Sixteen-year-old Li Qi announced herself onto the world stage after the highly-rated Chinese won the Balance Beam gold at the Artistic Gymnastics Individual Apparatus World Cup yesterday.
Li Qi lit the Aspire Dome on the final day of the competition with a top class routine to beat Belgium star Nina Derwael for her maiden victory at the World Cup.
The teenager made some wonderful connections, blending the really hard acrobatics with some beautiful jumps to finish with 14.333 points. Derwael, who was going for her second gold after winning the Uneven Bars on Friday, finished behind Li Qi. The Belgian, who will celebrate her 19th birthday on Tuesday, finished with a 13.633 on the Beam. Marine Boyer had to settle for bronze after the Frenchwoman had a few hobbles to earn 13.333 points.
Boyer took over the top spot in the Olympic qualification rankings with 59 points, while Li Qi moved to third and Derwael to fifth.
Li Qi, who flashed a victory sign as she walked to receive her medal, said she was anxious before the start of the final. “I was very nervous before the final, competing against the best gymnasts,” Li Qi said. “It’s my first gold medal in World Cup and I am very happy to achieve that. We have a tough competition in China and this win will give me a lot of confidence,” she added.
Derwael, despite missing her second gold, was satisfied with her overall performance in Doha. “Li Qi was better and I am not surprised with her victory. Overall, I am happy. Coming to Doha always gives me a high as I have achieved a lot here. My next targets this year will be the European and the World Championships,” said the Belgian.
Jade Carey, meanwhile, completed a brace of gold medals in two weeks. The American arrived in Doha having won both Floor Exercise and Vault gold at the Baku World Cup. The 18-year-old up followed up Friday’s gold medal in Vault, with a second gold medal on the Floor, scoring a 14.466.
After qualifying for the final in first place, Carey nailed her tumbling passes, and was equally good in her dance sequences. She beat Italy’s Lara Mori by more than one point, with Mori scoring 13.433 to take silver. Italy’s Vanessa Ferrari was third with a score of 13.300. Carey now sits atop the World Cup rankings in both Vault and Floor Exercise as well.
The top-ranking gymnasts on each apparatus at the conclusion of the world cup series will earn a spot at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. Doha marks the halfway point of the eight-competition series, which also concludes in the Qatari capital in March 2020.
“(It) feels pretty good. I think this week went pretty well,” said a modest Carey. “There definitely was some pressure (in the Floor final) since we all competed together last week so I knew it was going to be a good competition here in Doha as well. I was just focused on not getting nervous,” added the gymnast from Phoenix.
In the men’s Horizontal Bar, the three-time and reigning world champion Epke Zonderland finished a disappointing seventh, with 2017 World gold medallist Tin Srbic of Croatia taking the top honours.
With all eyes on him, Zonderland fumbled in his first series of flight elements and came off the bar too early. The Dutch was aiming for his third World Cup gold in the series, after having won earlier in Cottbus, Germany and Baku, Azerbaijan.
“My first release was itself a mistake because I was too close to the bar and then the second was that you have to throw yourself over the bar and again I was too close thereby I couldn’t hold on to the bar properly and I fell down. I made a technical mistake and it’s highly disappointing,” a dejected Zonderland said later.
Srbic, who was first in the qualifications, edged Japan’s Hidetaka Miyachi for gold by 0.100. The 22-year-old made a full twisting double layout dismount to notch 14.400 points. Miyachi with 14.300 finished second ahead of Cuba’s Randy Leru (14.000).
“I am really excited and happy because it’s always hard to go last in the finals. I always like to be in Doha, I won here last year and was second the year before. I love competing here and really wanted to win again. I am glad I could do that,” said Srbic.
“I did a harder routine than the one I did in the qualifications. But I can do even harder, so I have to train a bit more and compete to get better. There is still a room to improve,” he added.
Meanwhile, Jingyuan Zou clinched victory in Parallel Bars, making China the most successful nation at the Doha event with three gold medals. Russia’s Vladislav Poliashov (15.066) and Australia’s Mitchell Morgans (14.566) took silver and bronze medals respectively.
In the Vault final, South Korea’s Hakseon Yang emerged as the winner with a score of 15.266 followed by Ukraine’s Igor Radivilov (14.916) and Armenia’s Artur Davityan (14.695).
The four-day event, which the Qatar Gymnastics Federation hosted for the 12th consecutive year, witnessed a total of 128 male and 60 female gymnasts from 57 countries in action.
Men’s Horizontal Bar
1. Tin Srbic (CRO) 14.400
2. Hidetaka Miyachi (JPN) 14.300
3. Randy Leru (CUB) 14.000
1. Hakseon Yang (KOR) 15.266
2. Igor Radivilov (UKR) 14.916
3. Artur Davityan (ARM) 14.695
Men’s Parallel Bars
1. Jingyuan Zou (CHN) 15.700
2 .Vladislav Poliashov (RUS) 15.066
3. Mitchell Morgans (AUS) 14.566
Women’s Balance Beam
1. Li Qi (CHN) 14.333
2. Nina Derwael (BEL) 13.633
3. Marine Boyer (FRA) 13.333
Women’s Floor Exercise
1. Jade Carey (USA) 14.466
2. Lara Mori (ITA) 13.433
3. Vanessa Ferrari (ITA) 13.000
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