And so the European Championships concluded today, a maximum four more final spots for the British WAG, and with Becky being injured on bars yesterday, Claudia stepped in to take her place in the beam final, and both Ellie and Claudia qualified for floor.
Beam first, and this was a stacked final. Two Olympic champions, a European Champion and world medalist, and another European medalist.
Claudia up first, yet another clean, neat, superbly landed standing Arabian. She’s four for four on this huge skill this year. Light and extended through the change to W jump, her range is better here too, from the angle she might just have a tiny bit to find still, but you can only properly judge leap positions side on. The flick straight, she really went for, lifting it and holding the shape, coming in upright to get the F difficulty today. Such a huge shame for her she came off line, and down the side of the beam.
Deep breath, and back on, standing full landed well, you can see she was a tiny bit off centre, but she squeezed hard to keep herself from wobbling. Nice tuck jump half today, no hesitation, the W full which has been so good, she wasn’t quite round today, and didn’t get the credit. Flick, flick, double twist to finish, such a shame, as this was a really good routine, and for me as clean as we’ve seen Claudia on this piece. Disappointment today, but I hope also pride in how much effort she has clearly put in to work hard on improving her execution, presentation, poise and flow here. This routine when she lands the straight back giving her the connection bonus, and gets the W full which to be fair she has done really well in every other routine this year, is out of a 5.5, I believe she is going to add a twist to her dismount, and it then goes from a 6.0. Looking as clean as she does, that’s a big beam in waiting.
12.533 (5.1D, 7.433 E)
Ellie climbed onto the podium for her fourth day of competition in a row, and did exactly what she’s been doing all championships, go through the routine, with confident work, hitting her skills. High punch front, a little hop out so no jump linked today, but she looked relaxed and in control, well as much as anyone ever can in a major beam final. Big standing Arabian, like Claudia with her standing full, she was slightly off, but got her hips and shoulders in line, strong and with with conviction, she stopped it getting away from her. This is what has impressed me most from Ellie at this championships, there were skills that might have come off, there were other skills that might have had big wobbles, but she shut them down and regained control each time. Change to change half, good range and extension throughout, very lightly landed. The double spin I think perhaps after the AA she was anxious not to push too far, so came out earlier and it did send it off line, but again she dealt with it, bending her leg, arms out, calmly back to centre. Flick layout was very dynamic, a little too dynamic as she was still going as she came in to land, but again the wobble was dealt with, with minimum damage. No connection on the split leap to free cartwheel today, but no big problem on either, the clean two and a half, a small pace, and she was through for 13.433 (5.3 D, 8.133 E). We know Ellie too has work to go into this routine, with both her connections she has a 5.5, when the double Arabian comes back in it’s a 6.1 with everything she gets for it.
I am so encouraged by the way Ellie has competed here on beam in particular, how she has dealt with the pressure, and minimised her errors, three routines three hits, job done.
Fourth place on the day, a great result in such company, and I loved seeing Catalina Ponor up there taking the title, such a commanding performance from her, reminiscent of her prime when she took the Olympic title, and what it meant to her to do it in front of her home crowd
Finally onto floor, and Ellie up first. Split jump full, fully rotated, then the big double double, and this was the best we’ve seen from her yet. Good landing position, tiny hop back. One and a half twists, so clean in her twisting, through to the double Arabian, she really went for the stick here, stamping it into the floor, but just needed the pace back today. Lovely extension and range through the change leap, then through to the tour jete full, it frustrates me sometimes when people say Ellie is a power gymnast only, she doesn’t have the range and extension, you can be both you know, there are a huge amount of pictures out there of her in full split with her legs and feet fully stretched, there are some that don’t want to see that though as she doesn’t fit their mould. I’m sure the AA European champion isn’t too bothered. Huge double pike, again so well landed, the change full she was short on today, so wasn’t awarded which was fair enough, but again an absolutely brilliant routine from her, and great endurance shown. Off the podium, a hug from Claudia on her way up the steps, then a huge hug from coach Jo Miller for a floor well done, and the end of four absolutely fantastic days of competition.
14.066 (5.4D, 8.666E)
After congratulating her team mate, Claudia stepped up on to the podium. A deep breath, then she strode confidently onto the floor area and struck her opening pose. Stuck full twisting double layout landed bolt upright to start with to open, great start. The double Arabian was huge, just too huge today, heartbreaking for Claudia, two big steps, and out of the area with both feet, that one landing probably a 0.8 deduction in total, 0.3 each step, and both feet out is another 0.3 would be a 0.9, but the maximum landing deduction is 0.8, so I imagine she lost all of it. Change to W jump, clean and strong through the split leap full to jump full turn. Tidy change half, third tumble, the double layout today with the W jump linked. Fully round on the tour jete full, and a stuck cold double pike to finish.
Ah what could have been, what if’s change nothing, but look at that score, 13.533, losing 0.8 on one tumble, what could have been.
Claudia was visibly and understandably upset, she was in with a huge chance of the title here, and if not another European floor medal. She has cleaned up, worked so hard to get herself back and ready after more time off that anyone else, and she looked so ready. I absolutely love this floor for her, great floors are all about finding your personal style, so you perform to your absolute best, and she has nailed it with this one, the time on Strictly making a genuine performer out of her.
It wasn’t Claudia’s day overall today, she had two mistakes, and of course they cost her, but I hope now, a little later she has her head held high. I have read nothing but positive comments about her, about the improvement in her execution, about her performance level and quality on both pieces from gymnastics fans the world over. Much more to come from her this year, she’s looking great.
13.533 (5.0D, 8.466E)
If it couldn’t be Ellie or Claudia, or the beautiful Eythora Thorsdottir, then how lovely for Angelina Melnikova of Russia to take the title. She’d had a very tough championships, and has had some tough competitions recently, she was feeling incredibly low and disappointed, I imagine she’s feeling a lot better now.
And so we come to the end of another European Championships, the target for the British WAG was one AA final spot,three to four apparatus final spots, and one to two medals. They achieved both AA spots, seven Apparatus Final spots, and four medals. Targets exceeded, even with mixed fortunes.
The first international championships for British WAG since Rio, the beginning of a new quad, and things look very promising. From Georgia-Mae Fenton, so devastating for her to miss out, but we know now that her bars, and the scores that she brings in are capable of medalling at European level. Alice Kinsella, such a great job under not the most ideal of circumstances, a young gymnast with big potential for these next four years as the AA gymnast comes to prominence once again as we head towards Tokyo team selection. Becky Downie, so so unlucky here, but her bar work looking so strong with so much promise, will she finally grab that world medal she wants so badly over this quad? I think so, and maybe more than one. Claudia Fragapane, cleaner, more polished, more confident that ever, more to add in, again such potential. And finally Ellie Downie, history maker once more, European AA champion, with two silvers, and a bronze to match, and the potential to, well, the potential to take on all comers and stand above them all. Add to that the talent still at home, the talent coming through to senior level in the run up to Tokyo, and it’s going to be wonderful watching it all unfold.