After the first World Challenge Cup in Koper, Slovenia, a few weeks ago, the circuit continued in Osijek, Croatia for another round of competition featuring some of the world’s top gymnasts. With most of field being the exact same as the previous meet, this was a great opportunity to see who’s consistent with their performances and can deliver their routines as best as possible whenever they need to.
On vault, European Bronze medalist Boglarka Devai of Hungary finally got her time to shine, winning the gold medal on vault with an average of 14.300 after a solid DTY with a hop back and a nice Lopez with a step back. Making a great day for their home country, her teammate Zsofia Kovacs managed to take silver after a slightly messier than usual DTY landed with a tiny hop back and a full twisting Tsukahara with a bit of a low chest on the landing and a small hop forward. Tjasa Kysselef of Slovenia eventually took the bronze medal, receiving a 13.933 average for her front tuck full with messy leg form throughout but only a tiny hop on the landing and her Yurchenko 1.5 with some Paseka level leg separation on entry but a nice shape in the air and only a tiny step forward.
Outside of the podium was Gabriela Janik of Poland in fourth place with 13.767, followed by Lilia Akhaimova of Russia in fifth with 13.667. Home girls Tijana Tkalcec and Ema Kajic of Croatia placed sixth and seventh with 13.534 and 13.284, respectively, both hitting their vaults but showing some lower level of difficulty. In eighth and last place was World Cup regular Teja Belak of Slovenia who unfortunately sat down both of her vaults, a front layout full and Yurchenko 1.5, posting an average of just 12.950.
On bars, Russian Anastasia Iliankova managed to hold her leading position form qualifications and take the title with a final score of 14.200 after a good albeit not perfect routine, featuring an inbar to Hindorff to pak series, though the pak was quite messy with some leg separation and bent knees in the air. She managed, however, to clean up the rest of her exercise, performing a Maloney to clear hip half to Ezhova and a van Leeuwen before finishing on a high note with a toe-on full to stuck full-in dismount. Less than a tenth behind Iliankova was Kovacs who lead the competition right until the end when the young Russian surpassed her. The European All-Around Silver medalist started off with her incredible series of inbar to inbar full to Maloney to pak to van Leeuwen, continuing with a piked Jaeger and ending her performance with a somewhat low full-in dismount with a tiny step back for a total of 14.133. After her fourth place finish on vault, Janik managed to reach the medals here, taking bronze with 13.400 after a clean but simple routine that featured a Maloney to bail to toe-on full to stalder shoot to high bar, a giant full to Gienger, a Tkachev release and a cowboywed double front dismount with a tiny hop back.
In fourth place was the second Russian of the final, Evgenia Shelgunova who received a 13.233 for her hit albeit messy exercise, followed by Flávia Saraiva of Brazil in fifth with 12.800 and Ioana Crisan of Romania in sixth with 12.433, both counting some mistakes but managing to stay on the apparatus. Barbora Mokosova of Slovakia, however, had a fall on her toe-on full, receiving just 12.067 to finish seventh and Maria Holbura of Romania was eighth with 11.633 after multiple mistakes throughout her routine with overarched handstands everywhere and only a simple flyaway dismount.
After some lackluster performances in Koper, new senior Thais Fidelis from Brazil had a much better weekend here, taking both the beam and floor titles after hitting her difficult routines. On beam, she posted a total of 13.467 after having a big wobble on her BHS to arabian series, as well as on switch ring and switch to switch half, though she hit her BHS to LOSO to LOSO series and her front tuck nicely, finishing her routine with a double pike dismount with a big step back. As other routines have shown, Thais is a very talented girl but still lacks a bit of confidence and this kind of experience is important for her, especially with some medals to go along with it to boost her self-confidence.
In second place was Iliankova with 13.333 after a wobbly and low difficulty routine that featured an LOSO mount, a round-off to layout series, as well as a side aerial to LOSO series albeit with a wobble at the end. Her exercise also included three turning skills: an L turn, an illusion and a Y turn, the last two with some balance checks, and a double back to finish with a step back on the landing. Managing to stay on the apparatus this time, Saraiva was third with 12.933 after losing about a full point in difficulty and also counting multiple execution mistakes. Issues started right from her BHS mount, which is usually an LOSO, when she had a giant wobble and nearly fell off the beam. Nonetheless, she hit her BHS to LOSO to LOSO series cleanly, followed by a round-off to layout where she had another wobble, continuing with a secure double turn, a switch ring and a front tuck, both with wobbles, and a front aerial to sheep jump to BHS, before finishing with a double pike with a step back.
Matching Saraiva in difficulty but showing slightly inferior execution was Crisan who finished fourth with 12.633, followed by Mokosova in fifth with 12.467. Kovacs was then sixth with 12.433 after a fall on her side somi, while Diana Varinska of Ukraine was seventh with 11.467, due to a fall on her layout, as well as big wobbles on some other skills. Lastly Shelgunova was eighth with 11.367 despite counting one of the highest difficulty scores of the final after falling her front tuck and immediately falling again on a scale after remounting the beam. For us fans this was a super hilarious moment, but she seemed to feel really mad at herself for it so I hope she can brush it off quickly and just forget about this stupid mistake.
On floor, Fidelis grabbed her second gold of the day, receiving a 13.733 for her difficult exercise that featured a 1.5 twist through to double arabian with a small step forward, a whip to triple twist with a hop back, a stuck double tuck and a double pike with a hop back together with nice leaps and turns. Her teammate Saraiva also managed to hit her routine, taking out her opening 2.5 twists to front full pass that gave her trouble in Koper and instead competing a piked full-in with a big step back, a 1.5 twist to front full with a step forward, a switch ring to Gogean leap, a whip to double tuck and a double pike, both landed with a small hop back to finish with a total of 13.633. In third place was Akhaimova with 13.500 after performing a double layout with a step back, a piked full-in landed a bit low with a hop bac, a stuck double arabian as her third pass and a tucked full-in dismount with a tiny step back, while also showing interesting dance elements like a double L turn, a switch full and a Gogean leap.
Quite a long way behind the medalists, Varinska and Shelgunova finished fourth with 12.900 after tying in both execution and difficulty, followed by Derek in sixth with 12.533 and Crisan I’m seventh with 12.467. In eighth and last place was Marlies Maennersdorfer of Austria with 11.733 after some short landings and a considerably low difficulty (only 4.1 D-score).
On the men’s side, Kirill Prokopev of Russia took the title on floor with 14.767 after showing difficult tumbles and some very nice flairs that definitely pleased the crowd, while new Irish senior Rhys McClenaghan won gold on pommels with 14.267, beating the silver medalist by almost a full point in what was a very messy final. On rings, 2012 Olympic Champion Arthur Zanetti of Brazil was pretty much unchallenged for the title and won the event with a total of 14.900, whereas Audrys Nin Reyes of the Dominican Republic took the vault title with an average of 14.484 after sticking his Dragulescu and landing his Tsukahara with 2.5 twists with a big step to the side, going out-of-bounds. Splitting things evenly between Europe and Latin America, Jossimar Calvo of Colombia received the gold medal on parallel bars with 14.767 and lastly home gymnast Tin Srbic of Croatia took the title on high bar with 14.367.
After months of World Cup and World Challenge Cup competitions, this was our final stop for a few months as many countries turn to their own national championships and start preparing for World team selection processes. Nonetheless, this represented yet another chance to see some of the top gymnasts worldwide compete in a low pressure environment and show what they are capable off in competition. For the time being, we will focus on domestic meets across different countries but before you know it, the international season will kick in again and we will be back with the best athletes of the sport representing their home nations and competing against one another.
Full results here.