British gymnasts won gold, silver and bronze on a sensational Saturday in Stuttgart at the 2019 Artistic Gymnastics World Championships.
Max Whitlock MBE became a three-time world champion when he took gold on pommel horse, Becky Downie claimed her very first world individual medal with a stunning silver on uneven bars, and her sister, Ellie, produced two brilliant vaults to win bronze on an outstanding opening day of apparatus finals in Germany.
In a packed out Hanns Martin Schleyer Halle arena, Saturday was the first of two days of apparatus finals, and British gymnasts shone.
Max Whitlock MBE was competing in the pommel horse final and the double Olympic champion showed exactly why he’s an expert on this apparatus. Competing second, he hardly put a hand wrong in a routine that was packed with difficulty. Great flow and his trademark flairs were all on display as he scored a massive 15.500. He then had a nervous wait to see where he placed, but his score proved insurmountable to confirm him as the 2019 world champion.
Max said: "This feels incredible; it’s an emotional one for me. It was a very tough final with great competitors and the standard was so high with margins so tiny. It’s been such a team journey with my coach Scott (Hann) and my family. Our preparation was incredible. I made a tiny error early on, but if anything that made me more determined to perfect every skill from then on. I’m just incredibly happy."
Becky Downie produced the routine of her life in the world uneven bars final to claim a stunning silver medal. At 27 years-old, Becky has been searching for an individual medal for years, but she needs wait no longer. She’s been near faultless throughout these Championships, and put down a brilliant routine that could only be beaten by reigning world champion Nina Derwael from Belgium.
Becky said: "It’s been so long, so many years; I can’t believe I’ve finally done it! I’ve worked so so hard every year. This routine, I’ve put everything in to. I’m just so happy. This means everything to me! Thank you so much to everyone who has been on this journey with me. This makes everything worth it. This could be my last world’s and I put my heart and soul in to it and I’ve done it!"
Ellie Downie produced two of her very best vaults to win her first individual world medal, and only Britain’s third ever women’s individual medal.
Ellie opened with a double twisting Yurchenko vault, showing great execution with just a hop on landing which scored 14.600. Saving her hardest vault until last, Ellie then competed the Cheng, again executing well for a massive 15.033. That gave her an average of 14.816 ensuring an incredible bronze medal.
With eight gymnasts competing in the final, Ellie was first to compete, and set the benchmark with 14.816, before having to wait for the remaining gymnasts to compete before knowing her final placing.
Ellie was delighted and said: "I’m absolutely over the moon. Up first I was so nervous, the wait took forever to finish the competition! I have no words to describe the feeling. I was so happy just to stick my vaults and was then crossing my fingers. It’s crazy to win an individual world medal after a rollercoaster of a week! I feel amazing right now."
Also competing was Dom Cunningham in the floor final. Dom was last to compete, and opened with a brilliant tumbling pass. Unfortunately on his second tumble, he placed his hands on the floor, which came with a deduction. After that, his routine was near faultless though, with multiple stuck landings for a score of 13.566 and 8th place.
Dom said: "To be honest, I’m really happy to have made the final, and be the 8th best floor gymnast in the world. Everyone knows the battle I’ve had to get here after injury, so I’m proud to have made the final. There was one mistake because I was trying a bit too hard to stick landing, but I’ll learn from it. One more final to come!"
Tomorrow the championships close with Dom in the vault final and Joe Fraser on parallel bars.