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LONDON, 8:41 a.m.: After four years of waiting, the women’s competition at the London Olympic Games will get underway in less than an hour. The preparation is done, the injuries (hopefully) soothed, game faces on. This is the moment.
The men’s competition yesterday showed that anything is possible, that the Olympics can turn favorites into underdogs, and people you’ve never heard of or written off can become the stars of the sport.
Let’s get started.
8:53 a.m.: Outside there’s already a very impressive crowd for it being before 9 a.m., and excitement is high. British fans are decked out. Gymnastics fans are decked out, with flags, Olympic swag, foam fingers and all sorts of wonderful things. Enthusiasm is running very high.
8:59 a.m.: In this first of five subdivisions, we’ll see the Brazilian team, as well as a slew of impressive individuals, including Elsa Garcia of Mexico, who has come to London with upgrades galore (DTY! Patterson!) There’s also Guatemala’s Ana Sofia Gomez Porras (very strong in training), Sweden’s Jonna Adlerteg (look out for her on bars) and the elegant Vasiliki Millousi, whose beam mount provides one of the most sublime moments of the competition.
The Dominican Republic’s Yamilet Pena does the hardest and riskiest vault in the world, a handspring double front, which has only been performed by one other woman, and that was a dozen years ago. Pena, a power gymnast, will be competing only on vault and floor.
9:10 a.m.: The crowd cheers as the lights go down and some informative videos play on the jumbotron. There’s one that explains how scoring works, and another that gives basic outlines of the teams and individuals to watch. In a few minutes, we should have a gymnastics demonstration by some younger, level 10-ish gymnasts, wearing glowing white leotards that look very sleek in this lighting.
9:18 a.m.: The exhibition performance is called “The Art of Gymnastics” and features breakdancers, Acrobatic gymnasts, a rhythmic gymnast, and Danusia Francis on balance beam! So glad she gets to perform here. I believe that’s also Beckie Downie on uneven bars, and could that be Niamh Rippin doing floor? Each gymnast gets her moment in the spotlight.
ROTATION ONE: Brazil on floor.
Fashion notes! Brazil in deep blue, with gold and turquoise and no shortage of sparkles. Dorina Boczogo is in turquoise and white, Angel Wong in sparkly purple and white, Vasiliki Millousi in white, Sofi Gomez in sparkly black, Gaelle Mys in red and yellow, Jonna Adlerteg very elegant in sparkling black and some midnight blue.
Fun fact: Apparently there are more than 100 recognized vaults, beginning I suppose with the squat through and ending with the handspring double front, which will be performed here this morning…
Elsa Garcia, vault: Oh dear, she’s not here! Where is she? She scratched? Either way, she doesn’t vault. Strange! She had a DTY in podium training…
Jonna Adlerteg, bars: Shaposh to Pak. Maloney to bail to Ray, toe full to Tkatchev, quite good, blind to Jaeger, also really nice, double layout with a small hop and tiny little leg separation at the top. Good routine. 13.933.
Kristyna Palesova, beam: Off on bhs, layout. Off again on her next big skill. Oh dear…Sheep. Falls on her dismount as well. 9.7.
Ethiene Franco, floor: Using the same music Tasha Schwikert used from 2002-04. Double Arabian. 1.5 to front layout. Double full. Didn’t see the dismount but she stood it up. 13.166.
Gaelle Mys, vault: FTY, not bad, tiny hop on landing. 13.533.
Vasliki Millousi, bars: Hit routine with double pike dismount. 13.425.
Angel Wong, beam: Very nice front tuck half mount, tiny wobble out. Switch side. Didn’t see the rest. Believe she dismounted with front layout full.
Bruna Leal, floor: Full in tuck. 1.5? to front tuck full? Double tuck. Pretty jazzy piano piece. Double pike dismount.
Moldir Azimbey, vault: Handspring front tuck.
Valeriia Pereyra, bars: Hecht mount. Full to blind to Jaeger. Grip change to nice pike Jaeger. Clear hip to bail to Ray, full in tuck dismount. 13.266.
Dorina Boczogo, beam: Has to grab the beam on a back tuck in combination with a front aerial. Double tuck dismount. 11.6.
Daiane dos Santos, floor: Full twisting double layout amazes everyone. Double layout second pass. Big drums piece. Switch side half. Two whips to double tuck. Performing with a smile! Double turn with leg up. Double pike. Good routine! Crowd loves it. Not bad for 28. 14.166.
Ana Sofia Gomez Porras, vault: DTY, nice! Small hop. 14.533.
Annika Urvikko, bars: Shaposh to bail, clear hip to full pirouette (not sure the full pirouette was intended)…double front dismount. Very interesting swing and style on bars — that was very interesting to watch!
Daniele Hypolito, floor: 2.5 to front layout, underrotates and has to take a huge step back, big arch in her back. Whoops. Second pass was fine. Very dramatic music. Double tuck with a step back. Tourjete half. Some super dramatic eye makeup from Daniele. And hands down on her double pike! Oh dear. 11.9. Ouch. Daniele looks resigned.
Seonmi Heo, bars: Problems after her Pak salto and has to kip off twice. Double layout with big hop forward.
ROTATION TWO: Brazil on vault.
Notes: Elsa Garcia did not present herself to the judges for bars. I wonder what happened? She looked great in training.
Ethiene Franco, vault: FTY, not bad.
Gaelle Mys, bars: Pike Tkatchev. Double front dismount. Hit routine for Gaelle.
Vasiliki Millousi, beam: Roundoff, layout stepout mount, no scale today. Side aerial, switch, back tuck, very well done. Side somie, no problem there. Love the way she moves up there — she takes her time. No rushing. Switch ring. Jumps. Front aerial, bhs, layout, very good. Roundoff, double pike dismount, two steps back, fights to control it. Will that be enough for beam finals?
Yamilet Pena, floor: Her floor music, which I wrote was salsa the other day, is actually a mix from Dominican merengue singer Juan Luis Guerra. Double Arabian to open. Double tuck to end. But only gets 12.3 — something must have happened in the middle.
Daiane dos Santos, vault: Yurchenko 1.5. Not bad. 13.933.
Moldir Azimbey, bars: Stalder full. Tkatchev. Didn’t see dismount. Rather slow work. 10.7.
Valeriia Pereyra, beam: Bhs, back pike. Almost comes off on side aerial. Gets confused on her dismount — bad takeoff — and does a full twist to her hands and knees. 10.566.
Angel Wong, floor: Switch full. Front double full. Some of her choreo is rather NCAA. Double pike dismount. Grinning and waving for the camera as a trainer massages her legs before vault. 12.8.
Bruna Leal, vault: Yurchenko 1.5, a bit better than dos Santos’s.
Ana Sofia Gomez Porras, bars: Toe hecht to high, stalder fullt o to Geinger (legs apart). Toe blind to Jaeger. Bail to Ray to high, full to full in double tuck with a hop. Not bad. 13.266. Fair score.
Annika Urvikko, beam: Nearly comes off on one skill halfway through the routine. Double tuck dismount.
Dorina Boczogo, floor: Bon Jovi medley — the crowd likes it. Handspring double front. OOB on first or second pass. Double pike to end, well done. High five from her coach.
Daniele Hypolito, vault: 13.766 for Yurchenko 1.5, a little lock kneed on the landing.
Elsa Garcia, bars: Scratch?
Seonmi Heo, beam: Lovely full turn with leg at head, but off on double turn. Double pike with a step back.
Kristyna Palesova, floor: Hey, real expression on floor! Lovely, understated soft classical piece, the kind of music you can tell a story to. Divine first five seconds. OOB on 1.5 to front layout full though. Double pike second pass, small bounce out. Switch to Tourjete half. Double tuck, OOB again. 12.966. She looks disappointed with her first two events. You work so hard, and then things don’t go well. It’s rough.
Jonna Adlerteg, beam: All eyes on Adlerteg, the final competitor in this rotation. Press handstand mount. Split leap, wolf jump. Front pike somie, stops. Bhs, layout. Overturns her full turn with leg up. A little nervous so far. Switch to back tuck, that was nice. Side somie. Front aerial. Sheep jump. Roundoff, double tuck with a step forward.
ROTATION THREE: Brazil on bars.
Notes: Oh good, there’s Elsa Garcia! She’s spotted warming up her Patterson dismount on beam. Yamilet Pena sits her handspring double front in warmups, but she’s not too far from standing it up.
Angel Wong, vault: Tsuk layout full. Second vault is handspring front pike half with a hop.
Daiane dos Santos, bars: Hecht mount, 1.5 pirouette to front full pirouette, legs slightly apart on bail to toe hecht. Hop full to Tkatchev. Full twisting double tuck gets big applause. This is not her event by a long shot, but she survived. 12.966.
Moldir Azimbay, beam: Falls on a jump element early on. Double tuck dismount from this Kazakh gymnast.
Valeriia Pereyra, floor: 1.5 to double tuck, OOB. Barely pulls around her full in tuck. Lovely piece of music, just beautiful. Ends with a stuck double pike. Good for her! 12.6.
Dorina Boczogo, vault: Sits Yurchenko 1.5. Not quite enough lift. Second vault is a handspring front pike.
Ethiene Franco, bars: Hit routine. Nice swing. Arabian double front dismount with a hop. 12.933.
Goksu Uctas, beam: Dismounts with a punch front. Hm.
Annika Urvikko, floor: Arabian double front, cowboyed and has to take several steps backwards out of it to keep it on her feet. Double pike dismount. Nice piece of music — sounds like it might be from a James Bond movie or something. The announcer calls her “the darling of the Finnish gymnastics team.” This is her first Olympic Games. 12.266.
Kristyna Palesova, vault: FTY with a step back.
Bruna Leal, bars: Falls on double front dismount. 12.466.
Ana Sofia Gomez Porras, beam: Roll mount. Bhs to beautiful tucked full. Good for her! Switch to back pike. Good jumps. She’s really going for it, no signs of tentativeness. Switch half. Back tuck. Switch side, floated. Lovely! Bhs, bhs, 2.5 twist dismount with a small hop.
Seonmi Heo, floor: Double layout, step back to open. Double pike with a large bounce back to end.
Yamilet Pena, vault: Goes for handspring double front, came onto the table too high to get the push she needed and landed it on her bottom. May have landed with her bottom before her feet, even. Crowd is clapping for her as she preps her second vault…14.933 will not get her into finals. Second vault is DTY, step back but the best she’s done it! Her coach rushes up to hug her. I still don’t think that will make finals, but you never know.
Daniele Hypolito, bars: More or less hit routine. Some pirouettes not finished in the handstand. 12.9. Rough rotation for Brazil on bars.
Elsa Garcia, beam: Putting chalk all over and around her knees. In a pink, black and white leotard practically dipped in sparkles. Switch half to jumps. Punch front, step forward, small wobble. Side somie, small wobble again. Front aerial, pause. Switch. And finally, a Patterson (Arabian double front) dismount. Lands low and has to step to the side, but she made it.
Jonna Adlerteg, floor: Very Arabian piece. 2.5 to single stag, well connected. Double tuck. Front double full to end, OOB.
Gaelle Mys, beam: All I really saw was her double tuck dismount, but it seemed like this was a hit routine. Gaelle looks delighted as she salutes the judges.
Vasiliki Millousi, floor: Enchanting lyrcial music with female vocals. Two whips to double tuck with a small step back. Double full, bounce half turn. The tumbling’s all right, but the best thing about this routine is her presence on the floor, and the exquisite way she moves. Liquid dance. Double pike. Switch ring. Wonderful routine for Vasiliki.
ROTATION FOUR: Brazil on beam.
Annika Urvikko, vault: Handspring front pike half.
Dorina Boczogo, bars: Clear hip hecht, Gienger. Double layout dismount. Nice swing.
Ethiene Franco, beam: Bhs to layout to two feet. Gainer pike off the end.
Ana Sofia Gomez Porras, floor: Full in tuck, small hop back, not bad. Triple full, nearly stuck. Switch to switch half. Double turn with leg up. 2.5 to punch front. Spanish music. Double pike. Music ends with a twang and a dramatic pose from Sofi. She gets a huge hug from her coach off the podium. She’s done very, very well. AA finals, I imagine. 14.0. That gets a round of applause from the audience.
Seonmi Heo, vault: Yurchenko 1.5 with a large hop forward.
Kristyna Palesova, bars: Hit routine. Double layout dismount, small hop. Good for her!
Bruna Leal, beam: Jump on. Looking good from what I’m seeing — well controlled side somie. Switch, wolf. Roundoff, 1.5 twist dismount with a step forward.
Elsa Garcia, floor: She too gets a big hand as she takes the floor. Rather flowery English/Spanish piece of music. Violins. Double layout, a bit rough on the landing, big step forward. Triple turn. Full in tuck, well done. Tourjete full. Switch to switch full as the music changes. 2.5 to punch front. And finally a double pike, stands straight up, small hop. Well done! 13.733.
Jonna Adlerteg, vault: FTY.
Angel Wong, bars: Didn’t see it.
Daniele Hypolito, beam: Bhs, bhs to two feet, layout to two feet. Punch front. Side aerial. Switch ring. Roundoff, bhs, double pike, STUCK! Oh, good for her! The Brazilians explode. Nice of them to have some happy moments. Overall they have had a pretty lackluster day. They needed Jade Barbosa here in order to be a more serious contender.
Gaelle Mys, floor: Using the fun tango music Shawn Johnson had in 2011. Front double full to front layout half. Double tuck, hop back. Switch ring. Double full. Switch side half. Double pike, step back, just her heel out of bounds.
Vasiliki Millousi, vault: Yurchenko layout.
Harumy de Freitas, beam: Off on bhs, layout. Might have fought more for it. Front aerial. Side aerial, almost comes off again. Come on! Switch to back tuck. Jumps. Full turn. Has looked very tentative here. But good roundoff, double tuck dismount. She kind of shrugs as she steps off the mat, and walks into a big Brazilian group hug. I think they know they’re done.
There was a very different reaction in this same arena in January when they qualified to the Games as a team. But it was a great accomplishment for them to get here as a team. The team is now hugging each other individually, and there are tears from de Freitas.
Moldir Azimbay, floor: Double pike to open. Fast paced piece of music. Front layout to front tuck to split jump. Double turn. Music sounds rather Kazakh, or what you’d expect to be kazakh if you’re from the west.
Valeriia Pereyra, vault: 13.366 for FTY.
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