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Sunday, August 17, 2008

Hong wins gold in Women's Vault

Hong Un-jong of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea won the gold medal in the Women's Vault in Beijing on August 17. Hong's two vaults averaged 15.650.

Germany's Oksana Chusovitina won the silver medal with an average of 15.575, while China's Cheng Fei won the bronze medal with an average of 15.562.

An excellent first vault by Cheng scored 16.075 and the gold medal favorite looked unbeatable. However, disaster struck when Cheng's second vault went awry and her average was reduced to 15.562.

After witnessing Cheng's poor second vault, the six gymnasts following her must have known that the gold medal was up for grabs (Alicia Sacramone of the United States was the first gymnast to vault and scored an average of 15.537).

Russia's Anna Pavlova performed well in both vaults, but the judges gave her 0.000 for her second vault, seemingly because they deemed that her second vault was too similar to her first. Pavlova finished last with an average of 7.812.

Chusovitina performed two consistent vaults to exceed Cheng's average. The pressure of the occasion did not seem to affect the 33-year-old gymnast, who must have relied upon her wealth of experience, including a gold medal in the Team event at Barcelona 1992.

After witnessing Chusovitina's solid performance, the tremendous pressure of the drama-packed final moved onto the shoulders of 19-year-old Hong. However, Hong still managed to perform two consistent vaults and receive a better average than Chusovitina.

The two gymnasts following Hong were Brazil's Jade Barbosa and Italy's Carlotta Giovannini. Only Barbosa had the ability and experience to beat Hong, but the 17-year-old Brazilian fell to pieces after vaulting poorly in her first attempt. With tears welling in her eyes, Barbosa's second vault was also unsuccessful. She finished with an average of 14.487.

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