Women’s artistic gymnastics in Nanjing: Tutkhalyan and Wang Yan lead the gold rush
Russia’s Seda Tukhalyan continued Russia’s proud tradition in artistic gymnasticswith two gold medals. Wang Yan delighted the local crowds by matching her tally, while Elissa Downie and Flavia Lopes Saraiva demonstrated that the future is bright for British and Brazilian gymnastics.
20 August was a night of tears and tension in the women’s all-around artistic gymnastics final, which went right down to the wire. Seda Tutkhalyan (RUS) took the title with a score of 54.900, while Flavia Lopes Saraiva (BRA) won silver (54.700 points) and Elissa Downie (GBR) took bronze (54.150 points).
Going into the final rotation Tutkhalyan seemed to have an unassailable lead, as she was 1.200 points ahead of second-placed Downie and 1.155 points in front of Lopes Saraiva back in third.
However a series of falls during the final floor rotation shook things up at the top of the leaderboard.
Starting second last, Downie fell on her back attempting a piked Arabian double somersault which she under-rotated. After her routine she left the floor in tears. Tutkhalyan, who had been in the lead since the second rotation, was the last competitor to take to the floor, knowing that the gold medal was hers to lose.
A fall on her last tumble could have allowed Lopes Saraiva to steal first place, as the Brazilian performed an excellent routine to post a score of 13.800. But the Russian held on to take the gold. “My floor routine wasn’t very good but I did try,” she reflected. “I wanted to prove that I could do everything, that I was capable of everything, and I tried my hardest to show that.”
Lopes Saraiva - at 1.33m the smallest gymnast in the competition - couldn’t wipe the smile off her face. And her performance in Nanjing will certainly boost her dreams of success at her home games in Rio 2016.
“I feel very happy to be here and to win a silver medal,” she said, “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 had to be consoled by her coach after her floor routine,, but quickly overcame her emotions to celebrate her medal. “I’m happy with the bronze,” she said. “My aims for the all-around competitions were a top six or a top 10.”
Local hero vaults to glory
After missing out on the podium in the all-around competition, local favourite Wang Yan (CHN) decided to take a risk as the individual apparatus competitions got underway on 23 August. In the vault, she opted for two routines with extremely high difficulty coefficients. Her combined score of 14.783 was easily good enough for gold. “I took a few risks but I knew I could do it,” said Wang after.
Downie took silver with a score of 14.566 after landing a Yurchenko double twisting layout on her first vault and a half on pike half off for her second. Sae Miyakawa (JPN), who won bronze, was also awarded 14.566 points. Although the two gymnasts finished with the same score, Downie’s higher execution values put her ahead of the Japanese gymnast.
After a disappointing performance on the vault earlier that evening, all-around champion Tutkhalyan was again in sparkling form on the uneven bars.
Her score of 13.535 was good enough for gold, and Tutkhalyan was quick to give credit to her coach. “She told me that it wasn’t important and to concentrate on the bars, and that helped me to relax,” revealed the Russian.
Silver went to Italy’s Iosra Abdelaziz (13.366) and bronze to home favourite Wang Yan (13.066).
The following day, a “very happy” Wang Yan doubled her gold tally thanks to a clean and elegant routine on the beam that earned her a winning score of 14.633. “It’s a big step forward for me,” said Wang afterwards, as the beam had previously been her weakest discipline.
“When I was warming up I made a mistake on my first element but during the competition I managed it and it wasn’t easy.” Following her were Lopes Saraiva,who took silver with 14.000 points and Downie who earned another bronze with 13.500 points.
Tears of joy for Lopes Saraiva
The final competition of the evening was the floor, which saw the resumption of the rivalry between Brazil and Russia. This time Lopes Saraiva ended up victorious, earning her second medal of the evening with a score of 13.766.
The crowd got behind her as she performed her routine cleanly, clapping along in time with the music. Afterwards the Brazilian said the crowd’s support had given her a huge lift.
“The public’s support gave me strength, especially the Brazilians sitting in the stands! I didn’t think about anyone else’s performance, I just concentrated on my own routine.”
Tuthkalyan scored 13.733 to take silver, her third medal in Nanjing, while Downie claimed the bronze, to take her overhaul Nanjing haul to four medals.