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Five Countries Golden at 2nd Baku World Challenge Cup
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Gymnasts from five nations took titles in the first day of finals at the World Challenge Cup in Baku, held Saturday in the Azerbaijani capital. Pictured: China's Liu Rongbing won the parallel bars title.

Gymnasts from five nations took titles in the first day of finals at the World Challenge Cup in Baku, held Saturday in the Azerbaijani capital.

Built for the 2015 European Games, the National Gymnastics Arena in Baku attracted athletes from 23 nations for the second edition of the FIG World Challenge Cup, dubbed the AGF Trophy 2017 by the Azerbaijani Gymnastics Federation. The competition for individual events is part of the 2017-18 FIG World Cup apparatus series and is separate from the all-around World Cup series. An all-around World Cup is taking place this weekend in Stuttgart, marking the first time two FIG World Cups in artistic gymnastics were held simultaneously.

Olympic champions Oksana Chusovitina (Uzbekistan) and Eleftherios Petrounias (Greece) were golden Saturday, with Chusovitina winning the women's vault title and Petrounias untouchable on still rings.

Chusovitina averaged 14.333 for her layout handspring front full (14.366) and 1 1/2-twisting Tsukahara vaults (14.300) to defend her vault title from last year's inaugural event. The 41-year-old Chusovitina, who is showing no signs of calling it quits after seven Olympic Games, will be inducted into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame in May — the first gymnast to be inducted before retirement.

2012 Australian Olympian Emily Little won the silver with a 14.067 average for her double-twisting Yurchenko and full-twisting Tsukahara. Little, who also qualified to beam and floor finals in Baku, also took second at the World Cup in Melbourne last month. Slovenian veteran Teja Belak won the bronze with a 13.750 average.

First-year senior Diana Varinska (Ukraine) won uneven bars, showing off the beautiful lines associated with the Ukrainian school of gymnastics. Varinska was the top gymnast in Thursday's qualifications, where she and other gymnasts appeared to be struggling under the spotlight setting used only on the first day. In qualification, Varinska had a break in her routine and dismounted with only a layout flyaway, but went all out in Saturday's finals (inside Stalder; Komova II, Pak; Maloney, uprise full, giant, Tkatchev to mixed grip to straddled front flip; full-twisting double; 13.933/6.0 Difficulty). Varinska, who turns 16 next Wednesday, is her country's top women's hope for the new quadrennium.

Australians Rianna Mizzen (13.600/6.0) and Georgia-Rose Brown (13.366/5.2) finished second and third, respectively, behind Varinska to give Australia three medals for the day.

Lithuania's Tomas Kuzmickas, 21, won gold on men's floor exercise (14.166/5.8), his first medal on the World Cup circuit. Belarusian Pavel Bulavsky won the silver (14.000/6.1) over Japan's Naoto Hayasaka (13.900/6.2). Top qualifier Murad Agharzayev (Azerbaijan) finished fifth.

Petrounias, the world and Olympic champion, was unbeatable on his specialty, earning a 9.166 Execution for his winning routine (15.466/6.3). Japan's Kazuyuki Takeda won silver (14.766/6.1) over Ukraine's Yevgen Yudenkov (14.233/6.1).

Asia ruled parallel bars, with the same gymnasts from qualification going 1-2-3. China's Liu Rongbing won the gold medal (15.133/6.4) over teammate He Youxiao (14.866/6.4). Liu, who turns 26 on Tuesday, is still looking to crack his way onto China's main team after serving as alternate for China's teams to the 2016 Olympic Games and the 2014 and 2015 world championships. Shogo Nonomura, a member of Japan's silver medal-winning team at the 2014 Worlds, won the bronze behind He (14.700/6.3).

Competition concludes Sunday in Baku with the remaining finals. Olympic champions Krisztián Berki (Hungary) and Cătălina Ponor (Romania) headline the lineup.

External Link: Azerbaijani Gymnastics Federation

2017 AGF Trophy/FIG World Challenger Cup
March 18, Baku, Azerbaijan

Women's Vault FinalDENDScoreAverage
1.Oksana Chusovitina5.48.96614.36614.333
5.29.10014.300
2.Emily Little5.49.03314.43314.067
4.88.90013.700
3.Teja Belak4.88.73313.53313.750
5.08.96613.966
4.Marina Nekrasova4.69.06613.66613.700
4.88.93313.733
5.Argyro Afrati4.48.63313.03313.283
4.68.93313.533
6.Tjaša Kysselef4.88.86613.66613.116
5.07.56612.566
7.Gaya Giladi4.68.73313.33313.117
4.28.70012.900
aRosanna Ojala4.28.4330.112.53312.233
3.58.43311.933

Uneven Bars FinalDENDScore
1.Diana Varinska6.07.93313.933
2.Rianna Mizzen6.07.60013.600
3.Georgia-Rose Brown5.28.16613.366
4.Wang Cenyu5.97.13313.033
5.Angelina Radivilova5.37.23312.533
6.Yulia Inshina4.47.90012.300
7.Yekaterina Tishkova4.77.50012.200
8.Shang Chunsong0.39.7338.51.533

Men's Floor Exercise FinalDENDScore
1.Tomas Kuzmickas5.88.36614.166
2.Pavel Bulavsky6.18.0000.114.000
3.Naoto Hayasaka6.27.70013.900
4.Žiga Šilc5.48.4000.213.600
5.Murad Agharzayev5.38.3000.313.300
6.Christopher Remkes6.17.3660.213.266
7.Oskar Kirmes5.27.0000.212.000
8.Alexander Shatilov5.86.7000.611.900

Still Rings FinalDENDScore
1.Eleftherios Petrounias6.39.16615.466
2.Kazuyuki Takeda6.18.66614.766
3.Yevgen Yudenkov6.18.13314.233
4.Shogo Nonomura6.27.93314.133
5.Konstantinos Konstantinidis5.78.10013.800
6.Tomi Tuuha4.88.50013.300
7.Oskar Kirmes4.88.43313.233
8.Rayderley Zapata4.55.4660.39.666

Parallel Bars FinalDENDScore
1.Liu Rongbing6.48.73315.133
2.He Youxiao6.48.46614.866
3.Shogo Nonomura6.38.40014.700
4.Yevgen Yudenkov5.68.73314.333
5.Kazuyuki Takeda6.37.96614.266
6.Tomas Kuzmickas4.68.40013.000
7.Alen Dimic5.57.23312.733
8.Murad Agharzayev4.77.90012.600
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