German Olympian Tabea Alt and Ukrainian Olympic parallel bars champion Oleg Verniaiev clinched All-Around gold on the second of three FIG All-Around World Cup events this year, the 2017 EnBW DTB-Pokal World Cup held in Stuttgart, Germany last weekend.

The said competition in Stuttgart has nine male and nine female gymnasts compete for the highest positions on the podium. This is held in conjunction with DTB Team Challenge, which featured men’s and women’s teams competing.

Verniaiev’s Journey To Defend DTB Cup Title

At the first stop of this year’s FIG All-Around World Cup held at Newark, USA on March 5—The AT&T American Cup—Verniaiev finished on the second spot only, and he seemed to use this as a motivation as he finished this Cup on top this time. He scored 84.899 to take this title and he is now spearheading the third stop of the World Cup to be held in London on April 8. At the Porsche Arena, Verniaiev topped Japan’s Kazuma Kaya by just over half a point, as Kaya only gathered 84.398 points. China’s Sun Wei then took the bronze with an 82.898, a huge leap from this seventh-place finish at the American Cup.

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Verniaiev has a record to keep. He was the defending champion from the 2016 DTB Cup, as well as the overall winner in the 2015-2016 FIG World Cup All-Around Series. This is one of his biggest motivations to prove that even with mistakes he will not be easily beatable in gymnastics. At the first event, Verniaiev sat in sixth place due to problems in his tumbling, giving him a 13.533. He didn’t let this bother him, though, as he continued to lead in the next four events, watching his opponents stumble. He gathered a 14.200 on pommel horse, 14.400 on still rings, 14.700 on vault and 15.600 on parallel bars. After these events, he is nearly two points ahead of Kaya.

Verniaiev’s journey wasn’t that smooth, however, as he took an awkward fall on high bar. He jumped off after missing a handstand and went spinning off the mat, nearly crashing into a sign. This gave him his lowest point of the night, a 12.466. Luckily, his lead was enough to keep him in first.

The Ukrainian will face Germany’s Lukas Dauser on the third stop of the Cup next month, as they are the only ones scheduled to attend all three World Cup events. Dauser was ninth at the American Cup and sixth in Stuttgart.

Alt’s Golden Birthday Gift To Herself

Tabea Alt’s birthday gift to herself on Saturday was her first World Cup title as she earned 54.199 to top Russian Olympian Angelina Melnikova with 53.732 and first-year senior Morgan Hurd with 53.265, who is a newcomer from the US.

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Alt has amazingly turned the tables to her favor in this competition. At the first event, she only vaulted to the third place with a 14.233 although Hurd and Melnikova did a double-twisting Yurchenkos the same as her. Hurd led here with a 14.366, followed by Melnikova’s 14.266. At the next event of uneven bars, Melnikova overtook Hurd with a 14.400, whereas the latter only had 14.200. Alt remained behind as she missed a handstand after her release and then fell on her double dismount, coming out only with a 12.400 albeit starting beautifully.

It might start to look like it was the end of the journey for Alt, but she refused to be beaten down. Balance beam saved Alt who managed to get a 14.066. Melnikova released the new barani she introduced at the Russian nationals but then dropped off after her two-foot layout series. Hurd seemed to be panicking at this point, seeing as how the tables have turned when she was just leading at the first event. She fell on her first two skills and then recomposed to hit a clean dismount.

At this point, Alt is behind Melnikova by just half a point, and she easily closed in on her—and over!—with her floor routine. Alt performed with a smile for the Stuttgart crowd and managed a 13.500. Melnikova needed a 13.133 to pass Alt here, but she had too many errors despite her beautiful routine, so she only totaled 12.666 to take the silver. Hurd is just getting by at this point and tried to finish with honor to take the all-around bronze.

Alt was surprised at her win, especially considering her botched performance on bars.

“I would not have expected this,” she said. “My bar routine was not good, that it was enough to win is really a dream. It was incredibly important that I was able to leave everything behind after bars, so I could concentrate on beam. I hope this will keep going forward (to London).”

On a side competition held at the same time with the World Cup mentioned above, DTB Team Challenge, Russian teams won both the men’s (beating Germany and Japan) and women’s division (sailing over Germany and Spain).

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