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The Mass Media

Persistence meets opportunity: Winners in the gymnastics world

Bianca Oppedisano
American Olympic gymnast, Brody Malone, performs on the horizontal bar. Illustration by Bianca Oppedisano / Mass Media Staff

During the week of Oct. 29, the best Gymnasts from 74 countries gathered at the 2022 World Gymnastics Championships in Liverpool, England. The event turned out to be quite monumental after male gymnast, Brody Malone, of Team USA won the Gold Medal in Horizontal bar, giving USA gold in the category for the first time in 43 years (1). Along with Malone’s accomplishments, Rebecca Andrade became the first Brazilian woman to win the women’s individual all-around World Title (2). Team USAs women’s team also won the team medal for the sixth consecutive time (3).

Brody Malone, originally from Summerville, Ga., was part of the Stanford University gymnastics team, as well as a member of Team USA during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, where he helped team USA score fifth place in the team category. He typically competes in all-around and masters the six men’s apparatus: floor exercise, pommel horse, rings, parallel bars, vault and horizontal bar, the latter is his specialty, which ultimately resulted in him bringing home the gold in this competition.

In the horizontal bar element, the gymnast holds themselves by their hands and does circles around the bar. Professionals perform advanced skills when they let go of the bar and are suspended in the air, before grabbing the bar again without falling.

In the competition, Brody Malone won the gold medal with a final score of 14.800, a difficulty score of 6.300 and an execution score of 8.500. Difficulty scores are awards that are based on the level of difficulty of the skills performed, while execution is calculated by deducting points for each imperfection or mistake the gymnast makes from a perfect score of 10 points.

Malone’s routine started with an eye-catching one arm giant, where he rolled a full circle around the bar while holding himself with only one arm and maintaining stability. The skill was originally done when gymnasts were on the verge of falling, but some skilled athletes were able to catch the bar and regain stability, which, in turn, gave them unexpectedly higher scores. Now, it has been utilized as a skill.  Afterwards, Malone did a full twisting double layout. The layout is a full body turn in the air above the bar.

The main skill of his routine were three Tkachevs connected. Malone rolled around and let go of the bar once he was in front of it. He allowed momentum and gravity to push him backwards and below the bar, and once he found the bar at his level again, he grabbed it. They are called Tkachevs because the skill was performed for the first time by soviet gymnast Aleksandr Tkachyov in 1977, and in gymnastics, skills are named after the first athlete who performs them during a competition. (4)

He performed the move three times in a row, maintaining momentum. Since the skills were “executed successfully in succession,” (5) the gymnastics code of points awarded connection value and added 0.1 to his difficulty score.

Brody Malone beat Japanese world champion, Daiki Hashimoto, who scored 14.700. Even though they both performed routines that were incredibly advanced, it is likely that Malone’s “connection value” was what awarded him the medal.

On the other hand, Rebecca Andrade of team Brazil won gold in the “all-around.” In this category, gymnasts compete in all of the apparatuses, which for women include vault, uneven bars, beam and floor exercise. The gymnasts win when they have “the highest total score from all events combined.” (6)

Andrade became the first all-around world champion from Brazil, with her final score of 56.899. In the vault, she performed a “Cheng,” which is a half on forward turn with one and a half twists. While on the floor, she did four passes from one corner of the floor to the opposite. Her first pass was a front layout full twist, with two flips backwards and a twist happening in the first flip. The second tumbling pass was a double layout full, which is two flips backwards with the twist happening in the second flip. The third pass was a double layout, while the fourth was a double pike. Pike position is a position in which the hips are flexed but the legs stay straight.

She was able to win in this category through her consistency in performance. While using the beam, her routine was nothing out of the ordinary, yet she was able to stay calm and not fall. In the bars, her two highlight skills were Tkachev in the pike position, and her full dismount, which was two flips backwards with the twist happening in the first flip.

Of course, Malone and Andrade were not the only gymnasts to shine, as one of the most noteworthy highlights of the event was the United States women’s team taking home their sixth consecutive title. The team was composed of Skye Blakely, Jade Carey, Jordan Chiles, Shilese Jones and Leanne Wong. The five gymnasts cooperated in the four elements. Their gold medal earned them a spot in the upcoming 2024 Olympics in Paris.

Jordan Chiles, Jade Carey and Leanne Wong are all familiar names in the gymnastics world, as they were part of the National team in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. In the vault, Jordan Chiles and Shilese Jones stood out after performing a Yurchenko Double full. This skill is composed of turning twice longitudinally while doing a layout. In uneven bars, Leanne Wong was the highlight. She is the team specialist of this element and is a student of Al Fong. Fong is a Kansas City, Mo. based coach with a groundbreaking history of uneven bar training.

The 2022 World Gymnastics Championships may have come to a close, but the history that was made will live on. Malone’s major win for team USA, to go along with the historical feats brought upon by Andrade and the continual dominance of the women’s national team for USA, made the 2022 rendition of the championship all the more memorable. Hopefully, the championship this year will bring gymnastics into the limelight in time for what will be an interesting 2024 Olympic games in Paris.

  1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B1FonTAa2yk

  1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ooV8Rl2fvRQ

  1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eC8BR85aZNA

  1. https://gymnasticscoaching.com/2012/08/24/alexanders-tkachev-1977/

  1. https://usagym.org/pages/events/pages/fig_scoring.html

  1. https://usagym.org/pages/gymnastics101/glossary.html#:~:text=All%2DAround,score%20from%20all%20events%20combined.

About the Contributors
Valentina Valderrama Perez, Features Writer
Bianca Oppedisano, Illustrator