‘Took gold from her’: Gymnastics judging row erupts as Russian star Melnikova loses title after Japanese rival’s score upgraded
Melnikova clinched an historic gold medal in the women’s all-around event earlier in the week at the Artistic Gymnastics World Championships in Kitakyushu, Japan, ending the decade-long dominance of American athletes.
The 21-year-old star – representing the Russian Gymnastics Federation – seemed set to add another title to her impressive collection when she sat top of the leaderboard in the floor exercise event on Sunday with a score of 14.000.
Angelina Melnikova Floor Event Finals 2021 Worlds pic.twitter.com/jSDbs3jALg— Gymnastea (@gymnastea) October 24, 2021
Japanese rival Murakami appeared to have fallen short when she posted 13.966, just shy of Melnikova’s tally, with America’s Leanne Wong in bronze on 13.833 for her routine.
But the Japanese team filed an appeal, feeling that the 25-year-old Murakami had been treated harshly with the scoring.
Murakami’s score was subsequently bumped up by 0.100, moving her to 14.066 and putting her ahead of Melnikova.
Mai Murakami 2021 GOLD Medalist on floor 😭😭😭😭🤩🥇🇯🇵BOY did I cry! She finishes her routine in tears!She put an inquiry which led her to get the gold Medal! 14,0666 - 5.8 Difficulty - 8.266 execution pic.twitter.com/0zHj2QdXMn— Liviefromparis🤸♀️🤸♀️ (@ILoovEnglish) October 24, 2021
The #Kitakyushu2021 Women's Floor champion is Murakami Mai 🇯🇵! She wins 🥇 with a score of 14.066, ahead of All-Around champion Angelina Melnikova (RGF) in 🥈 (14.000). Leanne Wong 🇺🇸 takes 🥉 (13.833)#GWC2021#Gymnasticspic.twitter.com/csH4RmoNEl— FIG (@gymnastics) October 24, 2021
Meanwhile, Russian appeals regarding the judging for Melnikova were reportedly rejected.
“I’m hugely disappointed,” Melnikova told TASS.
“I’ve never in my life had problems with the turn which wasn’t counted for me. We filed a protest, but it wasn’t accepted.”
Melnikova also took to Instagram, where she suggested her first turn had not been credited.
“What they replied in response to the appeal, I won’t even say, because it was awful,” said the star.
Speaking to Russian outlet Match TV, Melnikova added: “It bothered them [the judges] that my leg was supposed to be at a 90-degree angle, but I supposedly had my leg too low. But I’ve never had that problem before...
“Most likely, it was a moment to find fault, because for Mai Murakami it was her final event, she’s ending her career," said Melnikova of the Japanese star, who also clinched World Championship gold in the same event in Montreal in 2017.
“This medal is important for her, it’s great that she’s ended her career as a world champion.
“I’m happy for her, but I’ll say it’s strange that they found fault with me, it’s the first time I’ve ever faced this.”
The senior coach of the Russian Artistic Gymnastics Team, Valentina Rodionenko, was likewise angered.
“The judges didn’t count this element, and our coaches promptly filed a protest, which was rejected,” Rodionenko said.
“It’s useless to prove anything now. They took gold from her, what can I say, because that unaccounted element was worth 0.100 points, which gave Melnikova the opportunity to finish first.
“I have no words after all this.”
The judging row is not the first for Russian gymnastics in recent months.
Russian rhythmic gymnastics star Dina Averina lost on out gold in the all-round final at the Olympic Games in Tokyo in the summer when she was pipped by rival Linoy Ashram despite the Israeli dropping her apparatus during her ribbon routine.
The disappointment will sting for Melnikova, but she at least has the consolation of enjoying remarkably successful season.
The star clinched an Olympic gold medal in the team event in Tokyo as well as two individual bronzes, followed by her all-round World Championship gold in Kitakyushu and another bronze in the vault event, in addition to Sunday’s silver medal.
She also scooped four medals, including gold in the uneven bars, at the European Championships in Basel back in April.
Angelina Melnikova has not left a major event in 2021 with less than three medals:Europeans: 🥇🥈🥈🥉Olympics: 🥇🥉🥉Worlds: 🥇🥈🥉An incredible season.— Scott Bregman (@sbregman87) October 24, 2021