History written in Doha

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History written in Doha

November 7, 2018

Highlights of the Artistic Gymnastics World Championships in Doha (QAT)

From 25 October to 3 November, Doha’s magnificent Aspire Dome was the centre of attention for gymnastics fans worldwide. For the first time the event was held in the Middle East and a lot was at stake … the top 24 teams earned their spot at next year World Championships in Stuttgart (GER) and the top 3 teams got the much-desired entry ticket for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo (JPN).

 

Here are highlights of the 10 competition days in Doha! In no particular order …

 

Petrounias and his fan circle

The hall literally filled up when Eleftherios Petrounias competed in the final. Greek flags everywhere and vocal support for the Lord of the Rings: “It was amazing. I left [the arena] after floor [exercise] to start warm-up, and when I came back, I saw some flags. But when I came back for the [rings] competition it was like full of Greeks. I couldn’t believe it. We have 5,000 Greeks who are working in Doha, and I didn’t expect so many here. When I went to the podium [to compete], my coach said, ‘Do it for them.’ I gave all of my effort and good mentality to make a gold routine.” The European, World and Olympic Champion is suffering from a severe shoulder injury which causes him a lot of pain. He actually did only 2 full rings routines since winning his fourth European title in Glasgow in August both in Doha: one in qualification and one in the final. He literally is superman

 

King Artur rules over Doha

2018 has been quite the year for Russia’s Artur Dalaloyan. In Glasgow he became the most decorated male gymnasts, winning 3 European titles (team, vault and parallel bars) and one bronze medal (floor). In Doha … he transformed into King Artur, winning the all-around title by a tie breaker, after claiming silver with the team. It was the first time a European gymnast has won the gold in 19 years, since compatriot Nikolay Kryukov won in Tianjin (CHN) in 1999. “I had only one goal, and that was to perform my job from beginning to end without mistakes. I was surprised and can’t say anything more. I’m just so happy. I feel good, excellent. I simply tried my best to show my best. I can’t believe it yet.”

And the party wasn’t over yet: in event finals Dalaloyan added the gold on floor, silver on vault and bronze on parallel bars to his collection, thus becoming the most decorated male gymnast at these World Championships.

 

Derwael claims gold on uneven bars

Belgium’s Nina Derwael had the competition of a lifetime in Doha. From subdivision 1 (of 11!) she qualified in first place to the uneven bars final, she was also 4th in all-around and 6th on beam. In the all-around final she showed off her consistency and managed to fight for the medals despite having lower difficulty on vault and floor than her rivals. She finished 4th, 0.033 away from the bronze medal. Her main focus, of course, was on the uneven bars final. Two-time European Champion on this event, the 18-year-old performed a gorgeous routine that earned her Belgium’s first ever World title: “It was one of my best routines that I’ve done here so far. I slightly over-rotated my full turn before my dismount, but my dismount was great, so I’m very, very happy with my performance. I felt a lot of stress before mounting the bars, but once I got into my rhythm, I could feel, ‘Yeah, it’s going great,’ and continued like that. Then, when I stuck my landing, it was just a relief.”

 

The great Simone Biles show

Considered the Greatest of All Time by many, the 21-year-old American made her return to World level competition after taking a year off following her triumph at the Rio Olympics. She debuted a new vault and led her team to their fourth consecutive world title. In the all-around she fell both on vault and on beam, but thanks to the high difficulty value of all her routines, she still came out on top, becoming the first gymnast to win four all-around World titles. And she broke more records: she beat Vitaly Scherbo’s record of 12 World titles. She now had 14! Biles also claimed a medal in each of the 6 events, a feat last accomplished in 1987 by the late Elena Shushunova.

 

48 teams to compete at Stuttgart 2019

In both the men’s and women’s competition, the 24 top teams of these Worlds advance to next year event. All other countries can only send individuals. The European nations did great, qualifying 16 men’s and 14 women’s teams. A great representation for our continent!

 

The return of Oleg Verniaiev

The two-time European all-around Champion made his return to competition on Doha after surgery. Only three months back training, Verniaiev competed mainly to help his team qualify for next year’s World Championships. At the halfway stage of the all-around final he was in the lead though until a fall of high bar took him out of contention. On his signature event, parallel bars, he did clinch the silver medal: “It was not my best but I am so happy that I got a medal. It is very important for me after nine months off [because of injury]. I was back for my first serious competition, and that is the best that I could have done. I did not train this routine. The last time I performed it was in Montreal last year. I started from zero.”

 

Olympic ticket in the pocket for both Russian teams

The top three teams in the final earned their ticket to the 2020 Olympics. For Europe, both Russian teams finished second, thus ensuring their participation in Tokyo. Team captain Aliya Mustafina said: “We were aiming to qualify for the (2020 Tokyo) Olympic Games. We had a target and we met it.” Pressure of the shoulders the teams can now focus fully on perfecting skills and routines.

 

Medal table

No less than 17 countries left Doha with medals! Chinese Taipei, Mexico and the Philippines for the first time. Eight European countries made it to the medal table as well. It’s a pleasure to see such variety on the medal podium!

Country

Gold

Silver

Bronze

Total

USA

4

2

3

9

China

4

1

1

6

Russia

2

3

2

7

Belgium

1

-

-

1

DPRK

1

-

-

1

Greece

1

-

-

1

Netherlands

1

-

-

1

Japan

-

3

3

6

Canada

-

2

-

2

Brazil

-

1

-

1

Great Britain

-

1

-

1

Ukraine

-

1

-

1

Chinese Taipei

-

-

1

1

Germany

-

-

1

1

Italy

-

-

1

1

Mexico

-

-

1

1

Philippines

-

-

1

1