Olympic champions brilliant in Baku World Cup qualifications17/03/2017
Triple Olympic gold medallist Catalina Ponor (ROU) topped the standings Balance Beam and Floor Exercise as qualifications concluded Friday at the the AGF Trophy, an FIG Individual Apparatus World Cup event in Baku (AZE).
Ponor was one of four Olympic champions to qualify in first place for this weekend’s finals. In his first international outing of the year, Rio Still Rings champion Eleftherios Petrounias (GRE), showed a polished and precise exercise on his specialty for the top score. 2012 Olympic Pommel Horse champion Krisztian Berki (HUN) also successfully swung a complicated set to dust his competition.
Three months shy of her 42nd birthday, the eternally young Oksana Chusovitina (UZB), whose Olympic gold came with the Unified Team in 1992, was up to her usual standard on Vault where she too qualified first. Chusovitina did not attempt the demanding Produnova vault that she showed at last summer’s Olympics, and she didn't need to - her go-to vaults were more than enough to put her above the rest of the field.
France’s Zachari Hrimeche and Edgar Boulet, two of the up-and-coming generation of French gymnasts, rose to the top of the scoreboard on Men’s Vault and Horizontal Bar, respectively, while first-year senior Diana Varinska of Ukraine was the best on Uneven Bars. China’s Liu Rongbing took top honours on Parallel Bars.
In a coup for the host country, Azerbaijan’s Murad Agharzayev qualified first on Floor Exercise in only his second World Cup appearance. Agharzayev isn’t the only Azerbaijani in medal contention: Marina Nekrasova finished second in the Women’s Floor Exercise behind Ponor, and third on Vault.
Competition continues Saturday and Sunday with event finals in Baku. Full results from qualification: bit.ly/2nelTPT
The AGF Trophy World Cup is part of the two-year FIG Individual Apparatus World Cup circuit, which began in November 2016 and will conclude in March 2018. Based on their rankings at World Cup stops gain points in the Individual Apparatus World Cup standings. The gymnast with the highest points total on each event at the end of the series is crowned World Cup champion on that event. The next stop on the Individual Apparatus circuit is Doha (QAT) March 22-25.