Posts Tagged ‘Kohei Uchimura’

2017 World Championships

Sunday, November 12th, 2017



I have so many fantastic memories from the 2017 World Championships that I don’t even know where to start! It was my first time going to a Worlds, and one of the most exciting things was just seeing the gymnasts in real life. I chatted with Yvonne Tousek and Cristina Bontas (both super friendly!), and got my picture taken with Daniela Silivas, Dominique Moceanu, Ekaterina Lobaznyuk, Amy Tinkler and Brittany Rogers. We saw sooooo many gymnasts roaming the stadium too…everyone from Marian Dragulescu to Ragan Smith on crutches to Svetlana Khorkina.

Here are some of my favourite things from the Montreal Worlds, in no particular order:

I loved the dramatic music and the way each gymnast was introduced with a burst of dry ice (is that what that was?!) and 10 flames. Poor Weng Hao (CHN), Artur Dalaloyan (RUS) and Zou Jingyuan (CHN) didn’t get the flames because they were standing too far off to the side, and no one wants to see a gymnast get singed eyebrows.

Belyavsky

Nadia Comaneci (ROU) was interviewed on stage each of the four days of finals (she even did her famous floor pose!), and Max Whitlock (GBR) came out on the floor on the final day to talk about winning Pommels. The organizing committee definitely kept the crowd entertained, not only with the fun intros, but also by having the “present cam” and by having the audience vote for their choice of “rotation” music.

I think I have a new favourite! Elena Eremina (RUS)! She is such a beautiful gymnast, and she looks cheerful and sweet. I never paid much attention until I saw her on YouTube looking overjoyed that teammate Angelina Melnikova had won floor at the 2017 European Championships…a final she herself was also competing in. It’s great she came away from her first Worlds with a silver and a bronze, but I would have preferred to see her win Uneven Bars!

Oksana Chusovitina (UZB) was absolutely amazing on Vault. She competed a layout front full (a bit piked) and a Tsukahara-1.5 with among the best form seen in the final. I wish she could have snuck in for a medal. Similarly, the very enthusiastic Jorge Vega Lopez was phenomenal and it would have been cool to see him bring some hardware back to Guatemala.

Zou was unbelievable on Parallel Bars. He has absolute control over his body and has mastered this event. He and Oleg Verniaiev (UKR) ended up miles ahead of a strong field of finalists. I was also thrilled to see Hidetaka Miyachi (JPN) on High Bar. His double-twisting layout Kovacs is out of this world!!! It was such a shame when he missed the tucked version….

Kenzo Shirai (JPN) was on fire!!! He is absolutely phenomenal on Floor and Vault. His twisting is indescribable; his quadruple twist looks like a triple, his triple-twisting Yurchenko looks like a double…and he does it all with immaculate form (and a smile on his face! OK, not really). He won Floor by a margin 1,100 times greater than the margin by which he won Vault.

It was fun seeing the Twitter exchange between Morgan Hurd (USA) and JK Rowling!Hurd Rowling

Surprise medallists…at least, surprises to me! Tim Srbic (CRO) nailed his full-twisting double layout to stand atop the High Bar podium. Almost, not a huge shock, but it’s always kinda cool when a newby like Hurd steps up and wins gold (in the All Around , no less!). I breathed a sigh of relief when Mai Murakami (JPN) finally got a gold medal after ending up in 4th in the All Around AND on Beam.

Brooklyn Moors (CAN) totally deserved the Longines Award for Elegance. What a gorgeous floor routine, complete with a Podkopayeva mount.

Yul Moldauer (USA) was a picture of consistency. He’s such a neat and tidy gymnast. I love Shirai, but I would have been cool with Moldauer winning the Longines Award.

Whoa – only 2 gymnasts managed to score in the 13s on Beam in the All-Around finals: Tabea Alt (GER) and Eremina. And by that, I mean that the 13s were the HIGHEST scores!

Nina Derwael: Belgium’s first medal! She’s been scooping up Uneven Bars medals at various meets for years now, so it as great to see her win bronze at her first World Championship!

Ellie Black (CAN) was a total crowd favourite. It was deafening in the stands before, during and after each of her routines. For her to finish 2nd AA (just 0.1 out of 1st!) was thrilling for the home crowd.

DISAPPOINTMENTS:

This didn’t turn into the Kohei Uchimura (JPN)-Oleg Verniaiev (UKR) showdown that I was hoping for. I can’t even describe how sad I was when I heard that Uchimura was injured and I realized I wouldn’t see him compete in Montreal. I didn’t even see him in the stadium, and he was the one I was most excited to see. :-(

All the other injuries: Larisa Iordache (ROU), Ragan Smith (USA), Yang Hak Seon (KOR), Vanessa Ferrari (ITA)….  It’s so sad when that happens after all their hard work (not to mention the severe thinning of the field when top contenders are forced to withdraw).

Russian David Belyavsky’s heartbreak on High Bar was awful; the Men’s AA was truly a highlight – a real nail-biter! It was so sad for all the gymnasts who fell, especially Randy Leru (CUB) who looked devastated after he sat down his gorgeous double-twisting double layout off High Bar in the event final. It was also a major bummer for his teammate, Manrique Larduet, to come away from these Worlds without a medal.

I wanted to see Lieke and Sanne Wevers (NED) (I did see them in the crowd a few times!), Eythora Thorsdottir (NED) and Catalina Ponor (ROU), but unfortunately they didn’t make finals.

Weng’s Pommels was simply sublime, but a slight glitch on the dismount and a lower D-score was enough to leave him in 6th. It was kind of fun booing with everyone else when his score came up and we realized he was not in the medals.

(Oh! The video doesn’t do the routine justice. In real life, his body line was gorgeous…here, it just looks REALLY GOOD.)

So all in all, it was a great meet and I had an amazing time with my sister in Montreal. We left the city with fabulous memories. I hope another competition of this calibre come to this corner of the world in the near future.

2015 World Championships

Thursday, November 19th, 2015

The dust has settled on another Worlds, and by all accounts it was a fantastic event. Glasgow sure put on a show! Many dreams of qualifying to the Rio Olympic Games were fulfilled, while others were shattered. After two weeks of incredible gymnastics, it’s hard to choose just a few favourite moments, but here we go….

Kohei Uchimura (JPN) wins his 6th straight Worlds (7 years in a row counting the 2012 Olympics). If he wins in Rio next year too, he will have dominated two entire quads. Simply amazing!

I love the Dutch team! So much elegance and beauty, and they must be over the moon to have qualified directly to Rio by placing 8th. The icing on the cake was surely Sanne Wevers‘s silver medal on beam. Sanne’s twin, Lieke, and Eythora Thorsdottir were both delightful on floor.

Oksana Chusovitina (UZB) just keeps going and going. I really hope she can earn a spot to her 7th Olympics at the Test Event. Debuting a double front vault at age 40 is unfathomable, yet she managed to do it!

Simone Biles (USA) is in a league of her own. She is able to build up enormous D scores, and her E scores are fabulous too. Her tumbling is out of this world and her signature Biles (double layout half-out) never ceases to amaze me. Sae Miyakawa (JPN) also has phenomenal tumbling, but I don’t love the rest of her routine.

Manrique Larduet (CUB) earned an Olympic spot by winning bronze on the very last event, high bar. Phew! How silly is it that his silver medal in the All Around didn’t do the trick?! The FIG must be breathing a sigh of relief, because not qualifying after being second in the world to Uchimura would have been a big egg on their collective face!

I love how Ellie Black (CAN) throws every trick in the book on beam! She has now qualified to an apparatus final every year for 4 straight years now: vault at the 2012 Olympic Games, floor at the 2013 Worlds, and beam in both 2014 and 2015. She has also improved her All Around ranking each year: 13th in 2013, 9th in 2014 and 7th this year.

What were your favourite moments from the Glasgow Worlds?

Apparatus Finals, Day 2 – 2013 World Championships

Sunday, October 6th, 2013

Men’s Vault

1. Yang Hak Seon (KOR) claimed the world title with a booming handspring triple-twisting front now named the Yang, and a Tsukahara triple-twist. I don’t know how he manages to twist so quickly!

2. Steven Legendre (USA) vaulted a superb Dragulescu with just a bit of a low landing that required a small hop to the side. He looked happy with his second vault, a high Tsukahara double pike with a step back.

3. Kristian Thomas (GBR) stuck his first vault, a Yurchenko double pike, and showed the fantastic form he is known for on this event (E=9.500, the highest of the final). Next he vaulted a tucked double front with just a hop backward.

Rounding out the Top 8: Kenzo Shirai (JPN), Sergio Sasaki Junior (BRA), Diego Hypolito (BRA), Marius Berbecar (ROU) and Oleg Verniaiev (UKR).

Balance Beam

1. Aliya Mustafina (RUS) pulled it all together when it counted most, earning the gold medal on beam with a beautiful routine that included a switch split half to immediate Onodi. It was nice to see her supporting her younger teammate, Anna Rodionova, who is so elegant on the beam but unfortunately fell on her ff, Arabian.

2. Kyla Ross (USA) was spot on, and displayed beautiful lines on all elements. I enjoyed seeing her aerial front-sheep jump combination. After filing an inquiry, her score was raised to 14.833, just short of Mustafina.

3. Simone Biles (USA) also filed an inquiry following her beam routine and saw her score increase just enough to surpass Vanessa Ferrari (ITA). Love her full-in dismount. It reminds me of the old days. This is her routine from podium training:

Rounding out the Top 8: Vanessa Ferrari (ITA), Carlotta Ferlito (ITA), Shang Chunsong (CHN), Larisa Iordache (ROU) and Rodionova. Unfortunately many of the best beam workers ended up at the bottom of the pile, but that’s often the way the cookie crumbles on beam.

Parallel Bars

1. Lin Chaopan (CHN) & Kohei Uchimura (JPN) competed early on in the 9-man final, and boy did they impress! Lin was first up, and he and teammate You scrambled to chalk the rails after presenting themselves to the judges. His routine included the exciting Bhavsar and a nailed double pike dismount. Uchimura, not to be outdone, swung a nice giant to double pike and also stuck the same dismount (with a little arm swing!). The two gymnasts ended up atop the medal podium, each with 15.666 (D=6.700, E=8.966).

3. John Orozco (USA), returning from a knee injury, did a great set complete with tucked and piked double backs and a large Tippelt for the bronze medal. A door opened for Orozco, as his performance came on the heels of some disappointing routines by Vasileios Tsolakidis (GRE), Anton Fokin (UZB) and Brandon Wynn (USA).

Rounding out the Top 9: You Hao (CHN) with his smooth movements and fabulous double front-half out dismount, Epke Zonderland (NED), Marius Berbecar (ROU), Wynn, Tsolakidis and Fokin.

Women’s Floor Exercise

1. Simone Biles (USA) shone on floor as she executed her energetic choreography and trademark tumbling: tucked double-double followed by the Biles. Despite some hops on landings, she won in convincing fashion: 0.367 over the nearest competitor!

2. Vanessa Ferrari (ITA) flipped her way to silver with a tucked double double, a full-in to back tuck, a double tuck and a double pike. All landings were stuck except for a little hop forward on the first pass.

3. Larisa Iordache (ROU) commanded everyone’s attention and delivered such a spunky routine with tricky elements. I think everyone in the arena was disappointed when a 14.600 was flashed on the scoreboard. It did hold up, however, and Iordache found herself wearing the bronze medal around her neck. I was hoping she would win, because we haven’t seen this kind of artistry and enthusiasm in a long time. She is quickly becoming one of my favourites!

Rounding out the Top 8: Mai Murakami (JPN), Giulia Steingruber (SUI), Kyla Ross (USA), Sandra Izbasa (ROU), Ellie Black (CAN). I hardly recognized Izbasa with all that makeup(!), but I’ll really miss her once she retires. It’s too bad she fell at the end of her routine, but she got up with a smile. Her attitude is second to none, and she always shows such great sportsmanship. Murakami (quadruple turn) and Black (2.5-twist through to triple twist!) showed amazing tumbling and will hopefully finish on the podium in the near future.

High Bar

1. Epke Zonderland (NED) repeated his Olympic win in Antwerp with his usual amazing combinations. His 7.7 D score had him starting 1.3 ahead of Ryohei Kato (JPN), who of course had the misfortune of having to perform directly after the Flying Dutchman. While I do love seeing his extraordinary release moves, I do think his E score is a tad too high compared to gymnasts like Jossimar Calvo Moreno (COL) and Andreas Bretschneider (GER), who each scored lower.

2. Fabian Hambüchen (GER) seems like such a nice guy. I always see him in the background congratulating Uchimura on his All Around wins, and at the London Olympics and today in Antwerp he took the time to congratulate Zonderland on his win. Hambüchen looked thrilled after nailing his laidout double double dismount.

3. Kohei Uchimura (JPN) was flawless except for a hesitation in handstand following his Takamoto full. Through his 15 routines of these Championships he made nary a mistake and he came away with 4 medals, just like Simone Biles.

Rounding out the Top 8: Sam Mikulak (USA), Calvo Moreno, Bretschneider, Kato, Lin Chaopan (CHN). What a way to end High Holy Week!

Apparatus Finals, Day 1 – 2013 World Championships

Saturday, October 5th, 2013

Men’s Floor Exercise

1. Kenzo Shirai (JPN) won the qualifying round by such a margin that the gold medal was his to lose. The best was saved for last, and Shirai performed 18.25 twists with fantastic landings before nailing his QUADRUPLE twist at the end of the routine. He looked elated at the end, and even King Kohei was on his feet for this one. Score: 16.000.

2. Jake Dalton (USA) won the silver medal with great form and some high-flying tumbling including a layout Arabian double front and a whip immediate piked Arabian double front. Video from prelims.

3. Kohei Uchimura (JPN) earned the bronze medal thanks in large part to his exemplary technique and his extraordinary landings. Interestingly, he had the lowest D score and the highest E score (9.100) in the 8-man field. I was wondering if he would pull out the triple twisting double tuck in the finals, but that tricky skill turned out to be a gamble not worth taking.

Rounding out the Top 8: Daniel Purvis (GBR), Digeo Hypolito (BRA), Steven Legendre (USA), Fabian Hambüchen (GER) and Scott Morgan (CAN). Poor Legendre had to compete with a butterfly fluttering around the floor mat!

Women’s Vault

1. McKayla Maroney (USA) was on a mission after her Olympic disappointment. It’s such a cliché to say she makes it look easy…but she does! Maroney threw down two excellent vaults (Amanar, Mustafina) to edge out her teammate.

2. Simone Biles (USA) came really close to Maroney’s vaulting average (15.724 to 15.595) and she too performed a superb Amanar as a first vault. Biles’s layout Podkopayeva second vault earned a 9.658 E score, but the D score just wasn’t high enough to beat the defending World Champion.

3. Hong Un Jong (PRK) performed a fantastic Amanar with a large step forward on the landing, and a RO-half-on layout Rudi with a large step back. Her high start values were enough to capture the bronze medal.

Rounding out the Top 8: Giulia Steingruber (SUI), Oksana Chusovitina (UZB), Phan Thi Ha Thanh (VIE), Yamilet Pena Abreu (DOM) and Chantysha Netteb (NED). Pena fell on both of her vaults, and poor Netteb hurt her knee on her first vault, a Yurchenko double twist.

Pommel Horse

1. Kohei Kameyama (JPN) proved there’s more than one Kohei on the block, and now they both have the same number of World apparatus gold medals: one! Kameyama displayed some really nice scissor to handstand combinations and one-pommel work at the beginning of his routine.

2. Daniel Corral Barron (MEX) and Max Whitlock (GBR) tied for the silver medal on this event. Corral Barron is the first male gymnast from his country to qualify to a World final (he also placed 5th on parallel bars at last year’s Olympic Games), and therefore the first to win a medal for Mexico. He swung high above the horse. Whitlock, who won pommel horse bronze medals at the Olympics and at the Europeans earlier this year, lost rhythm as he came down from a handstand, but managed to stay on and finish up well. His D score of 7.200 certainly helped him stay in the medals.

Rounding out the Top 8: 2009 champion Zhang Hongtao (CHN), Alberto Busnari (ITA), Robert Seligman (CRO) with the highest E score, Matvei Petrov (RUS) and Prashanth Sellathurai (AUS).

Uneven Bars

1. Huang Huidan (CHN) displayed gorgeous pirouettes, difficult transitions and a nice piked Jaeger topped off with a stuck full-twisting double back. It would have been a Chinese 1-2 with Huang in the silver medal position if Yao Jinnan had caught her Mo salto.

2. Kyla Ross (USA) had the highest E score of the competition despite some loose leg form in the first half of the routine. Nevertheless, she showed lovely lines and solid handstand positions and a stuck double layout dismount. Video from qualifications.

3. Aliya Mustafina (RUS) has added a Stalder-full toe-on full-twisting Shaposhnikova (Seitz) combinations to her routine since the Olympic Games and she nailed it here. She did the same 1.5-twisting double back dismount that helped her win Olympic Gold, but unfortunately this time she had to shuffle her feet upon landing.

Rounding out the Top 8: Simone Biles (USA), Sophie Scheder (GER), Yao Jinnan (CHN), Ruby Harrold (GBR), Beckie Downie (GBR).

Rings

1. Arthur Nabarrete Zanetti (BRA) showed some tremendous strength holds and he did a fabulous full-twisting double layout, but it seemed the rings were swaying back and forth ever so slightly throughout much of his routine.

2. Aleksandr Balandin (RUS) made a press to planche from a still hang look easy! He used his long lines to his advantage in his swing elements, and took a slight hop back after the same dismount as Zanetti.

3. Brandon Wynn (USA) made the most of his 6.700 D score, the lowest of the 8 finalists, and clinched the bronze with a good effort and a stuck full-twisting double layout of his own.

Rounding out the Top 8: Liu Yang (CHN) was fantastic on the apparatus but landed a bit too low to grab a medal, Lambertus “Yuri” van Gelder (NED), Samir Aït Saïd (FRA), Koji Yamamuro (JPN) and Danny Pinheiro Rodrigues (FRA). Pinheiro Rodrigues had a great routine going, complete with two of his signature Victorians, but unfortunately got caught up in the air on his full-twisting double layout and ended up falling. I felt so sad for Yamamuro, last to go, watching him pray for a medal while waiting for his score to come up. He did an amazing job, complete with a decent landing on a very difficult double-twisting double layout dismount, only to end up in 7th. This just goes to show the quality of the field.

King Kohei Wins Again!

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013

Today Kohei Uchimura (JPN) was crowned king of the Worlds for the fourth consecutive time (fifth including last year’s Olympic Games). He won in typical fashion, 1.958 points over teammate Ryohei Kato for a fantastic 1-2 Japanese finish. Fabian Hambüchen (GER) climbed his way up to the bronze medal after finding himself at the bottom of the standings in the first rotation!

Kohei Uchimura (JPN), AA Floor Exercise, 2013 World Championships

Ryohei Kato (JPN), AA Vault, 2013 World Championships

Fabian Hambüchen (GER), AA High Bar, 2013 World Championships

Floor exercise scores seemed to be the biggest indicator of things to come:

1. Kohei Uchimura, 15.558

2. Ryohei Kato, 15.500

3. Samuel Mikulak (USA), 15.366

4. Max Whitlock (GBR), 15.266

5. Fabian Hambüchen, Sergio Sasaki Junior (BRA), Daniel Purvis (GBR), 15.133

These seven gymnasts all finished in the top seven All Around.

Sergio Sasaki Junior (BRA), AA Floor Exercise, 2013 World Championships

Many of the other scores were all over the place; Jossimar Orlando Calvo Moreno (COL) recorded the highest score on parallel bars with a 15.400 tied with Zhou Shixiong (CHN), but unfortunately ended up in last place after a horrific crash from the high bar. Let’s hope he’s not too seriously injured and can compete in the high bar finals on Sunday. Zhou may have been the class of the field on parallel bars, but he ended up in 10th overall after receiving scores on pommels and rings that were only 19th best. Bart Deurloo (NED), 14th all around, managed the 3rd highest score on high bar with a 15.466, but also rounded up the 24-man field on rings with a 13.366.

Oliver Hegi (SUI), was so unlucky when his grip broke in the middle his high bar routine and was given a score of 7.100. How disappointing for a gymnast who qualified to the All Around in 9th place and was certainly looking to make his mark here.

David Belyavskiy (RUS) and Oleg Verniaiev (UKR) were expected to challenge for medals in Antwerp, but faded to 12th and 15th, respectively. Verniaiev was off to a very good start on rings and vault, but plummeted in the rankings after an 11.833 on high bar. Fortunately he’ll have another shot at a medal in the vault final this weekend, having qualified in second place behind Olympic Champion Yang Hak Seon (KOR).

Oleg Verniaiev (UKR), AA Vault, 2013 World Championships

Top 8 All Around, 2013 World Championships

Onwards to the Apparatus Finals, where the specialists come out to play!