The first of two days of apparatus finals at the FIG World Championships in Stuttgart (GER), immediately became a showcase for American Simone Biles, on one of her favorite events, the vault.
Using her excellent speed on the runway and unmatched power at take-off, she dazzled the crowd with the highest execution score of the first round – a 9.333 – and scored 15.333 to take the lead. Her second vault was almost as difficult, but she was even cleaner, scoring 9.666 in execution – the best of the day – and was rewarded with a 15.466 score, also the highest of the day. Her averaged score of 15.399 was easily the winner and earned her a 23rd career World Championships medal, tying her for the most ever with Russian star Vitaly Scherbo (1991-96).
The fight for second was won by American Jade Carey, who also had a very difficult and clean first effort, scoring 15.166; only Biles scored higher. Her second vault was a little less difficult, but scored 9.100 in execution and was good for 14.600; her average of 14.883 gave her a second Worlds silver in the event, after winning one in 2017.
Britain’s Elissa Downie was the only other vaulter to score 15 points (15.033) on one of her vaults and she finished third at 14.816.
In the Uneven Bars, Biles opened with a clean, elegant routine, but without exceptional difficulty, scoring 14.700. But she was passed immediately by Britain’s Becky Downie, who scored 15.000 and then by U.S. teammate Suni Lee, who had a complex routine that scored 14.800 that moved Biles to third. After German Elisabeth Seitz fell, Russia’s Angelina Melnikova’s routine was clean, with an excellent dismount and scored 14.733 and moved Biles off the podium.
Downie and Lee held onto the 1-2 spots with Belgium’s star Nina Derwael up for the final routine. She moved elegantly between the two bars, back and forth, and stuck the landing; she won her second world title by being rewarded with a 15.233 score.
Lee, 16, scored a glorious 15.000 in the qualifying to get to the final, then a solid 14.733 in the Team final. But she fell in the All-Around, scoring only 13.133. She rebounded this time with 14.733 and earned a bronze medal in her first World Championships.
In the men’s apparatus finals:
● Floor: All-Around champ Nikita Nagornyy (RUS) was first up and scored 14.166, a total that was not going to earn him a medal. But Israel’s Artem Golgopyat, who had the second-highest difficulty score in the field,, was brilliant and put up an impressive 15.200 score that was going to be hard to beat.
It held up against A-A silver winner Artur Dalaloyan (RUS: 14.800) and A-A bronze medalist Ruoteng Xiao of China (14.933). Next to last in the order was Carlos Yulo of the Philippines, the bronze medalist in this event from 2018. He was only seventh in the qualifying round, but came in with the highest difficulty level in the field and nailed his routine, earning 15.300, the gold medal and the first-ever World Champs gold medal for the Philippines. Dolgopyat’s silver earns him a qualifying spot for the Tokyo 2020 Games.
● Pommel Horse: No doubt about the favorite, as Britain’s Max Whitlock entered as the two-time defending champion and the Rio 2016 winner. He was second in the order and had – by 7.000 to 6.500 – the highest difficulty level in the field. His execution wasn’t perfect and his facial expression showed some disappointment in a performance score of 8.500, but it gave him the lead at 15.500.
Ireland’s Rhys McClenaghan had only a 6.400 difficulty level, but he glided across the horse, with grace and perfect positioning and scored 9.000 on his execution – best of the day – to total 15.400 and move into second place. That looked like it might win the silver medal, but Chinese Taipei star Chih-Kai Lee had a slightly-higher difficulty level and performed almost as well, scoring 15.433 for silver. It was only after his routine that Whitlock showed even a trace of a smile, but he became a three-time World Champion.
● Rings: Turkey’s Ibrahim Colak overpowered the Rings with great precision and completed a difficult landing to score 14.933 and take the lead. He survived an excellent routine from Italy’s Marco Lodadio (14.900) and then defending champion Eleftherios Petrounias (GRE) was not quite his best and scored 14.733 for third. A final surprise came from France’s Samir Ait Said, who completed a very precise and tight routine to score 14.800 and earn the bronze medal. For Colak, it was Turkey’s first-ever World Championships medal!
The FIG Worlds conclude in Stuttgart on Sunday with five more apparatus finals and with Biles the leading contender on both the Beam and Floor. Summaries so far:
FIG Artistic World Championships
Stuttgart (GER) ~ 4-13 October 2019
(Full results here)
Team: 1. Russia (Ablyazin, Belyavskiy, Dalaloyan, Nagornyy, Stretovich), 261.726; 2. China (Deng, Lin, Sun, Xiao, Zou)), 260.729; 3. Japan (Hashimoto, Kamoto, Kaya, K. Tanigawa, W. Tanigawa)), 258.159; 4. United States (Sam Mikulak, Akash Modi, Yul Moldauer, Trevor Howard, Shane Wiskus), 254.578; 5. Great Britain, 251.611; 6. Chinese Taipei, 248.243; 7. Switzerland, 247.038; 8. Ukraine, 246.593.
All-Around: 1. Nikita Nagornyy (RUS), 88.772; 2. Artur Dalaloyan (RUS), 87.165; 3. Oleg Verniaiev (UKR), 86.973; 4. Ruoteng Xiao (CHN), 86.690; 5. Wei Sun, 86.523; 6. Kazuma Kaya (JPN), 85.899; 7. Sam Mikulak (USA), 85.692; 8. Joe Fraser (GBR), 85.098. Also: 16. Yul Moldauer (USA), 82.330.
Floor: 1. Carlos Yulo (PHI), 15.300; 2. Artem Dolgopyat (ISR), 15.200; 3. Xiao (CHN), 14.933; 4. Dalaloyan (RUS), 14.800; 5. Chaopan Lin (CHN), 14.700; 6. Nagornyy (RUS), 14.166; 7. Han-Sol Kim (KOR), 13.833; 8. Dominick Cunningham (GBR), 13.566.
Pommel Horse: 1. Max Whitlock (GBR), 15.500; 2. Chih-Kai Lee (TPE), 15.433; 3. Rhys McClenaghan (IRL), 15.400; 4. Jingyuan Zou (CHN), 15.000; 5. Kaya (JPN), 14.866; 6. Cyril Tommasone (FRA), 14.833; 7. Yu-Jan Shiao (TPE), 14.733; 8. David Belyavskiy (RUS), 13.566.
Rings: 1. Ibrahim Colak (TUR), 14.933; 2. Marco Lodadio (ITA), 14.900; 3. Samir Ait Said (FRA), 14.800; 4. Eleftherios Petrounias (GRE), 14.733; 5. Arthur Zanetti (BRA), 14.725; 6. Denis Ablyazin (RUS), 14.666; 7. Artur Tovmasyan (ARM), 14.200; 8. Nick Klessing (GER), 14.166.
Team: 1. United States (Simone Biles, Jade Carey, Kara Eaker, Sunisa Lee, Grace McCallum), 172.330; 2. Russia (Agafonova, Akhaimova, Melnikova, Shchekoldina, Spiridonova), 166.529; 3. Italy (Carofiglio, Alice D’Amato, Asia D’Amato, Iorio, Villa), 164.796; 4. China, 164.230; 5. France, 163.628; 6. Great Britain, 161.495; 7. Canada, 160.563; 8. Netherlands, 159.427.
All-Around: 1. Simone Biles (USA), 58.999; 2. Xijing Tang (CHN), 56.899; 3. Angelina Melnikova (RUS), 56.399; 4. Ellie Black (CAN), 56.232; 5. Nina Derwael (BEL), 56.033; 6. Elisabeth Seitz (GER), 55.999; 7. Flavia Saraiva (BRA), 55.732; 8. Suni Lee (USA), 55.632.
Vault: 1. Biles (USA), 15.399 average for two vaults; 2. Jade Carey (USA), 14.883; 3. Elissa Downie (GBR), 14.816; 4. Shallon Olsen (CAN), 14.733; 5. Qi Qi (CHN), 14.650; 6. Alexa Moreno (MEX), 14.633; 7. Liliia Akhaimova (RUS), 14.366; 8. Seojeong Yeo (KOR), 14.183.
Uneven Bars: 1. Derwael (BEL), 15.233; 2. Becky Downie (GBR), 15.000; 3. Lee (USA), 14.800; 4. Melnikova (RUS), 14.733; 5. Biles (USA), 14.700; 6. Daria Spiridonova (RUS), 14.633; 7. Tingting Liu (CHN), 14.400; 8. Seitz (GER), 13.566.