FIG Artistic World Cup starts in Doha today
Doha (QAT) March 21, 2017: 2004 Olympic champion Catalina Ponor (Romania) and 2012 London Games gold medalist Krisztian Berki (Hungary) besides the ageless Marian Dragulescu and Oksana Chusovitina are some of the top stars, but a band of new generation gymnasts hope to challenge the best in the FIG Artistic Individual Apparatus World Cup which starts with the qualification rounds at the Aspire Dome today.
The men’s and women’s qualification starts at 4.30pm local time.
Australian Emily Little, who participated at the 2012 London Games, will lead a four-member women’s team, with Georgia-Rose Brown, Rianna Mizzen and Emma Nedov are the other gymnasts in the squad.
At the last month’s event held in her native country, Little claimed gold in floor, silver in vault and bronze medal in balance.
The Australian women’s and men’s teams kicked off the 2017-2020 Olympic Cycle with a bang, taking home a combined total of eight medals — one gold, four silver and three bronze — with all 12 athletes made it to the 19 finals.
Little and Nedov missed out on places at the Rio Games last year as the Australian women’s team failed to qualify for the first time in almost 30 years.
“It’s always an honour to represent my country. I look forward to pick up some medals in Doha,” said Little, who claimed a gold in the team’s event at the 2010 Commonwealth Games.
From China, we will get to watch Liu Tingting, rated as one of the most promising among the current crop of gymnasts.
The 15-year-old was included in China’s five-member women’s team for the Rio Olympics last year, but her dream was dashed after she injured her hand at a training before the Games.
However, Tingting returned to action with a bang, winning gold in uneven bars and balance and came third on floor exercise at the FIG World Cup in Melbourne last month.
Among the presence of several newcomers, it will be interesting to see how the top stars perform.
Ponor, who became the first gymnast to be a flag bearer for the opening ceremony at Rio, will be one of the stars in Doha, where she had won beam event with 14.650 points.
“I hope to maintain the good show in Doha,” Ponor told dohagym.com.
Three days before the Doha event, the 29-year-old, who looked to be in top form, won the floor with 13.433 points, beating Little, 13.400, and Azerbaijan’s Azeri Marina Nekrasova (12.833) at the Artistic World Cup in Baku, Azerbaijan.
In the balance beam, Ponor bagged 13.833 points followed Greece’s Vasiliki Miloussi 13.633 and Little 13.433.
“The Doha leg motivates the worlds and helps them prepare for the future tournaments. We’re proud to host it,” Qatar Gymnastics Federation President Ali Ahmed Al Hitmi told dohagym.com.
Turkey (17) and Australia (15) will have the two largest delegations while Croatia (12) and China (11) are also expected to do well in the four-day competition.