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11/02 WOMEN'S ALL-AROUND FINALS (Competition II)

After a year filled with falls, errors, and low scores, the women's all-around final was a pleasant surprise. With the majority of top athletes hitting all four events, the winners were those with the best execution and routine composition, not just those with the fewest errors. At the end of the day, it was Svetlana Khorkina who took the overall title, becoming only the third woman in the past thirty years to have won two world all-around championships (the others were Lyudmilla Tourischeva (URS) 1970 and 1974 and Shannon Miller (USA) 1993 and 1994). Khorkina clinched the victory with a 9.475 on the floor exercise, after scoring well above 9.0 on her other three apparatus.

Russian redemption at these world championships continued when first-year senior Natalia Ziganshina took the silver medal by a comfortable margin over deposed Olympic champion Andreea Raducan of Romania (Raducan had was stripped of the gold medal in Sydney after failing a drug test). Most impressive, however, was the result of Brazilian Daniele Hypolito, who smashed the record for best-ever Brazilian result (19th) by placing a stunning fourth all-around. United States' national champion Tasha Schwikert was consistent throughout the day to finish fifth.

Competing in the earlier session of all-around finals, British Columbia's Kate Richardson had a 4-for-4 day to finish third in her division, and ultimately 16th overall. The result stands as the second-highest finish ever by a Canadian woman at a world championships (Lori Strong and Stella Umeh placed 15th in 1987 and 1991, respectively), and is three places higher than Richardson's result in 1999. Beginning on vault, Richardson opted for a piked front with a half twist and a safe Yurchenko full (she is capable of a 1 1/2), which earned an 8.968 average. Uneven bars was certainly the most satisfying routine for Richardson, who completed a clean exercise after falling in preliminaries (caught her layout Jaeger with slightly bent legs). Balance beam saw a large balance break on her Popa (straddle jump with full turn), and floor exercise saw Richardson showcase her expressive dance, with only an out of bounds deduction marring her total (8.975).

Also in the final was Gymnastics Mississauga's Ashley Peckett, who had finished 27th in the preliminary competition. On this day Peckett struggled slightly, falling on her 1 1/2 twisting Yurchenko, and suffering several errors on balance beam. On a day with relatively few errors overall, these mistakes proved too costly for Peckett, dropping her to 32nd overall. Nonetheless, the distinction of qualifying to the all-around final should not be lost for Peckett, who has made remarkable strides as an athlete over the past year.

11/01 MEN'S ALL-AROUND FINALS (Competition II)

Grant Golding, of British Columbia's Abbotsford Twisters, achieved another impressive result for the Canadian team by finishing 22nd in the men's all-around final, held earlier today. Golding competed in the first of two sessions, based upon his preliminary standing (qualifying ranks 17-32 competed first, followed by athletes ranked 1-16), and stood 9th when the athletes from Session II took the floor. Golding performed clean exercises on four of the six apparatus, with slight errors on high bar and floor exercise.

Grant's scores:
ApparatusSVJ1J2J3J4J5J6NoteRank
Floor9.308.808.458.558.708.858.708.68723
Pommel Horse9.809.058.808.708.959.009.058.95014
Rings9.608.908.909.009.159.158.808.98719
Vault9.709.209.109.209.159.109.209.16222
PB9.509.109.108.909.108.909.009.02513
HB9.008.007.907.807.808.008.007.92529

In a stunning turn of events, 16 year-old Feng Jing, a member of China's so-called "B" team at the world championships, took the overall title and became the youngest-ever men's world all-around champion in the process. Feng edged out two-time world champion and prohibitive favourite Ivan Ivankov when Ivankov's final high bar exercise scored a 9.600, eliciting boos and whistles from the boisterous crowd at Flanders Arena. Bulgarian veteran Jordan Jovtchev showed he is still among the very best in the world by taking the bronze.


10/30 WOMEN'S PRELIMINARIES (Competition I)


CANADA 10TH, RICHARDSON, PECKETT ADVANCE TO ALL-AROUND FINALS

The Canadian women had much to cheer about at the conclusion of the women's team preliminaries, with a respectable 10th place final result, as well as two berths in the all-around finals. With Australia's final round performance earning them sixth place, as well as a position in team finals, Canada was bumped to 10th, the same ranking acheived at the 1999 world championships. Canada finished just over two tenths away from Germany's eighth place result, which was the cut-off for tomorrow's team finals.

Individually, Kate Richardson and Ashley Peckett both qualified to the all-around finals. Richardson finished the preliminary round in 22nd, while Peckett squeaked into finals, finishing 34th. The competition rules state that the top 32 gymnasts qualify to the all-around finals, but with a maximum of three per country. With the fourth-place athletes from Romania, the Netherlands, and the United States removed from the tally, the final results have Richardson qualifying to the all-around in 20th and Peckett in 31st. This means that both athletes will compete in the early round of finals, which is divided into two groups (#17-32 compete first, followed by #1-16).


Subdivision VII: SMOOTH SAILING FOR ROMANIA

On a day filled with errors and injuries, the women's team from Romania brought stability back to a competition riddled with head-scratching results. Starting on vault, the defending Olympic champions showed their ability by easily completing their various Yurchenko vaults, with top scores coming from Sabina Cojocar (one-and-a-half twisting Yurchenko) and Andreea Raducan (Podkopayeva).

Romania's questionable technique on the uneven bars was reflected by low scores across the board on this event, with four athletes scoring in the 8.6's, including an 8.662 for Raducan, who fell out of a handstand on the low bar. Balance beam was a much better effort, with Romanians taking four of the top 5 scores in the entire competition on that event for a 37.686 total. Most impressive was Raducan, who hit her ff-full twist and stuck her double pike dismount, much to the delight of the supportive crowd (9.537).

Floor exercise was a breeze for this well-prepared team, with numerous double layouts and full-twisting double backs. The top score of the competition thus far on this apparatus was awarded to Raducan (9.425), which helped the 1999 world floor exercise champion to a second place overall finish. Joining Raducan in the top all-around standings are Cojocar and Silvia Stroescu, who are tied for fourth.

Also in this session was a relatively weak team from France, who struggled with low start values and inconsistency to sit 11th as a team.


Subdivision VI: RUSSIA SHOCKS THE WORLD

In one of the most dramatic upsets of the world championships thus far, the Russian women crumbled in front of the eyes of the world. Amazingly, the Olympic silver medallists stand only third overall at this moment, behind the United States and the Netherlands.

Like many teams, Russia was dealt a major blow when a foot fracture forced Yekaterina Privalova from the lineup. Unable to substitute alternate Anastasia Kolesnikova (for reasons that remain unclear), the Russian women were forced into the unenviable position of having to use all gymnasts on all apparatus. Things took a turn for the worst, however, when it quickly became evident that double Olympic champion Yelena Zamolodchikova was in tremendous pain, and realistically far too injured to compete. Zamolodchikova struggled throughout the entire competition, hitting only her uneven bar routine to her maximum abilities. She currently stands a meager 38th overall, already beyond the top 32 mark to make all-around finals.

As for the rest of the team, there were highlights (Svetlana Khorkina's 9.662 UB effort; Lyudmila Yezhova's sizzling 9.612 on BB), but there were numerous errors, as well. The brightest spot for the Russians was undoubtedly the performance of Khorkina, who moved easily ahead of Verona van de Leur in the individual standings. Khorkina also impressed with a gorgeous round-off 1/2-on tucked rudi vault that earned her the highest score on that event so far in the competiton (9.562).


Subdivision IV: UNEVEN BARS UNRAVELS CANADIAN EFFORT

The Canadian women took the floor today with mixed expectations. A 9th-place finish at the Sydney Olympics raised the profile of the team in the international community, but an injury-riddled season had left many athletes either out of world championships, or limited in their abilities. Throughout training, Crystal Gilmore had been contending with an ankle injury, but the team was dealt an even greater blow when it was determined that Amelie Plante would only compete one event, uneven bars, after suffering an ankle injury herself.

By the time the competition began, this had become something of a salvage effort for the six young women, who competed in the fourth of 8 subdivisions. They began on vault with five clean efforts, tallying a 36.024 score (9.0+ average). Any momentum that had been built on their first event quickly evaporated, however, when virtually all team members suffered major deductions in their uneven bar exercises.

Gilmore began with a solid routine, but had to touch down on her double layout dismount. Jennifer Simbhudas hit all of her elements, but struggled visibly throughout the routine, taking several major timing deductions. Kate Richardson had a potentially high-scoring routine, but fell on her layout Jaeger. Finally, Plante suffered a break in her only routine of the day, after earning applause for her Def release throughout warm-ups and competition.

Things took a turn for the worse on balance beam, with falls from Ashley Peckett (front tuck mount) and Gilmore (full-twist). Richardson was on pace for the best Canadian score of the day, but she bobbled after her Popa jump, losing valuable tenths and connection bonus. She scored an 8.750, but her 9.5 Start Value was well below the full 10.0 she is capable of.

With one event to go, Canada trailed both Great Britain and Brazil (11th and 18th in 1999), and needed a solid effort by all team members. Unfortunately, the dignified Gilmore suffered her third fall of the day when she stumbled out of her whip-triple twist opening pass. The women quickly rallied, however, with sound performances from Peckett and Joelle Ouellette (clean full-ins from both). Richardson danced beautifully, but took a slight deduction when she stepped out of bounds on her two whips to Arabian double front first pass. Last up, Simbhudas, who, until Plante's injury, was not even supposed to perform on floor exercise, came through with a hit routine and an 8.437 that moved Canada ahead of Brazil, but agonizingly only one tenth of a point behind Great Britain.

This result means a top-12 finish for Canada is almost assured, but a position in team finals is most certainly out of the question, with six strong teams still to compete. Individually, Richardson is currently 10th, Peckett 15th, and Simbhudas 21st. The top 32 athletes qualify to all-around finals.

Elsewhere in the session, former Russian veteran Yevgenia Kuznetsova made her debut for her new country, Bulgaria, with a balanced effort that lacked slightly in Start Values, but was good enough for sixth overall.


10/29 CANADA FINISHES 12th WITH BEST FINISH SINCE 1985

Grant Golding competes men's team prelims in Ghent
Photo courtesy Grace Chiu

After the 10th and final men's subdivision, the Canadian men's team found themselves in 12th place over-all - their best finish since 1985 (where they were 11th). Remarkably, Canada finished ahead of the team from Germany - traditionally a gymnastics power - whose 13th place finish is their worst result in nearly a century.

Individually, B.C.'s Grant Golding will advance to Thursday's men's all-around finals based on his 27th place finish in qualifying. In the individual apparatus qualification, Canada had two men place among the top 16 in the world with David Kikuchi finishing 16th on his best event rings and Alexander Jeltkov finishing 11th on floor exercise.

Perhaps the most impressive part of Canada's team result today is that one of the team's top performers, Ken Ikeda was severely limited by a hand injury which nearly took him out of the competition altogether.

The Romanian men's team qualified for the team finals this session with a fourth place ranking - though they were on track to finish first until costly errors on parallel bars and high bar. See our results page for the complete men's preliminary team standings.

10/29 CANADA STANDS 10TH AFTER 9 SUBDIVISIONS

In a remarkable day filled with surprises and unexpected performances by a number of teams, Canada finds itself 10th overall with just one subdivision of teams to go. At this time, the team has already assured themselves of a better result than in Tianjin in 1999, and are in contention for their best-ever finish at a world championships (11th in 1985). While this best-ever finish is still possible, the presence of strong teams from Germany and Romania in the final session will most likely move the Canadians down slightly.

The Canadian team was paced by the impressive effort of Abbotsford Twisters' Grant Golding, who currently stands 22nd all-around. While Golding is virtually assured of a position in the all-around finals, two other Canadian men sit on the verge of missing the top-36 cut-off. Nova Scotia's David Kikuchi is currently 32nd, while 1999 world championship silver medalist Alexander Jeltkov, who fell from his specialty and will not make the apparatus final, is 36th.


10/28 PLANTE SUFFERS ANKLE INJURY

Gymn.ca has learned that Canadian world championship team member Amelie Plante has suffered an ankle injury that could affect her ability to compete on Tuesday. Plante, a native of Montreal, Quebec, was expected to compete all four apparatus for Canada; however, the injury could limit her one event, the uneven bars. Canada does not have an alternate present in Ghent. More details will be provided as they become available.


10/28 NEMOV MUSES ON RUSSIA'S TEAM PERFORMANCE

After a nightmarish performance in the preliminaries of the men's team competition, the Russian men currently sit precariously in fifth, with top teams from China, Romania, Spain, France, Germany, and Bulgaria still to compete. The poor performance could cost the once-proud Russian men a berth in the team finals, as only the top eight teams qualify.

After the competition, team leader Alexei Nemov discussed the Russian effort:

Nemov: [The team result] "would hardly be enough to rank the team in the top eight, after the qualifications are over, tomorrow afternoon."

On the team's performance: [It was] "very difficult with the new Code of Points, our bad luck with the draw and the injuries that have hit the team. We found ourselves in a situation where the newcomers on the team had to take huge responsibility. Nevertheless, they did their best. I would say the content of our routines, according to the new Code of Points, was okay. We all just missed this last ingredient that gives security and brilliance of our performances."

On his performance: [I reached] "...say 65-70%" of his potential in this competition.


10/28 MEN'S PRELIMINARIES (Competition I)

Subdivision I
The men's competition got underway today with a good showing by one of Canada's toughest rivals, Great Britian. Lead by their top athlete, Kanukai Jackson, the British performed with respectable consistency on all apparatus. Jackson was particularly impressive on vault, where he scored a 9.375 for a handspring double front. Finishing second, behind the British, was the Czech Republic, who finished 32nd at the 1999 world championships, followed by an improving team from South Africa (35th in 1999). The team from India still lacks basic qualities on some of the apparatus, but improved on their 1999 world championship score by almost 4 points.


Subdivision II
The competition heated up immediately when the Russian men, the 1996 Olympic champions, took the floor. It quickly became apparent, however, that this is not the same team that reached the top of the podium just five years ago. Counting almost as many errors as hit routines, the Russians left themselves as a sitting target for all other top teams to aim for. Particularly disappointing were the performances of 1999 world champion, Yuri Kryukov, and 2000 Olympic champion, Alexei Nemov, who performed but seven routines, combined. Nemov, perhaps the world's most recognizable male gymnast, missed three of his four routines, though he still scored a 9.475 for his high bar routine, despite touching down on the landing.

Russia also had to do without the services of veteran Yevgeny Podgorny, whose injury sustained earlier in the week was simply too serious to allow him to compete. The Russians were lead by 2000 European champion Alexei Bondarenko, who stood first overall after the second subdivision.

Also competing in this session were full teams from Armenia, Sri Lanka, and Malaysia, none of whom were represented by full squads at the 1999 world championships. Most impressive was the performance of the Armenian men, who competed well enough to stand fourth after two subdivisions.


Subdivision III
A very solid performance by the Korean team vaulted them past the Russians and into first place following the third subdivision. The Koreans maximized their effort by hitting consistently, although Lee-Sun Sung, who had earlier scratched vault, missed his parallel bars dismount and left the arena on a stretcher. His status remains unclear at this time.

Most impressive was the peformance of Yang Tae-Young, who currently sits atop the all-around rankings. Yang Tae-Young was not a member of Korea's 7th-place 2000 Olympic team or their 5th-place 1999 world championship team.


Subdivsion IV
Latvia turned many heads in this session, presenting a deep and well-prepared squad that ultimately stands third overall, ahead of Great Britain, who had bested the Latvians in 1999. Showing an outstanding array of very difficult vaults, the Latvians surely earned at least one event final berth when Yevgeny Sapronenko aced his Tsukahara double pike for a 9.762.


Subdivision V
The Olympic silver medal winning team from Ukraine moved into second place behind Korea after this session, with four strong routines from European all-around champion Alexander Beresch (an injury to his shoulder is keeping him out of rings and parallel bars). Team Italy moved in fourth, just over a point behind Russia, thanks to strong high bar routines from Alberto Busnari and Igor Cassina, as well as the top rings score of the day so far from Andrea Cappolino (9.587). Former world high bar champion Jani Tanskanen of Finland is in a good position to make finals on that event again (an injury kept him out in 1999) with a 9.587, the day's highest score on that apparatus.

Injury update: According to the FIG website, Korean gymnast Lee Sun-Sung has suffered a fracture to his hand, and he is currently awaiting further x-rays.


Subdivision VI
Day One of competition ended with a the highest-caliber round thus far, featuring medal-contending teams from Belarus and the United States. After leading through the first half of the competition, the US men had to settle for second place, falling almost one point back of the Belarussians, who were paced by two-time world champion Ivan Ivankov. Ivankov, who finished fourth in Sydney, had an error-free performance, including a 9.725 on high bar, to lead the overall competition.

The US men were lead by national champion Sean Townsend and Olympic teammate Paul Hamm, who currently stand second and third overall, behind Ivankov. The round was highlighted by Townsend's 9.787 parallel bars performance that stands as the highest score of the competition thus far.


Notes on Women's Podium Training (10/26)

Crystal Gilmore (CAN)
-The Canadian women have been struggling somewhat with hit routines, but Olympians Crystal Gilmore and Kate Richardson impressed International Gymnast Magazine with their choreography. There have been complaints by several teams about the hardness of the floor exercise mat, which has lead to numerous errors in podium training.

-Oksana Chusovitina, the 1991 world champion on the floor exercise, is hoping to climb the medal podium in world competition for the first time since 1993. Her two vaults, both 9.8 tariffs, are a handspring layout front with a full twist (McIntosh), and a tucked rudi (handspring front with one and a half twists).

-Yevgenia Kuznetsova, a member of the Russian womengs team at the 1995, 1997, and 1999 world championships and 1996 Olympics, performed revamped exercises in podium training. Kuz.etsova will represent Bulgaria in Ghent.

-Mexican veteran Brenda Magana has submitted a triple back off uneven bars to be evaluated by the women's technical committee. The dismount was rated as a Super E, making it worth 0.3 in bonus. Magana also has a second Super E (a Def) within the interior of her routine.

Yekaterina Privalova (RUS); injured in training
-The Russian and Romanian women's teams made it clear today that they will be locked in a tight battle for the top of the podium. The Russians looked strong in early training, but all-around contender Yelena Zamolodchikova is struggling with a possible foot fracture and has been seen icing her lower leg throughout training. 2001 Gymnix International competitor Yekaterina Privalova has apparently sustained an ankle injury, forcing her out of podium training. The Romanians, on the other hand, are relatively healthy, and performed their podium training routines with trademark consistency.

Irina Yarotska (UKR)
-The injury bug has also bitte. the Ukraine, with Irina Yarotska skipping vault and floor in podium training to rest a bad ankle. Veteran Olga Roschupkina impressed with stronger routines and better conditioning than earlier in the year.

-The American team has looked strong, with former UCLA star Mohini Bhardwaj impressing onlookers with her double layout-punch front first pass. National champion Tasha Schwikert is the obvious leader of the team, and performed dynamic exercises on all events today. *

-The Dutch team, who are expected to finish significantly abOve their 1999 world championship ranking (14th) has been training well, but has not yet named a final team roster.

-The teams from Spain and Australia, who have been closely matched over the past three years, both performed cleanly in podium training. Spain is hampered by the loss of Laura Martinez, the 12th-place finisher in Sydney, who suffered a leg injury earlier this year. Australia's leader is 2000 Olympian Allana Slater, who has looked strong on the uneven bars in training.


Notes from Men's Podium Training (10/25)

-Austrian veteran Thomas Zimmerman is planning to debut a stunning Cuervo double back vault in the men's competition.

-Russian Evgeny Podgorny fell from high bar, injuring his arm. His status for the competition remains unclear. 1999 world champion Nikolai Kryukov (RUS) is also struggling with injury.

-Teammate Alexei Nemov, the 2000 Olympic all-around champion, has announced he will only perform selected events at the world championships, thus rendering him ineligible for the all-around title.

-1996 Olympic floor exercise champion Ioannis Melissanidis (GRE) is planning on unveiling a new vault, which should help him contend for the title on that event.

-1992 Olympic gold medallist Valery Belenki (GER) injured his arm in training, but he still hopes to compete when Germany takes the floor on Monday.

With files from Gymworld, Gymmedia, and International Gymnast.


General Notes:

-The Japanese delegation has withdrawn from the championships for security reasons.

-The Chinese have announced they will field a "B" team for the men, and only a single athlete for the women. Sun Xiaojiao, 16, is expected to be a contender for medals on the uneven bars and balance beam. The reason for this unprecedented move by the Chinese delegation is a conflict with the upcoming National Games. The event, held every four or six years, brings together all of the top Chinese athletes to represent their home provinces in competition. Results weigh heavily in funding and prestige in the Chinese sport system, making strong showings a necessity for each sport. In the case of the men's team, China has enough depth to send their best to the National Games and a second string to the world championships, but the women simply do not have that luxury due to the minimum age requirement. Sun Xiaojiao has been released to compete because her home province is not a contender for top awards in gymnastics.

-IOC President Jacques Rogge will be on-hand at the world championships, which are being held in his home town.

-Canadian officials will figure prominently in the judging and refereeing of the competition. Slava Corn is the acting President, Communications and Media, for the FIG, while Hardy Fink is the 2nd Vice-President of the Men's Technical Committee. In the men's competition, Jeff Thompson will act as the technical assistant for parallel bars, while Kathy Stoesz will serve as one of the two expert judges on the floor exercise in the women's competition.




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