Catalina Ponor continues to blow me away.
Catalina Ponor Floor 2011 GBR vs. ROM vs. POR
Catalina Ponor Vault 2011 GBR vs. ROM vs. POR
Two new skills, just in time for Tokyo! I believe this is the first time since 2004 that she’s competed a DTY, and this one had plenty of power and was actually a little cleaner than the ones she did seven years ago. The double layout, however, is something we’ve never seen her compete and it looks effortless for her, complete with a stuck landing. So cool to see her also throw the two whips to full-in – a rarely done pass – for the second run. I’d still like to see her tighten her legs a bit on her twists (bending them on twisting skills is a chronic habit of hers), but other than that, this routine is outstanding and will almost surely be used by the Romanians in team finals. Ponor also competed another rock solid beam routine here, including her roundoff layout, Onodi to immediate back handspring back pike, switch leap to Kochetkova, and front aerial to back handspring layout. All in all she is looking absolutely ready to help lead a revitalized Romanian squad on a medal hunt in Tokyo. What an incredibly exciting comeback this has been for her and for the Romanian team. As many of you have probably heard, Ponor’s name hasn’t officially been added to the Romanian world team yet due to a technicality, but her name is fully expected to be added to the roster on October 1st. I’m expecting Ponor to compete on vault, beam, and floor for Romania at the world championships, and to also be a medal contender on beam and perhaps even floor.
Sandra Izbasa Bars 2011 GBR vs. ROM vs. POR
Sandra Izbasa Vault 2011 GBR vs. ROM vs. POR
Bars still may not be spectacular, but that’s another hit routine for her and a sign that we most likely will see her compete this event in Tokyo. What might be very interesting is that Izbasa could suddenly be a very strong all-around contender if she can get that bar routine just a little bit better. We know she can score very well on floor and vault (European champion on both) and pretty solidly on beam as well (mid-14’s), so if she could squeak out close to a 14 on bars that would give her quite a competitive total. The vault she did here was her laid-out Podkopayeva – typically used as her second vault – and she showed her characteristic beautiful straight body and form. She didn’t compete floor here, likely saving a recently sore Achilles to tr and be 100% for the worlds. Let’s hope she’s ready to compete floor in Tokyo, as she’ll be a favorite for a medal as well as a huge part of Romania’s effort on this event in team finals.
The results of this competition were quite interesting, with Great Britain beating Romania 229.45 to 227.90, and Hannah Whelan winning the all-around with a strong 57.95 over Romanians Amelia Racea (57.3) and Ana Porgras (57.05). Beth Tweddle won both bars (15.325) and floor (14.95), while Porgas took the beam title (15.25) and Raluca Haidu led the vault standings (14.725).
The British women are looking quite strong and should certainly be capable of improving upon their 7th place finish in Rotterdam last year. Despite being outscored by Great Britain here, I’d still expect Romania to be in the medal mix in Tokyo, as they were only about two points behind the medalists last year with a much weaker team. With Izbasa, Porgras, and now Ponor’s potentially huge contributions to this team, they’re going to be a serious force to be reckoned with.