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10 Nations Take Titles in French International Finals
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Gymnasts from 10 nations divided the gold medals at the French International, an FIG World Challenge Cup event in Paris. Pictured: Injured at the 2016 Olympic Games, Samir Aït Saïd made a triumphant comeback in Paris, taking a silver medal on still rings and clinching a spot on the French world team.

Gymnasts from 10 nations divided the gold medals at the French International, an FIG World Challenge Cup event in Paris. European gymnasts dominated with seven of the titles, while one went to Japan and a surprising two gold medals to gymnasts from Central America.

With an initial roster of 195 gymnasts from 38 nations, the French International was the final World Cup event prior to the upcoming world championships in Montreal, October 2-8. The competition was held at the refurbished AccorHotels Arena, previously known as the Palais Omnisports de Paris-Bercy, which has been proposed to as the basketball venue at the 2024 Olympic Games. On Wednesday, the International Olympic Committee officially awarded the 2024 Games to Paris, bringing a festive mood to this weekend's gymnastics competition.

However, Sunday's finals began on a somber note after Spanish Olympian Rayderley Zapata, the top qualifier to the men's floor exercise final, suffered a torn Achilles' tendon in the warm-up. He will undergo surgery soon but later tweeted that he will also use the time to repair a torn biceps that he had suffered two weeks ago, a surgery he had originally planned to postpone until after the world championships.

The host French team, which earned 13 spots in finals, picked up six medals, but Ukraine dominated with eight medals, six on the men's side. Romania won three medals, while Japan, Great Britain and the Netherlands earned two each. Ukraine's Oleg Vernyayev was the most successful with three medals, while Claudia Fragapane (Great Britain), Larisa Iordache (Romania), and Petro Pakhnyuk and Diana Varinska (Ukraine) all won two each.

In the women's competition, the top gymnasts from Saturday's qualification all repeated their rankings in finals. European champion Coline Devillard was the only titlist for France, taking the gold on vault with two powerful vaults (layout Rudi and double-twisting Yurchenko).

"I'm really happy with my second vault even if the first could have been better," Devillard said. "I heard the fans' encouragement and it pushed me. Competing in a meet like this before the world championships was reassuring."

Hungary's Boglárka Dévai (double-twisting Yurchenko and layout Podkopayeva) won the silver over Germany's Michelle Timm. Seven-time Olympian Oksana Chusovitina finished fourth after opting for simpler vaults than her usual, competing a layout barani and Tsukahara-full. During the awards ceremony, however, the 42-year-old Chusovitina was honored with a special trophy for longevity from the organizing committee.

European champion Nina Derwael (Belgium) won uneven bars with a beautiful routine (Stalder-piked Tkatchev; Ricna-half to Yezhova; Stalder-Shaposhnikova to Bhardwaj; Van Leeuwen; messy toe-on full to full-twisting double; 6.3 Difficulty). France's Mélanie De Jesus Dos Santos hit her difficult routine for the silver: inside Stalder-Shaposhnikova (Komova II); inside-Stalder-Tkatchev to Pak; Van Leeuwen; pirouettes in elgrip; full-twisting double layout.

Fourth in qualification, Varinska improved several tenths to take the bronze with great composition (Stalder-Shaposhnikova to Pak, Maloney uprise free-hip full; Tkatchev half-straddled front flip; toe-full to full-twisting double). Great Britain's Georgia-Mae Fenton, third in qualification, also showed a Ricna-half to Yezhova but fell on a Ricna late in her routine.

Iordache, fourth on uneven bars, claimed gold on balance beam despite a major break, grabbing the apparatus after her double turn, but hit her big tricks (ff tucked full; nailed RO layout full; RO ff triple twist dismount). She had scored 15.000 in qualification with a massive 6.7 D-score, but even with the mistake in finals, her 6.5 D-score was well ahead of the field, giving her a winning 14.200.

France's Marine Boyer, who scored 14.250 in qualification, showed a beautiful RO two-foot layout, but had several wobbles and nearly fell on her side somi, leaving her unable to overcome Iordache. Fragapane, fifth in qualification, hit her big tricks Sunday (standing Arabian; ff two-foot layout; standing full; ff, ff double pike) to take third.

Olympic champion Sanne Wevers (Netherlands), competing on her 26th birthday, had a beautiful routine going, hitting her signature Wevers turn, but fell on her triple turn to finish fifth.

Fragapane, still every bit the "Pocket Rocket," powered her way to the gold medal on women's floor exercise with a full-twisting double layout; double layout to stag; Arabian double front; double pike (13.900, 5.6). Iordache, who wore a different leotard for the floor final, took the silver (full-in, 2 1/2 punch front, triple twist; double pike). Varinska, who lacked the power of her competitors but showed off gorgeous classical style in her movements, won a second bronze (1 1/2 to triple twist, double tuck; punch front to double twist).

Guatemala's Jorge Vega won the gold on men's floor exercise with seven passes (Randi; piked double front; full-twisting double layout; double-twisting front to Rudi; 2 1/2 to front full; double twist; triple twist; 14.350/6.0), his fourth World Challenge Cup medal. Pakhnyuk, who has made a welcome return to the Ukrainian team after several years competing for Azerbaijan, won the silver. He opened with a nailed 2 1/2-twisting double tuck but stumbled out of bounds on his second pass of layout front full to Randi and had a large hop on his triple twist dismount (14.150/6.0). Romanian veteran Marian Drăgulescu had the highest D-score of the final, but after nailing his piked double front-half mount he couldn't control some of his other landings and settled for third (14.100/6.5)

Vernyayev got his day off to a rough start, falling on his 2 1/2 twist, double front mount combination on floor for eighth. The Olympic all-around silver medalist rebounded to take bronze medals on still rings and vault and finally gold on parallel bars (15.250), where his 6.7 D-score was the highest of the men's competition.

Japanese newcomer Takaaki Sugino, who will turn 19 on October 18, won the gold on pommel horse in his FIG debut (15.200/6.4). French veteran Cyril Tommasone finished a close second (15.100/6.4) over Slovenian specialist Sašo Bertoncelj (14.900/6.1).

World and Olympic still rings champion Eleftherios Petrounias (Greece), the only gymnast to currently dominate any one event, was once again unbeatable. He improved his score in finals to 15.500, the highest score on any event in Paris. France's Samir Aït Saïd, who made his major comeback in Paris after his horrific broken leg at the Olympics Games, sealed his successful weekend with the silver medal. On Saturday, his 14.900 was enough to qualify him to France's world team, and he improved in finals and nailed his full-twisting double layout dismount for 15.250. Like Chusovitina, Aït Saïd also received special recognition during the awards ceremony for his tremendous tenacity.

"It felt great to have such a supportive audience," Aït Saïd said. "What happened on August 6, 2016 [the date of his injury], I don't think about it anymore. I am happy to have met the requirement for this competition [to qualify to the French team] and to have improved my performance in the final. It was a nice comeback, but it was only one step in the perspective of the world championships. It's encouraging but now I have to be focused on training and to keep working."

Audrys Nin threw huge Ri (full-twisting Tsukahara double back) and Dragulescu (double front half) vaults to win the gold medal for the Dominican Republic. Ukraine's Igor Radivilov took second (Dragulescu and Tsukahara double pike) to tie teammate Vernyayev (Dragulescu and triple-twisting Tsukahara), who was bumped to bronze because of a tiebreak. After hitting his eponymous vault, Drăgulescu settled for fourth with nearly falling on his Li Xiaopeng second vault (Yurchenko half, on Randi off).

France's Axel Augis won the bronze on parallel bars behind Ukraine's Vernyayev and Pakhnyuk. Three-time German Olympian Marcel Nguyen tied Augis with 14.450 but was bumped to fourth because of a tie-break.

Second in qualification, 2012 Olympic champion Epke Zonderland won high bar (layout Kovacs to piked Kovacs; Kolman to Gaylord II), increasing his D-score by .4 in the final (14.800/6.4). Bart Deurloo (Kovacs-Cassina combo, stuck layout double-double dismount) gave Netherlands a 1-2 finish (14.750/6.3) with the silver. Two-time Olympian Yusuke Tanaka (Japan), the top qualifier, gave a clinic on high bar execution (textbook Kolman and Kovacs) but settled for the bronze after stumbling forward on his layout double-double dismount (14.450/6.3).

Held infrequently since its debut in 1986, the French International has been added to the FIG World Challenge Cup calendar through 2019.

Read "French Force," a cover story on Mélanie De Jesus Dos Santos of France, in the July/August 2017 issue. To subscribe to the print and/or digital editions, click here.

External Link: French Gymnastics Federation

2017 French International/FIG World Challenger Cup
September 17, Paris, France

Women's Vault FinalDENDScoreAverage
1.Coline Devillard5.88.50014.30014.250
5.48.80014.200
2.Boglárka Dévai5.48.75014.15014.025
5.28.70013.900
3.Michelle Timm4.68.80013.40013.275
4.68.55013.150
4.Oksana Chusovitina4.68.45013.05013.225
4.88.60013.400
5.Sarah Voss4.68.70013.30013.150
4.68.40013.000
6.Yamilet Peña5.07.65012.65013.000
5.08.35013.350
7.Ema Kajić4.68.45013.05012.925
4.48.40012.800
8.Jasmin Mader4.68.55013.15012.850
4.08.55012.550

Uneven Bars FinalDENDScore
1.Nina Derwael6.38.60014.900
2.Mélanie De Jesus Dos Santos5.88.30014.100
3.Diana Varinska5.98.15014.050
4.Larisa Iordache5.97.90013.800
5.Lorette Charpy5.67.55013.150
6.Barbora Mokošová5.17.90013.000
7.Georgia-Mae Fenton4.77.90012.600
8.Rune Hermans5.26.95012.150

Balance Beam FinalDENDScore
1.Larisa Iordache6.57.800.114.200
2.Marine Boyer5.77.90013.600
3.Claudia Fragapane5.67.60013.200
4.Mélanie De Jesus Dos Santos5.27.70012.900
5.Sanne Wevers5.97.100.112.900
6.Nina Derwael5.27.60012.800
7.Sarah Voss5.36.650.111.850
8.Farah Hussein4.86.55011.350

Women's Floor Exercise FinalDENDScore
1.Claudia Fragapane5.68.30013.900
2.Larisa Iordache5.58.15013.650
3.Diana Varinska5.28.05013.250
4.Marine Boyer5.18.10013.200
5.Rune Hermans4.98.20013.100
6.Ana Pérez5.07.95012.950
7.Mélanie De Jesus Dos Santos5.17.550.112.550
8.Ioana Crişan5.06.050.110.950

Men's Floor Exercise FinalDENDScore
1.Jorge Vega6.08.35014.350
2.Petro Pakhnyuk6.08.250.114.150
3.Marian Drăgulescu6.57.60014.100
4.Bram Verhofstad5.98.250.114.050
5.Heikki Saarenketo5.77.95013.650
6.Artem Dolgopyat6.66.950.113.450
7.Tomás González6.26.85013.050
8.Oleg Vernyayev6.06.90012.900

Pommel Horse FinalDENDScore
1.Takaaki Sugino6.48.80015.200
2.Cyril Tommasone6.48.70015.100
3.Sašo Bertoncelj6.18.80014.900
4.Petro Pakhnyuk5.98.30014.200
5.Cristian Bățagă6.37.90014.200
6.Prashanth Sellathurai6.27.85014.050
7.Slavomir Michnak5.88.10013.900
8.Bart Deurloo5.67.50013.100

Still Rings FinalDENDScore
1.Eleftherios Petrounias6.39.20015.500
2.Samir Aït Saïd6.29.05015.250
3.Oleg Vernyayev6.18.70014.800
4.Chih-Yu Chen6.38.50014.800
5.Konstantinos Konstantinidis6.28.50014.700
6.Vahagn Davtyan6.38.30014.600
7.Kazuyuki Takeda6.18.45014.550
8.Artur Davtyan5.78.55014.250

Men's Vault FinalDENDScore
1.Audrys Nin6.09.00015.00014.875
5.69.15014.750
2.Igor Radivilov5.69.150.114.65014.775
5.69.30014.900
3.Oleg Vernyayev5.69.15014.75014.775
5.69.20014.800
4.Marian Drăgulescu5.69.25014.85014.525
5.88.50014.200
5.Takumi Sato5.68.70014.30014.400
5.68.90014.500
6.Artur Davtyan5.68.750.114.25014.200
4.89.35014.150
7.Gabriel Swan5.29.100.314.00013.825
4.88.85013.650
8.Loris Frasca5.67.850.113.35013.050
5.27.85012.750

Parallel Bars FinalDENDScore
1.Oleg Vernyayev6.78.55015.250
2.Petro Pakhnyuk6.38.70015.000
3.Axel Augis6.18.35014.450
4.Marcel Nguyen6.28.25014.450
5.Vlad Cotuna5.68.30013.900
6.Robert Tvorogal5.58.35013.850
7.Epke Zonderland5.87.90013.700
8.Tomas Kuzmickas5.57.95013.450
9.Kazuyuki Takeda5.55.95011.450

High Bar FinalDENDScore
1.Epke Zonderland6.48.40014.800
2.Bart Deurloo6.38.45014.750
3.Yusuke Tanaka6.38.15014.450
4.Axel Augis5.98.45014.350
5.Takaaki Sugino5.58.40013.900
6.Tin Srbić6.47.35013.750
7.Andreas Bretschneider6.67.05013.650
8.Edgar Boulet5.96.60012.500
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