Antwerp, Oct 4, 2013: Following the exciting men’s All-around final, the stage was set on Friday at the Antwerps Sportpaleis for the eagerly awaited women’s competition at the 44th FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Championships. The 24 All-arounders, who qualified during Tuesday and Wednesday’s preliminaries, faced off for the right to claim the prestigious world title.
Sixteen-year-old Simone Biles (USA), who qualified in top position, won ahead of her teammate Kyla Ross and Russia’s Aliya Mustafina with a 60.216 total. Ross scored 59.332 points to claim the Silver and Mustafina’s 58.856 won her the Bronze.
Fifteen countries were represented in this final, with the USA, China, Italy, Canada, Russia, Great Britain, Japan, Switzerland and host Belgium all having qualified the maximum of two gymnasts. The field included 15 European gymnasts, five from Pan America and four from Asia.
Top qualifier Biles, the 2013 US national champion repeated her strong qualifying performance, registering the top scores on Vault (15.850) and Floor (15.233). She took an early lead in the final but fell back after the third rotation to Ross, only to regain it with her powerful Floor routine that won her the title at her first World Championships. The newly crowned All-around World Champion will compete in all Apparatus Finals on the weekend. “It hasn’t sunken in yet [that I am the World Champion],” said Biles. “I am sure it will eventually, but we still have finals so we can’t get too excited about it yet. But I know what I have done is a huge accomplishment and I am very happy.”
Ross, a member of the London 2012 Olympic Gold medal winning Team, was the day’s top scorer on Balance Beam (14.533), coming second and third on Vault and Uneven Bars respectively. Her relatively low difficulty on Floor (5.700) was not enough to outscore Biles in the last rotation. Ross, who will celebrate her 17th birthday later this month, was also awarded the 2013 Longines Prize for Elegance, which is given to the most elegant gymnast as determined by a voting jury. Men’s All-around Gold medallist Kohei Uchimura of Japan was the men’s recipient. “I think today was a really great competition, and I had a lot of fun out there, especially competing with Simone who is so much fun to have around,” said Ross. “I had solid routines, and I was happy to end up strong on Floor and to win the Longines Award for Elegance. It was such an honour, and to be on the stage with Kohei was amazing. It is really nice that people associate my Gymnastics with elegance.”
After Chellsie Memmel and Nastia Liukin in 2005 and Bridget Sloan and Rebecca Ross in 2009 this was the third time in history that the USA have won the Gold and Silver All-around medals at a World Championships.
Mustafina, who turned 19 on Monday, fought back in the final after a qualifying performance that was overshadowed by falls on Floor and Vault. The Olympic Champion on Uneven Bars shone most on her speciality event, where she placed second with 15.233 points, but she also received a big round of applause from the audience for her beautiful and artistic Floor routine. Fourth after two rotations, the 2010 World Champion profited from falls on Beam by Romania’s Larisa Iordache and China’s Yao Jinnan to move up to third place. Mustafina is adding this World All-around Bronze medal to European and Universiade Gold in a busy post-Olympic season.
Iordache, who impressed with the strongest Beam routine during preliminaries, lost her medal chances on this very apparatus, when she fell off. She made up ground with a fantastic performance on Floor for which she was rewarded with the second best score (14.700), but she knew that it was not enough to win her a medal. The 17-year-old European runner-up finished in fourth place with a 57.766 total.
Yao Jinnan of China, the 2011 World Bronze medallist, qualified in third position, but experienced the same fate as Iordache in the final. Attempting the routine with the highest difficulty value (6.400) on Beam, the petite 18-year-old gymnast suffered a fall that pushed her down to fifth place (57.632). Earlier, she had performed the highest-scoring routine on Uneven Bars (15.333) that included her much-anticipated Mo salto.
Vanessa Ferrari (ITA) and Giulia Steingruber (SUI) impressed with overall solid performances, the highlights being Beam and Floor for Ferrari and Vault and Floor for Steingruber. They finished sixth and seventh respectively, outscoring China’s Shang Chunsong in eight place.
Asuka Teramoto of Japan, who had qualified in 24th position, improved her performance on all pieces in the final and finished ninth with a 55.532 total.
After her disappointment in qualification, when she failed to land her double-twisting double layout on Floor, Canada’s Victoria Moors presented this new element successfully in the final. Her powerful routine scored 14.633 points and helped her to an overall 10th place.
The host country’s Gaelle Mys and Laura Waem concluded their competition on ranks 18 and 21 respectively.
First reserve Vasiliki Millousi of Greece replaced Venezuela’s Jessica López, who withdrew from the competition. The 29-year old-veteran suffered a rhythm break and a fall on Uneven Bars and finished at the bottom of the table.
The event continues with the Men’s and Women’s Apparatus Finals on Saturday and Sunday. —- FIG
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