Melnikova wins — Thoughts from the AA podium — More worlds news

The IX: Gymnastics Saturday with Jessica Taylor Price, October 23, 2021

It’s a good week, y’all, because Angelina Melnikova is your world all-around champion. 

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After hitting four-for-four in qualifications for a 57.065, she did the same in the final for a 56.632 to take the title and end the U.S.’s 11-year all-around reign. She also qualified for every event final, and I’m eager to see how many medals she can come home with. She sealed the deal with this floor routine:

And here is her delightful reaction to her AA win:

The medal was presented by Svetlana Khorkina and also a robot? See below.

Rounding out the podium were the two U.S. all-arounders, Leanne Wong and Kayla DiCello. Wong hit eight for eight (including this beautiful bar routine) and actually put pressure on Melnikova in the final, finishing just under .3 behind her, and DiCello was right behind her in third — same as in qualifications — despite a bars fall. It was so great to see Wong and DiCello live up to their potential here after having consistency issues in the past. We’ll see what they can accomplish in the beam and floor finals, where both qualified.

Vladislava Uradova improved on her fifth-place performance in quals to finish just off the podium with a 53.598. She downgraded her DTY to an FTY, since that was scary on day one. We’ll see her again in the bars and floor finals. Wei Xiaoyuan finished sixth with a bars fall.

Here are some highlights from qualifications and what to expect as we move into event finals:

  • Rebeca Andrade opted not to compete floor in quals, but she looks amazing on the other events. She qualified in first to the vault final, ninth on beam, and first in the bars final with this glorious routine, which scored a 15.1:

  • Wei and Luo Rui are right behind her in bars qualifications after hit routines there. Luo also qualified in first on beam with an incredible routine that scored a 14.566. Li Shijia sadly underperformed and missed out on the beam final.
  • Murakami Mai excelled on floor to qualify in first there with a 14.166. We’ll also see her in the beam final, where she qualified in ninth (a tie) with a 13.400.
  • Pauline Schäfer did this on the balance beam, and qualified in third to the final with a 13.733:

  • Becky Downie hit bars and beam but sadly, it wasn’t enough to make either final. Based on a Twitter post, it looks like she plans to continue in the sport. Here’s a feature on her journey in The Guardian.
  • Konnor McClain stayed on the beam but was two-per-country’d, as was eMjae Frazier on floor.
  • Hatakeda Hitomi unfortunately suffered a spinal injury during training and withdrew from the all-around competition, where she qualified in fourth ( We wish her a full and speedy recovery.
  • Catalina Ponor was elected the women’s rep in the FIG Athletes’ Commission.

Competition continues with vault and bars finals on Saturday and beam and floor finals on Sunday. I for one am having a hard time following this competition due to the time zone, but it’s turned out to be quite the delight.

Gymnastics news

  • Simone Biles spoke on the Today Show about her Olympics experience in a heartbreaking segment:

Tweets of the week

This save:

And this conspiracy theory:

Five at the IX: The All-Around Podium

The three medal winners from the all-around final kindly spoke to the media after the competition. Edited for clarity and length.

Angelina Melnikova [through an interpreter]

It’s been a long time since a Russian woman has won this title. How does it feel to get the all-around gold?
I’m very happy since I’m the first person since Aliya Mustafina won many years ago, so this means a lot for me. I’m happy to continue the tradition.

Many of your teammates decided to rest after the Olympics. How important was it for you to continue?
I felt that I still had strength left after the Olympics so I wanted to give myself this opportunity. Maybe next year I’ll take a break.

What was it like competing with spectators here after Tokyo?
I enjoyed having an audience here because the audience gives a warm feeling and motivation, excitement. In Tokyo, it felt a little bit sad competing without audience support.

Has Mustafina given you any advice?
I’m very good friends with Mustafina, so we always talk with each other. But I don’t necessarily count on her advice because our gymnastics are such different styles. But we’re really good friends.

What’s it like competing without Simone Biles? Was it frustrating to not be able to compete against the top athletes here?
It’s always exciting to compete with Simone because of her strength and power, but I also enjoy competing to be able to fight for a first spot for myself.

Russian men have been very successful this year. What do you think your medal will do for women’s gymnastics in Russia?
This medal means a lot for the Russians, the young generation coming up and looking up to me, because it gives them motivation and a goal to know that it’s possible for them.

You’ve done eight routines now and have four more to go. How are you feeling?
I’m going to try to take a rest tomorrow to regroup myself, and then I’m going to just be prepared and ready to go for the next round, but the most important part for me was success in the all-around and I accomplished that.

Leanne Wong

What does it mean for you to compete on the world team and get a medal after your Tokyo experience?
This has been a really long-term goal, to make a world championships team, so winning a medal really means a lot and I’m really proud to say that I’m a silver medalist at the world championships. And I’m just really happy to have a much better experience in Japan than last time, because I just quarantined after two practices and it was a really uneventful trip. 

Does your success here have any bearing on whether you’ll continue elite or go on to NCAA?
Actually, I’m going to leave for Florida a few days after I get home, so it’s kind of like I started school and then I came here just to do this. So it’s just a really good experience for me to come and compete at the world championships.

Did you leave Japan feeling super hungry to get back in the gym? 
Yeah, definitely after the first time in Japan I always had in my mind that I wanted to do the world championships. So after I was quarantined and I really didn’t work out or do anything in Japan I knew that I really wanted to come back for world championships. During quarantine I was actually trying to keep my body active and do whatever I could in the room.

Kayla DiCello

How did you refocus after your bars fall?
After the fall on bars, I just had to forget about what I just did on that event and just focus on the other events, just so I could hit them the best that I could.

Does your success here have any bearing on whether you’ll continue elite or go on to NCAA?
Right now, I’m just planning on going to college next year, but I still have time to decide what I want to do, so I’m not sure yet.

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By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson AP Women’s Soccer

Tuesdays: Tennis

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