2013 Universiade Apparatus Finals
Yesterday saw the final day of competition for the gymnasts in the 2013 Summer Universiade. After three days of competition, a full day of Apparatus Finals was scheduled to round off the competition. This was always going to be a tough day as most of the gymnasts had been competing all week and many had multiple finals throughout the day.
Things were looking pretty good for Russia here as Maria Paseka (Olympic Bronze medallist on Vault) had qualified to the final in first place. She did not disappoint, opening with perhaps the cleanest Amanar we have ever seen her perform. Another good vault set a benchmark for the rest of the field that would be difficult to pass - or so we thought. Who would have believed that team mate Kseniia Afanaseva would suddenly produce not just an Amanar but a beautiful one, combined with an equally impressive second vault? The Russian crowd were thrilled and so was she - taking the lead and putting Russia in 1st and 2nd. The party was almost spoiled by DPR Korea's Hong Un Jong who performed two spectacurlarly difficult vaults very nicely. Her difficulty was the key and she managed to take joint first with Kseniia Afanaseva, with Maria Paseka taking the Silver.
Uneven Bars Final
Russian expectation of Gold were supremely high on this apparatus and justifiably so. Aliya Mustafina's score had been creeping increasingly higher all week and it seemed that the top spot could only be hers to lose. The first gymnast up, she once again performed a beautiful routine to score a massive 15.200. From there it was merely a case of who could come close enough to take Silver and Bronze. In the end it was yet another 1-2 for Russia with Tatiana Nabieva showing a lovely routine to clinch the Silver. Germany's Lisa Hill completed the podium with her well executed routine.
With Anna Dementyeva and Aliya Mustafina posting the top two beam scores in qualification, Russia were hoping to continue the Gold rush, having claimed every Gold medal in the women's competition so far. I must say I was rooting for Anna Dementyeva. It has been a while since we have seen her compete and I really love her style. She was the first one to perform, but unfortunately came to grief on her round off-layout. The rest of her routine was lovely, but the fall saw her end up down in 5th. Aliya Mustafina improved on her performance in the All Around, managing to stay on the beam, but there were wobbles. She took the lead, but her score was definitely beatable. Elsabeth Black of Canada performed a great routine and slotted in just behind Aliya. With only a couple of gymnasts left to go, another Russian Gold was looking possible. Yelinzi Zhang of China had other ideas though. She performed a spectacularly difficult routine to snatch the Gold away from Russia with a massive score of 15.150. Aliya Mustafina had to settle for the Silver and Ellie Black took the Bronze.
With Kseniia Afanaseva's beautiful floor work, surely this could only be another Gold medal for Russia? She was first up, but could not match the precise tumbling of earlier in the week, landing her first pass completely out of the area and taking another step out of bounds later in the routine. Her exquisite dance work and supreme difficulty still saw her post a good 14.350 though. Aliya Mustafina was trying for another medal on floor, but this proved to be a step too far for her. She looked unsteady throughout and then put her hands down on her final tumbling pass. Elsabeth Black continued her medal streak, performing a lovely routine to take the Silver medal. Elsa Garcia of Mexico, who had impressed so much in qualifying, had withdrawn from two of her three event finals to focus solely on the floor. This proved to be a good move as she gave a brilliant performance to take the final place on the podium, meaning that Kseniia Afanaseva had indeed done enough to take the Gold. GB's Danusia Francis also gave a great performance with her usual delightful mix of good tumbling and stylish dance work. She finished in 6th place.
For me, the star of the day was undoubtedly Russia's Kseniia Afanaseva. Not only did she continue to impress me with her gorgeous floor work, her vaults had me taken aback. She looked and performed like a champion today. I was also delighted to see Elsabeth Black do well, she has a lovely style and is delightful to watch. It was also nice to see Elsa Garcia back on form and taking a much deserved medal. And of course Danusia Francis, who I always love to watch on floor, and she certainly did not disappoint with her stunning floor routine.