Publication date : 15/04/2018
The final day of the 26th FIG Acrobatic Gymnastics World Championships in Antwerp, Belgium had it all, superlative performance, home success and surprise new champions yet still the incomparable Marina Chernova (RUS) managed to shine the brightest.
The Russian superstar became the first person in the 44-year history of Acro World Championships to win three Mixed Pair gold medals. Ultimately, it was current partner Georgii Pataraia, who best put her achievements into context.
“She is the best,” he said simply. “She has got the best results for many years, maybe she is the best ever, in modern times, I think so.”
The duo currently exist in a league of their own. Their routine for the final had a difficulty rating more than half a point higher than any of their competitors and yet they comfortably secured the highest execution score. Together it amounted to a mark of 30.640, a whopping 1.31 points ahead of Belarus’s Hanna Kasyan and Konstantin Evstafeev in second.
“Each medal has been different, each one has been good,” Chernova said. “There are different emotions but they are very big each time.”
Worryingly for their opponents, the diminutive Russian has no plans to retire.
“I’m very tired,” she laughed, “But we want to continue.”
Home hopes deliver to send crowd wild
While the packed house at the Lotto Arena showed its appreciation for Chernova and Pataraia’s extraordinary efforts, the decibel levels went through the roof when Belgian Mixed Pair Marte Snoeck and Bram Roettger finally gave them what they really wanted; a medal.
“I don’t think I have ever heard a noise like it, when the score came out,” Roettger said, after he and Snoeck recorded a huge personal best of 29.180 to win bronze. “I can’t believe it, we have never even come close to this score.”
Belgium’s Men’s Group took full advantage of the fevered atmosphere, as they followed Roettger and Snoeck straight on to the mat. The quartet’s score of 29.040 was not quite good enough for a second home medal of the day, but the sight of flier Raj Noam Patel moonwalking across the stage to a medley of Michael Jackson hits was undoubtedly one of the highlights of the Championships.
Israel score historic first in top quality Men’s Group final
A remarkably high level of competition followed in the Men’s Group, with three teams recording scores above the magical 30.000 mark. Performing last, an emotional Israel secured their first ever World Championship gold, finishing 0.31 points ahead of pre-final favourites, China.
“We have been thinking about this every day for two years,” Daniel Uralevitch (ISR) said, having won silver at the 2016 World Championships. “This opens doors in Israel in every way, it’s history, it says that anything is possible and that Israel is on the map in Acro.
“All the time we have been quite close to them (China) so we knew it was possible to do it. We were just waiting for the score to see if the judges agreed with us and today they did.”
Russia finished in third, with a score of 30.130.
‘Double Darias’ delight fans with second consecutive World title
While the Championships closed with Israel’s historic first gold, the final day of competition had opened in a manner similar to many others, with Russian athletes proudly finishing atop the podium.
Daria Guryeva and Daria Kalinina (RUS) proved their mastery of the Women’s Pair category with a captivating display of grace and elegant power. The defending world champions retained their title with relative ease, finishing close to a point clear of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea duo, Jong Kum Hwa and Pyon Yun Ae.
“There were no nerves,” Guryeva said. “That was our best performance of the whole week, it’s a great arena, so much noise.”
Israel’s bronze medal winner, Roni Surzon gave her own awed appraisal of the famed ‘Double Darias’.
“It is such a high level, their difficulty and execution is so good,” she said.
Russia reign supreme… again
For the 10th World Championships in succession, Russia walked away with the team title. All three Russian Groups finished first in their categories, with Israel, led by their famed Men’s Group, claiming silver and Belarus taking the bronze medal.
With five golds and a bronze medal Russia finished in its habitual position, top of the medals table. Despite strong challenges from the ever-creative Israelis, the vibrant Belarusians and the precise Chinese, the powerhouse remains streets ahead of the rest.