Some of the world’s top gymnasts competed in today’s first qualifying round at the Zibo Cup un China, part of the International Gymnastics Federation World Cup series circuit. The lineup included fan favorites like Australian Lauren Mitchell, Chinese veteran Cheng Fei, and Yao Jinnan. The competition is also being live streamed online, a relatively rare occurrence for a World Cup event until recently, although Internet users outside of China are having trouble watching the competition.
Fans online have already tallied up the qualification results for the top four gymnasts in each apparatus that get to compete in the final round. The floor exercise and balance beam qualification rounds will take place tomorrow.
China’s Cheng Fei performed a relatively impressive double twisting Yurchenko on vault on her return to international competition, placing second only to the Dominican Republican’s Yamilet Pena, a rare vault powerhouse and one of the few gymnasts in the world to have ever competed a Produnova vault – an impossibly difficult handspring double front. Not surprisingly, Pena rarely lands the vault on her feet, but its high difficulty value allows her to place well in competition.
On the uneven bars, China’s young Yao Jinnan unveiled a new original skill, a Shaposhnikova with a half twist. Since the Zibo Cup is part the International Gymnastics Federation’s World Cup series, the element will most likely be named after her (in order for a skill to be named after a gymnast, it must be submitted prior to competition and the gymnast must complete it correctly during the meet). Yao placed first in the uneven bar qualifications with an impressive routine.
It is rumored that despite the hype around her recent comeback, Cheng has opted out of competing in the floor exercise event, much to the disappointment of her fans.