Snel, de Smedt strike gold for Belgium at World Acro Championships12/07/2014
They told themselves going into it that it might be their last competition. That's one reason why the gold medal in Women's Pairs is so sweet for Belgians Eline de Smedt and Nikki Snel, who took the first title up for grabs Friday at the World Acrobatic Gymnastics Championships in Levallois (FRA).
|Eline de Smedt and Nikki Snel won gold for Belgium in Women's Pairs at the World Acro Championships Friday in Levallois (FRA). Russia's Valentina Kim and Elizaveta Dubrovina took silver, and Léa Roussel and Claire Philouze of France bronze.|
Winning a World title has not erased any of the Belgian Pair's humility. Even after leading throughout the qualifying rounds, "I didn't expect it," said de Smedt, who has been training with Snel for five years.
"We hoped to win, but if we had made even a little mistake, we might have been last," her partner added.
That might be exaggerating things a bit. The Belgians delivered their spicy Spanish-flavored routine with exceptional precision, pulling the audience in as much with the choreography as with their balances and acrobatics. Snel and de Smedt, who performed last among the six Women's Pairs in the final, won with a whopping 28.525 points, more than a point and a half over Russia's Valentina Kim and Elizaveta Dubrovina, who improved from fourth at the 2012 World Acro Championships to take silver medal with a highly dramatic Combined exercise.
Belarus's Marharyta Bartashevich and Viktoriya Mikhnovich were initially awarded bronze with 26.715 points, edging French surprises Léa Roussel and Claire Philouze, who scored 26.575. To the delight of the pro-French crowd who packed the Marcel Cerdan Sports Palace, after the competition was complete the judges revised the Belarussian pair's score to reflect the fact that they had not finished in time with their music, normally a 0.3 deduction. That dropped Bartashevich and Mikhnovich to 26.415 points, giving France a most unexpected bronze.
The medal is historic for France, especially at a time when financial worries surround the future of the national Acrobatics team. Philouze and Roussel's bronze is France's first-ever medal in Women's Pairs and the first medal in Acro since 1989.
For Snel and de Smedt, was it really their swansong? Women's Pairs are not on the program for next year's European Games, meaning it would be another two years before they would have another chance on the World stage. That's a bit much for Smedt, who is now studying at university, and they said before the competition that they were planning on retirement.
Still, never say never.
Competition concludes at the 2014 World Acrobatic Gymnastics Championships in Levallois on Saturday, with finals for Mixed Pair, Women's Trio and Men's Group. Detailed results can be found here.
|10/07/2014 12/07/2014||24th Acrobatic Gymnastics World Championships 2014||LEVALLOIS (FRA)||ACRO|