Wei Xiaoyuan upsets Derwael and repeats as uneven bars world champion
Wei Xiaoyuan retained her uneven bars title in a high-class final at the World Championships in Liverpool.
The 18-year-old took gold in Kitakyushu a year ago in the absence of some of the best workers in the world.
But with the big names all assembled in Liverpool, the Chinese star restated her champion credentials with a superb performance.
It was her nation’s first gold medal on the women’s side of the meet and China’s tenth World Championship gold on uneven bars - an unmatched pedigree.
She said: “I have no words. I cannot believe I have just defended the title. I am super happy, especially that I managed to stick my dismount today.
“I was not too nervous because I had good pre-competition training. My condition was good and it was well prepared. This is not my first world championships so I managed to perform my best.
“I think I have the highest difficulty score among all the finalists and that favoured me for gold.
“I think I did a pretty good job today, but I can improve my rhythm a bit more and perform like the other experienced gymnasts out there.“
“Defending title will boost my confidence for the whole of the Paris Olympic cycle. I have high hopes of winning gold again in Paris 2024.”
Rebeca Andrade, who won silver in Kitakyushu, struggled and had to abort her routine at the midway point, winding up finishing eighth.
Shilese Jones shone on this piece in winning all-around silver and her 14.766 score gave her the lead for the majority of the competition.
Then Olympic champion Nina Derwael, aiming for a third world gold, brought her customary faultless execution to the table but slotted in just behind Jones with 14.700.
Wei was the penultimate gymnast to compete and produced the good with a winning score of 14.966, with Jones winning silver and Derwael bronze.
Jones said: “I am unbelievably proud. I have worked so hard for this and I’m just super stoked and super proud.
“I know what I’m capable of so there was no doubt in my mind.”
Derwael has been the undisputed queen of uneven bars in recent years with Wei citing the Belgian as her inspirational on the apparatus.
The 22-year-old relished the calibre of the competition, saying, "I was really excited about the competition even last night when I was when I was lying in bed. I was thinking about all these athletes in this bar final who are so incredible – the world champion, the Olympic champion, the Euroepan champion – all in one final. It’s crazy.
“And the level was so high today it was really exciting.”
On how she hopes to improve in the future, she said: “The future now is about searching for how to upgrade my performance, seeing what else I can do.
“I only started training again seven months ago so it hasn’t been that long. This is the level I’m at right now, but it’s not the level I want to be.
"I have some ideas of what I can do next to upgrade my difficulty.”
The World Gymnastics Championships Liverpool 2022 will be one of the largest international sporting events ever to be held in the city. Over 500 gymnasts from more than 70 countries will compete at the M&S Bank Arena from 29 October to 6 November 2022. Tickets are available at www.2022worldgymnastics.com/tickets.