Yes, Gymnastics Competitions Are Still Going On — Here’s What’s Happening

And it’s *not* all about the U.S. right now

Laurie Hernandez, Sanne Wevers, and Simone Biles. Photo: Getty Images via People.com

Day 2 of the gymnastics event finals in Rio was all about the international contingent. The most anticipated event of the day was the women’s balance beam final, and suffice it to say that the results were not quite what the world was expecting. Simone Biles showed us she’s human. Our golden girl stumbled and had to put her hands down on the beam, which made her misstep count as a fall even though she didn’t actually tip off of the apparatus. So no gold for her today, but she still ended up with a bronze. Teammate Laurie Hernandez won silver and Dutch gymnast Sanne Wevers came out on top with a routine that made her look like a ballerina because of the gorgeous pirouettes. She was the first Dutch gymnast to ever qualify for the beam final or win a women’s individual medal, so she certainly made her country proud.

Sanne Wevers. Photo from Getty Images via NBC Olympics
Eleftherios Petrounias. Photo from Associated Press via NBC Olympics

No U.S. men qualified for either the rings or the vault, so American viewers got to sit back and enjoy everyone else. Rings are all about upper body strength, which Eleftherios Petrounias of Greece has a solid supply of. The athlete won gold after making his routine look effortless — his body rarely shook or strained, and he held his poses for even longer than the mandatory two seconds. The win is nicely full-circle for him too, as he was the first athlete to carry the Olympic torch when the relay began back in April. Silver went to Brazil’s Arthur Zanetti and Russian Denis Abliazin earned bronze, the latter immediately followed by a silver medal on vault.

Ri Se Gwang. Photo via Flickr

On that second event of the day, it was clear none of the competitors planned to hold anything back; this time, the power was all in the legs. When a skill competes and lands for the first time it’s named after the person who performed it, something historic that happened at least twice today — a three-and-a-half twist Yurchenko by Japan’s Kenzo Shirai who went on to win bronze in the event after a tiebreak with Romanian Marian Drăgulescu, and a handspring triple front complete with a 7.0 start value (most skills are between 5.5 and 6.8) done by Igor Radivilov of Ukraine. Each gymnast competes two vaults, and the ones performed by eventual gold medal winner Ri Se Gwang of North Korea were both ones he’d previously invented — a handspring double piked front somersault with a half turn and a Tsukahara (roundoff) double back with a full twist, the latter of which is the second hardest vault in the world.

Olympic gymnastics concludes Tuesday with the men’s parallel bars and high bar finals as well as the women’s floor final. We’ll be watching; will you?


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