It was full steam ahead at the Mustang FEI Vaulting World Championships today in Herning (DEN). French vaulters Manon Moutinho and Lambert Leclezio powered ahead in the individual competition while Pas de Deux Chiara Congia and Justin van Gerven brought back hope of a gold medal for Germany.
Starting the day with the female technical program, Kimberly Palmer of the USA posted the first massive score of the competition, 8.329 for the Technical test, jumping up to sixth place in the overall standings. However, the nerve tingling performance from Canada’s Averill Saunders left everyone with their jaws on the floor. The eighteen-year-old showed the second-best test of the day and lies in fourth place ahead of tomorrow’s final (8.198). Meanwhile, strong performances from Julia Sophie Wagner and Kathrin Meyer of Germany have them spending the night in second and third position with 8.310 and 8.265 respectively after round one. As for the top spot, it remains firmly in the hands of France’s Manon Moutinho, posting the best score of the day at 8.815 and increasing her lead over the field with a stunning performance.
There was heartbreak for Eva Nagiller (AUT), with her horse Lavalino unable to settle in the Boxen arena despite her best efforts while Denmark’s favourite Sheena Bendixen, will have some work to do in tomorrow’s freestyle, after a fall in her dismount leaves her in fifth. And, with the Free test counting for 50% of the total score, any of the top six could make the podium…
In the men’s competition, Germany’s Jannik Heiland came back like a true professional after a disappointing start yesterday. His score, 8.713, was second-best in the Technical test and he now sits 5th after round one. Compatriot Thomas Brüsewitz lies just behind in 6th (8.549). With a slightly unsettled Rosenstolz beneath him, fourth place was the best Italian Lorenzo Lupacchini could manage today leaving him in seventh overall (8.533). Dutch vaulter Sam dos Santos continued to surprise the rest of the competition, holding on to his bronze medal position (8.585), as Julian Wilfling (GER) completed the round in 4th (8.577).
Red, white and blue finished the Male technical test. Quentin Jabet of France held on to the second place overall (8.642), and Lambert Leclezio impressed! A small loss of balance in the final exercise gave the judges at least something to deduct from him. Finishing the round on 9.231, Leclezio appears to be well on his way to stepping on to the top of the podium one more time, just the freestyle remains. . It will be a fight to the end for the rest of the men, just 0.109 separating second and seventh place.
There were no surprises at the top of the Pas de Deux class as Chiara Congia and Justin van Gerven, Germany, put on a top-quality display for the audience winning the interim top spot with a score of 8.863. Diana Harwardt and Peter Kunne (GER) are just behind in second (8.625), their medal winning dreams well and truly alive. An intricate performance from Italian pairing Davide Zanella and Rebecca Greggio saw them complete the top three so far (8.198) but Austria’s Theresa Thiel and Dominik Eder lie very close in fourth (8.029).
Tomorrow will see the first medals of the championship presented. It will be both a test of nerves and of mental strength for the individual vaulters and we will see if France can make it three for three in the individual and squad competitions.
As for the final performance of Lambert Leclezio in the individual class… he is here to put on a show and tomorrow we can be sure he will do just that.
Full results are available here.
Jannik Heiland (GER) and DARK BELUGA at the ECCO FEI World Championships 2022, Herning (DEN) © FEI/ Richard Juilliart