It was a night of tears and tension as the women's artistic gymnastics all-around final went down to the wire at the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games. Russia’s Seda Tutkhalyan (RUS) won gold with a score of 54.900 and Flavia Lopes Saraiva (BRA) picked up silver, with 54.700. Elissa Downie (GBR) took the bronze with a score of 54.150.
Coming into the final rotation, it appeared that Tutkhalyan would be the clear winner, given that she was 1.200 points ahead of Downie in second place and 1.550 points ahead of third-placed Lopes Saraiva.
But a series of falls during the final floor routines disrupted the competitors’ order. With the penultimate floor routine of the night, Downie fell backwards while executing a piked Arabian double somersault due to under-rotation. She was in tears later.
Tutkhalyan, who had taken the lead after the second rotation and never relinquished it, had the final floor routine of the night knowing that the gold medal was hers to lose.
A fall in her final tumbling pass might have opened the way for Lopes Saraiva to leapfrog into the leading position, after the Brazilian executed well on the floor and scored 13.800.
But the Russian held on to win gold and admitted: “My floor routine wasn't very good, but I did try. I wanted to prove that I could do everything that I was capable of everything, and I tried very hard.”
Lopes Saraiva – at 1.33m, the smallest gymnast in the competition – could not wipe the smile off her face, knowing that such a strong first outing in Nanjing is a boost for her hopes of success at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, her home city. “I feel very happy to be here and to win a silver medal,” she said, adding, “I competed well and that feels great. For the rest of the competition I just want to compete well and win a few more medals for Brazil.”
Downie was consoled by her coach after the floor exercises but quickly overcame her emotions to celebrate. ”I'm really happy with it, actually,” she said. “My expectations for the all-around final were top six or top 10, but after qualifications when I qualified second, well, I wasn't expecting that, especially being in the first subdivision and having two more subdivisions go after me. Anything could have happened then, so I'm really happy.
“I'm hoping to medal on vault and do a better floor routine than today, because there was a little bit of a mistake, and then just enjoy being here.”
Asked if Giarnni Regini-Moran's victory in the men's all-around competition on Tuesday night had added to her nerves, Downie admitted that it had had an effect. “When we were on the way to competition today, some people were saying, ‘Let's hope for another gold, make it a double,’ and I felt a bit more pressure,” she said.
One of the medal favourites going into the competition was Wang Yan (CHN) but, after falling on the uneven bars and the beam, she was in fifth place going into the fourth rotation. A powerful, poised floor routine was not enough to put her on the podium, however, and she finished in fourth place, with a final score of 53.800.