Gymnastics at the 2015 Pan Am Games has come to a close, and it was a great competition! The crowd supported all athletes and provided an exciting atmosphere. All-around champion Ellie Black (CAN) was the star of the show, winning 3 golds, a silver and a bronze. With a 6.5 start value on balance beam, she will be in contention for top honours on that event at the upcoming world championships. The men’s competition was even more exciting, with Manrique Larduet (CUB) scoring 90+ points in the qualifying round. Get this man to the world championships!! Larduet, Kohei Uchimura (JPN) and Oleg Vernyayev (UKR) would make for an excellent bunch of all-around medallists.
My sister attended Day 1 of the apparatus finals (V and UB for the women and FX, PH and R for the men) and here are some of her thoughts:
– It was a very well organized competition. Men and women alternated, so there was always a routine to watch with very little waiting time. Scores for the previous competitor on each event was always ready before the next gymnast competed.
– A high quality competition! We didn’t always see the most difficult skills, but there were very few falls or major errors.
– The Toronto crowd was very enthusiastic and encouraging toward all gymnasts, regardless of nationality (although of course, the loudest cheers were for the Canadians).
– There was lots of support for various nations in the crowd, especially for the Brazilians (so many flags, and a whole row of matching green and yellow unitard outfits).
– There were lots of other athletes in the audience wearing their national warm-ups.
– It was really nice to hear anthems that I’ve never heard before and aren’t often heard at gymnastics competitions.
– Tommy Ramos (PUR) walked in front of us and stood talking to some Puerto Rican coaches/delegation officials for a long time during warm-ups.
– Jorge Vega Lopez (GUA) was a huge surprise. He didn’t start warming up floor until most of the other gymnasts had left, but once he started he didn’t stop! He and his coach were very, very excited when his winning score came up. There was also a lady wearing a “GUA” shirt who was celebrating with him at the barrier. I am guessing it was his mom, but it might have been a delegation official.
– Most of the male medalists looked amused at receiving the stuffed Pachi mascot and waved them in the air sheepishly.
– Paula Mejias (PUR) ran into the vault on her first vault and got a zero, but did a nice layout Tsukahara second vault and received generous applause from the audience.
– After Daniele Hypolito (BRA) vaulted, she crouched down in front of a miserable-looking Mejias and gave her what appeared to be a lengthy pep talk.
– Marta Karolyi was not there, but new national staff member Rhonda Faehn was.
– Madison Copiak (CAN) is much taller than most gymnasts, and it was “all hands on deck” when it was her turn on bars; about 8 coaches and gymnasts (including Canadian Isabela Onyshko and Mexican Elsa Garcia) ran onto the podium to raise the bars, chalk them, etc. Same thing after she’d finished her routine.
– Carol Angela Orchard was there providing in-house commentary. She was encouraging and positive, but it was a bit much at times….
– Some medal presenters of note: Nellie Kim, Steve Butcher, Denzil Minnan-Wong (deputy mayor of Toronto), and PanAm organizing committee members.
– Elsa Garcia and another Mexican gymnast (Ahtziri Sandoval?) were sitting at a table in the foyer of the arena after the competition.
– Judge Leyanet Gonzalez (CUB) was thrilled when fellow Cuban Marcia Videaux Jimenez won vault. She applauded wildly when her name appeared in first place in the official results. She continued applauding with her hands above her head even when everyone else had long stopped.