Rio 2016: Talking Qualifications.

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And breathe.

I hope you’ve all gathered yourselves now, because we’re doing it all again tomorrow  for team final, and there is a medal for the taking for the British ladies.

That was some competition, this is where we are with British WAG now, we are up there, we are fighting for team medals, for individual finals and medals, and frankly that makes for terrifying spectating. I wouldn’t change it for the world though, would you?

There is only one team that has what we don’t have, and that is the US with the unwavering stability to go with their immense difficulty. If we can get to the point where we crack stability, we will all breather a little easier. For now, we are with the Russians and the Chinese, the silver and bronze are there for the taking, whoever can hit under the immense pressure can take them home.

China scored 175.279 they hit three pieces, and counted a lower score on floor as one of their top floor workers  had a rough routine, meaning they missed her usual contribution, and the third score they did count, was a little down on what it could be.

Russia scored 174.620, hitting vault and bars, but counted a fall on beam, and one on floor.

GB  scored 174.064, hit vault, counted 0.6 off on bars, counted a fall on beam, and a lower D score for Becky having missed her change ring, then a lower floor counting Ruby who did a great job, but missing Ellie who would have brought in the higher score.

It’s very close between these three teams if they can hit, if not, Japan, Germany, and Brazil are there ready. Like I say it’s going to come down to who holds their nerve, stays on the apparatus, and on their feet. Get yourself balanced right on the edge of your seat  Tuesday night.

So how did our gymnasts fare? Well in short they hit eleven out of sixteen routines, and finished 4th in qualification. I think of the teams in the running, they have the most margin to improve, but of course I know the British routines better that I know the Chinese and Russian ones, and at present there aren’t videos to pour over and compare. It is worth noting that finishing 4th in Olympic qualification on far from the best day is a huge step forward over the last quad, and the highest ever placing by a British team. Performing at around 65% this is still the best team result yet, that is the potential, and therein of course lies the disappointment when it is not fulfilled.

Ok firstly, I apologise for some vague reporting here, especially when regular readers know I’m all about the huge detail, videos, routine breakdown and analysis, but there just wasn’t that much routine coverage, and more strangely, none online as yet to share. It is amazing to have coverage of all subdivisions, not quite as amazing was the amount of time spent showing the gymnasts after routines, and the crowd. I DON’T CARE WHAT THE CROWD ARE DOING, SHOW ME AMY ON FLOOR!!!!!!!!

Ok, so from my notes……..

The longer story I wish was a happier one, there were many positives, but tinged with such disappointment. The sadness here is that the potential in terms of qualifying for finals and then possible medals was enormous, it just didn’t happen on the day, and there will be none more disappointed than the gymnast who have worked so hard for so long.

Bars

The team started on bars, Claudia up first, and a fall for her at the beginning of the routine. As we didn’t see it, my assumption is the Maloney, or the piked Tkatchev. I have read it was a Shap half, but we’ve never seen her do that skill before, so likely not.

Ellie up next, and by all accounts a hit routine for her just a over 0.1 down from her highest this year, great start

Ruby went for her safer routine, leaving out the Tkatchev after the Maloney and before the Bhardwaj. I always say this is her solid 14.80 routine, and that’s exactly what she scored, so a really strong start for her, and her highest bars score this year so far.

Becky up last, and this is pretty much how I feel about it: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO, THIS IS NOT WHAT WAS MEANT TO HAPPEN, NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

Eugh I almost don’t want to write about it, and here’s why. If she had hit that routine, she would be sitting in second behind Madison Kocian who was for me  a tiny bit generously scored. In other words the judges love Becky’s work, and were willing to give her the very big score to challenge not just for a medal, but for the title.

Becky scored 15.233, she needed 15.300 for the top eight. She was 0.067 away from the final.

Becky had to go for the big routine, the 15.1 ish she usually scores for her less difficult routine wouldn’t be enough for an Olympic final. The big problem was of course that she hit her feet on the bar after the Shang, 0.5 off, BUT she also competed a Ricna the Stalder straddle Tkatchev, instead of the Downie, the stalder piked Tkatchev after her toe full giving her 6.8 D score instead of 6.9. Even with hitting her feet, that 0.1 difference would have got her into the final.

Lets us all hope for complete redemption for Becky in team final, hitting the entire routine cold, and bringing in a monster score.

Bars scores

Claudia 12.533 (5.7 D, 6.833 E)
Ellie 14.633 (6.3 D, 8.333 E)
Ruby 14.800 (6.3 D, 8.500 E)
Becky 15.233 (6.8 D, 8.433 E)

 

Beam

 

 

On to beam, and Amy up first. I’m always saying she’s a big time competitor, and she hit her big beam skills. Completely solid on the gainer three layouts, free walkover to sissone, to full spin with a tiny adjustment. Solid again on the standing full, the change half, and the free cartwheel. Lovely and light on the change to sissone leap series,  triple full dismount with just a hop to the side. Big pressure, big start for Amy. This is exactly the sort of attack and belief you want to see on beam. Amy is the second reserve for the beam final, equal score with Ellie, just one place behind as it’s decided on E score, a great performance from her here, and her highest score of the year on this piece.

Ellie up second, linked the front to the W jump, then huge standing Arabian with the tiniest adjustment on landing. Change to change half solid, quite a big wobble on the double spin, but safe. Clean and solid through the flick layout, and the sissone to free cartwheel, great two and a half dismount. First reserve for the beam final, just missing it by 0.033, so the spin cost her, never the less, a great routine.

Claudia we didn’t see, but she did really well hitting all of her enormous skills, then came to grief on the free cartwheel, something she’s been completely solid on all year. A big shame for her, as it had severe repercussions for her AA qualification, more on that later.

Becky too came to grief on beam, right at the start, on the front somi. She was then so clean, for me such a classy beam worker. The issue she had on top of the fall, was that she again struggled on the change to ring, performing the change leap instead. It’s been a bit hit and miss for her this year, she can do it really well, but my impression is she doesn’t 100% believe that herself at times. As Becky already counts a change leap earlier in the routine, she gets no value here for the change leap, meaning she then counts an A dance element instead of an E bringing her D score down by 0.4 which is a big drop to her total.

Beam Scores

Amy 14.500 (6.2 D, 8.3 E)
Ellie 14.500 (5.9 D, 8.6 E)
Claudia 13.400 (6.5 D, 6.9 E)
Becky 13.300 (5.8 D, 7.5 E)

 

Floor

 

So half way round, and a mixed outing so far for the team. Beam and bars over, we could all relax a little. Ha, NO there is NO relaxing during Olympic viewing!!!

Ruby started the team off strongly, two and a half times round in the Y scale spin, double Arabian with a big pace, but under control. Lovely change to ring through to tour jete full leaps, then very clean through the third tumble one and a half to straight front full with a sissone on the end which makes for a very tidy landing. She was a little short on the change full, then finished really well with a double twisting straight front to a full spin. great job again from Ruby, peaking again when she needs to, for the big occasion.

Amy went up second, and hit the biggest floor of her life so far, so much so, that she earned herself a place in the final. Full twisting double straight to open, double double back. Nicely through the leaps, then she used the one and a half to double tuck. reports from podium training say she used a triple twist on the end of this tumble, so perhaps we shall see her go for it in the final. Change full to sissone, big stuck double pike to finish. Great new routine for Amy, and exactly what we have come to expect from her, big tumbling, big energy, big performance when it matters.

Ellie’s floor we didn’t see, but I’m sure many of you have seen the footage of her third tumble. Seemingly she was going through no problem, then got to the two and a half to punch front, her feet were underneath her, she tried to rotate the front anyway, as she thought she could get it round, and landed on her neck. Ellie did get up, she continued to dance, then stopped. She said that she had felt something crack, and that she felt a little wobbly, so decided not to go for the final tumble.
The only correct decision to make when you have landed like this is to stop, and be immediately checked by the medical team. Nothing is more important that the health and safety of the gymnasts, and anything neck related is a huge risk. The British coaches were immediately with her, Ellie was safely escorted looking a little shell shocked from the arena, and taken for medical assessment. At this point my only thoughts as I’m sure yours were, were is Ellie ok, nothing else mattered, not finals, not results, nothing.

So after seeing her friend and team mate taken from the arena in such a worrying way up stepped Claudia. This is what she had to say:

‘I was quite nervous. Seeing Ellie fall, I had to get my head back into the game. Everyone was telling me ‘You’ve got to do the floor that you can do’. It wasn’t the best one as I was so scared for her, and I did have that in the back of my mind. I’m really pleased that she’s well and safe’

So for the second time in the competition, my heart broke for one of our gymnasts. Claudia hit her routine, there were no major errors at all, but as she says it wasn’t her absolute best. She didn’t link any of her jumps to her tumbles here, she was a tiny bit short on her triple twist, she had a big step after the double arabian, nothing big at all, just the tiniest smallest difference in one area would have put her in the final. She tied the 8th spot for floor finals score wise, but is first reserve due to the lower E score. Heartbreaking for her.

Like Becky on bars, the redemption can come in the team final. A big hit on floor is what the team need there from Claudia, as this is the piece where we can really build against Russia.

Floor Scores

Ruby 13.633 (5.5 D, 8.1 E)
Amy 14.600 (6.3 D, 8.3 E)
Ellie 12.500 (5.4 D, 7.1 E)

 

Vault

During vault warm up, Ellie came back out into the arena. My first thoughts were thank god she’s alright, she’s alright enough to come out and support the team, this is good news, it’s not a dangerous injury if they’re letting her come out. That was then followed by WHAT??? She’s warming up? And then, ok well eternal hero status in the gymnastics world for you then Ellie Downie.

Not only did Ellie come back out after a very scary fall, and gather herself enough to vault on the Olympic stage, she hadn’t vaulted on this podium AT ALL up to this point having jarred herself a little on floor during podium training, and therefore missed the vault rotation. At only just seventeen, she was cool as anything, and just got on with her job.

So Ruby opened for the team, and vaulted well. She’d had some difficulties on vault in training, not landing her double twisting Yurchenko, but she again stepped up when she needed to, bringing a 14.60 opening score, and finishing an excellent day for her which she should be so proud of.

Claudia next, we didn’t see it, but another good double twisting Yurchenko for 14.766.

Oh Amy, when are we going to see that Amanar then? If there is a DTY out there with more time left for the half twist, I haven’t seen it. She is so straight, has so much height, and so much time to spare. A fair few little birds have told me that Amy has the Amanar now, and this is no surprise at all. We haven’t seen it yet in Rio, through podium or qualifications, and we may not. Like Ellie, Amy hopefully has a long senior career ahead of her as one of the stars of the British team, and of course we will see the big vault at some point, but there is absolutely no point in risking her health should she not be 100% confident with it. That said, if the team final approach is go big or go home, and she suddenly came out with an amazing Amanar, I wouldn’t be at all surprised either.

Ellie went for both vaults, she did a good DTY, not her absolute best, but I think we can forgive her that, we didn’t see the Lopez second vault, but it seems that she did well there too. No final this time for Ellie, her usual average would have got her in there, but I think we can all understand why she was just a couple of tenths lower today.

Vault Scores – All first vaults from 5.8

Ruby     14.600
Amy      14,833
Claudia 14.766

Ellie      VT1 14.833
VT2 14.533
AV: 14.683

 

 

So everything was finished, the team final place was secured, Ellie despite not being able to finish her floor has qualified for the AA final, and Amy the floor final. There could have been so much more, Becky on bars, Claudia AA , and floor where she is first reserve for both were the two that would have been expected, and I really feel so badly for both of them. Ellie in vault we can understand, and we almost qualified two gymnasts to the beam final which is a very strong result for the British team.

I imagine there may have been some tears, but there is still much to fight for.  A team medal is there for the taking no question, and they can do it, they really can do it. I believe fully in this team, they are the best we have ever had, and I know like me you will be willing them on with everything you have come Tuesday night. I know that Ellie could take the AA bronze, it’s there for the taking, and looking at the scores she can do it. Mustafina is a steely competitor and will be hard to beat, but with the AA of her life she can do it.

Let’s move on from the disappointments, and celebrate this team, they are strong, they are capable, lions on the leotards, lion hearts, believe in them.

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Full results from qualifications can be found here:

https://live.fig-gymnastics.com/schedule.php?idevent=6405

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