Day 2 of the event finals at the 2018 World Championships was held in Doha, Qatar on 3 November.
It was another great day for Canada, who brought home a silver medal on beam with newcomer Anne-Marie Padurariu. It was also, finally, a good day for China, with Liu Tingting winning the beam crown. Simone Biles added two more medals to her collection – gold on floor and bronze on beam – becoming the first gymnast in thirty years to win six medals at the same championships, and the most decorated gymnast ever at a world championships.
Overall, it was a disappointing balance beam final, with mistakes outnumbering by far the hit routines. I felt we were back to the last quad, where medals were gained by simply staying on the beam. What was good in the final was very good. Only two gymnasts entirely hit their routines, but those two were gorgeous and deserved to medal. Liu Tingting of China, after doing just enough to qualify into the final and a less-than-perfect routine in the team final, finally hit her beautiful set and earned a well-deserved gold medal (14.533/6.3). Her front acro series – walkover to front tuck – was beautiful as ever and very well executed, and her leaps were gorgeous. Excellent job!
Anne-Marie Padurariu of Canada, however, was somehow even more impressive. Only sixteen years of age, in a very tense environment, and with the awareness of a potential medal, held her nerves and delivered a fantastic set, which included a triple Wolf turn and an aerial cartwheel to LOSO to LOSO, for a great 14.100/6.0. Her smile at the end of the routine should have been credited as well!
Simone Biles had another shaky performance, with big wobbles in her Barhani and her front pike, but her difficulty was enough to keep her in bronze medal position (13.600/6.2). Behind her, Nina Derwael of Belgium (13.466/5.4) and Canada’s Ellie Black (13.033/4.8) outscored her in execution, but their difficulty was significantly lower, and finished fourth and fifth respectively.
Behind them, it was a vale of tears. U.S. Kara Eaker fell off the beam right at the start of her routine and shattered my heart in a million pieces (12.833/6.2). I hope she will get another chance next year, she is so so talented… Olympic champion Sanne Wevers of the Netherlands fell on her acro series for another heart break (12.666/5.3). And Zhang Jin of China had two unfortunate falls (11.500/5.3). She did not deserve it, after carrying her nation through a nightmarish qualifications round. Not only the bad routines outscored the good ones, but the tears of disappointment outnumbered the tears of joy too!
Simone Biles won her fourth floor title as expected. She went out of bounds on her third tumbling pass, but her difficulty was so much higher than anyone else’s (6.7 to Liliia Akhaimova’s 5.8) that she was competing against herself. She scored a 14.933/6.7 to win the sixth medal at these championships.
Behind her, Morgan Hurd performed another very good routine, with great tumbling – all with the chest right up, as the judges like it – and fantastic expression through the music. She scored a 13.933/5.5 for second place. Now Morgan is a team, all around, beam and floor medallist – so proud!
The race for bronze was tight between Mai Murakami of Japan and Angelina Melnikova of Russia. Both gymnasts had to fight through some elements, especially spins, but in the end Mai won the battle 13.866/5.7 to 13.833/5.7. And for the second time in one mere hour, I had my heart shattered. I genuinely felt that both routines were a bit laboured and both had mistakes, but that this time Angelina had fought just a bit harder. I could not stand her tears at the end of the competition.
Flavia Saraiva of Brazil performed a beautiful and joyful routine to a series of popular French songs for fifth place (13.766/5.5). Had her landings been just a tiny bit cleaner, she would have medalled for sure. France’s Mélanie de Jesus dos Santos came in sixth (13.433/5.5). The judges do not seem to appreciate this gymnasts’ talent as much as fans around the world do, but unfortunately stepping out of bounds on her first tumbling pass precluded Mélanie from having a chance to medal. A pity! Behind her, Liliia Akhaimova of Russia had the difficulty to challenge for a medal, but not the execution, for seventh place (13.366/5.8). And finally, Brooklyn Moors of Canada performed her gorgeous routine, that is the definition of pain of a nation as Spencer from the BB Situation would say, but unfortunately she had landing problems on all three her tumbling passes, for eighth place (13.066/5.4).
And we are wrapping up another World Championships! Tons of emotions, of beautiful performances, of tears of joy and disappointment. As ever, I hope to see all these gymnasts back next year, doing even better for those who did well, and leaving with a smile for those who were bitterly disappointed. And of course, Simone Biles is back to stay, if you still did not know!