Great Britain, Russia, China golden as World Acro Championships end in Levallois12/07/2014
Russia, China and Great Britain each won one gold medal as competition ended Saturday night at the World Acrobatic Gymnastics Championships in Levallois (FRA), just northwest of Paris. After a Russian victory in Men’s Pairs and a Belgian one in Women’s Pairs on Friday, here’s a wrap of the finals of the other three categories:
|The medal podium in Mixed Pairs.|
Competing in his fifth and her first World Championships, 28-year-old Russian veteran Revaz Gurgenidze and partner Marina Chernova brought the Mixed Pairs title back to Russia for the first time since 2008, at the same time winning veteran Gurgenidze's first World gold since 2006.
The Russian pair, the unquestioned leaders after their Dynamic and Balance routines during Friday's qualification round, suffered a psychological setback after finishing second in the Combined exercise to Great Britain's Alice Upcott and Dominic Smith in their final qualifying performance Saturday morning. While scores for all three exercises are tallied to determine who makes it into the final, gymnasts repeat only their Combined exercise in finals, where the highest score wins.
"I thought, 'God help us,'" Gurgenidze said after learning of the British Pair's Combined routine qualifying score. Performing their highly dramatic routine as the last of eight pairs in the final was "not really comfortable like in the preliminary competitions," he added, but the Russians were able to deliver, turning the tide back in their favor with a performance filled with drama, expression and highly difficult balance and throwing skills for 29.610, a score that appeared after several tense moments of waiting.
"I feel so happy," added Chernova, who has been working with Gurgenidze since 2013. Of their emotional reaction to receiving their score and learning they had won, she added, "All of a sudden you're crying and you can't help it."
Britain's Upcott and Smith, the reigning World Games champions, took a different tack, opting to show a softer routine that no less conveyed an enormous amount of passion. Their silver medal (29.520) was "pretty awesome," said Upcott, who is leaving the world of Acrobatic gymnastics to go on tour with Michael Flatley's "Lord of the Dance," where she will join the show as a contortionist. Though she doesn't rule out a return to competition at some point, Upcott is looking forward to a new chapter in her life and tried not to get emotional about a last performance with Smith.
|The medal podium in Women's Trio.|
"Obviously it was a bit sad, but we did the best routine we could," she said. "We were over the moon. Right now, I don't know, we have mixed emotions all over. I'm sad, but I'm also happy. Pleased, that's the main thing. Pleased."
Americans Kiley Boynton and Ryan Ward showed an excellent elegant Combined routine to take bronze (29.360).
Men's and Women's Groups
Following bronze in Men's Pair and silver in Mixed Pair, British fans were hungering for a gold by the time Trio Millie Spalding, Elise Matthews and Georgia Lancaster took the floor for their final performance.
The British Trio surged ahead of top qualifiers Russia (Valeriia Belkina, Viktoria Ilicheva and Alena Kholod) only in the final, their fast-paced tango scoring 28.310 to Russia's equally blink-and-you'll-miss-something performance (28.150). The artistic, inventive Belgian Trio (Julie van Gelder, Ineke van Schoor and Kaat Dumarey) gave a polished performance to Spanish-tehemed music to secure the bronze (27.940).
"It's been a long, difficult journey," said British Trio member Matthews, who works for the Royal Bank of Scotland when she's not training. "We just wanted to come nad do the best we could, and the results paid off."
British Men's Group George Wood, Connor Bartlett, Gareth Wood and Daniel Cook, who had dominated in World Cup competitions in 2014, had hoped for the same result, and delivred an extremely crowd-pleasing routine in the final. Britain's campaign began with a fall during their Dynamic performance in qualifications, but the reigning Junior European champions quickly bounced back, and there was no doubt that they belonged on the medal stand after their final routine.
|The Men's Groups medallists.|
Had it not been for the World champion Chinese Group (Tang Jian, Zhou Yi, Wang Lei and Wu Yeqiuyin), they would have had it.
But the Chinese, whose innovative throws and pyramids set them apart from the beginning, simply refused to stand down. The Group, who have declared that the Levallois Worlds will be their final performance together, briefly ceded the lead to Great Britain Friday following their Balance routine, but their Combined (29.770 in prelims, the highest score of the entire competition) left little doubt that they could win if they did the same in finals. (They did, scoring 29.620, with Britain just a hair behind with 29.480.)
"In our heart of hearts, we were always pushing for first," Cook said after the competition. "The scores were the scores, and there's nothing we can do about them. It's good to see our competitors also perform well. It's nice that everyone went in and went clean. It's mixed feelings for the result, but we're OK...we're going to carry on training. We're going to go back to the gym and come back stronger than ever."
Russia's Valentin Chetverkin, Maksim Chulkov, Aleksandr Kurasov and Dmitry Bryzgalov won bronze for a strong and difficult routine (29.350), repeating their feat in Men's Group from 2012.
Russia, which totalled two golds, two silver and a bronze at these World Championships, also won the team competition, which is determined from qualification results based on a points system. Great Britain took silver, Belgium bronze.
|10/07/2014 12/07/2014||24th Acrobatic Gymnastics World Championships 2014||LEVALLOIS (FRA)||ACRO|