On the first day of qualifications, Filip Ude and Robert Seligman on the pommel horse, Aurel Benović on the floor, and Tijana Korent on the vault won a spot among the eight best and Saturday’s fight for medals, while World Cup debutant Antea Ercegović is the second reserve for the vault finals.
Filip Ude came to his 65th World Cup final with the best qualifying exercise and a score of 14,350, while Robert Seligman entered the 63rd final of his career as 6th (13,550).
“65 career finals … there are still up to a hundred! I’m joking. I am satisfied, I went for an easier exercise, and I did great, even though I did not warm up the best. Somehow I felt hard on the warm-up, a little powerless, but as soon as I raised my arm, and received the pommel horse, the strength appeared and the tremor disappeared, so this is one of the few exercises that I did better than in training. Every element just sat in place and timed exactly when I should be in the exercise,” said the former silver medalist.
“We are not bad for grandparents”, he commented with a laugh because he and Seligman are 36 and in the grand final.
“Next year will be me, and I believe Robert, 30 years as we train. I think 95% of gymnasts here are not even 30 years old, and we train that much. I am proud of us, of myself and Robbie, that we are still at the top of the World Cup, we are fighting with twice as many young people and I hope that we are an example to someone that we can. Finals? I’m going to practice with the Busnari element that I haven’t competed in 2.5 years. That’s a 50-50 chance. I started preparing the exercise for next year and the Olympic qualifiers.”
Before the competition, Robert Seligman announced that this was his last tournament in Osijek and that he wanted to say goodbye in the finals, but for him today he trembled until the last qualifying group.
“The final is important. I’m very happy about it, but I’m still a little empty. I was the first of 6 groups, it was hard to watch it all until the end, you all know how much this performance in Osijek means to me. I want to perform on Saturday in front of full stands and thank them in the most beautiful way possible for all these years of unconditional support. The 13,550 score isn’t something I’m really happy with, but it turned out to be enough for the finals. On Saturday, everything starts from scratch, we will change something a little in the exercise. I am well prepared, I showed that last weekend at PH here, and I believe I will train at a high level again. We’ll see what that score will bring. Who knows what may happen in the final,” Seligman said enigmatically.
“I’m going to enjoy the final.”
Another Osijek resident will perform in front of his fans in his hometown. Aurel Benović reached the 9th final of his career with the fifth place in the floor qualifications (13,900), where the best was Adem Asil from Turkey (14,200). The current Olympic winner, Israeli Artem Dolgopyat, did not have his day, and due to a series of mistakes and falls he finished 31.
“I did the exercise at a medium level, but I am satisfied. I hope to do better in the final and fix the 4th diagonal that I screwed up now and I hope it will be a much much higher grade. Dolgopyat performed before me, unfortunately, he did not sit down to practice in this competition, but he is the strongest when it comes to getting the most, and he showed that in Tokyo. This will just be his rehearsal for the future. I’m sorry we’re not in the finals to fight together. I will go with this same exercise in the final with a start of 6.3, but I hope to fix the exercise, and for the Euros that await us in Munich I expect to increase to 6.5, as Artem. If I stabilize it, I can work on it until the end of my career, and I think I will stand on the highest pedestals,” said Aurel.
The most experienced member of the Croatia women’s national team, Tijana Korent, reached the 37th final of her career in sixth place with 12,849 on the vault. Slovenian Teja Belak was the best (13,733).
“After 10 days, I managed to enter another World Cup final. But I have to admit, I still prefer this to the one in Varna, this is the World Cup at home, the home crowd. It was tense until the very end, the competition is really strong this year because everyone likes to come to Osijek. Today I jumped one new jump, the first one, I had a small mistake when landing, however, that jump was still made on my feet. For the fourth time in a row, I managed to make it now and I hope this is an indication that I can do it as a constant in competitions. I will try another new jump in the final. Everyone asks me how much longer I will, and I only planned to be there as long as I see that I can, as long as I feel good. When I feel my body not allowing it, I will stop. Now I feel good and I enjoy being here,” said Tijana.
Antea Ercegović also shone. The second reserve for the finals of the high jump, 10th place among the 25 high jumpers is more than enough for her first time.
“I was very excited, but also nervous. All this is new to me, I compete with girls who have experience in competitions like this, who train for a long time, they are much better than me, but I made both jumps great, better than I imagined. I have no complaints and I can’t wait to compete in such a big competition. Now I know why all our national team members adore Osijek.”
In the qualifiers, the best was the great Turkish Ferhat Arican (15,400), one of the biggest names in this competition, and in the uneven bars, Hungarian Zoja Szekely (13,600).
On Friday, the second qualifying day, which starts at 3 pm in the hunt for the finals, Tin Srbić will compete on the horizontal bar, Ana Đerek on the beam and the floor, and Tina Zelčić on the beam.
GOOD World Cup, part of the FeelGood Tour conference
Gymnastics has been the number one story in Osijek in recent days, and the Dobro World Cup, which has just reached its 13th edition, is one of the main stories of the “FEELGOOD Tour” Conference on the topic of sports tourism. Organized by the Regional Competence Center of the Catering and Tourism School from Osijek, Gymnastics Society Osijek-Žito, and Osijek-Baranja County, the aim of the conference was to improve the offer of sports facilities, all in order to enable educational fair-play sports associations and give wind to all organizers of sporting events that sport and tourism are a great combination. Among a number of great lecturers was the manager of the World Cup competition in Osijek, Ivana Maltašić with the topic of Case Study.
For more, make sure to check out our dedicated sports section.