© John Cheng

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama (July 15, 2022) – The acrobatic duo of Katie Borcherding and Cierra McKown won the bronze medal in women’s pair to claim the first U.S. gymnastics medal of The World Games 2022 Friday at BJCC Legacy Arena. Two-time national champion Ruben Padilla finished fourth in double mini, as trampoline and tumbling competition also kicked off in Birmingham.

The reigning world silver medalists in the balance exercise, Borcherding (Pacific, Mo.) and McKown (Riverside, Calif.), both of Realis Gymnastics Academy, added more international hardware to their collections. As the final competitors to take the floor during the finals, the Americans launched themselves into third, garnering a 27.120 in the combined exercise on the strength of a high-energy, crowd-pleasing performance.

Ukranian pair Viktoriia Kozlovska and Taisilia Marchenko, the 2021 European bronze medalists and the crowd favorite after the Americans, won gold with a 29.290. 2021 European gold medalists Rita Teixeira and Rita Ferreira of Portugal, were second with a 28.780.

Borcherding and McKown qualified third with a cumulative score of 53.600 on a day that saw them take the floor three times. They ranked third and fourth, respectively, in the balance (27.550) and dynamic (26.050) exercises.

Padilla snares fourth in double mini, lights up arena in qualifying

A two-time World individual medalist in double mini, Padilla (Bluffdale, Utah/Wasatch Trampoline & Tumbling) was the class of the field through three of four passes throughout the day. His combined score of 61.000 (30.400, 30.600) in qualifying Friday afternoon dwarfed the 54.500 posted by eventual silver medalist Daniel Schmidt of Germany and electrified the partisan Legacy Arena crowd.

In accordance with the International Gymnastics Federation’s updated finals structure, which was adopted earlier this year, the top-four gymnasts after the first finals pass advanced to a second pass. Padilla led after the first pass with a 29.600, performing a triple-pike dismount. When he performed the same dismount in his second pass of the final, he was penalized for repeating the skill, resulting in a .600 deduction and no difficulty score awarded for the dismount. He finished fourth with a final score of 24.000 on the strength of his execution (18.700) and the difficulty score of his mount (5.900). David Franco of Spain was victorious with his final pass of 28.200. Schmidt was second with a 27.800 and Ryohei Taniguchi of Japan third with a 26.900.

Acrobatics competition continues Saturday with Angel Felix (Moreno Valley, Calif.) and Braiden McDougall (Riverside, Calif.) of Realis Gymnastics Academy in men’s pair and Isabel Chang (Columbia, Md.), Sydney Martin (Glenwood, Md.) and Maria Wooden (Derwood, Md.) of Emilia’s Acro Gymnastics and Cheer in women’s group. In T&T, Miah Bruns (Crete, Ill./World Champions Centre) will contest women’s tumbling.