Advanced warning, I have got through this World Championships and the five hour time difference on very little sleep, more sugar than I would usually eat in a year, my brain is pretty much a puddle, and my body a zombie. This may not be my most eloquent post!
So the 2017 World Championships wrapped up with apparatus finals. A quick MAG mention first, huge congratulations to Max Whitlock, double Olympic Champion, and now two time World Champion, and the first British Gymnast to defend a world title. Incredible achievement, and he’s no way near to being done.
Congratulations too to Courtney Tulloch, 8th in the Rings final, he seemed a little disappointed with his result which speaks for it’s self, no longer just a finalist, wanting and believing in more. I’m sure the step up to medals will come.
So vault first, oh vault with your curious E scoring, so completely out of line with all other apparatus. To put it into perspective, there were 151 beam routines performed at worlds, two routines only scored over 8.000 in E score, and then there was Maria Pasaeka’s Cheng first vault. Maria has retained her world title, she did a lovely Amanar second vault, the leg separation on is not nice, but clean second flight, fully rotated, great awareness through the air, opened out beautifully to land upright. But her Cheng, her Cheng was not lovely at all. She is pretty much straddles on, she pikes off, straightens out a bit with crossed legs and closed hips, twists, then hits the floor hard, somehow not breaking herself, but bent in half, knees and head not far from the floor. See pictures below, and for this she receives 8.700 in execution.
So are the execution faults not severe enough or not being taken, or both? There were some lovely vaults in the final, the highest E’s were 9.2 for Maria’s second vault, 9.166 for Ellie Black’s first vault, and 9.100 for Oksana Chusovitina’s second. That there was only 0.4 difference betweens Maria and Oksana’s didn’t seem at all right.
This is to take nothing from Maria at all, she goes out there and vaults her best, she is given a score, that is nothing to do with her. She comes in with the highest difficulty, and she landed her vaults, for me there is something that needs to change on vault though. Maria is throwing these vaults and looks as though she’s in pain a lot of the time, but she knows, and the Russian Federation knows these vaults will take the title at present. Were the consequences of poor execution far more severe, we may see less difficulty, but much, much cleaner work from her. I would rather see her Amanar and a clean safe Lopez every day, than wince for her every Cheng.
The scoring is what the scoring is though, and congratulations to Maria as champion, to Jade Carey taking silver, and to Giulia Steingruber on bronze.
Bars was a good final, missing Georgia-Mae Fenton (no I’m still not over it), but very enjoyable. Fan Yilin retained her 2015 title, well the one she shared four ways, her extra 0.2 difficulty helping her out with a little pause on pulling an in bar half over, and a step on her dismount. Elena Eremina so impressive for Russia at these Championships took silver, quite possibly a future world champion, she has both the ability and the competitive mettle to climb to the top of the podium. Nina Derwael took bronze for Belgium, a first for them, and wonderful result for her, well deserved with her brilliant routine. Out of the Olympic bar final last year, a victim of early subdivision judging, she is now European champion, and a world medalist. Take comfort Georgia Mae.
Beam, Germany impressed. Two finalists, two medals, they can hit. Beam we know is all about hitting, and Germany have looked at their beam performances and changed something. More numbers perhaps, a different type of numbers where only routines without falls, major wobbles, and all elements counted perhaps? Whatever they have done it’s worked. Pauline Schaefer is the new World Champion, the only gymnast at this championships to go over 8.000 in execution, and I’m always happy to see the cleanest come out on top. Morgan Hurd took silver, her world AA title looked to give her a little more confidence, a tiny gymnast, she seemed to have grown in presence today, and looked lovely up there, just her free cartwheel causing her problems. Tabea Alt took the bronze, the last up, great performance under pressure to secure her medal.
Finally on to floor, could she do it this time? I thought about floor finals a lot today of course, about how hard it is to get it right on the podium, to get the power right, give just enough, not over, not under, to get it just right. To get that balance with the adrenaline flowing, with the crowd roaring you on, with the lights, with occasion, with the medal at stake. Claudia will have known she could medal today, and with her, she is so powerful, the fear is she will push too hard, not be able to bring it all under control, but she did, today she did.
Fifth up, Mai Murakami had already hit, 5.9D and with a hit routine, the title was hers, I was so so happy for her after her disappointment in the AA. Jade Carey had also been, 5.7 D, she again hit well, coming in just behind Mai. Jade is a huge tumbler, an exciting talent, she has so much time in the air. She is not a performer as yet, and I hope to see her go on through the quad, find her personal style, and improve on her artistry and projection if she is going to continue making world podiums.
So then came Claudia, and breathe. Well actually, I didn’t, did you? The opening tumble, full twisting double straight was good, high, coming into land well, then just that little too much, she hopped back on one foot, hopped again, and wobbled which adds up, ohhhhhh I probably squeezed every muscle in my body willing her to get in under control. From there, just wonderful. You can react one of two ways to an error, give up a little, or squeeze every single tenth out of the judges you can for the rest of you routine. Claudia did just that. The second tumble, double straight, and the angle shows her tumbling toward us . Good, have a look at those legs locked together on her flick, again on the double straight, the great landing into fully controlled stag leap. Change to W jump through to split full to jump full, lots of height and extension, and very much in control. Change half, then huge double Arabian nailed. Split one and a half, just one tumble to go, and I imagine just like you, I was willing her on, willing it to be this time, willing her to get it on her feet and show everyone that she belongs here at the top of the floor workers. Double pike, and hit it she did, dropped it into the floor, huge smile, job done. 13.933, the same score as qualification, and she could have gone higher with a hit first tumble, and the jump added. No matter today, but a future world champion? Perhaps.
There were two gymnasts left to go, and Vanessa Ferrari has qualified with a 13.600 could she push Claudia? Sadly we weren’t to find out, Vanessa was injured on her second tumbles, and you could see it was badly from the way she hit the floor. Apparently a torn achilles, a horrible way for the championships to end, and I wish her as speedy recovery as possible.
Congratulations to Mai and to Jade, and of course to Claudia, and her coaches Helen Potter and Rory Weavers at home club Bristol Hawks. You have done it, the second British WAG individual World Medalist, absolutely wonderful, I couldn’t be happier for you.