Men’s and women’s Trampoline team finals

Sofia – Bulgaria, Nov 8, 2013: Chinese men successfully regained the World title they won in 2009, while the British women won their first gold in Team Trampoline in more than 20 years Friday evening at the 29th Trampoline Gymnastics World Championships in Sofia (BUL).

The British women’s team (Kat Driscoll, Emma Smith, Laura Gallagher and Bryony Page) led from the outset. Emma Smith starting the team off with a solid performance (55.840 points) that withstood the challenge of 2008 Olympic champion He Wenna, the lead off gymnast for the defending World champion Chinese women’s team (55.780). ¨

The British never looked back. Smith was followed by Laura Gallagher, who posted 55.280, setting the table for 2012 Olympian Kat Driscoll.

China, the top qualifier to the women’s final, had to deal with unexpected falls from Zhong Xingping and veteran Li Dan. That left the door open for the British, anchored by Driscoll, who broke down in happy tears as she got off the trampoline after hitting her routine for 53.725, giving Great Britain total of 164.845 and the gold, their first since 1992. China ended the competition fifth (113.52).

“I was really nervous,” Driscoll said afterward. “The girls obviously set me up fantastically to get on and just do a job. I didn’t have to worry about trying to fight for anything, I just needed to do a job. I’m pretty thankful they got up and did their job before me!”

Canada, bronze medal winners from the 2011 World Championships, claimed silver (159.995) after solid performances from Samantha Smith (52.540), Samantha Sendel (52.955) and 2012 Olympic champion Rosie MacLennan (54.500).

Belarus, fourth in qualification, moved up a spot on the strength of graceful performances from Hanna Harchonak, Sviatlana Makshtarova and Tatsiana Piatrenia (158.450), capturing their first team medal at the World Championships since 1999.

The Chinese men regained the World title they won in 2009 with apparent ease. While three of the five teams in the final counted falls, China sailed through cleanly, counting hit routines from Tu Xiao (59.725), 2012 Olympic champion Dong Dong (57.890) and newcomer Lei Gao (59.94’), the highest score of the final, giving China a total of 177.555.

Apparently it wasn’t as easy as it looked. “I felt very nervous during the competition, because we know that in the Trampoline community we have many rivals who are good competitors,” Tu said following the medal ceremony. “So we knew that it would be hard.”

Russia’s silver medal effort was underpinned by 2012 Olympic silver medalist Dmitry Ushakov, who fell during the qualifying round in Individual Trampoline and did not advance to the men’s semifinal. With the team medal on the line, however, Ushakov held nothing back in a daring and gutsy performance that at times flirted closely with the edges of the trampoline. His risk paid off: after 58.115 from leadoff Mikhail Melnik and 56.325 from Sergei Azarian, Ushakov’s 56.740 guaranteed silver for Russia (171.180).

Sofia with the intention of qualifying for the team final but not daring to dream about much more, got off to a rocky start when Will Morris bounced out early in his routine. With the pressure off, Blake Gaudry stepped up and hit his exercise (54.940), and Australia watched with growing incredulity as other nations fell.

Defending World titlists Japan competed the same three gymnasts who led them to gold in Birmingham two years ago, but could not recreate the magic in Bulgaria. A botched routine from second performer Yasuhiro Ueyama compromised their chances to challenge China, and they finished fourth (125.245). Portugal (78.820) sustained nervous routines from Tiago Lopes and Diogo Ganchinho, meaning that as Australia’s Ty Swadling stepped up to anchor his team, a bronze medal was back within reach.

“Will did his first routine and we went, oh, that’s OK, we’re here, we were in fifth place, we had nothing to lose anyway,” Swadling said. “And then Blake got up and did a good routine and then I got up and I was so nervous after my first skill. I did it straight down to the end and it was millimeters away [from going off the trampoline]. But actually, I heard my partner up in the stands yell ‘Good!’ mid-routine and I went, ‘All right, I’m going to do it, finish it out’ and then we were lucky enough to end up with the bronze medal. We were really happy.” Swadling scored 54.455, giving the team a final total of 126.390 — and a surprise bronze.

Australia last won a medal in men’s team Trampoline at the World Championships in 1984, earning silver behind the Soviet Union. “It’s been a very long time,” Swadling remarked. —- FIG

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