DOHA, March 27, 2015-Brazil’s Arthur Zanetti justified his tag as the ‘King of the Rings’ as the 2012 Olympic and 2013 World champion won gold medal with ease during the eighth edition of the FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Challenge Cup at Aspire Zone yesterday.
Coming into the event as favourite, Zanetti was fifth to perform in the finals. And the 24-year-old raised the bar with immaculate performance, leaving his opponents well behind. This was his second gold medal in one week, after he had won the opening leg of the World Cup series in Cottbus, Germany.
Zanetti tallied 15,725, ahead of Artur Toumasyan of Armenia (15.425). Toumasyan ran Zanetti close but not close enough to deny the Brazillian his second successive gold. Andrei Muntean of Romania with a performance worth 15.425 points finished third.
“I was feeling confident coming into the event. In the first leg in Germany I had won gold, but the competition here was tough. I am glad I could give my best today,” said Zanetti.
The Sao Paulo resident is aiming for his second Olympic gold in the Rio Games next year. “Yes, Of course I would love to win one more Olympic medal in my home country. It will be a great feeling. This year is very important for me towards achieving that goal. It’s still some time, but I am hopeful of doing well,” he added.
Swiss star Giulia Steingruber, who has qualified for two finals in Doha, took gold in the Vault yesterday. The two-time European vault champion averaged 14.575, improving on her qualification score of 14.150. Today, Steingruber will aim to make it double as she is contention for Floor Exercise.
Vietnam’s Thi Ha Thanh Phan took silver in Vault (14.100 average), while Slovenia’s Teja Belak settled for bronze (13.912).
Steingruber, who skipped the Germany event, was delighted with her performance. “It’s never easy to start a new season. So I was little nervous but I am happy it has paid off. Winning a medal at Rio Olympics is a definite goal, but I am hoping to do well at the European Championship in Montpellier, France next month,” Steingruber said.
In the day’s first event, Jacob Dalton of USA lit up the Aspire Dome with his incredible skills on Floor but it was World Champion Diego Hypolito of Brazil who walked away with accolades from the raucous crowd.
Despite pain in the foot, which prevented him from participating in Germany last week, Hypolito made a clean series yesterday.
However, his aggregate of (15.425) was 0.050 less than Dalton’s average of 15.475 (6.7 difficulty). Dalton had a better starting note, which made it complicated for Hypolito. In the qualifiers, Hypólito had taken the top spot, edging Dalton, 15.400-15.300. But the American had the last laugh. Japanese newcomer Shotaro Shirai, older brother of 2013 world champion Kenzo Shirai, (15.025) took bronze.
In Pommel Horse, the top qualifier Harutym Merdinyan of Armenia, hit his 6.7 difficulty routine for the second day in a row to win gold. The 31-year-old made little of his slowing reflexes as he outwitted his younger opponents with some dazzling display. Merdinyan averaged 14.775, followed by Matija Baron of Croatia (14.600) and compatriot Artur Davtyan (14.525).
In the fifth event of the night, Youna Dufournet of France took gold in Uneven Bars. The French girl was a surprise winner as she had finished sixth in the qualification round. But Dufournet rose to the occasion when it mattered most and she was helped by sloppy display from other contenders. Dufournet averaged 13.650, just ahead of Diana Bulimar of Romania. Jessica Diacci of Switzerland won bronze (13.250).