Lange comes on in leaps and bounds
Inexperienced South African blown away to be a member of gold medal-winning team led by Daria Trubnikova (RUS) and Xinyi Fan (CHN)
When artistic gymnast Ruan Lange (RSA) saw the draw for the team competition, he never thought about winning a medal - let alone winning gold. But that is exactly what happened on Wednesday at the America Pavilionas he and his 11 new teammates topped the medal podium. “This is just mind-blowing,” said Lange, whose gold became South Africa’s first gymnastics medal at the Youth Olympic Games. “I just came here to enjoy the competition and didn’t even think about winning a medal. To come away with gold is exciting.”
Gymnasts from different disciplines and nations were drawn into 13 teams, each with 12 gymnasts for the new multi-discipline mixed team event. The teams were named after legendary gymnasts.
“I am not used to competing at big competitions like this,” said Lange. “We don’t have such big venues back home. I really had to get used to it and I was very nervous. There was a lot of pressure on me - especially because I wanted to do so well for the team.”
Lange started gymnastics at the age of nine and has never looked back. “Gymnastics is the best sport in the world. Being very flexible and strong is the nicest part. But to be honest, winning this competition is even better. It’s amazing.”
Lange competed alongside rhythmic gymnasts Daria Trubnikova who took the top spots in her disciplines. She was first in ball, hoop, clubs and ribbon to lead team "Simone Biles" to the gold.
“I knew I had a lot of responsibility, the team was expecting me to deliver results like this,” she said. “It didn’t bring extra nerves, I just knew that I had to do good routines and I did.”
Trubnikova was not the only rhythmic gymnast who delivered big points for the Biles squad, as Talisa Toretti (ITA) took second place in the individual all-around. Trampoline gymnast Xinyi Fan (CHN), another key member for team "Simone Biles", topped the standings in her event. “It was not even my best result, but I am very happy to have helped the team to the gold,” Fan said. “This team competition has been good fun and I really made some new friends.” Team "Max Whitlock" took the silver medal with Takeru Kitazono (JPN) leading the charge. Kitazono was the top gymnast in the men’s all-around qualification as well as on pommel horse, parallel bars, rings and horizontal bar.
“Gymnastics has united me and my team to take this medal,” he said. “I will now go on and will focus on individual medals.”
Artistic gymnast Brandon Briones (USA) led team "Oksana Chusovitina" to the bronze medal. He was the top scorer on both floor exercise and vault during qualifications.
The top 18 gymnasts for both men and women will compete in the individual all-around final and the top eight athletes on each apparatus will compete in the individual apparatus finals. Additional highlights:
- Anastasiia Bachynska (UKR) qualified in first place for the artistic gymnastics individual all-around final. Followed by 2018 junior European all-around champion Giorgia Villa (ITA) and China’s Xinjing Tang.
- Bachynska qualified first on floor, Tang on balance beam, and Villa on both vault and uneven bars.
- Daria Trubnikova (RUS) qualified first for rhythmic gymnastics individual all-around final.
- Ivan Litvinovich (BLR) and Xinyi Fan (CHN) were the top-qualifiers in trampoline.
- Yonatan Fridman (ISR) and Noa Kazado Yakar (ISR) lead the way in acrobatics.
Gymnastics finals take place between 11 and 16 October, kicking off with the men’s artistic gymnastics individual all-around.