Italy’s Villa holds her nerve to take all-around gymnastics gold

Giorgia Villa, the 2018 junior all-around European champion, added YOG gold to her medal collection thanks to strong routines on each of the four events.

Picture by Getty Images

The Italian finished just ahead Amelie Morgan (GBR) and Anastasiia Bachynska (UKR), who had qualified in first place but stumbled in the floor exercise.

“Both me and my coach were really nervous today, but I think it was me who had the most nerves,” Villa said.

In the end the 15 year old produced a near flawless floor exercise to win Italy’s first ever all-around title, and nerves gave way to ecstatic smiles.

Villa admitted she had struggled with anxiety during the final. “Especially on beam I wobbled a bit because of that, but after that I got more relaxed going into the last apparatus, floor exercise.

“Holding my nerves during competitions is the most difficult part in gymnastics. It is hard for me to stay calm and focused, because there is so much going on. Today I listened to a lot of Italian up-tempo beats before the competition. It helped me to calm down a bit.”

Villa said she did not notice her coach pacing nervously in circles before and during her floor routine.

“To be honest, I was concentrating on my own job. He just told me to do my best and said the results would come eventually.”

The road to gold was not an easy one for Villa, who tore a cruciate ligament during training in 2017.


“I saw all my competitors getting better and I was injured. That was really hard to see. But I kept these goals - the 2018 junior European championships and Youth Olympic Games - in my mind. I knew that I wanted to be there and deliver.

“Those goals were my biggest motivation. I wanted to prove that in order to deliver good results, you need to keep going. All the sacrifices I have made were completely worth it.”


Villa’s victory brought to an end Russia’s dominance in the women’s all-around at the YOG. Viktoriia Komova (Singapore 2010) and Seda Tutkhalyan (Nanjing 2014) had won the previous two golds in the all-around. In Buenos Aires their compatriot Kseniia Klimenko failed to reach the podium as she faltered on uneven bars, beam and floor exercise to finish fifth.


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