Mustafina claims Russia’s first gold in artistic gymnastics since Sydney Games
10 competitive Olympic days are now behind us and I’m happy to say that Russian athletes are finally appearing on the front page of the headlines. We doubled our gold medal count on Monday and now have 42 overall including 7 of the highest value, 17 silver and 18 bronze. But before we get to the latest Olympic champions and other medalists let’s bring up the standings and see what’s going on in the top three.
1 China 31 19 14 64
2 USA 9 15 19 63
3 GB 18 11 11 40
4 S. Korea 11 5 6 22
5 France 8 9 9 26
6 Russia 7 17 18 42
We will get to Russia’s first gold in gymnastics in the last twelve years in just a moment because first I want to talk about a bronze medal which is considered more of a failure than an achievement for this particular athlete. Though a bronze was still missing from her collection, two time Olympic champion pole-vaulter Elena Isimbayeva, probably wanted a different medal.
That’s right, Elena Isinbayeva tried hard to add a third Olympic title to her name. Unfortunately this mission appeared to be unattainable for an athlete who set the world record 27 times during her professional carrier.
Elena cleared the height of 4 metres 70cm, but unfortunately faltered at 4.75 and 4.80. Nevertheless Isinbayeva earned an Olympic bronze at her FOURTH Olympic tournament. She is the legend and the this relative failure in London couldn’t lessen her contribution to the development of the world sport.
Bronze medal at the Olympics is definitely not a failure, it’s an outstanding result and Elena Isinbayeva should be proud of herself. Victory in this athletics event was taken by the US pole vaulter Jennifer Suhr who coped with the height of 4.75 on her second attempt. Silver went to Yarisley Silva of Cuba.
Russia’s 1st gold medal in athletics came from the reigning world champion Yulia Zaripova who outran all of her opponents on the final straight of the women’s 3000 metres steeple chase final. Zaripova set the pace of the race from the first minutes and didn’t relinquish this lead until the finish.
Russia’s star Zaripova stooped the clock at 9 minutes 6.72 seconds and added the most prestigious title to gold medals from world and European championships. Habibi Gribi of Tunisia settled for silver while Ethiopian athlete Sofia Assefa took bronze.
In women’s shot put Russia’s Evgeniya Kolodko made a big surprise by finishing third in Monday’s final. After 5 attempts Kolodko firmly sat on 5th position losing to the third-placed Chinese athlete more than 30cm.
But in the final 6th attempt the 22-year-old Russian did the impossible by setting her new personal best of 20 metres 48 cm which moved her 2 places higher right on the third step of the podium.
Nadezhda Ostapchuk of Belarus celebrated an impressive victory by putting her shot to 21.36 metres and the multiple world champion from Australia Valerie Adams received silver with the result of 20.70
Also we are pleased to say that Russia’s runner Nataliya Antukh qualified for women’s 400m hurdles with the best result and undoubtedly she will battle for awards in this prestigious distance.
Russia’s goldless era in artistic gymnastics that lasted for long 12 years finished with Aliya Mustafina’s stuck dismount on the uneven bars on Monday. The girl posted unbelievable 16.133 points for her dazzling routine and became the winner of the Olympic Games 18 months after she had torn the ligament in her left knee.
With that gold the 2010 world all-around champion has a complete set of Olympic awards, she finished first on the uneven bars, won bronze in the all-around event and became a silver medalist in team final. As we have already mentioned Aliya broke the winless streak of the national squad that lasted for two Olympic cycles. It’s difficult to imagine, but Russia’s previous Olympic gold was taken at the Sydney Games.
And by the way Russia’s prominent gymnast Svetlana Khorkina was unrivaled exactly on the same apparatus – uneven bars, and now the title of the bars queen went to Khorkina’s successor – Aliya Mustafina.
Musrafina was really flawless on Monday, she delivered a stunning performance hitting the routine in way she had never done before. “this was my best performance ever” Aliya confessed after the competition. Actually much depended on the dismount, the clear favourite to win gold Beth Tweddle made a step on her dismount and this mistake denied her a chance to become the first finisher. Beth earned bronze which is also a great achievement at the Olympics.
By the way Beth Tweddle said that she just wanted to receive an Olympic medal, it doesn’t matter what color it is. This attitude really deserves respect, congratulations to Beth who finally grabbed the coveted Olympic medal.
Ok, let’s continue with Aliya Mustafina who didn’t give the judges a reason to make even minor deductions. Aliya not only coped with all of her elements but she also nailed her unique dismount which is named after her and deservingly stepped onto the first step of the Olympic podium.
The defending Olympic champion He Kexin of China was also credited with high scores for her brilliant bars routine but it was not enough to beat Mustafina’s result. He Kexin opened the competition and set a high bar for the rest of the rivals by picking up 15.933 points. But as we all know two-time world champion Aliya Mustafina managed to exceed a 16 point mark and surpass all of the finalsists.
So, Aliya Mustafina brought the first gold for Russia since the Sydney Olympics by overcoming immensely strong gymnasts He Kexin of China and Beth Tweddle of Great Britain who finished 2nd and third respectively.
Unfortunately Victoria Komova who is the reigning world and European champion on the uneven bars hit the lower bar twice during her performance and as a result took only 5th place.
Onto men’s vault now where Denis Ablyzin expanded his collection of Olympic awards by grabbing silver on Monday. The only athlete who happened to be higher than Ablyzin was the reigning world vault champion Yan Hang Seon of South Korea.
Denis landed two solid vaults and was the current leader of the competition until the Korean gymnast stood up his extremely complicated 7.4 D vault – the most difficult element in men’s gymnastics at the moment. Yan’s second attempt was flawless and the judges deservingly gave him the highest scores.
So, Yan Hang Seon wins gold, Denis Ablyazin takes silver and Ukranian gymnast Igor Radivilov completes the podium.
Just a reminder this was Ablyazin’s second Olympic award as a day earlier he grabbed bronze on floor. Congratulations to Denis, it was undoubtedly perfect Olympic debut.
Greco Roman wrestling
A second gold medal in just as many days came for Russia in Greco Roman wrestling. Alan Khugaev who is ranked number five in the world claimed the title of an Olympic champion by beating Egypt’s Karam Ebrahim in the final of the 84 kilogram class. The African wrestler who is bigger than his Russian opponent began to argue with the referees after the bout but Khugaev proved that he was stronger on the mat and deserved the gold medal.
So the bronze in 84K Greco Roman wrestling went to the athletes from Kazakstan… Danial Gadzhiev, and Poland… Damian Yanikowski. A Russian wrestler also won bronze on this day in Greco Roman wrestling and that’s Zaur Kuramagomedov… who shared the third step of the podium with Japan’s Rutaro Matsumoto in the 60 kilo category.
Yes, gold in that class went to Iran’s Omid Hayi Horuzi and silver to Georgia’s Revaz Lashckhi.
Let’s now move on to men’s basketball where the Russians made it into the quarter final of the Olympics from first place in their group. That, despite losing their last group game against Australia 82-80. Though that match, carried absolutely no significance for David Blatt’s men.
So all of the quarter final ties have now been set and they will be played out on Wednesday. Russia’s opponents will be a very familiar team – the national side of Lithuania, who ended their group campaign in fourth place in their respective pool.
Now, while that will be the day’s earliest match, Olympic Games favorites – the United States will be the last ones to step on the court, in their quarter final against Australia… The men from the green continent are obviously the underdogs in that encounter… but they did register a win against Russia, which is a very strong rival. So hopefully it will not be too easy for the Americans.
Following Russia-Lithuania match, France and Spain will battle for a semi-final spot in this European derby. Following that, South American neighbors Brazil and Argentina will decide the continent’s strongest basketball team.
To men’s volleyball now where although Russia qualified for the quarter finals, their third place in the group still does not make it a very convincing preliminary finish. First place in pool B went to the United States and second to Brazil. Let’s remind our listeners that Russia lost to Brazil in straight sets earlier and defeated the Americans in five.
The quarter final ties have been set in the men’s volleyball tournament and those will be played out on Wednesday. Russia will play against Poland who finished second in Group A. Germany who were fourth in Group B will play against Bulgaria who ranked top in Group A. And just like in men’s basketball, Brazil and Argentina will battle for a place in the men’s volleyball semi’s to decide who is best in South America.
And finally, the United States will face the national team of Italy in the last tie of the quarterfinal bracket.