The Daily 9, WED Oct 14

October 14, 2009

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The Inside Gymnastics team highlights 9 standouts of the day from the 2009 World Championships.

1.Bross is Boss. American Rebecca Bross, competing in the final subdivision, reigned supreme in today's preliminary round. Only one tenth ahead of the next competitor, but with room for improvement (Bross had an uncharacteristic fall on her Arabian double front dismount off beam), Bross has the difficulty and the level of execution to lead the pack. How will she handle the pressure?

2. Romanian Beauty. What a high for Romanian's Ana Porgras! A month ago at Romanian Nationals she planned to compete only two events, but mid-way through the competition realized that she stood a good chance of medaling. Not only did she win those Romanian Nationals, but now she sits in second in the all-around after prelims at Worlds! She's also qualified seventh on bars, first on beam, and third on floor.

3. Lauren Mitchell Delivers. We said in our Daily 9 after podium training that Lauren Mitchell was a good bet for bronze. Tonight she finished in third position, and has room to improve (the talented Aussie stumbled out of her turn on floor). In addition to competing for an all-around medal, Mitchell will vie for event honors on beam and floor (fifth on both after prelims).

4. North Korea’s Conquest. We see them at so few meets, and often their mantra is inconsistency. Tonight saw some incredible performances by the group, with 2008 Olympic gold medalist Hong Un Jong throwing a near perfect Amanar (that she didn’t stand up once in podium training). She also threw a Yurchenko 1/2 on pike 1/2 off, and qualified in second place going into Saturday's vault final. Teammate Cha Yong Hwa hit an original bars set featuring a Def, stoop to dislocate, and double layout dismount. She qualified to the bars final in third position. Kim Un Hyang rounded out the North Korean wow factor, sitting second place on beam.

5. Williams Wows! U.S. newcomer Kayla Williams was expected to perform well on vault, and that she did! Williams qualified into Saturday's apparatus final in the lead position, having thrown a Rudi and double twisting Yurchenko (she's capable of the Amanar). She described her Worlds debut to Inside Gymnastics as, "every positive emotion, times ten!" She was keenly aware and appreciative of the audience cheering her on, especially a group of teammates from JO Nationals. "I could hear them yelling all the time!" she laughed. Williams finished ninth on the floor exercise, and, as the reserve athlete, will compete if one of the existing top eight scratch.

6. China Rising. The Chinese girls put most of their podium problems behind them, with impressive performances today. He Kexin scored the top score of the competition, a 15.975 on bars. Deng Linlin didn't have a clean all-around performance, but qualified in fourth.

She'll also vie for medals on beam and floor. Yang Yilin (3rd in the all-around in Beijing) struggled the most, and sits outside the top group in 8th. She also scrapped into the beam final in seventh. China's fourth entry, Siu Lu qualified second on floor and would have qualified to the beam final, if not for the two-per-country maximum.

7. What Could (and Should) Have Been.... Beth Tweddle was almost a sure bet for a medal on bars at these World Championships. But the crowd favorite fell on her reverse hect with half turn and will not appear in the bar final. She still has one shot for a medal, qualifying fourth to floor with lots of room to improve, having nearly fallen on her opening double Arabian.

8. Love it or Leave It. Tina Erceg's leotard, featuring collar, tie, and actual cuffs, drew a mixed reaction from the audience. Some thought it was retro cool while others voiced their disapproval at an "exhibition" leotard being used in a meet as formal as World Championships. We’re all for mixing things up and keeping the sport entertaining, but at this prestigious event, we prefer the gymnastics do the talking and we give the leo a thumbs down. What do you think?

9. O2 Remembers MJ. Michael Jackson was scheduled to perform his much-anticipated concert stint at this O2 arena. Today the announcer proclaimed that he'd play Thriller in Michael Jackson's memory. The music was turned off after the group of girls had finished their floor warm-up, and Egypt's Ahmed Saad Nourhan began her floor exercise using Michael Jackson's Smooth Criminal. In other musical musings, Jessica Gil of Colombia used music from the soundtrack of the gymnastics hit movie "Stick It!"

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Photos by Grace Chiu