Qualifying rounds bring unexpected surprises!
DOHA (QAT) – March 22, 2010: Things got down to business for the 67 gymnasts competing here in Doha (QAT) at the 3rd edition of the FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Cup. The competition has begun to unfold at the famous Aspire Academy for Sports Excellence, venue for scores of prestigious events.
Even those of the cognoscenti would agree that gymnasts here in Doha have elevated their technical level and presented a well-crafted and technical form of gymnastics without neglecting Execution. A great job and encouraging prospects for developing nations.
In Men’s, German Anton Wirt (14.375) gave a memorable performance on Floor with tight, clean landings. He qualified 8th. Japanese Mizutori Hisashi, Olympic Team Champion in Athens, also showed commendable precision (15.175) as did Chinese Du Wei (15.025). A surprise came in the form of the very sylphlike and audacious Kumar Ashish of India. He was a roaring success, but paid dearly for his carefree risk taking (14.425). Another interesting development was Jordan’s Jad Mazahreh (14.450), 3 tenths of a point behind Dutchman Jeffrey Wammes (14.775). But in the Final, it was China’s Huang Yugui that took the lead with 15.250. Shattering disappointment for Germany’s second, Brian Gladow, who missed out on the Final by 5 hundredths of a point!
At the Pommel Horse, it didn’t take long for Croatian Robert Seligman to put his talent on display, keeping an edge on his competition (14.800) and an eye on China’s Dong Zhendong (14.000). Enter Krizstian Berki (HUN), multiple medal winning Pommel Horse veteran. He upstaged everyone else with incredible mastery (15.725). Mizutori Hisashi gave a commanding performance worth 14.100, and 2008 Beijing Silver Medallist Filip Ude (CRO) qualified with 14.125, clearly reserving a show of real talent and strength for the Final. Strong performance from Belgian Donna Donny Truyens (13.850). Out of 17 competing gymnasts, 9 will remain for the Finals. It is for these gymnasts that the pommel horse rears!
Yet another gymnast brought the house down! Jordan’s Ali Al-Asi and his 15.700 points were simply staggering. A strong candidate for the podium. Japan’s Macida Kazuki is just 1.175 points shy of his adversary, while Jeffrey Wammes (NED) looks to be a strong prospect for the Final. Mastery and ease are the name of his game (14.425). Two reps from India have qualified: Rakesh Patra and Partha Mundal, but an unfortunate ending for Qatari Mahmood Alsadi, who just barely missed the mark with 13.600.
Du Wie (CHN) is looking good and showed it off with a 15.587 point vault! A finalist and very possibly a podium! His compatriot Cao Yulong, even more volitant, landed with an extra measure of precision, besting Wie with 15.900. Veteran gymnast Evgeni Sapronenko of Latvia (32 years) placed between the two Chinese with 15.812 points. His experience and his talent speak for themselves. Poland’s Marek Lyszcarz (15.762) and Portugal’s Lius Felipe de Araujo (15.637) are both solid aspirants to the podium.
Sterling work by Germany’s Sebastian Krimmer, who we’d all like to see mount the podium, what with the mind-blowing exercise he performed. But Poland’s Adam Kierzkowski upped the ante with courageous risk taking (14.975). China’s Dong Zhendong was next with a unanimously fantastic performance (15.500) and a real stab at the podium. Partha Mondal (IND) qualified with 13.925, but Filip Ude (13.500) of Croatia was sorely disappointed this time around.
Zhang Chegdong (CHN) and his 15.925 will be hard to beat in the Final. His exercise neared perfection and oozed elegance. Simply ravishing and utterly artistic gymnastics! Everyone’s eyes were on Slovenian Pegan and Dutch Zonderland and the mano a mano that could very well play out day after tomorrow at the climax event of this 2010 World Cup in Doha. Aljaz passed ahead of Epke, who took his turn in the last group, giving him time enough to see things play out. Pegan performed his flying elements and swings without hesitation (14.975). The bar’s been set … and high! But it’s not over yet. Jeffrey Wammes (NED) (15.400), Marijp Moznik (CRO) and Cheng Xuezhang (CHN – 15.300) came in strong. And Zonderland?
For Epke, there was no playing around. He didn’t swing around the bar, he flew! Shooting out one difficulty after the next in machine gun fashion, Zonderland has a definite taste for Gold!
This event was a tight one. A single gymnast stood out from the rest; South African Jennifer Khwela (13.700), whose landings were both solid and precise. She dominated the qualification but is up against Croatian Tijana Tkalcec in the Final, just 3 thousandths of a point in her wake. Slovenian Teja Belac (13.625) lies in ambush as a very possible candidate for the podium, as does China’s Hong Kong native, Wong Yiu Ying (13.675). On a different note, Laurie Eve Pepin-Gagne of Canada and Gita Das of India are out of the game.
Daniele Hypolito of Brazil was the first to get started, but mucked up her landing with one step and a touch of the hands! A hard knock. 11.825! A lovely performance and a smile to match by Canada’s Laurie Eve Pepin-Gagne, who showed good Execution devoid of excessive risk (13.300). Her compatriot Bianca Dancose did even better (13.900). We’ll see them again in the Final. Fans were holding their breath for China to enter. Wu Liufang took to the Bars first and gave a nearly faultless performance (15.025). But her team-mate Huang Qiushuang went and bested her with 15.250!
Stepping up to the plate – Qatar and Doha’s petite prodigy Aljazy Al-Habshi (see March 22nd profile). Photographers were seen priming their cameras. The President of the Qatar Gymnastics Federation, Mr Al-Hitmi, was visibly tense. And she fell! What a let-down! An anticlimactic 6.600! Ida Johssen of Sweden experienced a similar frustration (11.650) as dreams of the Final vanished into thin air. Brazil’s Daniele Hypolito picked things up, and qualified in 8th with 11.825 points.
Wu Liufang (CHN) took the event hands down (14.525), carving a comfortable gap between herself and her Canadian, Croatian and Chinese nemesis. After her fall at the Bars, Aljazy Al-Habshi (QAT) managed to revive her drive to win, but still reeling from the previous blow to her confidence she fell after mere seconds! The Jury is unaffected (9.325). South Africa’s Jennifer Khwela came out unscathed (13.175) and made it to the Final.
The discipline’s star category! 16 gymnasts in the line-up, few of whom will actually make it to the podium.
China’s Huang Qiushuang impressed with her 13.575 points from the qualifying rounds, her toughest competition coming from team-mate Wu Liufang (12.950). A nod for Brazil’s Daniele Hypolito, fluid and elegant in her exercise (12.950) and tied with Wu. Keep an eye on Canadian Bianca Dancose-Giambattisto, also a podium hopeful.
The qualifications were held on a raised podium provided by official supplier Janssen-Fritsen in an optimal environment and under the expert direction of Competitions Director Mohamed Al Naimi.
Tomorrow and Wednesday will showcase the Finals broadcasted live for the entire Gulf region over the Qatari network Aljazeera.
Reported by FIG media