Glory days at Greenwich and Wembley

Lausanne – Switzerland, August 14, 2012: Olympic review: Wembley, It featured a Flying Squirrel and a Flying Dutchman, it had star names and surprises, and much of it unfolded in one of the most atmospheric venues of the London Games – it was the Gymnastics at the 2012 Olympics, the greatest show on earth.

It opened with an Artistic Gymnastics competition at North Greenwich Arena that made a star of Gabby Douglas, the 16-year-old American teenager who won the Women’s Individual All-around, after Kohei Uchimura had confirmed his status as the brightest star in the Men’s Gymnastics constellation. The three-time Individual All-around World Champion shrugged off a shaky qualification display by repeating that success on the Olympic stage – not bad for someone operating, in his words, at “50%” of his powers in London.

The Artistic Gymnastics medal table featured China on top with eight medals, four of them golds. The men’s Team and Zou Kai defended successfully their titles from Beijing, while Feng Zhe (Parallel Bars) and Deng Linlin – who forced 2008 champion and team-mate Sui Lu into second place on Balance Beam – also stood on top of the podium.

USA were next with three golds from their six medals – including a first women’s Team triumph since 1996. That success provided some consolation for Jordyn Wieber after she had failed to qualify for the final of the All-around event in which she is World Champion – fourth in qualification, Wieber missed out owing to team-mates Douglas and Ali Raisman placing in the top three.

Raisman would emulate Douglas’s All-around victory by winning gold on Floor Exercise, ahead of Romania’s Carolina Ponor, who – making a successful Olympic return after eight years – also took a medal in the Team Final.

Russia ranked third in the medals table with eight – four of which came courtesy of Aliya Mustafina. Now fully recovered from the cruciate ligament injury she suffered in April 2011, she claimed gold on Uneven Bars, silver in the Team event and bronzes on Individual All-around and Floor.

It was not only the traditional powers with cause for celebration, however. To the delight of the home crowd, Great Britain won four medals, their haul including rapturously received bronzes for Beth Tweddle on Uneven Bars and the Men’s Team, their first in this event since 1912. It had initially looked by being a silver too until Japan appealed Uchimura’s score on Pommel Horse – and were duly catapulted from fourth place into second. Louis Smith was narrowly denied gold on Pommel Horse, meanwhile, by a superb performance by Hungary’s Krisztian Berki.

As the Artistic Gymnastics programme concluded Brazil and Republic of Korea were both able to celebrate first Gymnastics golds as Arthur Zanetti triumphed on Still Rings and Yang Hak-Seon on Vault. Epke Zonderland – the Flying Dutchman – had the North Greenwich Arena roaring its approval on a memorable final day in Greenwich after his spectacular routine on Horizontal Bar earned him gold – the Netherlands’ first ever Men’s Gymnastics gold.

The London Games also featured history-making appearances from two of the sport’s golden oldies: Bulgaria’s 39-year-old Iordan Iovtchev featured in the Rings final on his sixth appearance at an Olympic Games. At 37, Oksana Chusovitina achieved the same feat representing Germany – and reached the Vault final.

The Trampoline event had its own history girl in Karen Cockburn but her hopes of medalling at a fourth successive Games evaporated with a fourth-place finish. On a bittersweet day for Canada, however, Cockburn’s team-mate Rosie MacLennan earned the biggest score of her life to take gold – the only one for Canada in London and enough to prevent a Chinese Trampoline double after Dong Dong’s victory in the men’s event.

From North Greenwich Arena, the spotlight then moved to one of London’s historic venues, Wembley Arena, which had hosted several sports at the 1948 Games and now provided the stage for the Rhythmic gymnasts to step into the spotlight. What followed was a show of Russian power. Evgeniya Kanaeva won her second successive Olympic gold in the Individual All-around with team-mate Daria Dmitrieva in second place, and the Russian flag flew highest at the end of the Group final too.

The full list of Gymnastics gold medallists from London 2012 is:

Artistic Gymnastics – Men

Team: China

Individual All-around: Kohei Uchimura (Japan)

Floor Exercise: Zou Kai (China)

Pommel Horse: Krisztian Berki (Hungary)

Still Rings: Arthur Zanetti (Brazil)

Vault: Yang Hak-Seon (Republic of Korea)

Parallel Bars: Feng Zhe (China)

Horizontal Bar: Epke Zonderland (Netherlands)

Artistic Gymnastics – Women

Team: USA

Individual All-around: Gabby Douglas (USA)

Vault: Sandra Izbasa (Romania)

Uneven Bars: Aliya Mustafina (Russia)

Balance Beam: Deng Linlin (China)

Floor: Exercise: Alexandra Raisman (USA)

Rhythmic Gymnastics

Team: Russia

Individual All-around: Evgeniya Kanaeva (Russia)


Men: Dong Dong (China)

Women: Rosannagh MacLennan (Canada). —- FIG/Image © FIG / Rimako Takeuchi

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