It’s not every day you see a man trying his hardest at a top-class sport, land on his backside and be met with a blast of “Barbra Streisand.” But that’s what Saturday brought. Clare and I took a trip to the shiny new Emirates Arena in the East End of Glasgow for the Glasgow leg of the 2012 Gymnastics World Cup. After navigating some overzealous SPT staff at Buchanan Bus Station in the city centre, and being dumped in some random seats by the not-entirely-helpful G4S staff at “this wonderful new arena” (Jill Douglas must have said that at least three times), it was time (half an hour late) to get into the day’s action.
That action involved a men’s and women’s all-around competition, with the scores on each piece of apparatus (4 for the ladies, 6 for the chaps) being totted up to find the day’s winner. And what a day it was. The women’s field contained a former World Champion, a couple of plucky Brits and the reserve for the American Olympic team, while the men’s included another two Brits and the men’s silver and bronze medallists from the Olympic all-around competition. A good day’s sport was just round the corner.
From the off, it was patently clear that Elizabeth Price (the aforementioned American) was going to absolutely walk the ladies’ field, and so she did, scoring consistently higher than her fellow competitors in all 4 events and winning in the end by more than 4 points, a chasm in gymnastics scoring terms. The British interest, in Rebecca Tunney and Niamh Rippin, managed a respectable 5th and 6th place, though Tunney was in the running for a medal until the third piece of apparatus.
There was, however, some genuine competitiveness in the mens’ field. The UK’s Daniel Purvis, and Marcel Nguyen of Germany were soon involved in a ding-dong battle for the gold. Kristian Thomas, the other British competitor, who with Purvis had been so solid in the bronze-medal winning team at the 2012 Olympics, had a day to forget. As well as being the man who had the misfortune to land on his bottom to the strains of “Streisand” after an off-centre vault, he also fell off the pommel horse and the horizontal bar.
Home hopes were down, therefore, to Mr Purvis. After building something of a lead on the vault, it was mostly taken away from him after Nguyen’s excellent showing on the parallel bars. It was all down to the high bar as to who took home the gold medal. Japanese gymnast Kazuhito Tanaka put in a strong showing; then Nguyen did just enough to sneak ahead of him into first place. It came down to Purvis, who put in a solid if unspectacular routine. Which unfortunately left him 0.3 short of Nguyen, and a still-decent third-place finish.
In all, a great day’s sport – 6 hours of top-class gymnastics in a brand spanking new venue was not to be sniffed at – with “Barbra” flipping “Streisand” still ringing my ears, it was time to head back into town, again courtesy of overzealous SPT man.
In case anyone wants to get in quick for next year (7 December 2013), early bird tickets are being released this Sunday – see the Glasgow Life website for details. With the Commonwealth Games just 18 months away, the Gymnastics World Championships at the new Hydro in 2015 and a bid for the Youth Olympics in 2018 in the offing, it promises to be quite a few years for Glaswegian and Scottish sport.