Women’s Competition

MELBOURNE – The USA Women’s team members were the standout performers at the 38th FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Championships at Rod Laver Arena this past week, winning four of the five gold medals up for grabs in the Women’s competition.

Gymnast Nastia Liukin pocketed a total of four medals, including two individual gold medals on Uneven Bars and Beam, and two silver medals on Floor Exercise and in the Women’s All Around. Sixteen-year-old Liukin met the expectations placed upon her by the US coming into the competition and establishing herself as a gymnast to watch over the next few years.
Teammate Chellsie Memmel was crowned the World Champion in the Women’s All-Around Final on Friday, beating Liukin by the slightest of margins – 0.001 – to win her first and only gold medal of the competition. Memmel becoming the USA’s first World Champion since Shannon Miller won the World title when the World Championships were last held on Australian soil – in Brisbane in 1994.
Liukin, daughter of former world gymnastic greats Valeri Liukin and Anna Kochneva, has taken over from retired gymnast Svetlana Khorkina as the new Queen of Bars, denying Memmel her second consecutive World title on the apparatus. Liukin’s performance in Melbourne is set to make her a household name, following in the footsteps of Khorkina – who Liukin matches in elegance and style on the Uneven Bars. Great Britain’s Beth Tweddle overcame pain to take the bronze medal in the Uneven Bars Final, after falling while warming up in the training halls prior to competition.
Memmel faced Liukin again in the Beam Final, but again fell short of her younger teammate, finishing with the silver medal. Olympic Champion Catalina Ponor overcame an unsteady start to win her only medal of these championships – a bronze, while gold medal favourite China’s Fan Ye fell from the beam during the final, unable to defend her World title from 2003.
China’s Cheng Fei brought China their only medal in Women’s gymnastics at this event, when she won the Women’s Vault title with an astonishing vaulting performance, the petite gymnast launching herself down the runway, producing two high vaults – and successfully landing her new 10-start value vault, a round-off flic flac with half turn on, salto forward stretch with one and a half turn – to win China their first ever women’s World title on this apparatus.

Oxana Chusovitina
won a record seventh World medal when she took the silver medal behind Fei – becoming the most successful female gymnast on any apparatus at a World Championships. Alicia Sacramone (USA) continued her vaulting consistency to take the bronze medal.
Sacramone’s dynamic tumbling and acrobatics on the Floor Exercise won the USA their fourth gold medal of the competition – and Sacramone her second, after she won a bronze on the Vault. World Champion Daiane Dos Santos was unable to land her signature skill – a piked Arabian double front – Liukin and Netherland’s Suzanne Harmes found the form they needed, to win silver and bronze respectively.
China was expected to feature in the All-Around medals – before Zhang Nan and Zhang Yufei withdrew from the final with injuries – but it was local girl Monette Russo who took up the challenge and had the consistency on the day to take the bronze medal, winning Australia its first individual women’s medal at a World Championships.