SOFIA, November 13, 2017 - One year after taking bronze at the Olympic Games, Gao Lei kept his world crown in men's Trampoline on the last day of the Trampoline Gymnastics World Championships in Sofia. In the women's competition, meanwhile, four-time Olympian Tatsiana Piatrenia finally clinched the first individual gold of her impressive career after a long quest.
Gao Lei kept the crown
Gao Lei literally flew high above the Arena Armeec field to assert himself again as the leading man in his discipline. The Chinese's time of flight is usually his strongest asset and once again it helped him make the difference. In the final reckoning a 0.275 pt margin separated the reigning World champion from Russia's Dmitrii Ushakov, the 2015 bronze medallist, who had set benchmarks both in qualification and in the semi-finals.
For the Chinese gymnasts, who also won the team title on Friday, the first challenge had been to outclass their own teammates to advance to the final because of the two finalists per nation rule. Dong Dong, who had been one of the casualties of this ruling at the last World Championships, managed this time to be the second man alongside Gao Lei. The triple Olympic medallist transformed his opportunity into bronze, the 17th medal of his collection, in the process depriving France's Allan Morante from a medal by a mere 0.015 pt.
After his golden day 24 hours before, Sunday was less glorious for Uladzislau Hancharou. The 2016 Olympic champion aborted his routine after hitting the side of the Trampoline bed, meaning that for the first time since his senior debut in 2013, the Belarusian did not stand on the individual podium in a major event.
The 12 th medal but the first individual gold
A long wait ended on Sunday for 36-year-old Belarusian Tatsiana Piatrenia who, after having pocketed 11 world medals, including a title in Synchronised Trampoline, finally struck her first individual gold medal. Following her silver in team Trampoline and bronze in Synchronised Trampoline on the previous two days in Sofia, Piatrenia clinched at last the World title with a polished routine in the individual competition. The absence of the Olympic medallists had opened the way to the throne to a new champion in the Bulgarian capital. But the surprise of the day was the absence of any Chinese representative on the podium. The most expected contender had been Liu Lingling, but the 2014 world champion missed the cut in the semi-finals. So it was left to Japan's Ayano Kishi to emerge from the pack to take second and Canadian Sophiane Methot third, with both women winning their first medals.
Zhang sets new benchmark
The men's Tumbling final turned into a terrific duel between Russia and China's rising stars, Maxim Zhlyakin and Zhang Kuo, the 2015 bronze medallist. Their stunning first passes gave them a share of the lead. But while Zhang dazzled again with his second pass and could flex his muscles, the Russian fell short on his final landing and finished in sixth place. A day after the team final, where China came in second behind Great Britain, the same national flags were raised above the individual podium on Sunday. Only this time Denmark's Anders Wesch occupied the second position ahead of Britain's Elliott Browne.
A first for South Africa
A silver medallist at the 2010 and 2011 World Championships, Bianca Zoonekynd completed a six-year wait before at last clinching gold. The South African set the pace with her first pass and consolidated her advantage with her second one to offer her country its first title in women's Double Mini-trampoline. This was a welcome reward for Zoonekynd, who has only recently recovered from serious injuries sustained in a car accident in August. Polina Troianova, crowned with the Russian team on Saturday, took silver while Sweden's Lina Sjoeberg secured her place on the third step of the podium, as in 2015, after a rough start.
For more about the 32nd Trampoline Gymnastics World Championships, please visit the FIG and event websites and download the FIGymnastics app.