Saturday, 2 August 2014

TEAM TALENT

Commonwealth Team Final

The pressure was on for the teams as they battled their way for glory in the team final. With England, Australia and Canada all fighting for the top of the podium, it was a question of which team could keep their nerves under control. With qualification being split over two days it would prove to be a great test of stamina as well as nerve.

England
It was, of course, England's day and they rose to the challenge magnificently. They set the benchmark at the end of Day 1 and led the rest of the teams by over a whole mark. With a 1 1/2 twisting Yurchenko and three DTYs on vault this was perhaps hardly surprising, especially as they were all very good vaults. It was then on to bars, were Becky and Ruby pulled out their usual stunning routines to set the score that neither Canada nor Australia could match. On to Day 2 and there were some worrying moments on beam. Claudia pulled off a fantastic routine to keep England in contention, then proceeded to follow that with her spectacular floor routine. With solid performances from the rest of the team on floor, the target was set for the other teams to try and beat. I have to say, I have never seen the England team looking as strong and confident as they did in this team final. They knew what they wanted to achieve and they knew they had the routines with which to achieve it. They held it together and did not let small mistakes put them off. A very strong competition and a very well deserved Gold medal.

Australia
Having won the team title at the last 4 Commonwealth Games, Australia must have been desperate to carry on their winning streak. With most of the Australian team only performing relatively simple vaults, it was a quiet start for them. On bars however, it was a different story. They exploded into the second rotation with some fabulous routines and plenty of difficulty. By the end of Day 1 it was still all to play for. Unfortunately, they were unable to keep the momentum going on Day 2. After a disastrous beam rotation, they could only hope to claw their way back into contention on floor. Their floor star, Lauren Mitchell, certainly gave it her all, but there were mistakes in their other routines and they had to settle for Silver. There was the promise of some really nice work from the Australian girls and I especially loved watching their bars. It was a shame to see so many mistakes from a team that was capable of much more.

Wales
Wales really were the surprise of the team final, coming through from the 3rd of 8 subdivisions to claim the Bronze medal. Always likely to be a strong team, they kept their nerve when others around them faltered and posted a score at the end of Day 2 that others would be unable to beat. What I loved best was seeing the reaction of the team in the stands when they found out they were going to be taking home a Commonwealth Team medal - it was sheer joy and disbelief, and a delight to see.

Canada
With the late withdrawal of Victoria Moors, Canada were not as strong a team as they might have hoped to be, but they really seemed to struggle throughout the team competition. Problems came on almost every apparatus and even their most experienced gymnast, Ellie Black, was not immune to the troubles and added to the falls. It was a shame for the Canadians, they will have come into the competition hoping for a medal and will no doubt be sorely disappointed to finish in fourth. There was some lovely work from some great gymnasts in amongst the problems, but unfortunately for Canada it was not their day.

Scotland
The hosting nation were received by roars from the crowd all the way through and put in some good work to see them finish in a very creditable 5th position. They all seemed to rise to the occasion and were spurred on by the cheering crowd and they looked like they were thoroughly enjoying themselves.


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