First Day of the World Challenge Cup Doha 2014
Armenian gymnasts lead the standings in three events after the qualifying round of competition at the Doha World Cup Wednesday in Qatar’s capital city.
Exceptional form and high start values propelled Harutyun Merdinyan (Pommel Horse, 15.45), Artur Tovmasyan (Still Rings, 15.75) and Artur Davtyan (Men’s Vault, 15.175 average) to the top of the leaderboard going into Thursday and Friday’s final rounds. Vahagn Davtyan rounded out Armenia’s blue ribbon day by qualifying second on Rings (15.45), followed by China’s Chen Chih Yu (TPE) with 15.4.
2013 World Floor champion Kenzo Shirai used his Worlds routine — including eye-popping quadruple twist dismount — to post the highest score of the entire meet so far (15.85). That mark, stemming from a 7.4 D-score, easily topped teammate Ryuzo Sejima (15.15) and American Paul Ruggeri (15.05).
Meanwhile, Japan’s Yusuke Saito also had a banner day, with the best mark on Horizontal Bar (15.550), surprising Olympic champion Epke Zonderland (NED), who was second with 15.4. Saito, sixth at the 2012 Glasgow World Cup, also qualified third to the Vault final (15.125 average) and seventh on Parallel Bars (15.0).
The World and Olympic veterans, some making their 2014 international debuts, headlining the meet had a mixed day. Romania’s Larisa Iordache looked strong on three events, hitting her notoriously difficult Beam routine for 15.0 (6.4 D-score) to take the lead. Though she struggled on Uneven Bars (11.65), Iordache was also the top qualifier on Floor Exercise (14.55), and qualified fourth to the Vault final (13.875 average). Teammate Diana Bulimar, also competing for the first time this year, was right behind Iordache, and sits in silver medal position on Beam (14.2) and Floor (14.35).
Olympic veterans Hiu Ying Angel Wong (HKG) and Kristyna Palesova (CZE) were the top qualifiers on Vault (14.05) and Uneven Bars (13.5), respectively, while Marius Berbecar (ROU) topped the standings on Parallel Bars (15.35).
Australian star Lauren Mitchell, competing for the first time since the London Olympics, posted the third-best score on Floor (14.3) but struggled on Beam (12.15). Germany’s Marcel Nguyen, also competing internationally for the first time in 2014, qualified for finals on Rings (15.25) and Parallel Bars (15.1). Mitchell’s teammate Olivia Vivian, a 2008 Olympian who returned to elite after a successful collegiate gymnastics career in the U.S., qualified second on Uneven Bars (12.95).
Surprises included Singapore’s Ashly Wei-Ning Lau, who qualified third for the Beam final (14.15), and New Zealand’s Courtney McGregor, who became the first woman from her country to land a double-twisting Yurchenko Vault. McGregor qualified second for the Vault final (13.95 average), while teammate Charlotte Sullivan sits fifth in the standings on Floor (13.2).
Men’s Floor, Pommel Horse and Still Rings and women’s Vault and Uneven Bars finals will be contested Thursday. Men’s Vault, Parallel Bars, Horizontal Bar and Balance Beam and Women’s Floor to be decided Friday.
Two Qatari Gymnasts will participate in the Apparatus Finals with the Wild Card as the following: Ahmed Al-Dyani on Pommel Horse and Shaden Wohdan on Balance Beam.