Sunday, 7 July 2013

STUDENTS OF THE SPORT

2013 Summer Universiade

Today saw the start of the women's gymnastics competition in Kazan, Russia, as part of the 2013 Universiade. Often known as the World University Games or the World Student Games, the Universiade is a competition for all athletes studying at university.

65 gymnasts, representing 25 countries, started their bid for student glory today with the Team Final and qualification for the All Around and Apparatus Finals. There were many big names in the Kazan Arena, including several Olympians: Aliya Mustafina, Kseniia Afanaseva, Maria Paseka, Hannah Whelan, Elsabeth Black, Kim Bui, Yu Minobe and Elsa Garcia were among the familiar names from London 2012.

The Russians always looked set to dominate in front of their home crowd with their whole team of five gymnasts all having at least one European, World or Olympic medal each. They did not disappoint, winning the Team Final in some style with a lead of over 10 points. Aliya Mustafina topped the qualification for the All Around as well as qualifying to the Bars, Beam and Floor Finals. Each of the Russian team qualified to at least one final and between them they top all of the qualification results. I particularly enjoyed seeing Anna Dementyeva competing again, a gymnast I thoroughly enjoyed watching at the 2010 Europeans and who performed beautifully today, especially on beam where she tops the qualifications.

The Japanese team took Silver in the Team competition with clean and elegant routines, and the German team powered their way into third place. Yu Minobe was particularly impressive for Japan: with the 6th highest All Around score of the day she easily qualified for the All Around as well as the Bars, Beam and Floor finals. For Germany, Kim Bui, Lisa Katharina Hill and Pia Tolle all worked exceptionally well and all qualified to at least one Final.

The British team finished the day in 6th place with some solid performances from all four members of the team. Rebecca Hall followed up a good British Championships with three steady routines today on vault, beam and floor, having recovered from shoulder injury. Charlotte Lindsley gave four solid performances to earn her a place in the All Around Final where she will join team mate Hannah Whelan, who qualified in 9th place. UCLA student Danusia Francis proved that her year of NCAA gymnastics in America has served her well by qualifying in 3rd place for the floor final.

Other notable gymnasts today were Elsabeth Black of Canada and Elsa Garcia of Mexico. Both of these Olympians gave some great performances today to qualify for various finals. Elsabeth Black qualified in 4th place for the All Around Final as well as making the Vault, Beam and Floor Finals. Elsa Garcia qualified to the All Around in third and qualified to the Vault, Bars and Floor Final.

With so many big names to look out for, the next few days of competition look set to be very exciting. The All Around Final will take place on Tuesday 9th July (3pm Russian time, 12pm BST) and the Apparatus Finals on Wednesday 10th July (3.30pm Russian time, 12.30 pm BST). A live stream was available for some of the qualifying competition today and hopefully some of the finals will also be shown live on Live FSU.

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