The competition may have been held in Portugal, but South American gymnasts were the big story — and the big winners — of the FIG Anadia World Cup held over the weekend.
All told, gymnasts from South America grabbed nine of the 30 medals (and five of the 10 golds) up for grabs in Anadia, one of the continent’s best-ever tallies at a World Cup final. South America has been seen as a second-tier gymnastics continent, trailing behind Europe, Asia and North America, but with the Rio Olympics and a sudden outpouring of talent during the past four years, that’s all changing.
The 2016 Olympic host nation relied on veteran stars to bring home the goods in the next-to-last FIG World Cup before the World Championships in October, and they didn’t disappoint. Olympic rings champion Arthur Zanetti edged 2009 World rings champion Yan Mingyong for the title on rings, 15.8-15.75. Argentina’s Federico Molinari, who is getting to be a familiar face in World Cup finals on rings and high bar, was delighted to win the bronze (15.55), barely beating new European rings champion Igor Radivilov of Ukraine (15.5).
In the most surprising turn of the competition, Colombia’s Jhonny Munoz came out of the blue to defeat reigning European champion and Olympic bronze medalist Max Whitlock 15.2-15.1 on pommel horse. Portugal’s Gustav Simoes made the host country proud by tying for the bronze medal with Uzbekistan’s Eduard Shaulov (14.6 apiece).
After a disappointing Olympic outing last summer, Brazil’s Diego Hypolito redeemed himself with the floor gold (15.375), topping Germany’s Matthias Fahrig (15.175) and Sam Mikulak of the U.S. (15.1). Mikulak, 20 and looking more and more like a contender for the U.S. men’s title this summer, went on to capture the title on high bar (15.275), besting Puerto Rico’s Angel Ramos (14.6) and 2012 Russian Olympian Igor Pakhomenko (13.925).
Chile’s Tomas Gonzalez, another fixture in event finals on vault and floor at most of the big meets, came up with gold on vault (14.925 average) for his Yurchenko triple twist (underrotated) and Tsuk double pike (done very well). Olympic vault medalist Radivilov was second in spite of more difficulty (he showed a Dragulescu and Tsuk double pike for a 14.828 average), followed by Hypolito (14.825 average).
Uzbekistan’s Anton Fokin, a parallel bars specialist, won his event (15.575) over young Pan American Games champ Jossimar Calvo from Colombia (15.2) and the clean Samuel Piasecky from Slovakia (15.1).
On the women’s side, Jade Barbosa and Adrian Gomes went 1-3 on vault (14.825 average and 14.112 average, respectively), sandwiching 38-year-old Oksana Chusovitina, who celebrated her birthday in Portugal (14.512 average). 2010 World vault bronze medalist Barbosa, who did not go to the 2012 Olympics after a sponsor spat with the Brazilian team, looked sharp in her international return, nailing a double-twisting Yurchenko (15.025) and a roundoff, half on (14.625), layout front half off to hold off still-surging Chusovitina, who showed her usual handspring pike front full (14.6) and Tsukahara 1.5 (14.425).
Much of the women’s competition revolved around the presence of Romania’s Larisa Iordache, Diana Bulimar and Shang Chunsong of China, a small gymnast who is making a big impact internationally. The three of them divided up the medals on balance beam and floor, with Iordache winning both golds (14.65 on beam with a huge 6.9 D-score, and 15.65 on floor), Shang taking silver on beam and bronze on floor and Bulimar walking out with gold on floor (tied with Iordache) and bronze on beam.
Russia’s Anastasia Grishina, fresh from her double bronze medal performance at the European Championships last month in Moscow, captured the title on uneven bars (14.75), outperforming Germany’s Lisa Hill (14.425) and Shang (14.175), who took bronze with an innovative routine featuring release skills not typically performed by Chinese gymnasts (Clear hip pike Tkatchev to Pak, Hindorff, Tkatchev to immediate Gienger, 6.7 D-score).
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