By James Reid
Shilese Jones and Jade Carey look set to do battle in the women’s individual all-around final after delivering standout displays on Day 1 of the World Artistic Gymnastic Championships.
The American pair put in a string of solid performances across all four pieces of apparatus to post scores of 55.766 and 55.132 respectively and take the top two spots after the opening subdivision of qualifying in Liverpool.
But there was disappointment for compatriot Jordan Chiles, who missed out on a final place after falling off the beam on the final rotation.
Chiles had wowed the crowd on her World Championships debut, including a stunning performance on floor, and looked set to top the all-around leaderboard before a disappointing end meant she missed out by just over a mark.
“I’m disappointed for the girls,” said team manager and three-time world champion Chellsie Memmel.
“I think they all did a great job, they did what they could do. I just know how that feels and you don’t want to go out there and make mistakes, it sucks. That’s why I’m disappointed.”
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Chiles delivered an early statement of intent on the opening evening of competition, with her floor routine to Lizzo’s “Truth Hurts” whipping up the crowd and earning the evening’s highest mark of 14.100.
The Olympic team silver medallist then followed up with 14.316 on vault and 14.066 on uneven bars to leave her in a strong position before her fall on beam.
“I’m just going to say that it sucks but it happens,” added Memmel.
“This isn’t going to be her [Chiles] last worlds, she’s not going to be done after this, she can come back from this and do even better.
“It’s a learning experience, it’s just going to take some time to ease the sting because she was rocking the whole day.”
“You need a day or two to be angry and then you can turn it round.
“You need to give yourself the time to grieve and have those emotions because they’re completely valid but then you turn it around.
“The girls need a bit of a mental break so they’ll have a day off to take their mind off of everything and then we’re going to reset.”
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There was still plenty to be pleased with for USA, who recorded the highest team score of 167.263 on day one.
World Championship debutant Jones was particularly impressive, narrowly outscoring Olympic floor champion Carey thanks to outstanding consistency on all four apparatus.
Jones scored 14.566 on uneven bars, behind only Olympic champion Nina Derwael, alongside impressive scores on floor (13.800) and beam (13.200).
There was also success for Carey, who showed exactly why she's the reigning Olympic champion on floor with a score of 14.066 before top-scoring on vault with 14.483.
And Memmel was keen to accentuate the positives ahead of the rest of the competition in Liverpool.
“Shilese did amazing,” said Memmel, who won world all-around gold in 2005. “I’m super, super proud of her.
“She did what she came here to do. Having podium and now this competition under her belt is going to give her a confidence boost.
“Floor was a really high point, we started off super solid. Vault was also good just one mistake on bars and then unfortunately beam.
“I’m proud of what we did, floor was the big high.”
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.