing. Stuck double tuck to finish, and I’m so glad she kept this expressive well choreographed routine which is so strongly performed.
Kelly 13.555 (5.8 D 7.866 E)
Kelly began her championships on floor. Great double layout to begin with, then the hugely difficult, and unique whip to full in which she didn’t quite get as much height as usual on, landing a little low, but she saved it well with just a pace forward. One and a half to a high double tuck with a pace back, then a strong double pike to finish. Kelly’s performance level has improved with each outing this year, and she sold the routine really well on the world stage.
Ellie 14.40 (6.0 D 8.4 E)
Ellie competed her most difficult routine to date, upgrading her first tumble the one and a half to double Arabian by adding a perfectly controlled stag leap. A huge double Arabian second tumble, Ellie oozed confidence and control. Two and a half to a very open piked front to sissone, again completely under control, then a big double pike with a small step to finish for I believe her highest floor score to date.
Amy 14.20 (6.0 D 8.20)
Youngest team member Amy took to the floor hitting her tumbles and smiling throughout. Big stuck double double opener, double layout, excellent leaps, one and a half to two and a half with a tiny hop but kept within the area, then a nailed double pike to finish. This new routine really suits Amy’s style, she sells it superbly, and she looked like she enjoyed every moment.
Claudia 14.60 (6.3 D 8.3 E)
Last week when we hadn’t seen Claudia on floor for a while seems like a world away now. What a routine, her full twisting double layout was as good as it’s ever been, no problem on the double Arabian today she attempted to join the sheep jump, so that may be a possibility in future rounds. High triple twist, just a step to the side on landing, then finishing with a great double straight linked to W jump. When you’ve had a routine that people love as much as Claudia’s last one, the new one is always going to have a lot to live up to. I feel that Claudia really has the performance of this routine down now, and it looks as sharp and comfortable as the last one did.
Half way though and things were looking great with two very strong pieces left.
On to Vault…..
Kelly 14.433 (5.6 D 8.333)
Kelly opened the vault rotation with her Lopez. High and lifted straight through vertical from the table, a little pike down and a step, but great start for the team.
Ruby 14.666 (5.8 D 8.866 E)
Ruby’s comeback has been so impressive, a FTY at British Teams, one and a half in Holland a few weeks ago, now back to full difficulty with the double twist. There is room for her to tidy her leg form yes, but she’s looking stronger with every single outing.
Claudia 14.866 (5.8 D 8.666 E)
Another DTY for Claudia. A little bent on one arm on the table causing her to move slightly to the side coming off, but high and fully rotated in time to land neatly with just a small hop. Again room for improvement on leg form, but her highest, cleanest vault for a long time, and her highest vault score this year.
Amy 14.933 (5.8 D 9.133 E)
Amy is always explosive on Vault, the one slight frustration has been her piking down her high DTY when she didn’t need to, causing her to bounce back. Not so today, as soon as I saw the vault I thought it was one of her best, then checking the scores it was exactly that, over nine in E score, and her highest vault mark to date. A great DTY, high and extended throughout. A hop to the side showing that she could possibly go over 15.00 in team final.
Ellie 15.066 (5.8 D 9.266 E)
Ellie did go over 15, a huge Yurchenko double, twist completed with time to spare, and given the hop back, she could have stretched it out even longer. That’s a big E score, and to think it could go even higher should she get the landing under control. Ellie also Vaulted her new Lopez for 14.833, another E score over nine even with a big hop back, which is hugely impressive for a brand new vault.
One piece to go, our strongest event bars, the team were hitting fantastically and were looking at a big total…….
Oh bars, not ok.
Lets start with the good
Kelly 13.70 (6.10 D 7.60 E)
Kelly opened with a toe full, a little late so as to miss her direct connection to the Komova II, but safely though that skill, and the Pak back to the low bar. She took the upstart handstand before the Ray back to high bar, then made the piked Galante to be the first gymnast ever to perform the skill at the World Championships. Not a hint of a bent arm or loss of leg form, if you’re going to debut a new skill, do it to your absolute best! Ricna then double layout with a hop to finish, job done for Kelly.
Amy 13.70 (5.60 E 8.10 D)
Amy finished her competition with an excellent routine. Hitting her casts impressively, she was a little late on the opening toe full, but linked it to the toe on and off, into the Maloney to high bar, and the Pak back to low. Van Leeuwen back to high bar, then the new Markelov which was high and flighted. Full out to finish, Amy has really improved on this piece as the year has progressed.
Ruby 14.166 (6.3 D 8.366E)
Lets take a moment to consider that for the first six month of this year Ruby couldn’t lift her arm above her head, let alone swing on bars. She has now earned a place in the bars final.
Again Ruby impressed, her comback in Osijek was good with room for tidying up, she took a fall at GB v Holland, this time she put it all together for her highest score of the year. Ruby had only competed two bar routines in a whole year starting a month ago, and is now in the world final.
Her unique routine was great to see again on the world stage, Maloney to Bhardwaj, Van Leeuwen to Zuchold straight in to toe on full right on top of the bar. Jaeger caught with straight arms, and double front dismount with the smallest step. Innovative, difficult, clean.
Can we just leave it there, can we pretend that what happened next just didn’t happen. Two routines away from the most thrilling performance I can remember a British team putting in, and it went horribly wrong for the Downie sisters on bars. Gymnastics isn’t always fair, of course it isn’t, but it was hard to watch as both had so much they could have accomplished from this piece.
Ellie 12.133 (6.30 5.833)
Ellie has upgraded considerably on this piece since Euros, she is joining her toe full to piked Tkatchev, straight to the Pak. Today it just didn’t work, but what a fight she put up. Off at the beginning on the forward toe half, Ellie began again working brilliantly through repeated skill to Maloney to Tkatchev. The toe full to piked Tkatchev was excellent, she then mistimed the Pak catching way too far out, and meaning she could’t get the swing through. She really tried though, and kept the routine moving despite hitting the floor. Ellie tucked the Van Leeuwen back to the high bar, but finished with a beautiful stuck double straight. What could have been.
Becky 13.50 (6.6 D 6.9 E)
Whether she was rattled by Ellie’s distress, or it was just one of those things, Becky had her hopes of the bars final and a possible medal dashed. Forward toe half to begin, Chow to high bar into immediate Shang. It looks like Becky hit her feet on the bar there, she then lost her leg form coming out of the skill. Toe full into her own release move the Stalder to piked Tkatchev which took her away from the bar and onto the matting. Becky remounted, completed her Pak to the low bar, upstart handstand, then Maloney back to the high bar straight into uprise to immediate HIndorf , Full out with a hop, such quality in her work, such immense difficulty, but the damage was done.
So qualifications were over, they didn’t end perfectly, but still what a team performance.
Becky anchored beam beautifully when it mattered, style and elegance personified.
Ellie showed that she is potentially one of the best AA gymnasts in the world, she needed 14.084 on bars to qualify in third to AA, and 14.205 to qualify second. As I said earlier her best this year was 14.70, and that was just three weeks ago.
Amy was ice cool, confident and absolutely on for the whole competition as if she was working round the pink of her South Durham gym rather than the Pink of the World stage.
Claudia hit an absolutely fantastic floor, and one of her best vaults.
Kelly became the first gymnast in the world to compete her new skill at World level.
Ruby was stronger than ever hitting absolutely everything and looking like she’d never missed days training, let alone six months worth.
When everything was finished, we qualified in third place to team final Amy and Ruby qualified eighth and ninth to AA, Ellie qualified 6th to Vault, Ruby 8th to bars, and Claudia and Ellie 5th and 8th to floor. The target was two individual finals, the girls have managed to double that.
Team finals we shall see, we have the potential to score more, others also have the potential to score more, no matter what happens though thanks to these wonderful gymnasts we will be watching a full team compete in Rio next summer.
Becky and Ellie
Full results available here: http://www.fig-gymnastics.com/site/page/view?id=831