The first day of the Melbourne leg of the International Gymnastics Federation’s (FIG) Individual Apparatus World Cup series got underway this evening at Melbourne’s Hisense Arena.
It’s the second year Melbourne has hosted a stop on the Individual Apparatus World Cup Series, with athletes from 15 countries converging on the sports capital of Australia for four days of world-class gymnastics.
Tonight saw the first of two Qualification rounds, with athletes competing on Women’s Vault and Uneven Bars, as well as the Men’s Floor, Pommel Horse and Rings.
It was a successful outing for Australia on Vault with Emily Whitehead qualifying in first place for Saturday night’s Final with a score of 13.949, along with compatriot Georgia Godwin, who qualified in third place with 13.533. The two Aussies finished either side of India’s Aruna Budda Reddy, who made it through to the Final in second with 13.566.
Whitehead is just focusing on Vault for this competition and said it felt good putting all her energy into one apparatus while competing in an international event in front of a home crowd.
“It was great to hear the crowd when competing tonight,” Whitehead said. “Usually when we’re competing in international competitions it’s on the other side of the world and there isn’t much crowd noise for us. Hearing the home crowd really gives you an edge.”
The crowd was vocal throughout an exciting competition on Uneven Bars that saw China’s Yile Chen leading the field with an impressive routine that was rewarded by the judges with 14.233. Australia’s Rianna Mizzen followed in second with 13.333 and China’s Siyu Du in third with 13.300. The other Australian hopeful, Georgia-Rose Brown, also made it through to finals.
China’s Shihao Ge finished as the top qualifier in the Men’s Floor competition, putting up a solid score of 14.033, with Kazakhstan’s Milad Karimi in second scoring 13.933, and Kazuyuki Takeda from Japan in third with 13.833. Aussies Scott Costin and Christopher Remkes also safely made it through the Qualification round.
It was a strong showing on Pommel Horse by Chinese Taipai’s Chih Kai Lee, who scored highly with 15.133, ahead of the 2013 World Champion on this apparatus, Kohei Kameyama from Japan, with another big score of 15.000. China’s Hao Weng was third with 14.833.
The night’s results were rounded out with another strong showing from the Chinese – this time on Rings – with Guanhua Wu and Yue Ma qualifying in the top two spots; Wu in first with 14.933, followed by Ma with 14.666. Japan’s Kazuyuki Takeda rounded out the top three with 14.300. Australians Michael Tone and Michael Mercieca will also be competing for medals on the weekend.
In other news, Official Event Ambassador and US Olympic Champion – Aly Raisman – was reunited with her personal coach, Mihai Brestyan, in Melbourne today. Brestyan is the current Head Coach of the Australia Women’s Artistic Gymnastics Team, and they watched on as all the host nation’s athletes all qualified for Saturday night’s Finals, capping off an exciting beginning to this year’s World Cup.