London 2012

Kanaeva defends title

Russian becomes first rhythmic gymnast to defend an Olympic title

Last Updated: 11/08/12 9:00pm

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Kanaeva: Retained her Olympic title

Kanaeva: Retained her Olympic title

Russia's Evgenia Kanaeva won rhythmic gymnastics gold in the individual all-round final after a series of breathtaking performances at Wembley Arena.

In doing she became became the first rhythmic gymnast to defend an Olympic title.

Kanaeva was in a class of her own as she scored 116.900 ahead of fellow Russian Daria Dmitrieva (114.500) in silver with Liubou Charkashyna of Belarus (111.700) taking bronze.

Each of the 10 gymnasts in the final competed with four pieces of apparatus - the hoop, ball, clubs and ribbon - in a bid to be crowned Olympic champion, but no-one could come close to the 22-year-old three-time world champion from Russia.

Thrilled

"Gymnastics has been part of my life since I was six years old," Kanaeva said after she was presented with her medal.

"Since that time I have practised every day, eight hours a day. I did exceedingly well and I am so happy I have succeeded.

"I have worked so hard for the last four years, I have worked hard throughout my whole childhood to be where I am today."

Charkashyna got the competition under way with a strong hoop routine to score 28.100 before Kanaeva fired ahead with 29.350, effortlessly incorporating her gold-coloured hoop into her stylish performance.

Dmitrieva, who came second in qualification, scored 28.300 as Russia occupied the top two positions after the first rotation.

Stylish

Israel's Neta Rivkin was the first to compete with the next apparatus, the ball, and produced a beautifully lyrical routine before Kanaeva's stunning performance scored her 29.200 to keep her in front at the halfway stage.

Dmitrieva could only score 28.350 in comparison as the gap widened at the top to 1.9 marks, with South Korea's Son Yeon-Jae in third after a balletic ball routine.

The clubs were the next, and with Kanaeva competing last with the apparatus, she knew what she needed to do in order to retain her lead.

Poland's Joanna Mitrosz was up first and set the early standard before Dmitrieva returned to the floor in a bright lime leotard which was as electrifying as her 28.750-scoring performance.

Charkashyna moved up into second place behind the Russian after Son's score was down on the first two rounds before Kanaeva regained top spot with a stellar performance which gained her 29.450.

With just the ribbon to go, Azerbaijan's Aliya Garayeva launched her final push for a medal after laying in fourth following the first three pieces of apparatus.

Garayeva saved the best until last and scored 28.250 to move into bronze medal position as Son narrowly fell short, just 0.100 marks behind the Azerbaijani gymnast.

However, the race for medals was not done, and Charkashyna blended ballet with expression in an emotional ribbon routine to score 28.075 and seal bronze.

Kanaeva finished off in style with an effortless performance to score 28.900 which meant even a perfect score by fellow Russian Dmitrieva would not be enough for her to overtake her at the top.

Dmitrieva then made sure of silver with the highest scoring ribbon routine, 29.100, as Russia made sure of their dominance in the competition.

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