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Tumbles and falls keep the artistic all-around women guessing right to the end

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Open Joint Azerbaijan Championship

 
Tutya Yilmaz (TUR), Kristina Pravdina (AZE), Demet Mutlu (TUR) (L-R)
© BAKU 2015
Open Joint Azerbaijan Championship
© BAKU 2015
Open Joint Azerbaijan Championship
© BAKU 2015
Open Joint Azerbaijan Championship
© BAKU 2015
Open Joint Azerbaijan Championship
© BAKU 2015
Open Joint Azerbaijan Championship
© BAKU 2015
Open Joint Azerbaijan Championship
© BAKU 2015

The first day of the Open Joint Azerbaijan Championship kicked off with a lively start on Wednesday with the artistic all-around finals. The home nation’s favourite, Oleg Stepko (Azerbaijan), didn’t disappoint the crowd in the men’s event, winning gold, with teammate Petro Pakhnyuk hot on his heels, taking silver. Turkey narrowly lost out on gold in the women’s event, where Azerbaijan’s Kristina Pravdina claimed the number one spot after a fall by Tutya Yilmaz (Turkey) in the final performance of the day.

Men’s all-around final

Azerbaijan and Croatia led the men’s competition from the outset, with Stepko in first place after a score of 15.300 for his first rotation, the pommel horse. Filip Ude (Croatia), who won silver on pommel horse at the 2014 world championships (Nanning, China), came second on pommel horse despite achieving an impressive 9.000 for execution. Ude maintained his placing for the second rotation, then dropped to third place after his floor routine, in which he crossed over the boundary line and suffered a 0.3 point penalty. Pakhnyuk was glad to step up into second place to replace Ude, after a well-executed floor performance, where he displayed consistent strength and accomplished tumbling, resulting in an apparatus score of 15.250.

Ude was unable to match his Azerbaijani counterparts on the parallel bars during the fourth rotation, scoring 1.000 less than Pakhnyuk, and 1.450 less than competition leader Stepko, who delighted the crowd with his convincing display. A solid performance on the horizontal bar closed the gap between Ude and the two Azerbaijanis, however it was not enough to propel him from his third-place position going onto the final piece of apparatus, where Stepko solidified his gold-medal position with a 9.400 for execution on the vault in the final rotation. Silver was won by his teammate Pakhnyuk, and Ude had to be satisfied with bronze.

In gymnastics even one fall doesn’t determine the final result. I try hard to achieve the highest result independently of circumstances and I am grateful to the coaches and the medical personnel for supporting me on my path.-Oleg Stepko

Norway’s Stian Skjerahaug kept up with the leaders at the start of the competition – maintaining third position for the first two rotations, with solid performances on the floor and pommel horse, then dropping to fourth place after a 13.850 performance on the rings in the third rotation, finishing fourth overall.

Women’s all-around final

The women’s competition was closely fought between Turkey and Azerbaijan, with one of the youngest athletes in the all-around event, Tutya Yilmaz (Turkey), leading after the first rotation, scoring 13.933 on the vault. Teammate Demet Mutlu (Turkey) also had a successful vault and held second place going into the second rotation but dropped to fourth after falling on her dismount from the uneven bars. Mutlu was not the only gymnast to fall foul of the uneven bars, with both Mariia Smirnova (Azerbaijan) and Marina Nekrasova (Azerbaijan) also losing their grip.

Azerbaijan’s Kristina Pravdina gladly took the top spot from her Turkish opponents after a solid performance on the vault on her second rotation, however then she dropped back to second place after a floor performance, which although executed well lacked the technical difficulty to bring her score up above 12.100.

Yilmaz seized the opportunity to reclaim first place on her third rotation giving a convincing beam performance, after which she headed into the final rotation of the day, the floor, looking confident for a gold-medal finish. Sadly for Yilmaz, it was not to be and she fell out of bounds on her first tumble, resulting in a 0.60 point penalty, allowing Pravdina to snatch the podium top spot after a solid but technically less demanding floor routine. Mutlu won bronze after delivering the highest scoring floor routine of the three (12.666) in the final rotation.

I will make my program for the European Games more complicated. I have shown only a small part of what I can do yet. I want to be fully physically prepared and I hope my injury will not disturb me. Time will show what results I can achieve.-Kristina Pravdina


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