Sports reporter Lucy Parry comments on how well the British gymnasts performed at the recent World Championships
Women’s Team Final
This final was more open than it has been for many years. There were questions about whether the USA gymnasts could still win without the likes of Simone Biles and Olympic all-around champion Sunisa Lee. They did win but they didn’t dominate in their usual way; the British girls were hot on their heels in all the rotations.
The British team, consisting of Alice Kinsella, Ondine Achampong, Jessica Gadirova, Georgia-Mae Fenton and Jennifer Gadirova won a historic silver medal. This was the best ever result by a British team in the World Championships.
My favourite performances came from Achampong and Jessica Gadirova. Achampong’s routine on the notoriously difficult Beam was filled with grace and tricky acrobatics. It scored a huge 13.7. Jessica was the final British gymnast to take to the floor; her powerful tumbles and incredible artistry brought the house down in Liverpool. Her score of 14.233 secured the silver for the team.
There was a great battle for bronze between Canada and Japan. The young Japanese team impressed on beam and floor. Unfortunately, the final gymnast on bars made a few too many mistakes and had two falls, resulting in a score of 9.4. Meanwhile, the Canadian team, who qualified in last place, were the only team to not have any falls in this final. Ellie Black, the veteran, anchored her team to their first ever medal with her fantastic beam routine.
Men’s Team Final
This final was utter chaos but in the best way possible. The British team included Joe Fraser, Jake Jarman, James Hall, Giarni Regini-Moran, Courtney Tulloch and reserve. After three great floor routines, they were in silver medal position going into the second rotation. However, they had a nightmare on the Pommel Horse with both Fraser and Hall falling off. This caused the team to drop to 8th place. Despite two solid Rings routines and one exceptional performance from the British ringmaster Tulloch, they remained in last place.
Former Parallel Bars World Champion Fraser roared as he stuck his dismount and landed on a massive score of 15 on his favourite piece. The home crowd recognised the determination in the British gymnasts’ eyes and gave them all the encouragement they needed to land three very difficult vaults. Meanwhile other teams suffered similar struggles on the Pommel Horse, so the Brits had risen to 4th place, 1.2 points behind Italy, going into the final apparatus, High Bar. I watched with my heart in my mouth as Hall, Fraser and Jarman performed tricky releases and pirouettes while swinging around the bar.
After a tense wait, Jarman’s score came in and confirmed that they had defied the odds and won a bronze medal as a team. It was a great display of resilience.
China cleaned up their mistakes from qualification and took the gold medal. Despite a few errors, the Japanese team claimed the silver medal.
Women’s Individual All-Around Final
For the first time, Brazilian gymnast Rebecca Andrade, having qualified in 1st place, came into this final as the favourite and had to deal with all the pressure that comes with that title. The title seemed to suit her very well as she opened her competition by landing a near perfect Cheng Vault.
A couple of wobbles on the Beam opened the door for Shilese Jones, the gymnast hoping to bring the title back to the USA. Jones performed a great routine, including the incredibly difficult standing Arabian somersault, but it was not quite enough to overtake Andrade in the overall standings.
Andrade closed the all-around competition with her wonderfully entertaining Floor routine and secured the gold medal. She is the first South American woman to take this title. Jones claimed the silver.
The British crowd were thrilled to witness Jessica Gadirova making history as she became the first British woman to win an all-around medal. Although she became Floor World Champion later in the week, I think this was her biggest achievement at these championships. Winning an all-around medal shows that she has the raw power needed for Vault, the elegance and superb timing needed for Uneven Bars, the core strength needed for Beam and the artistry needed for Floor. All of these qualities are integral for world-class gymnasts and indicate a very successful career to come.
This World Championships lacked many of the big names in gymnastics, but that made it more exciting because it allowed gymnasts like Rebecca Andrade and Jessica Gadirova to write their names into the history books.
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