All-around favorite Aliya Mustafina led an outstanding Russian team to first place Saturday at the halfway point of women's qualification in Rotterdam.
Aliya Mustafina led Russia to first place in Subdivision 6.
Russia grabbed the lead from China, who competed in the very first subdivision Saturday morning. Romania remains in third. (Results: Team | All-Around | VT | UB | BB | FX).
Mustafina impressed with a four hit routines, tallying 60.666. From the very first event, the 16 year old delivered, landing her Yurchenko 2 1/2 and a new vault of Yurchenko half-on, front full off (6.1 D). Teammate Tatiana Nabiyeva also stood up her Yurchenko 2 1/2.
On uneven bars, Nabiyeva caught her layout toe-on Tkatchev, but she's on the bubble for the apparatus finals. Mustafina led Russia on all events but balance beam, where fellow first-year senior Anna Dementyeva eclipsed her with a beautiful routine (ro two-foot layout; ro ff triple twist).
Team captain Ksenia Afanasyeva is ranked second on floor exercise, where she impressed with strong tumbling and dance. Russia's only falls came from Afanasyeva on bars and Ksenia Semyonova (suffering from a wrist injury) on floor exercise.
After accomplishing their primary objectives in qualification, the Russians will need to focus on consistency for the three-up, three count team final. As an independent nation, Russia has never won a world team title, but the team looks ready in Rotterdam.
Also in Subdivision 6, Britain's Beth Tweddle hit her incredible uneven bars routine for the third-highest score of the day (15.600). But Tweddle is out of the finals on floor exercise, where she is the defending world champion.
The British women sit solidly in fourth. Australia is in fifth as a team and with Lauren Mitchell in the all-around.
Individually, top qualifiers are currently Mustafina on vault and floor exercise, China's He Kexin on uneven bars and Romania's Ana Porgras on beam.
Qualification competition continues Sunday morning, when defending champion U.S. team takes to the floor.
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