We’re finally into competition season, as the first senior international event of the year took place from Thursday to Sunday.
The first of three remaining Apparatus World Cups saw Sapphire’s Ondine Achampong, and Bristol Hawks Claudia Fragapane head to Melbourne Australia.
For Ondine, her first ever senior international, for Claudia the beginning of another important senior season
If you would like to know more about the World Cup competitions, please see here:
Photo Emily Chan Gymnovosti
There was unfortunately no live streaming of qualifications, a shame for worldwide fans of gymnastics, a surprise for such a large and important event with Olympic qualification at stake.
The first day of qualifications on Thursday saw Ondine compete on bars. She scored 12.458 (5.5D, 6.958E). No video of the routine available to post, she has at times gone as far as 5.6-5.7 D, and as far as mid 7’s E internationally, but this looks like a solid debut to get her competition underway.
On Friday Ondine began her competition on beam. Again no full routine footage emerged, but there was footage of her successfully completing her forward walkover mount, then into a free walkover linked to beautiful split jump, just a wobble at the end of the series for the judges to deal with. We then saw her sharp, extended, and beautifully landed flick layout layout series, and an equally well performed free cartwheel. The footage ends there, but 12.991 (5.3D, 7.666E) was enough to take her into the final in 5th place, with room to potentially up both her D and E scores.
Both Claudia and Ondine contested floor, and we do have video of these routines available.
Claudia came to the event having unfortunately suffered with illness in the lead up, which of course will have hugely impacted her preparations. As will have travelling half way round the world and adapting to the time difference following illness. She chose to compete, and all credit to her for doing so.
Unsurprisingly she was unable to be as sharp as we have previously seen her, she had two out of bounds costing her a heavy 0.4 in neutral deduction, the first on her full twisting double straight where she just crept out with one heel for 0.1. The second more costly one on her double Arabian, where she landed outside the line for a 0.3 deduction.
Claudia also worked off just the 5.3 D score here, I was asked many times whether the D score was right, whether her leaps were downgraded, but no, she worked from a 5.3, and was awarded a 5.3.
Her dance skills were the same, but what we usually see is four tumbles from her, so instead of counting an extra D for her double pike and 0.4, here she counted an A for 0.1. That would be an extra 0.3, plus the jump connected to her double straight we have seen, would bring her to 5.7, she has also on occasion worked out of the double Arabian.
Her score of 12.466 (5.3D, 7.566E 0.4ND) was below her capabilities yes, she is capable of really a whole mark more on average, and up to 14 on this piece at her very best. I am sure we will see her making her way back to peak scoring levels as the year progresses, but more importantly when she has a healthy training period leading up to competing. Claudia has also posted footage of herself training on both beam and bars, demonstrating that she is not just aiming for a specialist role, but that team selection is very much part of her Tokyo aspirations.
Ondine qualified into the final in 5th place with 12.833 (4.7D, 8.133E). The third highest Score of the day, Ondine was as clean, elegant, and expressive as we are used to seeing. She has upped her difficulty by 0.3 through her dance elements since her success at EYOF in 2019, the single lep up turn becoming a double for an extra 0.2, and the change half being replaced by a change to ring half for an extra 0.1. The judges weren’t 100% on Ondine’s side with the new dance elements today, as she worked from a 5.0D but was awarded a 4.7, so even more opportunity to build her score from here.
Photo Emily Chan Gymnovosti
Beam first for Ondine, and she did exactly what I believed she was capable of in taking a medal here.
Safely on with the forward walkover mount, she opened her routine with an upgrade to yesterday’s difficulty, adding the straddle jump to the free walkover split jump for a three element series bonus of an additional 0.1, on top of the 0.1 for the D+E of the first two skills. Ondine hit her split positions beautifully, her long lines emphasising her excellent extension and flexibility.
Flick layout layout again fully stretched throughout, and smoothly landed. Another triple element series bonus of 0.1, as well as an additional 0.1 for the C+C. Free cartwheel, and again not a flicker on landing.
The hugely difficult E rated change to ring rightly rewarded, then soft and fluid choreography low to the beam to satisfy requirement. Ondine’s only real obvious error came on the tricky double spin, she completed her rotations, but did have a wobble to bring it under control. Flick to one, snappy flick to two, tidy two and a half twist (another three element series for 0.1, with a small hop on landing to complete her routine.
13.166 (5.4D, 7.766E) and a silver medal for her senior debut. The E scoring today was well…….agressive, but at least is was aggressive across the board. Ondine was just 0.134 away from gold with a big wobble. There are two World Apparatus Cups left, the beam spot for Tokyo isn’t impossible. We shall see………..
On to floor, and along with her beam, it has been so lovely to see how international fans seeing Ondine for the first time have been captivated by her elegance, musicality, and fluidity of movement. Her classical style is more rare in gymnastics nowadays, but when a gymnast gets it right as Ondine does, it is hugely appreciated.
Popa jump to open, fully hit split position, and fully rotated. The skill has a C rating, I wonder whether we shall eventually see her upgrade to the D rated one and a half, as we have seen her go to one and a quarter at times. Double pike with a little bounce back, then dance passage of change to ring through to split full, both leaps well executed with strong extension and range of movement. The Memmel spin which is an upgrade, it looks as though she wasn’t awarded today, as she was down on D score from what she attempted. She hits the split position beautifully of course, but It looks to me as though it may be that she’s just getting there a fraction too late here for the eagle eyed judges to decide to give her the full credit. Turns on floor are judged in full rotations only, so if she’s hitting full split at about half way round the first rotation, they can downgrade her to a B for the full version. It is an upgrade through, and an upgrade most definitely worth adding, as I think we’ll see her getting the full credit for this skill as she competes it more.
Second tumble handspring double twisting straight front, so clean and efficient through the air, a little hop on landing.
The change to ring half is stunning, if you pause the footage when she hits full ring position, it’s textbook. What Ondine didn’t get today was full rotation, you can see that she landed quarter of the way round, so she wasn’t awarded credit here, but this too is an upgrade, and one well worth working into her senior level routine. Triple twist to finish, a tiny bit short on landing, so a hop to the side.
12.700 (4.7D, 8.0E) for 4th place, and in all an excellent routine for her first senior final, especially coming off the elation of the beam silver medal straight back onto the competition floor again. New experiences to build on which I am sure we shall see repeated. She did have some landing adjustments on her tumbles, and some tiny hops on her leaps, plus the upgrades to polish, but that is the point. She did very well indeed, and there is room for improvement, which makes her a hugely exciting prospect for the senior ranks.
Well done Ondine, the international gymnastics community has now seen what we here have been enjoying for years. Welcome to senior level, I wish you huge success.