With the European Championships just around the corner, the British gymnasts gathered in London for their own championships, which will certainly play a very important part in deciding the Euros teams. With some Olympians returning while others decided to take some time off, this meet had the perfect mix of veterans and new-comers making for a very interesting show of gymnastics.
In an effort to promote more difficulty in their routines, British gymnasts had now implemented a bonus system similar to Italy or China, which reward hard skills with an extra tenth or two. The bonus include an extra 0.2 for a D+ dismount on bars, beam and floor, 0.1 for a stuck D+ element on floor, 0.2 for a stuck 4.8+ vault and 0.1 for a full pirouette on bars within 10º of handstand. They have also hardened the out-of-bounds deductions on floor, with 0.3 for one foot or hand out of the floor area and 0.5 if both feet are out. As far as I know, these only apply to the women, so men’s scores are all without bonus.
On the senior women’s side, all Olympians were back except for Ruby Harrold who has moved on to NCAA gymnastics representing LSU but only Ellie Downie chose to compete on all four events. Quite ahead of the rest of the field, Ellie ended up taking the title with 55.350 after a mostly clean competition that started with a great DTY with just a hop back for a mid-14. Unfortunately, she had issues on bars, falling on her Maloney to Hindorff connection, but hitting her toe-on full to piked Tkachev to pak, van Leeuwen and double layout dismount with a hop back. On beam, she was a bit shaky, with big wobbles on her switch half and BHS to LOSO series, as well as a smaller bubble on her split leap to side aerial, but hit her front tuck to split jump and double turn cleanly before sticking her 2.5 twists dismount to score in the mid-13s. Lastly, on floor she debuted her new double double mount with just a step to the side, followed by her fantastic 1.5 to double arabian and a double pike with a big hop back for 13.700 to seal her win. With many gymnasts opting to take thing slowly at the start of this new Olympic cycle, Ellie is in a very good position to contend for the top all-around spot at the upcoming European Championships and even the World Championships later this year. Rather than holding back, she is showing upgrades and should be the one to watch for the Brits in Cluj Napoca.
Tied for second place with 53.300 were first-year seniors Alice Kinsella and Maisie Methuen, both gymnastics superstars in their Junior years. Kinsella started off with a FTY landed with a hop back for a score in the mid-13s, followed by a mid-12s on bars, due to some issues in her routine and possibly a fall. Nonetheless, she recovered well and had a fantastic performance on beam posting the highest score of the day on the event, 14.050, for her exercise that started with a daring candle mount and also included a double turn and a side aerial to LOSO to LOSO series before dismounting with a 2.5 twists a bit stumbled to the side. Finally on floor she had a clean exercise, displaying a Memmel turn, 1.5 twists through to 2.5 twists with a hop, triple twist a bit low, front tuck through to double full with a hop back and double pike with some steps back for a score in the low to mid-13s. While not at the same level as the older British girls, Kinsella can be a really good asset for the team on beam, which has troubled them in recent years, and could find herself in some important competitions, especially if any of the 2016 Olympians ends up getting injured or not being fully back in time.
Similar to Kinsella, Methuen also showed a FTY on vault, posting in the mid-13s, while on bars she received a score in the mid-12s after leg separation issues throughout her routine, as well as short handstands and flexed feet. On beam, she was able to reach the mid-13s after a solid effort that featured a BHS mount, a double turn, a double wolf turn, an Onodi and a 2.5 twists dismount, but was marred by wobbles and form issues on multiple skills. She then received a similar score on floor for her clean performance of double wolf turn, full-in with a hop forward, double pike with a tiny hop and front double full with a step forward. Just like Kinsella, Methuen is not quite at the same level as the stronger British competitors and her difficulty is also quite low with her highest D-score a 5.1 on beam. Still she could represent the country at smaller international meets and gain some experience, which will hopefully help her improve in the future.
In fourth place was Georgia-Mae Fenton with 51.950 with her fantastic bars routine the highlight of her day, featuring a Ricna half to Ezhova and Ricna to bail, as well as super clean execution. Unfortunately, she also counted a fall on her 2.5 twists on floor and on her double turn on beam, in a routine that included multiple wobbles. In fifth place was Phoebe Turner with 51.400 after issues on floor, while Ellesse Oates finished sixth with 50.550 after a fall on beam and other errors on floor. Charlie Fellows was seventh with 50.400 after falls on beam and floor and lastly Nicole Hibbert, the 22-year-old who decided to make a comeback after nearly 5 years away from competition, was eighth with 50.200 after falling on beam and floor.
The three other 2016 Olympians returning here decided to only compete on some events rather than the all-around with Claudie Fragapane performing on beam and floor, Becky Downie opting for bars and beam and Amy Tinkler just on bars. Fragapane had a very disappointing performance on beam, falling on her BHS to layout series and on her standing full before downgrading her dismount to just a double full to receive only 11.850. She was however able to shine on her pet event, floor, and post in the high-13s after a solid exercise, featuring a stuck double layout, a double arabian with a step to the side and a double pike with a hop forward, but also a very short triple twist that forced her to take a big step to the side and nearly touched the knee of the mat. Claudia took some time off after Rio to enjoy some opportunities such as Strictly Come Dancing but she’s now looking to come back to the sport and fight for a spot in the European and World team. She’s only showing two events for the moment, but should be able to get back to her old self on vault and bars in no time and contend with Ellie Downie and Amy Tinkler for the two all-around spots.
As usual, Becky Downie only competed on bars and beam since she no longer trains the two other events. On bars she performed a front toe circle half to Chow to Hindorff and a Maloney to Gienger cleanly and stuck her full-in dismount but unfortunately fell on her Ricna to score 14, in part thanks to her high difficulty and bonus points. On the other hand, she managed to stay on the beam but had wobbles on her front tuck, side aerial to LOSO series and side somi, bringing her score down to the mid-13s despite not counting any falls. This performance was on par with Becky’s usual showings and her place should be a lock for the European and World teams, with a strong bid for the bars podium on both.
Lastly, Amy Tinkler, who’s already competed at the American Cup earlier this year, opted to perform only on the uneven bars, showing a toe-on full to Maloney to Tkachev to pak, a van Leeuwen and a Markelov, but falling on the latter and counting multiple leg form issues throughout her routine before sticking her full-in dismount for a low-13. In Rio, Amy was a bit in the shadow of Ellie and Claudia, not being allowed to contend for an all-around spot during qualifications, but she ended up being Britain’s only Olympic medalist on the women’s side, with her bronze on floor, which has certainly made her one to watch. If she keeps her rhythm, she should be given the opportunity to prove herself in the all-around and represent Team GB at this level.
In the case of the junior girls, 2002-baby Taeja James took the title with a total of 53.950, which would have put her in second place among the seniors. On vault, she showed a clean FTY with a small hop back for a score in the high-13s, while on bars her low difficulty (4.6 D-score) kept her in the low-13s range despite a generally solid exercise. On beam, she presented a 5.6-difficulty routine that included a candle mount, a round-off to layout, a switch to switch half, a front tuck and a triple twist dismount but unfortunately fell on the layout to score in the low-13s. Then on floor she started off with a 1.5 twists through to triple twist, followed by a double tuck with some leg separation and a hop forward, a front layout to front double full with a hop back and a triple wolf turn with some form issues, before finishing with a 2.5 twists dismount with a hop to the side to score 13.750. Taeja has already shown multiple times that she’s a very promising gymnast and she should become very valuable for the British team in the near future, especially on beam and floor, where she’s already up to par with the Senior gymnasts in terms of difficulty and execution.
Just slightly behind Taeja was Amelie Morgan in second place with 53.050 after solid performances on all four events. On vault she showed a very good FTY with just a small hop back for 13.900, while on bars she had some short handstands and a low full-in dismount to score in the mid to high-12s. Her beam routine featured an original cross straddle jump half, a BHS to BHS to LOSO series, a split leap full and a 2.5 twists dismount with a step forward but also some form issues and short leaps that kept her score in the 12s range. Finally on floor she had a very good performance with elegant choreography and hit all her tumbling passes, that included a low double tuck with a step back, a 2.5 twists to front tuck with a hop forward and a front double full with crossed feet and a a step to the side to receive 13.700.
In third place was Jolie Ruckley, the 2015 Espoir Champion, with 50.950 after clean performances everywhere but low difficulty on all four events. On vault she performed a clean Yurchenko layout for a low-13, while on bars she had a simple routine capped off with a double pike dismount but counted some form issues to score in the low-12s. She went on to hit beam, including her candle mount, double turn and double full dismount to post in the high-12s, and on floor showed a double tuck, 1.5 twists to front layout and double full to receive a score just below 13. This Welsh girl is quite far behind the top two finishers but managed to perform cleanly on all events and take home a medal so this was certainly a very successful competition for her.
On the men’s side, the only returning Olympian was Brinn Bevan who competed on floor and pommel horse, scoring in the low to mid-12s on both after landing issues on the former and a fall on the latter. In the Senior all-around, Joe Fraser took the title with a total of 82.100 after scores in the high-13s to low-14s on every event except pommel horse where he had multiple leg form issues and posted in the mid-12s. Just like with the women, this competition featured a tie for the silver medal with both Dominick Cunningham and James hall posting 80.800 after shaky performances. Cunningham scored 15.000 on vault, a low-14 on floor and a mid-13 on rings for three hit performances but also receiving a mid-13 on high bar due to some errors, as well as a high-12 on parallel bars and a high-11 on pommels most likely due to falls on those events. On the other hand, Hall had some hit performances, scoring in the low-14s on vault and parallel bars, as well as in the high-13s on pommels and rings but also received a high-12 on floor after falling on his last pass and a mid-11 on high bar, mostly likely due to big mistakes on his exercise.
In the under-18 category, Jamie Lewis took the title with 80.100 after hit performances on every event but pommels and parallel bars, where he had some mistakes in his routines to score a bit lower. Donnel Osbourne was second with 79.600 mostly due to some lower difficulty, hitting all of his routines except for floor where he had to count a fall. Lastly Joshua Nathan took bronze with 78.950, also hitting every event but pommels where he had a fall to.
Among the younger boys, in the under-16 category, Jake Jarman took home the gold with 76.400 after mistakes on floor, pommels and parallel bars that kept him from reaching a higher score. Adam Tobin was second with 76.150, taking silver for his performance that also included some errors on floor, pommels and parallel bars. The bronze medal eventually belonged to Sam Mostowfi with a total of 73.300 after hitting everything except floor and pommels but showing lower difficulty than the top two finishers.
This competition continues with the event finals on Sunday where the best on each apparatus will be crowned and the picture for the European championships should become a bit clearer with the top contenders standing out from the rest of the field. After the great results of British gymnastics in the past two quads, they have truly established themselves as one of the powerhouses of the sport in Europe so hopefully they can continue on this rising path and achieve even better results this quad.