Russian leads gymnastics, China top team
RUSSIA’S Seda Tutkhalian led the way in early Olympics women’s gymnastics qualifying with US star Simone Biles and reigning all-around champion Gabby Douglas competing later yesterday.
Tutkhalian, 17, surged ahead of teammate Aliya Mustafina, 21, a four-time medallist at the 2012 Games, who took a tumble off the beam.
China lead the team event after two of the five subdivisions with Wang Yan third best in the individual standings and teammate Shang Chunsong fifth behind Switzerland’s Giulia Steingruber.
Shang, 20, said she had been uncertain to compete because of illness and started with errors on the floor.
“I didn’t train for four or five days because of my fever,” she said. “I was worried because the coach said that I might get replaced on the team.
“My coach came to see me from Sao Paulo at three in the morning. I’m grateful for my coach because he told me that I don’t need to put so much pressure on myself.”
China, 2008 Olympic champions, scored 175.279 to lead Russia by 0.659 with reigning Olympic and world champions the United States, Britain, Brazil, Germany, the Netherlands, France, Canada and Japan competing later.
Despite her tumble Mustafina finished her four rotations with a flourish on uneven bars an apparatus on which she is the reigning Olympic champion.
North Korea’s Hong Un Jong, the 2008 Olympic vault champion, posted the highest score on that apparatus but did not perform the triple twisting Yurchenko she has submitted to have named after her.
Italy’s Vanessa Ferrari, the 2006 world all-around champion, was top on the floor. Veteran Catalina Ponor kept former gymnastics powerhouse Romania in the medals chase as she scored highest on the beam.
Uzbekistan’s Oksana Chusovitina, competing in her seventh Olympic Games aged 41, opted not to perform the difficult Produnova vault, and was sitting fourth with the top eight gymnasts advancing to the apparatus finals.
The US are the reigning Olympic and two-time world team champions, with gold theirs for the taking with the battle between Douglas and Biles set to ignite the all-around.
Douglas is bidding to become the first woman since Czechoslovakia’s Vera Caslavska in 1968 to win backto-back all-around gold.
Biles has dominated the four-year Olympic cycle since, winning 10 world titles and is the overwhelming favourite to be the star of the Rio Olympic Arena.
The top 24 gymnasts advance to Thursday’s allaround final with eight nations qualify for Tuesday’s team final. — SuperSport