Three power houses were ready to battle it out tonight at the Canada Games Centre in Halifax for the men’s gymnastics team competition. In an exciting finish, it came down to the very last routine to decide the podium placement between teams from BC, Ontario and Québec.
Before the competition began, team Ontario had already fought adversity with two of their gymnasts being bothered by a virus – Simon Porter and Cory Paterson – two key members of the team. Paterson had to withdraw on doctor’s order but Porter showed little sign of illness and led the team on four out of six apparatus.
After three apparatus, the half way point of the competition, Ontario was in command, two points ahead of BC and seven points ahead of Québec.
In the fourth rotation, Québec went to vault and recorded a competition high score of 57.15. One stuck vault after another and Québec was back in the game. Team captain Mathieu Csukassy anchored the line up with a Yurchenko layout double full (blind entry vault followed by two rotations with two twists), the highest difficulty vault of the evening.
After four apparatus, standings were; Québec (208.05), Ontario (205.15) and BC (203.8).
Ontario closed the gap in the fifth rotation with a floor exercise score of 51.1, in comparison to Québec’s 48.9 on the parallel bars. BC lost some ground with a score of 47.85 on high bar. Québec remained in the lead after 5 rotations by a small margin (0.7 points) over Ontario, and more than five points over BC.
The stage was set for a thrilling showdown in the last rotation between Québec and Ontario for the gold medal. But Team BC had not said its last word. With one competitor remaining on each apparatus, it was too close to call between the three provinces.
As the last competitor landed and saluted the judges, the crowd anxiously awaited the final results. And, after 16 years of not being on the podium at the Canada Games, Québec had finally climbed back all the way to the top, grabbing the gold medal.
The end of this drought is something Jeff Thomson, men’s program director at Gymnastics Canada, believes is very positive for the sport and for the province of Québec: “Québec has a long and proud history of producing some of Canada’s best male gymnasts. It’s wonderful to once again see the province rising to the top of the podium.”
The gold winning team members from Québec are: Mathieu Csukassy, David Boucher, Samuel Paquin, Julien Samson, Jean Begin-Rainville, Matthew Halickman and Cedric Marcil. They are coached by Martin Bordeleau and Denis Privé.
The spectacular come-from-behind effort by Team BC in the last rotation earned them the silver medal. Ontario, who fought a hard fight, was awarded the bronze.
The top 36 gymnasts from today’s competition will be seen again in action on Wednesday in the All-Around finals.