2017 Worlds Championships News
Written by Amanda Turner    Tuesday, 03 October 2017 16:22    PDF Print
Worlds Preview: Women's Qualification, Session 2
(1 vote, average 5.00 out of 5)

Host Canada will share the spotlight with Russia in the second of five subdivisions of women's qualification as the 2017 World Championships continue Tuesday evening at the Olympic Stadium in Montreal. Pictured: Is a world medal in reach for Ellie Black?

Host Canada will share the spotlight with Russia in the second of five subdivisions of women's qualification as the 2017 World Championships continue Tuesday evening at the Olympic Stadium in Montreal.

Vault: South Africa, Vietnam and India

This group starts out on vault, where all six gymnasts will attempt two vaults. India sent two gymnasts to Montreal, but Olympic vault finalist Dipa Karmakar is absent. Karmakar is recovering from a leg injury and aiming for next year's Commonwealth Games in Australia.

South Africa's lineup includes Claudia Cummins, who was invited to compete at the 2016 Olympic Games as a continental representative for Africa, based on her finish at the 2015 World Championships in Glasgow. The South African Olympic Committee, however, declined the invitation, stating it would only support an athlete who qualified outright, a big disappointment for South African gymnastics.

Yelena Yeryomina (Russia) during podium training in Monteal

Uneven Bars: Belgium, Canada and Hong Kong

Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs, the bronze medalist on beam in 2006, is the only Canadian female to have won a world medal, but that could change in Montreal. The host Canadians have several shots at finals. Two-time Olympian Ellie Black was a close fifth in the all-around at last year's Olympics. She had the best meet of her life at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto, and a similar performance in Montreal could finally bring her a world medal or two. Shallon Olsen (vault) and Isabella Onyshko (balance beam) were Olympic finalists in Rio. First-year senior Brooklyn Moors, younger sister of 2012 Olympian Victoria Moors, is competing all-around in her world debut.

Belgium begins on its strongest event. The team headliner is Nina Derwael, who made history this spring by winning uneven bars at the European championships. She submitted a new skill, a Ricna-half (also submitted by Georgia-Mae Fenton of Great Britain, who performed it successfully in the first subdivision), which was given a difficulty rating of F.

Balance Beam: Israel and Russia

Russia starts on balance beam, where all-arounders Angelina Melnikova and Yelena Yeryomina both have potential for finals — if they hit. Melnikova has struggled all year with consistency in the all-around, though she managed to win floor exercise at Europeans. Yeryomina, a first-year senior, is a fun gymnast to watch but seems to lack confidence. A fall on beam left her in fourth all-around at Europeans, but she won the silver medal on uneven bars. Two-time Olympic vault medalist Maria Paseka is competing one event only, while first-year senior Anastasia Ilyankova is slated for bars and beam. Ilyankova is fantastic on uneven bars, but has been struggling with a back injury and was questionable for Montreal a few weeks ago.

Floor Exercise: Egypt and Portugal

Sherine El-Zeiny, a dual citizen of the Netherlands and Egypt, was the beneficiary of South Africa's decision not to send Cummins to Rio. El-Zeiny was given the invitation as the next ranked gymnast at the 2015 Worlds, and she competed in a third Olympic Games. Portugal's Ana Filipa Martins was 37th all-around in Rio, missing the qualification to the final, but she was a finalist at the 2014 Worlds, finishing a record 16th in the final.

Up next: Competition continues Wednesday morning with the Netherlands, Romania, and Switzerland in subdivision three.

Written by Amanda Turner    Tuesday, 03 October 2017 13:56    PDF Print
Worlds Preview: Women's Qualification, Session 1
(3 votes, average 4.00 out of 5)

Great Britain, Australia and Spain take the floor in the first of five subdivisions of women's qualification as the 2017 World Championships continue Tuesday afternoon at the Olympic Stadium in Montreal.

Great Britain, Australia and Spain take the floor in the first of five subdivisions of women's qualification as the 2017 World Championships continue Tuesday afternoon at the Olympic Stadium in Montreal.

Vault: Spain, Iceland and Venezuela

2016 Olympians Ana Pérez (Spain) and Irina Sazonova (Iceland) are in this rotation, but Venezuela will be without three-time Olympian Jessica López for the first time in a decade. López, 31, is now an assistant coach at the University of Denver. Newcomers Pamela Arriojas and Milca León will make their world debuts for Venezuela.

In addition to the Russian-born Sazonova, Iceland is represented by Hungarians Dominiqua Belányi and Ágnes Sütő-Tuuha. Sütő-Tuuha recently married Finnish gymnast Tomi Tuuha, who competed in the fourth subdivision of men's qualification this morning.

Uneven Bars:

2016 Olympian Toni-Ann Williams and her sister Maya Williams were on the roster for Jamaica, but scratched from the competition. However, Jamaica will be represented by Canadian Mackenzie Robinson, a dual citizen from Toronto who trains at Oakville Gymnastics Club.

Balance Beam: Latvia and Argentina

First-year senior Agustina Piso (second on beam at the 2017 South American Championships) is the top hope for Argentina, which sent four gymnasts, all world championships newcomers.

Floor Exercise: Great Britain and Australia

European champion Ellie Downie is out with injury, but Olympians Claudia Fragapane and Amy Tinkler (Olympic bronze medalist on floor exercise) are back for Great Britain, competing two events each. Alice Kinsella is doing the all-around. Georgia-Mae Fenton is a potential finalist on uneven bars, where she (and Nina Derwael of Belgium) submitted a new skill: Ricna-half to mixed-grip.

Great Britain is sharing a rotation with Commonwealth rival Australia, which sent three gymnasts. The three are all doing the all-around, and bars standout Rianna Mizzen is the best shot at an apparatus final.

Up next: Host Canada and Russia take the floor in second and final subdivision of the day!

Written by dwight normile    Tuesday, 03 October 2017 10:58    PDF Print
Uchimura's Exit Leaves Void and Opportunity
(2 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

Mark October 2 as the day the air escaped from the 2017 World Championships all-around competition for men. Like a balloon that had grown larger since 2009, when Kohei Uchimura won his first of six straight world all-around titles, it suddenly burst when he landed his vault a bit low, the rubber remnants disappearing into the blackness of the arena.

Kohei Uchimura (Japan)

On his second event in qualifications, Uchimura performed a roundoff half-on to the table, front layout with 2.5 twists (Li Xiaopeng), a vault that lacked his usual amplitude. Still, he presented himself to the judges and then limped off the podium on a tender left ankle.

"I had to twist after failing to reach high enough," the 28-year-old Uchimura told The Japan News. “That led to the injury. I accept that it’s over now.”

No tantrum accompanied his exit. No over-the-top reaction. Just a blank gaze of disappointment.

Uchimura, who grew up in his parents' gym in Nagasaki, gamely competed in the third rotation on parallel bars, but the routine lacked his usual crispness. A few bent arms and another painful landing after his double pike dismount. An anti-climactic end to a streak that may never be matched. Let's not forget that he also won the all-around titles at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics. He's undefeated during the last eight years.

Uchimura's goal, however, was never to go on such a lengthy winning streak in the all-around. His primary mission was always to the win the team title, which continued to escape him until the 2015 Worlds in Glasgow. The most crushing loss came the year before in Nanning, China, when the host team won by 0.1. Uchimura's dream came true again in Rio, where Japan won its first Olympic team gold since the 2004 Athens Games.

It was only fitting that Russia and China, silver and bronze medalists, respectively, in Rio, were in the same qualifying session as Japan. Canada was there too, which certainly brought more fans to witness a different shade of history.

Manrique Larduet leads the all-around standings. The Cuban talent can feel Uchimura's pain, though. He suffered a similar injury in Rio, where he only did rings and vault in the all-around final and placed last.

Xiao Ruoteng of China and David Belyavsky of Russia sit in second and third, respectively, while Kenzo Shirai, Uchimura's teammate, lurks in fourth. Oleg Vernyayev of Ukraine, who placed second to King Kohei in Rio by less than 0.1, had an off day to place fifth. He's followed by Lin Chaopan of China, who placed fifth in Rio, while U.S. champion Yul Moldauer finished seventh.

Just as in the women's all-around, a new men's champion will be crowned in Montreal. Question is, Who's willing to go out there and grab it?

It is difficult to measure the vast void Uchimura leaves. He could return at the 2018 Worlds in Doha, Qatar, and most likely will. He's a gym rat, after all.

The streak, of course, will stay home.

Written by Amanda Turner    Tuesday, 03 October 2017 07:30    PDF Print
Worlds Preview: Men's Qualification, Session 4
(1 vote, average 5.00 out of 5)

Three 2012 Olympic champions headline the fourth and final subdivision of men's qualification as the 2017 World Championships continue Tuesday morning at the Olympic Stadium in Montreal.

Three 2012 Olympic champions headline the fourth and final subdivision of men's qualification as the 2017 World Championships continue Tuesday morning at the Olympic Stadium in Montreal.

Floor Exercise: New Zealand and Brazil

After reaching its goal of qualifying a full team for the 2016 Olympics in Rio — where they finished sixth and picked up three individual medals — the Brazilian men are in a rebuilding phase as they focus on sending another full team to Tokyo. Brazil sent only four male gymnasts but are down to three after Francisco Barretto Junior, fifth on high bar in Rio, scratched. 2012 Olympic still rings champion Arthur Zanetti, second in Rio, is the biggest name on the team. Arthur Mariano, the bronze medalist on floor in Rio, is doing two events. Caio Souza is competing the all-around.

New Zealand entered five gymnasts, a solid sign in the growth of their program. 2016 Olympian Misha Koudinov is competing three events only: rings, parallel bars and high bar.

Pommel Horse: Netherlands, Sri Lanka and Ireland

The Dutch sent a full contingent of six gymnasts. 2012 Olympic high bar champion Epke Zonderland is still going strong as he pushes toward a fourth Olympics and should qualify to the high bar final if he hits.

Ireland's Rhys McClenaghan, who made history in 2016 with the silver medal on pommel horse at the Junior European Championships, is competing in his first worlds.

Still Rings: Turkey, Italy and Chile

Turkey is an expanding program and are frequent finalists at World Cup events, and a final in Montreal is a real possibility. Italy, also rebuilding after failing to qualify to Rio, sent only three gymnasts.

Two-time Olympian Tomás González, a finalist in London and Rio, is still competing at 31, and is now president of the Chilean Gymnastics Federation.

Vault: Austria, Colombia and Slovakia

Colombian veteran Jossimar Calvo headlines this group, and after several world finals, is still searching for his first world medal. Parallel bars and high bar are his best events, and he should factor in the all-around as well.

Parallel Bars: Korea, Lithuania and Jordan

Yang Hak Seon is finally back for Korea. The two-time world vault champion and 2012 Olympic champion missed the 2015 Worlds (torn hamstring) and 2016 Olympics (torn Achilles). He's planning on doing two vaults, but he will have to be back to perfect form to regain his title. Day one showed a lot of gymnasts were having trouble getting the block they needed on vault.

High Bar: Finland, Panama and Peru

Finland sent six gymnasts, including top all-arounder Oskar Kirmes and former European vault champion Tomi Tuuha (now married to Icelandic gymnast Ágnes Sütő-Tuuha, who competes in the next subdivision). Group six also includes Peru and the Czech Republic. 2016 Czech Olympian David Jessen's mother, Hana Říčná, won the bronze medal on uneven bars 32 years ago at the world championships in Montreal.

Up next: Great Britain, Australia and Spain take the floor in the first of five subdivisions of qualification.

Written by Amanda Turner    Monday, 02 October 2017 23:28    PDF Print
Shock as Injured Uchimura Out of Worlds
(2 votes, average 3.00 out of 5)

Japan's Kohei Uchimura's quest for a seventh consecutive world all-around title ended shortly after it began Monday during qualification at the 2017 World Gymnastics Championships in Montreal after he was injured on vault.

Japan's Kohei Uchimura's quest for a seventh consecutive world all-around title ended shortly after it began Monday during qualification at the 2017 World Gymnastics Championships in Montreal.

After taking just a small hop on his Li Xiaopeng vault in the second rotation, the 28-year-old Uchimura turned to bow to the judges and then stopped to inspect his left ankle as he walked off the mat. After a few steps, he stopped again and grabbed his ankle, and then limped back and forth, seeming unsure what to do as medical support team came to his aid and eventually helped him off the podium.

Uchimura after his vault

After treatment on his ankle, Uchimura pushed forward to parallel bars, but there was no question he was injured as he limped to the apparatus. His pain on landing his double pike dismount was obvious, as was the choice to withdraw as he hopped across the podium, giving a shrug to his coach.

After scratching from high bar and floor exercise, Uchimura tried to still compete on pommel horse, but the pain was too much. On crutches, Uchimura later spoke to the media, apologizing to his fans and his teammates for withdrawing. He also vowed to make a full comeback.

Since finishing second at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, Uchimura has dominated the sport like no gymnast, male or female, in history. Dubbed "Superman" and "King Kohei," there are few who argue Kohei Uchimura isn't the greatest gymnast the world has ever seen. He has been undefeated in all-around finals since Beijing, racking up six consecutive world all-around titles and back-to-back Olympic crowns in 2012 and 2016. In 2011, he became the first male gymnast to win three world all-around titles, matching the record set by Russian Svetlana Khorkina (1997, 2001, 2003). In 2013, Uchimura won an unprecedented fourth world all-around title, followed by a fifth in 2014 and a sixth in 2015.

Despite suffering from shoulder, back and ankle injuries over the years, Uchimura has hardly taken a break, remaining undefeated as well at domestic meets in Japan. Except for the world championships and Olympic Games, he rarely competes in international competition, but competes at all the major domestic competitions in Japan, where he represents the KONAMI club. According to Japanese media, he has secured 40 consecutive victories since winning the All-Japan Championship in November 2008.

Uchimura's victory last summer was his narrowest yet, defeating Ukrainian Oleg Vernyayev by a mere .099 in a thrilling Olympic all-around final in Rio de Janeiro. With the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, there was no talk of retirement for Uchimura and he initially planned to become an event specialist, leaving an undefeated legacy. But he soon shelved his plans and decided to continue in the all-around, aiming for yet another unprecedented victory in Montreal.

Cuban Manrique Larduet (86.699), second to Uchimura in Glasgow, leads the all-around qualification after three of four subdivisions of qualification. China's Xiao Ruoteng (86.297) is second ahead of Russia's David Belyavsky (85.839). Japan's Kenzo Shirai is fourth (85.697) but would have been first if he had not fallen from high bar, while Vernyayev is in fifth (85.431).

Whether or not Uchimura could win yet again in Montreal was the most exciting storyline of these world championships. But with his absence from the all-around final, two things are now certain: there will be a new men's world champion for the first time in eight years, and Kohei Uchimura will remain undefeated. King Kohei won't be dethroned, but for now at least, he has abdicated his crown.

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