Returning to the Aspire Dome, where she became the Uneven Bars world champion last October, Nina Derwael was a bundle of nerves as she began her routine at the Artistic Gymnastics Individual Apparatus World Cup yesterday.
After her historic feat at the Doha World Championships, the Belgian gymnast went on a four-month break as she basked in all the adulation she richly deserved in her home country. What followed was countless media and promotional appearances for Derwael, which also meant she spent less time on the Uneven Bars.
Even as many of her compatriots started preparing for the 2020 Olympics by taking part in the World Cup series, which is serving as the qualification route for the Tokyo Games, Derwael was still coming to terms with being the world champion. The start to her 2019 season was pushed back even further as she suffered a broken finger.
So naturally, participating in her first competitive event of the year would have made her nervous and rusty. But Derwael allayed any such fears as the 18-year-old put in an exemplary routine to qualify for tomorrow’s final at the Doha leg of the World Cup at Aspire yesterday.
The lanky Belgian, in fact, topped the qualifications by scoring 15.033. Starting her routine with a 6.5 difficulty score, Derwael went for a full twisting double tuck and then finished with a twist high above the bar.
Her French coach Marjorie Heuls believes Derwael is yet to hit the top form and that doesn’t augur well for her rivals. Ahead of the World Cup, Derwael had said she was relieved to compete again. “It took a while before I could understand what I had accomplished. In fact, even now I still find it strange that I am a world champion. At the training I was not my hundred percent. Then I became a little frustrated with myself,” Derwael said.
“A few things could be better, but luckily I never lost the pleasure in my training. I still know what I’m training so hard for. And I am happy that I can finally take part in a competition again,” she added.
China’s Yilin Fan was second with a score of 14.900, just a little over a tenth back off Derwael. Anastasia Iliankova qualified third with the Russian tallying 14.633.
Meanwhile, Filipino teenager Carlos Yulo also displayed a dominating performance at the Aspire, where he had won his country’s first world championship medal – a bronze in the Floor exercise.
The 19-year-old has already won a bronze and gold in the first two events of the World Cup series, in Cottbus, Germnay and Melbourne. Yesterday, Yulo topped the Men’s Floor Exercise with a total score of 14.600 to finish ahead of Chinese star Xiao Ruoteng (14.533 points). Belgium’s Vrolix Jonathan was third with 14.500 points. Qatar’s Ahmed Mosa, who also featured in the event, claimed a respectable tally of 11.133.
Qatari youngster Raslen Saoud, 17, also made an impressive World Cup debut after earning 11.666 points in Pommel Horse, finishing ahead of his senior teammate Ahmed al-Dayani, who secured 11.600 points. The duo failed to qualify for the final but both were satisfied with their performances.
“I have gained a lot of valuable experience and I am happy with my performance. This event will give me a great deal of confidence in the future as I am looking forward to continue performing for Qatar,” Saoud said.
The qualification rounds will continue today with men vying for finals of Vault, Parallel bars and Horizontal Bars. The female gymnasts will compete in qualification of Balance Beam and Floor finals.
Men’s Floor Exercise
1. Carlos Edriel Yulo (PHI) D-Score 6.2; Points: 14.600; 2. Ruoteng Xiao (CHN); 6.2; 14.533; 3. Jonathan Vrolix (BEL) 5.9; 14.500; 5. Ahmet Onder (TUR); 5.9; 14.233; 6. Rayderley Zapata (ESP) 6.1; 14.200; 7. Christopher Remkes (AUS); 6.3; 14.133; 8. Emil Soravuo (FIN) 5.5; 14.100; 9. Marian Dragulescu (ROU); 6.2; 14.066; 10. Jorge Vega Lopez (GUA) 5.9; 14.033.
Men’s Pommel Horse
1. Chih Kai Lee (TPE) 6.2; 15.166; 2. Harutyun Merdinyan (ARM) 6.3; 14.966; 3. Kohei Kameyama (JPN) 6.2; 14.916; 4. Kaito Imabayashi (JPN) 6.3; 14.900; 5. Saeedreza Keikha (IRI) 6.1; 14.683; 6. Jingyuan Zou (CHN) 6.0; 14.558; 7. Filip Ude (CRO) 5.9; 14.533; 8. Stephen Nedoroscik (USA) 6.1; 14.483; 9. Robert Seligman (CRO) 5.8; 14.466; 10. Cyril Tommasone (FRA) 6.2; 14.466.
Men’s Still Rings
1. Xingyu Lan (CHN) 6.4; 15.166; 2. Vahagn Davtyan (ARM) 6.1; 14.908; 3. Artur Tovmasyan (ARM) 6.1; 14.866; 4. Marco Lodadio (ITA) 6.3; 14.800; 5. Courtney Tulloch (GBR) 6.4; 14.800; 6. Samir Ait Said (FRA) 6.1; 14.733; 7. Ali Zahran (EGY) 6.2; 14.600; 8. Ibrahim Colak (TUR) 6.2; 14.533; 9. Trevor Howard (USA) 6.1; 14.516; 10. Igor Radivilov (UKR) 6.0; 14.366.
1. Maria Paeka (RUS) 14.850; 2. Jade Carey (USA) 14.833; 3. Coline Devillard (FRA) 14.633; 4. Alexa Moreno (MEX) 14.449; 5. Marcia Vidiaux (CUB) 14.449; 6. Marina Nekrasova (AZE) 14.216; 7. Oksana Chusovitina (UZB) 14.183; 8. Emily Thomas (GBR) 13.800; 9. Gabriela Janik (POL) 13.733; 10. PaulaMejias (PUR) 13.700.
Women’s Uneven Bars
1. Nina Derwael (BEL) 6.5; 15.033; 2. Yilin Fan (CHN) 6.3; 14.900; 3. Anastasiia Iliankova (RUS) 6.3; 14.633; 4. Diana Varinska (UKR) 5.7; 13.966; 5. Kim Bui (GER) 6.0; 13.900; 6. Jonna Adlerteg (SWE) 6.0; 13.366; 7. Martina Rizzelli (ITA) 5.4; 13.233; 8. Yumika Nakamura (JPN) 5.1; 13.100; 9. Lisa Katharina Hill (GER) 5.4; 12.833; 10. Emily Thomas (GBR) 4.9; 12.700.
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