Publication date : 03/06/2018
Russia won two gold medals, Japan's Riri Kitazume captured the Individual Women's title and the Republic of Korea defended its Dance title on Saturday at the Aerobic Gymnastics World Championships in Guimarães (POR).
Saturday's competition at the Pavilhão Multiusos de Guimarães saw the finals contested in three events – Trio, Individual Women and Aerobic Dance– and the remaining qualification for Individual Men, Mixed Pairs and Group events. The team medals were also decided based on the qualification results.
Russia won four medals on the first day of finals, while China won three, Korea won two, and Italy, Japan, Korea and Romania each won one. During the second day of qualification, Russia earned the most berths to the remaining finals with four, while Bulgaria, China and Korea each earned three spots.
Kitazume claims Individual Women's crown
Riri Kitazume delivered a dynamic and joyful performance to win the Individual Women's title with a score of 22.000, improving from her first-place score of 21.550 from qualification. She once again outscored the field in the technical components for Difficulty, Artistry and Execution. Kitazume, 20, is only the second Japanese gymnast to win the Individual Women's World title following three-time World champion Yuriko Ito (1998, 1999, 2002).
Kitazume, who was overcome with tears as soon as she finished her routine, was delighted with her gold medal.
"I didn't expect it, but I did give 100 percent to my performance, so after that I felt very confident that I would win," said Kitazume, who trains at the same club as reigning Individual Men's World champion Mizuki Saito.
Anastasiia Ziubina (RUS), third in qualification, improved by .4 to take a surprise silver in her first time competing in the individual event at the World Championships.
"When I came to the World Championships, I was thinking only about making the final, not about being on the podium," she said. "I can't believe it."
Bronze medallist Anna Bullo (ITA), 19, was even more shocked by her medal, after earning the last spot in qualification in her first World Championships. Her parents travelled to Guimarães to watch her compete, but she was overwhelmed by the messages of congratulations from her sister and friends back home.
"I am so happy and very surprised!" said Bullo, who improved her score from 20.200 to 21.000 in the final. "I love you all!"
Russia wins first Trio title
Ziubina partnered with Ekaterina Pykhtova and Elena Ivanova to win the first Trio title for Russia, whose only medals in the event were bronzes won in 2000 and 2016. The Russians relied on excellent Artistry and Execution to take gold by just .116, with two Chinese squads in the other medal positions.
The Russian trio, who have been training together for seven years in Saint Petersburg, were seventh at the 2016 World Championships in Incheon (KOR).
"We're very, very happy because we have been trying so long to try to do it – [we've experienced] a lot of training and a lot of crying – and now we did it!" Ziubina said.
Tao Xu, Wang Haoyu and Xi Yuefeng (China 1) took silver in their first World Championships. The Chinese teams both shared the top Difficulty score in the final.
"We feel so good, so happy!" Xi said. "And very surprised."
Just seventh in qualification, Li Lingxiao, Ma Dong and Xu Xuesong (China 2) improved their score by .6 in the final to claim bronze. Like China 1, the trio has been working together for only four months.
"We're so excited," Xu said. "This is the first time we've been in the top three. It is a surprise, but not a very big surprise. We have some small issues in training. If we can resolve this, we can be on the top of the podium."
Republic of Korea defends Dance title
The Republic of Korea successfully defended their Aerobic Dance title from Incheon, albeit with an entirely new eight-member squad made up of Go Kyungmin, Kim Hanjin, Koh Eunbyeol, Kwon Taeyun, Park Yeon Sun, Ryu Jusun, Ryu Minji and Song Sungkyu.
"We feel very good – fantastic!" Ryu Jusun said. "We're very happy."
The squad members said they confidently expected to win, after working together five hours a day for five months .
Runner-up in Incheon, China (Fu Yao, Huang Chengkai, Huang Jing, Jiang Shuai, Wang Fei, Yang Qiaobo, Zhao Ming and Zhang Shouyi) again took second. Fu, Huang and Zhao were the only returning members of the silver medal-winning squad in Guimarães.
"We are happy of course!" laughed Jiang. "It wasn't much of a surprise though, since we were also second in qualification."
Added Yang, "But I think we can be the champion one day."
The Romanian team of Mădălina Cioveie, Andreea Darie, Sandra Dincă, Isabela Dumitraşcu, Denisa Ganea, Cristina Nedelcu, Flavia Sentea, and Steliana Stoenescu clinched another bronze medal, moving up one spot from qualification.
Cioveie, at 34 the second-oldest competitor at the World Championships, came out of retirement after seven years with the goal of helping Romania win a medal.
"It's the most beautiful feeling ever," said Cioveie, who won gold (Group) and silver (Trio) medals at the 2004 Worlds and a bronze (Trio) in 2006.
Saito ready to rout field
Japan's Saito delivered an exceptional routine to qualify first in the Individual Men's event, turning in the only performance yet in Guimarães to earn above 9.000 for both Artistic and Execution marks. With the high mark for difficulty as well, he led qualification by .850 over his nearest rivals, Lucas Barbosa (BRA) and Roman Semenov (RUS), whose tie was broken in favour of the Brazilian. If Saito wins, he will be the first to win back-to-back Individual Men's titles since Jonatan Cañada (ESP) – who is on hand in Guimarães as the official men's ambassador for the event – won his third World title in 2002.
Dániel Bali (HUN), Kim Hanjin (KOR), Iván Veloz (MEX), Antonio Papazov (BUL) and Wang Haoyu (CHN) rounded out the qualifiers to the final.
Italian Mixed Pair launch defence of title
Reigning World champions Michela Castoldi and Davide Donati (ITA) overcame pre-competition nerves to edge Dacian Barna and Andreea Bogati (ROU), 22.000-21.900 in the Mixed Pair qualification. Russians Dukhik Dzhanazian and Denis Solovev qualified third, two tenths back.
Dániel Bali and Fanni Mazács (HUN) qualified fourth over Ana-Maria Stoilova and Antonio Papazov (BUL) and Ryu Minji and Kwon Taeyun, with another Russian pair of Tatyana Konakova and Grigorii Shikhaleev and China's Wang Ke and Zhou Renjie also earning tickets to the final.
Russians top Group qualification
Russia (Garsevan Dzhanazian, Aleksei Germanov, Ilia Ostapenko, Roman Semenov, Denis Solovev) led the Group qualification in Guimarães, having placed seventh in 2016. The squad scored 22.200 to edge out Vietnam (Nguyen Viet Anh, Vuong Hoai An, Le Hoang Phong, Nguyen Che Thanh, Tran Ngoc Thuy Vi) for the top spot by a margin of just .033. Romania (Andreea Bogati, Dacian Barna, Gabriel Bocşer, Marian Broţei, Mihai Popa), the defending bronze medallists from 2016.
Russians rout field in team competition
Following the conclusion of the qualification events, the first medals of the competition were awarded in Guimarães. The Team contest at the Aerobic Gymnastics World Championships is calculated using a point system (1st place = 1 point) from a nation's six best rankings in qualification (five from Individual Men or Individual Women, Mixed Pair, Trio or Group; and the best ranking from either Aerobic Dance or Aerobic Step).
Russia, which entered athletes into all seven events in qualification, won the team title with 10 points. Fifth at the 2016 World Championships in Incheon, Russia sent the largest delegation of athletes to Guimarães and finished at least third in every event in qualification, including first place in Trio and Group. Korea won silver with 23 points and Romania won bronze (28 points), as the two countries swapped podium places from Incheon. Italy (28) finished fourth after losing a tie-break with Romania while defending champion China fell to fifth (32).
Competition concludes Sunday with the finals for the Individual Men, Mixed Pairs, Group, and Aerobic Step events.