With USA going in as clear favorites for the gold medal, the best we could expect from this final was that the fight for silver and bronze was going to be exciting. Out hopes were fulfilled and then some.
Team USA looked great today, hitting routine after routine, as they did in podium training and qualifications. The only signs that they felt the weight of the moment: Laurie’s big hop to the side on the double twisting Yurchenko (the opening vault), Simone’s big sigh of relief after hitting beam (despite some wobbles, on the Barani and the acro series). It is not a surprise that they are human after all. But they are amazing humas: the team counted only two routines in the 14s (Simone’s bars, Laurie’s floor). The total of 184.897 points (6.3416 average D) was an improvement compared to last year’s worlds result – 181.338 and even London Olympics team final total of 183.596.
The competition started with a solid DTY from Hernandez, followed by a stuck Amanar from Aly Raisman (her best yet at this competition) and another huge vault from Simone. The bars rotation was: Simone, followed by a very composed Gabrielle Douglas and another score in the 15.7, demonstrating the qualifying round 3rd place on the event was not a hiccup. Kocian also rose to her qualifying round standards with a flawless routine and a stuck dismount. Aly Raisman and Laurie Hernandez impressed with their beam consistency. The floor rotation was also uneventful (except for the massive routines) – Hernandez charmed the audience with her perfect form and beautiful dance. Aly Raisman managed to contain her huge tumbling power and stuck her landings. Simone finished the competition with the most fun (and difficult) routine of the evening. This is the third time team USA has won the WAG team gold medal at the Olympic games.
It was an uphill battle for Mustafina to win a medal for Russia, from the start: Melnikova hit her usual routine but then Spiridonova gave out some connections “losing” about half a point compared to qualifications. But Mustafina quickly step in and she delivered a routine on par with the prelims performance and a 15.933. They moved on to beam and it was Melnikova’s turn to make a mistake. But Aliya followed with one of her best beam routines of the year (and she’s had a great year on beam). Seda Tutkhalyan also stepped up and despite the whole narrative (not unfounded) that she is one of the less consistent members of the Russian team, she hit a routine containing both the layout to two feet and the layout with a full twist. On floor the Russians put three solid but less difficult performances scoring in the low 14s- high 13s. They needed an average of just over 15 per vault going into the final rotation, to take over China for silver. They achieved that with a 14.9 from Melnikova, a 15.133 from Mustafina; while Paseka hit her best Amanar of the year and brought the silver home with a 15.7 . Their total was a 176.688 points (6.05 average difficulty)
China had a very risky line-up with built in liabilities (Tan Jiaxin on bars, Mao Yi on floor). Unfortunately this affected them severely losing the silver medal (and a lead of over 3 points), on the last event. They finished with a total of 176.003 (6.26666 average D), only .161 less than last year Worlds’s total. China started with good difficulty on vault but less power which reflected in the execution scores (DTYs from Mao Yi and Tan Jiaxin and a Tsukahara double from Wang Yan). On bars, Fan Yilin redeemed herself for the qualifying round with a massive score of 15.733 but Shang Chunsong fell while Tan Jiaxin incurred severe execution deductions. Beam was great with hit routines from Wang Yan, Shang Chunsong and Fan Yilin. They tend to break a lot between elements and this is not as exciting to watch, but their body position is pretty good so they tend to incur few execution deductions despite the lack of rhythm. China was going into the final rotation on 2nd position, with a seemingly comfortable advantage over the 3rd (Japan) and 4th place (Russia). Shang and then Wang delivered some of their most solid performances rewarded with scores in the mid 14s. Enters Mao Yi: she opeed with a 3 1/2 twist into a punch front, only the 3 1/2 was very under-rotated and the punch front went uncontrolled outside of the mat while her foot slipped. Her 12.633 threw China on 3rd at the end of the competition.
Japan finished 4th with a huge total of 174.371 points. Their average difficulty was 6.00833, lower than the top 3 countries and 5th place Great Britain. Their floor rotation was great, despite Sae Miyakawa’s stepping out of bounds, they were ranked 3rd on this event behind the US and great Britain. Their bars routines were rewarded with scores in the mid to high 14s, while on vault they showed good difficulty (one DTY and two Rudis). Asuka Teramoro carried the team once again with great scores on vault, bars and beam. A shutout to Yuki Uchiyama who earned their highest bars score (a 15.00).
Great Britain finished 5th with a total of 174.362 (an improvement compared to last year’s 172.380), despite having to count one fall, from Ellie Downie on beam. Their difficulty average was 6.14166, third behind the US and China. They started the competition with an almost flawless bars rotation (from B Downie, E Downie and Ruby Harrold) but then smaller or larger mistakes started to add up on beam and floor. Vault was a great rotation for them bringing them again closer to the medal contenders in the final ranks.
Germany was not far behind, finished 6th with a 173.672 total. Looking into the numbers they posted this year, we knew this type of outcome for them was possible, however, not many expected for the German gymnasts to fulfill these ambitious expectations. Their average difficulty was only a 5.8 (7th ranked in the final), but they compensated with beautiful execution, especially on beam and bars.Their top scorer was Elisabeth Seitz with a 15.533 on the uneven bars.
Netherlands finished on 7th place with a 172.447, despite a relatively low average D score of 5.65. Eythora Thorsdottir competed all around and totaled a 58.199 on the four events. Sanne Wevers also got a good rehearsal of her balance beam, in from of the judges, for a 15.250. They were one in four teams that did not incur a fall in this final, alongside USA, Japan and Germany.
Brazil accumulated 172.087 points ( with an average D of 5.93) and they finished last in this final. Despite the ranking and the two falls (from Andrade on floor and Barbosa on beam), they had a very good day of competition. Their highlights were Saraiva’s hit beam set and Andrade’s amazing bars routine. Their best event as a team was vault, where they scored the 3rd highest total, after the US and Russia.
Here are the results of the day:
Article: Bea Gheorghisor
Photo Cover: FIG