Patras (GRE), Sunday 16 September:
Her Hoop routine, packed with unique Difficulty (9.350), Artistic value (9.150) and executed in style (9.100), brought back the memories of the unforgettable Luciano Pavarotti (choreographed to a piece of music from G. Puccini’s “Turandot”- “Nessun Dorma”) - 18. 350pts.
Second in the field of 302 gymnasts (50 countries/ 31 full Teams) is the 2006 European overall champion and current World champion with Ribbon, Vera Sessina (RUS), 18.075. (Some unique multiple pirouettes with changing the position of the leg and unusual handling of the hoop by feet and toes, Difficulty of 9.250).
Inna Zhukova (BLR) sits in third place- 17.900, a very original Rope routine, performed, due to the draw, first of all contenders, in the morning session of the competitions.
The multiple Olympic, World and European medallist Anna Bessonova (UKR) is in fourth, 17.575, (excellent Rope routine to a piece from Bernstein’s “West Side Story”), followed by the top Bulgarian competitor Simona Peycheva, 16.875 (very strong, and dynamic Hoop routine!)
Quite surprisingly, the 2004 Olympic and twice World Champion (1999 and 2003), Alina Kabaeva (RUS), had a visibly shaky start (also Hoop), and finished the day in seventh place, 16.675, just behind Irina Risenson (ISR) 16.750!
Even bigger surprises came with the current Team ranking!
Ukraine, considered to be the strongest challengers of Russia for the Team Gold, sit in fourth after the first apparatus (47.075), 6.025 behind Russia (1st, 53.100), 2.575 behind Belarus (2nd, 49.650 and 0.825 behind Azerbaijan (3rd, 48.000).
With three more apparatus to come in the next three days, there is, of course, plenty of room to compensate for the loss, incurred mostly because of Godunko’s bad experience with Rope (14.350)
Bulgaria was sitting in fifth alone, until Israel, who performed in the last minutes of the competition, almost eight hours after its beginning, put together exactly the same score as theirs (46.700)
No less surprising are Georgia’s seventh and Korea’s eight positions in the current Team ranking (45.325 and 45.075 respectively).
In short, this opening day has put on a display the huge progress achieved in the world of Rhythmic Gymnastics and has ended, full of promises for a very interesting developments to come/VA.
Michael Bradley Photography
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