• Id: 29401

Azerbaijan gymnasts dominate artistic finals with seven gold medals

Open Joint Azerbaijan Championship
Open Joint Azerbaijan Championship in Gymnastics Disciplines
Oleg Stepko led the Azerbaijan team to a seven gold medal haul in the artistic individual apparatus finals.

Men’s floor

Expectations were high for men’s all-around gold medallist Oleg Stepko (Azerbaijan) as he began the morning’s medal hunt on the floor with an impressive opening tumble. His exuberance may have unsettled him however, because he failed to land his second, stumbling to the mat. Later in the routine he stepped his toes out of bounds and was awarded a 0.100 penalty, finishing seventh overall. It was Israel’s Alexander Shatilov who really brought his A-game to the morning’s proceedings. After a disappointing performance on the floor in Wednesday’s all-around (finishing seventh), he redeemed himself in the individual competition finishing his routine with a confident, high tumble and just about held onto the landing, which paid off and resulted in the gold. It was Norway’s Stian Skrejerahaug whose tidy, composed routine won him silver, and Turkey’s Ahmet Onder who took bronze.

My main goal is to compete in the Olympics Games (2016, Rio de Janeiro). Participation in the European Games is an important part of the journey to the Olympics and I take both of these tournaments very seriously.-Alexander Shatilov

Men’s pommel

The Azerbaijan duo of Oleg Stepko and Petro Pakhnyuk, who were awarded gold and silver respectively in the all-around earlier in the week, started their campaign in earnest in the second of the day’s apparatus, the pommel horse. Stepko demonstrated power and vigour, if sometimes seeming to lack a little control, but regained it to finish his routine with a steady landing. It paid off to give him gold, with teammate Pakhnyuk not far behind him with a well-deserved silver medal. Bronze was awarded to Croatia’s Filip Ude, who considers the pommel horse one of his strongest pieces of apparatus.

I will participate in the world cup in Qatar and European Championship in France before the European Games. I plan to increase the difficulty of my program, thus being fully prepared to compete and show high results in the competitions above.-Oleg Stepko

Women’s vault

The first apparatus to be contended in the women’s event was the vault, for which there were three gymnasts competing. Each in the fortunate position to win a medal, it was Mariia Smirnova (Azerbaijan) who was to take the gold after two steady and well-executed vaults. Her two adversaries were unable to match her form, so Turkey’s Demet Mutlu had to be satisfied with silver, and Martine Skregelid (Norway) with bronze.

I am very happy to get gold medals in vault and floor exercise apparatus finals. I hope to make the program cleaner and include more elements in my performance in all apparatus.-Mariia Smirnova

Men’s rings

The men’s rings was the second apparatus of the day to see an Azerbaijan gold and silver result. Maintaining his competition form, Stepko managed to hold tight to the bar and his gold medal-winning position, despite a slightly uncontrolled dismount. Teammate Pakhnyuk demonstrated strength and power throughout his routine, which was only marred by a large step out on dismount but was not enough to knock him off the silver podium spot. Israel’s second and final medal of the artistic competition was awarded to Eyal Glazer, who took bronze.

Women’s uneven bars

The women’s uneven bars saw a repeat of the all-around finals on Wednesday, with Kristina Pravdina (Azerbaijan) taking gold ahead of her two Turkish challengers Tutya Yilmaz (silver) and Demet Mutlu (bronze). The rest of the field failed to come close to the top three, who each took a podium step with relative ease.

I plan to compete in all-around competition and to make my program more complicated in all apparatus. I have enough time to prepare and meet the special requirements of the federation. I will train to jump with all my power and generally to minimise mistakes.-Kristina Pravdina

Women’s beam

Yilmaz continued her strong form into the women’s beam competition, trying to match her first-place beam performance in the all-around on Wednesday, however she dropped to the mat during her routine in the Friday final and finished in the bronze-medal position. It was the Norwegian duo Martine Skregelid and Solveig Berg who made the most of this slip-up, with Skregelid demonstrating light and graceful tumbling, and a neat dismount to take gold. Berg was a mere 0.033 behind her teammate and achieved silver.

I hadn’t expected it at all because I didn’t think I was good enough. I tried not to stress and it went well. I was more calm and I wasn’t shaking so much.-Martine Skregelid

Men’s vault

It was Turkey’s men’s team who stepped up to the plate in the men’s vault, where Ferhat Arican opened with a one-handed vault that was landed well but for a small stumble. His second vault was high and controlled, leading him to an overall average of 14.433 and the gold medal. Completing the Turkey team’s double header was Onder, winning his second medal of the morning, despite a small step over the line on landing. Bronze was awarded to Latvia’s Aleksejs Pajada, whose performance was solid but lacked height.

Even though this is my first time I have been in Baku, I feel so comfortable here. The level of the organisation is so high. The National Gymnastics Arena and all equipment we use are very good. It is like a real competition rather than a test event.-Ahmet Onder

Women’s floor

Azerbaijan topped the tables yet again in the women’s floor event, where Smirnova narrowly claimed her second gold of the competition with a gold-winning score of 12.633. Turkish pair Yilmaz and Mutlu were out again in force for the women’s floor apparatus, where Yilmaz opened the competition with some fast and furious tumbling, which set her in good stead until she stepped out of bounds on her final tumble. Despite this, she was still able to hold onto silver, with teammate Mutlu bringing home the bronze.

Men’s parallel bars

Stepko and Pakhnyuk were back to their dominating display in the parallel bars, taking the top two spots with leading scores in excess of 15 points. Onder gave a smooth and fluid performance to take the bronze.

Men’s horizontal bar

The last medal of the morning was also claimed by Azerbaijan’s Stepko, rounding off his four gold medals of the competition. It was Norways’ Stian Skjerahaug who managed to stay on his heels to claim silver, and Ioan Nistor from Norway who completed the set, with bronze.


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