Monday 30 July 2012

Magic Moments Monday

The dawning of Olympic magic

Amidst the excitement and shocks of yesterday's qualification competition there were some absolutely stunning performances. Here is a quick look at some of the magic from the beginning of the gymnastics competition.

Beth Tweddle
Beth gave an absolutely stunning performance on bars yesterday to post the top score across the whole of qualifying of 16.133. She has worked incredibly hard to come back from knee surgery earlier this year and it has certainly paid off. Her bars routine yesterday was the best I have seen her perform recently, hitting her connections and showing great execution. The home crowd cheered her along all the way and were delighted with her performance. I am really looking forward to seeing her perform this routine again both in the team final and the event final for which she qualified first.

McKayla Maroney
All four American gymnasts who vaulted in yesterday's competition did the Amanar vault and the lowest score (and the score they dropped) was an incredible 15.800. But it was of course McKayla Maroney who was the vault star of Team USA. Vaulting on an injured foot, she still managed to post a score of 15.900 for her first vault, the Amanar, then went on to compete her second vault, the Mustafina. On this second vault she was given an execution score of 9.600 which I believe is the highest E score of the whole qualifying competition. A total score of 15.700 for this second vault gave her an average of 15.800 putting her firmly in the lead of the vault qualification, almost 0.500 ahead of the second place qualifier. I cannot wait to see her perform these two vaults again in the vault final.

Asuka Teramoto
This Japanese gymnast was one of the real surprises of qualification, and all of her routines were a highlight for me. This slight gymnast impressed everyone by hitting four beautiful routines to finish 8th all around, well ahead of her better known team mate Rie Tanaka, and qualify strongly for the all around final. She showed great skill and elegance in all of her routines and is definitely one to watch out for in the all around final.

Sui Lu
Having seen Sui Lu's new floor routine in training I was not expecting to be overly impressed with it but, on the big occasion, she rose up and performed it beautifully. It was her beam routine that impressed me the most though, and was a routine worthy of the reigning World Champion on beam. She is exquisite to watch on this apparatus, combining great skill with a fluency and ease of movement that makes it look effortless. She posted the highest beam score of the day with a 15.400 and sailed through into the beam finals almost 0.150 above the second highest qualifier. This may not seem like a big advantage, but the difference between the 1st and 8th highest scores on beam was less than 0.400!

Ana Sofia Gomez Porras
This Guatemalan gymnast was earmarked as one to watch this Olympic Games, but I think few of us expected her to excel the way she did yesterday. She comes from a country with very little gymnastics background but has obviously worked very hard to put herself on the map. She performed absolutely beautifully in qualification to finish 16th all around. I really hope she continues to shine in the all around competition and I am looking forward to seeing much more of this young gymnast.

Vasiliki Millousi
This Greek gymnast really is something special to watch, especially on beam. I was really disappointed to find out that she had not qualified for the beam final as I was really impressed with her skill and execution during her beam routine yesterday. She has lovely grace and elegance on this apparatus and is a delight to watch. She also impressed me on floor with yet another beautifully elegant and stylish routine. It is so unfortunate that she has not qualified to any of the finals as I would have loved to see more of her this competition. It is sad to think that her Olympics is already over.

There were so many magic moments from yesterday, but these were some of the absolute highlights for me. I am excited to think about how many more there will be to come over the next week.

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