Finally! I started on Sunday in part 3. Read Part 3 here, Part 2 here and Part 1 here.
Sadly, stalking efforts proved to be futile. Yao Jinnan was spotted but athletes get in to the arena a lot faster with accreditation than spectators who need their tickets scanned. She was wearing black, had chips, and got to her seat in the upper stands in record time. End of sighting! Once they get there, you can't go down to them, though we did try. Our seats were in the last stand on the floor side, which was sort of lower then the upper stands. Traipsed back up the stairs again after heading back down after spotting Yao, and all the way over to the stand...except we couldn't get in. One of the FIG cameras was blocking the stand, so spare seats were arranged. These seats were..you guessed it..nowhere near the stand. They were near parallel bars, just beyond the curve, and still in the upper stands. Very far from beam, okay for floor. I asked if we could sit nearer to beam but it wasn't happening. Damnit FIG, those who had tickets for that stand should have been assigned tickets nearer. There were seats right in front of floor that weren't occupied...
Moving on! Epke Zonderland qualified for two of Sunday's finals so the curved end of the stand where parallel bars and high bar was were covered in Dutch fans. I kept thinking all of people bedecked in orange were security heh. Great atmosphere from the beginning.
Loved watching this, so powerful! And a great contrast to women's vault as there weren't any vaults I felt I should close my eyes for. Ahh, the double front as it should be done..refreshing. Not to mention the awesomeness of a Dragulescu. But the highlight by far, and moreso even than the legend that is Yang Hak Seon and his vaults was Kristian Thomas' STUCK yurchenko double pike. Wow just doesn't cover it. The crowd loved it of course, great buzz. He injured his knee earlier this year so didn't have time to upgrade his second vault..and lost his hold on silver as a result. Thrilled it was enough to still medal though, and in a stacked final at that.
Sadly, I was much further away than I anticipated being so they didn't look much bigger than ants up there. The growing sense of excitement that Aliya Mustafina was up there nailing everything and not even wobbling was so exhilarating. Like..wait a second..she doesn't have much left to do..just the dismount..what even is this, the best beam routine of her life? She still paused for the obligatory cup of tea while breathing before the dismount but it was well worth it since it was almost stuck. Sure, she missed the double turn connection as usual and the acro pass is indeed weak but...it was unbelievable to watch the ultimate competitor destroy her weakest apparatus like that. Masterful.
And an enquiry into Mustafina's d score. Hmm. Carlotta Ferlito's leotard offended my eyes, even from that distance. A total contrast to her lovely blue leo in the AA, but it definitely stood out in the arena so..job done in that regard. Her routine was steady, typically Italian but I just didn't get anything from it really. It wasn't beautiful or particularly dynamic. Her legs on the dismount were gross too. I'm not just saying this in hindsight of what happened when she opened her mouth, I just didn't see a whole lot in this routine to get excited about, although her acro series and the ease of her back tuck in combination was nice. Vanessa's routine was similar, but I like hers better. She seems to exude more attitude and make the beam her own. Another fine routine from the steady veteran. Annnnd..the enquiry for Mustafina's routine is rejected. Nor happy bunnies in the Russia camp.
I loved Shang Chunsong's leotard. A bit of a departure from China, but lovely all the same. Sadly, her beam thus far had not been living up to its standards earlier this year where at Anadia it wasn't far off flawless. What a stunning mount! I did kind of like the staccato robot choreography this routine has going on earlier this year, since it was different and suited her..but the more I see it, the more the lack of choreography annoys me. Aside from the big wobble, it looked like a great routine to me..it took the replay for me to see the not-so-obvious errors, like her switch ring. It was as if she just didn't give it her all, for fear of falling. Nevertheless, her score was far too harsh. Maybe not harsh if everyone was scored on the same plane, but it does seem like the execution panels just didn't like her. Vendettas are not cute. But the height on her layout is..
Sidenote..really enjoyed the songs playing softly in the background during this final. Beam is VERY silent and tense, so it was a nice touch.
Simone Biles steps up and beams. Curious to know whether she can hit again, after such an exhausting slog leading up to worlds and the excitement of her all-around win, not to mention vault and bars finals the day before. The 2.5 wolf is still great, very smart upgrade for her. Mostly steady, tiny wobble there..bigger wobble somewhere else but still fine. But the dismount was surprising, she seemed a good bit lower on landing than usual, and took a big step. Still a strong routine, but she's tired.
The camera shows up Aliya Mustafina using pen and paper to calculate a routine. It is NOT hers, it shows c+f, which is Anna Rodionova's BHS+Arabian combination. Kinda cute, looking out for her...not showing a whole bunch of faith in the judges though. Neither is Simone Biles' coach, who submits enquiry number two. Super, super distracting..trying to watch routines..eyes getting drawn to the scoreboard to see if the asterisk which denotes an enquiry having been submitted is still there.
Kyla Ross is in the same leo Bailie Key and Laurie Hernandez wore to the Japan Junior. It's a nice cherry colour, so I think I still like it. Kyla is known to have endurance issues so I'm wondering how well she is coping in that regard. No need to be concerned, it's another super clean and secure routine! She even gets the aerial-wolf connection in at the end. Her lines make her so lovely to watch in action. Pity her dismount didn't have as good a landing as she usually shows. Jenny running to her afterwards was so endearing.
I'm super nervous about Larisa Iordache, who not only fell on beam in the all-around, but was also falling in warm-ups before the final began. Just not healthy enough yet? Or possibly down to big-match temperament. (Ooo, enquiry number 3, for Kyla this time). Annnd...falls on the tuck full, very similar to London event finals. You could practically hear hearts breaking everywhere, as there was a quite a contingent of Romanian fans. Before she sets up for the layout (which she nails), the buzzer for overtime goes off and it flashes up red. Lovely. At least it didn't go off before she fell, or it would be blamed, but that should absolutely not be happening at worlds. The rest of the routine is slightly hesitant but still great, and the triple, though not the cleanest, is as great and fully around as ever. Devastating that she fell..
Anna Rodionova is up last, wearing my favourite Russian leo- so stunning! Like Becky Downie on bars, not holding out much hope as she may well have used up her consistency these championships already. Glorious toepoint, so elegant. Here it comes....and, fall. Damn. The most ambitious move in the whole final. The groan when she fell reverberated all around the arena. Lovely leaps, my angle is at least good for seeing the degree of split. Hilariously long pause before her dismount - how Russian that is these days - but pretty much sticks it, excellent way to finish off this routine. Valuable experience for her.
I've got the best view in the house, sigh. I've discovered Aly Raisman and her mother, and Al Fong and Armine Barutyan in the stand below me and to the left. Aly is as loud as ever. Al Fong didn't seem to clap or react for anything, but then I didn't watch him all the time or anything. Sad to see two routines on the bars come to grief, but amazing to see John Orozco hit a great routine, after the monumentally shitty year and a half he had. Kohei Uchimura was a joy to watch, and so was Lin Chaopan. Much more interesting in person, this final.
And hopes die for McKayla Maroney to magically appear when the gymnasts march out. I knew they wouldn't switch her in as the better medal hope, but I was hoping that for some other magical reason that she'd appear. To preserve Kyla's energy? Anyway, I have no quibble with an athlete who earned her place actually using it.
Vanessa Ferrari has changed leo, and it's quite nice actually! A great floor from her, super tumbling, very sure of herself. I do like her choreography but I think there's something lacking - other than execution sometimes. Expression I think. Score is a little high, but since she's first that's not much indication.
I FINALLY get to see Mai Murakami do a routine, hurray! She bounces up, adorable as ever. Lots of fear for her landings, which have been very low sometimes this year...but she pretty much nails them, with only minor adjustments. There's no other word for it, she completely lights up the arena and captivates the crowd with her smile. This is expression! She's always had unusual music which is never really able to turn the crowd, but she still draws everyone in effortlessly. Her leaps are still iffy, and the Gogean is bad, but I can't seem to care. Manages the triple okay, phew! When her score flashed up, placing her below Ferrari, I cried. An absolute disgraceful piece of judging. And then the screen showed her shocked face. :'( Her score was actually booed and rightfully so.
Simone Biles is the ideal tonic to get over a shock like that. Bounced her way around the floor and unfortunately, out of her landings too. She may not be the best dancer, and she could have a routine that utilises the dance skills she does have better, but...like Mai Murakami, she expresses the hell out of her routine and charms everyone in the process. The double layout half is still surprising with the turn coming from nowhere. A fabulous routine that definitely deserved gold, but not her best due to the landings.
Larisa Iordache is of course fresh from the gutting disappointment of having the beam title in your hand and losing it. But you wouldn't know it, she's full of energy and vitality, bouncing and dancing around the floor. This routine is a bit more mature than the previous one, but still suits her perfectly. She just seems to move more than the rest. Fantastic tumbling, just a great routine. I love when gymnasts bounce back so well. But..doesn't surpass Vanessa Ferrari who is clearly getting bonus points from the judges for losing the tiebreak last year. Lovely.
Giulia Steingruber's tumbling is fantastic, a full in double layout followed by 'just' a regular double layout. Amazing! The rest of the routine isn't great, she's a bit sloppy but still, very strong. Sandra Izbasa is up, looking very regal in a blue leotard. I really like this music but I don't think her choreography really works with it very well? As in, a lesser gymnast would look a bit lost with it. The tumbling is all going well, it's shaping up for at least a silver and then...crashes the last pass, in the exact same manner as at London. There was a general sense of disbelief that the same thing had happened two years in a row, and for her last routine too. Sandra was so admirable, straight up smiling and waving and so dignified waving at the camera when her score was shown. What a shame though.
I just love the improvement in Kyla Ross' artistry and choreography in the last while. Her first two passes are so well done and that whip noise bit is fantastic. Another strong routine but she just doesn't have the difficulty here to make an impact. Elsabeth Black who sadly didn't qualify for vault finals, rounded off this floor final. I LOVE the 2.5 stepout and this routine does have other moments of greatness but her execution did let her down a bit.
All in all, beam and floor had plenty of surprises and more than their fair share of disappointments. A bit of a letdown compared to Saturday's women's finals.
The Dutch crew amped up completely when this final was announced and the roar when Epke Zonderland a) appeared, b) was announced and c) did anything at all was utterly deafening, but so much fun to be a part of. A truly epic routine, though yes those leg and knee separations are very obvious. Still, so so exciting to witness with the huge crowd support and then he just goes ahead and sticks the landing, bringing the roof down. Epic! Fabian Hambuechen, Kohei Uchimura, Samuel Mikulak (who danced his way off the podium :D) and Jossimar Moreno were all total crowd pleasers. A mindblowing final!
We had to leave shortly after the medal ceremonies started to get the train on time. Failed anyway and had a good bit of a wait..so I could have seen them all really! And then a mild panic to get to the gate on time, helped along by my missing several bottles of water and orange juice in one of my bags...so smart. Got there, and the flight was delayed, amalgamated with an earlier flight that had been cancelled...delayed again on the plane, and then delayed at passport control in Dublin. I collapsed into bed and you guessed it, the next day at college I arrived at 08:30 for my class starting at 10:00 because I forgot to change back the time on my phone. But nevertheless, a non-stop thrilling and just unforgettable weekend. Next stop, Glasgow! :D
It's actually quite difficult to condense the experience of watching the competition live. I'm really looking forward to a review post of worlds though, this weekend. Reviewing is much more up my street than faithfully recounting, I feel! Apologies all of these posts are so long. The review one will be a killer too, but after that they should be fairly normal again...