Olympic champions, newcomers shine in AGF Trophy finals in Azerbaijan20/03/2017
Four Olympic champions and a host of talented newcomers took gold as the AGF Trophy, an FIG Individual Apparatus World Cup, event concluded Sunday in Baku (AZE).
The generation that gets better with age
After leaving Rio last summer without a shiny souvenir of her visit, five-time Olympic medallist Catalina Ponor is proving she’s not done yet. In her 2017 debut, Ponor shot to the top of the scoreboard on Balance Beam and Floor Exercise in both qualifications and finals. The stalwart of the Romanian team, 29, is preparing for next month’s European Championships, which will be held in Romania for the first time in 60 years.
With a record seven Olympic Games under her belt, 41-year-old Oksana Chusovitina of Uzbekistan shows no signs of slowing down either. The 1992 Olympic team gold medallist blasted her competition on Vault with a solid performance, even if she didn’t attempt the uber-difficult Produnova vault that she showed last summer in Rio.
Petrounias, Lord of the Rings
Eleftherios Petrounias has been firm that for him, Olympic gold in Rio was a departure, not a destination. The Greek, who ascended to the “Lord of the Rings” title as the best in the world since 2015, proved once again that on his best event, he is the strongest of them all. This time around, he proved his might against challengers from Japan and Ukraine. At the European Championships, he will face off against other strongmen.
The march of the newcomers
The Olympic champions had their say on their signature events, but elsewhere, newcomers walked off with gold. Ukraine’s Diana Varinska, a first-year senior in her first World Cup competition, showed lovely line and form in winning the Uneven Bars title, sparking questions about a Ukrainian resurgence in Women’s Gymnastics.
Elsewhere, China’s Weng Hao defeated 2012 Olympic champion Krisztian Berki for gold on Pommel Horse, and his teammate Liu Rongbing took the title on Parallel Bars. Lithuania’s Tomas Kuzmickas, who took part in three event finals, was compensated with gold on Floor Exercise and bronze on Horizontal Bar. And after finishing second on Vault before his home crowd in Melbourne a month ago, Australian Chris Remkes finally got his gold.
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.
Full results from the AGF Trophy: bit.ly/2nelTPT. Photo courtesy Azerbaijan Gymnastics Federation.