ANADIA, Portugal - Stanford graduated senior Eddie Penev will compete for the U.S. Gymnastics team at a World Cup event in Anadia, Portugal. In his third blog post of the trip, Penev discusses competing in the competition and qualifying to the event finals in floor exercise:
Getting up at 7 a.m. proved to be quite a challenge this morning. Both Sam (my roommate) and I had to press snooze several times before we actually managed to pull ourselves out of bed. We got ready rather quickly and went down to breakfast to get some food in us to wake ourselves up a bit.
Although I wasn’t too nervous yet, I had a much smaller appetite that normal and had a small portion of eggs, yogurt and some coffee. I also had a few of my favorite Haribo gummy bears to keep the tradition alive.
Transportation to the arena was busier than usual this morning and our coaches had to actually catch a second bus in order for all the athletes to fit on the first one. We got to the gym around 8:45 a.m. and almost immediately started to warm up.
The way that the morning competition was scheduled was to have the first three mens’ events (floor, pommel horse and rings) and the first two womens’ events (vault and uneven bars). These events were split into two subdivisions so if one or two of your events were in the first subdivision the other(s) would be in the second subdivision of the morning competition.
I know – it is quite confusing. For me, I had pommels in the first subdivision and floor in the second subdivision. Sam had the opposite, floor in the first and pommels in the second. Brandon had rings in the second.
The first subdivision started at 10 a.m. and I was 17th up on pommels so I did not actually start warming-up on horse until 10:15 a.m. and was scheduled to compete around 10:40 a.m. Warmups went well for me. Even better than training I’d say.
During my warmup I had a chance to watch Sam’s floor routine, which was terrific, despite an out-of-bounds on one of his side passes. By the time it was my turn to go on pommels I was pretty confident and for the most part I hit one of my best sets – up until the dismount where I overcorrected a little bit by slowing down and came off. I got back up and redid the dismount.
I was not too bummed because it was one of my best sets before the fall and it is something I can easily correct in the future. [Coach] Brett [McClure] also felt it was a great routine for me up until the end.
I quickly refocused during the second warmup for the second subdivision because I had to go on floor, which is traditionally one of my strongest events. Warmups went great.
The floor in the back gym wasn’t quite as springy as the one on the competition floor so I limited the amount of skills I did. The thing I love about floor exercise is that you can go all out and basically just try to stick your landings. When I saluted I did just that. I hit a relatively clean set, and both Brett and I were pleased because we were sure it would be enough to put me in finals. I scored a 15.175, which turned out to be the highest qualification score of the day!
In floor finals, I plan on upgrading my difficulty just a little bit. I went for the slightly easier routine today to conserve my body a little and make sure I qualified to the finals. Once I was done, I watched Sam go on pommels who had a little trouble in the beginning of his routine and fell, but luckily he still ended up qualifying to the floor final.
Brandon displayed some absolutely incredible ring strength to finish sixth in the event and also advanced to the finals.
There was a two-hour lunch break after the first two subdivisions in the morning session and we grabbed some food at the arena, which as always was great. Since I was not competing until the second subdivision in the afternoon competition, I decided to go back to the hotel to get some rest. I found that it was not only great to get some down time physically but mentally as well.
When I got back to the competition I watched the end of the first subdivision of the afternoon. Sam hit two awesome vaults that put him in the top eight and he got through his high bar routine well enough to make the event finals.
Brandon had a great routine going on parallel bars but stumbled on his dismount and didn’t advance.
Warming up on vault, I felt really confident. At World Cup events if you are trying to qualify into the event finals on vault you need to compete two completely different vaults from two different categories of vaults.
My first vault went fairly well and I was a little short on the landing and took a hop forward. On the second vault my timing was a little off coming onto the vaulting table and I was forced to do a lower start value vault which cost me four-tenths of a point and unfortunately kept me out of the event finals.
I was definitely bummed but I still was very pleased with my floor performance and that I was advancing with the highest score.
All in all, it was not too bad of a day for us. It was a great learning experience and it felt awesome to represent Team USA for the first time. We are looking forward to continuing our momentum tomorrow in the first day of event finals, which will include floor, pommels and rings.
We are looking to contend for some medals to bring back for the US!