Final gymnastics berths filled at Rio 2016 test event
Held at the Rio Olympic Arena on April 16-22, the Rio 2016 gymnastics test event provided one last opportunity for 348 competitors from 60 nations to clinch slots at the upcoming Olympic Summer Games.
The seven-day gathering began with Germany, the Netherlands, France and Ukraine booking their places in the men’s artistic gymnastics team competition. Double London 2012 silver medallist Marcel Nguyen led the way for the victorious Germans, who edged out a Ukrainian quartet led by 2014 world parallel bars champion Oleg Verniaiev. There was disappointment, meanwhile, for Romania, Canada, Spain and Belgium, whose hopes of making Rio 2016 are over after they finished outside the top four.
Day two brought joy for hosts Brazil in the women’s artistic team event, as they qualified for their third consecutive Games. Sixteen-year-old Flavia Saraiva, a triple medallist at the Youth Olympic Games Nanjing 2014, was in inspirational form, top-scoring in the beam and floor events. Joining them at Rio 2016 will be Germany, Belgium and France, while Romania, who have medalled in artistic gymnastics at every Games since Montreal 1976, were surprisingly eliminated.
Elsewhere, India’s Dipa Karmakar became her country’s first female gymnast to reach the Olympics, while Guatemala’s Ana Sofia Gomez Porras and Venezuela’s Jessica Lopez also sealed individual slots at Rio 2016.
Ukraine’s Verniaiev took centre stage the following day, securing three individual wins in the men’s competition. A double gold-medallist at the 2015 European Games, Verniaiev kicked off with victory in the floor before taking the honours in the vault and the parallel bars, his favoured event.
Arthur Zanetti of Brazil had the home fans cheering again when he won the rings, with Saraiva maintaining the feelgood factor and her form by taking the women’s floor title. India’s Karmarkar won the women’s vault from Uzbekistan’s Oksana Chusovitina, who, at the age of 40, will be making her seventh appearance at the Games.
All eyes were on the trampoline gymnasts on day four, with Belarus’ Uladzislau Hancharou prevailing in the men’s event and China’s Liu Lingling, the 2014 world champion, doing likewise in the women’s. Hancharou finished clear of New Zealand’s Dylan Schmidt, a Nanjing 2014 gold medallist, and Portugal’s Diogo Ganchinho, while Brazil’s Rafael Andrade also booked his place at the Games.
In winning the women’s event, Lingling eclipsed her compatriot Li Dan, the reigning world champion, who topped the qualifying round but made a mistake in the final, allowing Russia’s Yana Pavlova and Belarus’ Tatsiana Piatrenia to move past her and into the top three.
The final two days of the gathering were devoted to the rhythmic events, with the individual all-around competition going the way of Belarus’ Melitina Staniouta, who had already qualified for Rio 2016 but earned an invite on account of her bronze at last year’s World Championships. Kazakhstan’s Sabina Ashirbayeva and Austria’s Nicol Ruprecht completed the podium, while Brazil’s Natalia Gaudio will represent the host nation at the Games.
Finally, Germany, Uzbekistan and Greece claimed the three remaining rhythmic group places, the Germans sealing victory with their performance in the ribbon exercise. Joining them will be the Brazil team, who finished fifth behind Finland but whose place at Rio 2016 was already guaranteed as hosts.