The Mexican Open History (2011 – 2017)

The Mexican Open is an all-around competition that first took place in December of 2011.  It is held for both women and men, however, this summary will focus on the women’s competition.

From 2011 till 2014 the event was hosted in Acapulco, a re-known Mexican beach. Since 2015 the event has been hosted at the country’s capital, Mexico City.


The first all-around champion was Ksenia Afanasyeva who at the time came fresh from her World success in Tokyo where she had become World Champion on Floor. Ksenia is the only Mexican Open Champion (on the women’s side) to hold an individual World Title.

Second in the all-around was Canada’s Christine “Peng Peng” Lee, who had competed in Mexico just a couple of months earlier at the 2011 Pan-American Games, held in Guadalajara, where she had been part of the Canadian Team that had won team silver. Also present from that Team was Mikaela Gerber who at Pan-Ams had won silver on Floor. She finished 6th at the Mexican Open.

As mentioned above, the competition also holds the men’s events, and at the end of the second day of competition (December 10th, 2011) just about Mexican Santiago López was to take to the high bar an earthquake surprised competitors and assistants (among them Nadia Comaneci, her husband Bart Conner and their son Dylan). Despite the initial scare, everybody remained calmed and afterwards, the competition resumed unaltered at the Fairmont Acapulco Princess. You can watch the moment of the earthquake at 1:47 of the video. Danell Leyva won the men’s competition.


Held after the Olympic Games, in October, the meet was won by new senior Brenna Dowell. Brenna would rise in the coming years. At the 2015 World Championships, she got a very difficult skill named after her: a piked double front salto. She was also re-known for her bars work and for competing an Amanar vault. Brenna currently competes for the University of Oklahoma.

For the host country, it was a historic moment when Yesenia Estrada placed 2nd after a strong performance.  And third was Anna Dementyeva, the 2011 European All-Around Champion, who at the time had just missed making the 2012 Olympic Team. Anna would retire in 2013.

On the men’s side, the competition was won by Oleg Vernaiev, a legend on men’s gymnastics who continues to compete today and has won numerous European, World and Olympic medals.

A very special guest attended the 2012 edition, Vera Caslavska who had been the all-around Champion in 1968 when the Olympic Games had been held in Mexico City. Vera got married in Mexico after the Olympics and became an instant darling. Beloved by the Mexican crowd, she surprised by doing a split at the age of 70.


All three gymnasts at the top of the podium were new seniors at the time (born in 1997): Spain’s Roxana Popa (gold) and Americans Peyton Ernst (silver) and Maggie Nichols (bronze).

Maggie Nichols would make it to the 2015 World Championships where she was the bronze medalist on Floor. Peyton Ernst, who was coached by Kim Zmeskal at her gym “Texas Dreams” would retire in late 2014. Both of them currently compete NCAA.

In fourth was Oksana Chusovitina (then 38), in fifth Eugenia Shelgunova (who continues to compete nowadays) and sixth Angelina Kysla, who was awarded the Elegance Prize in the form of a one-in-a-kind leotard that she would wear in all of her subsequent appearances at the Mexican Open.


The queen of the 2013 Mexican Open, Roxana Popa, returned to defend her title sadly in the morning training of the first day of competition, Roxana tore her ACL. Since then she has been plagued by knee problems that eventually made her miss Rio. Three surgeries later she’s pacing back her recovery and we hope to see her strong in 2018.

In her absence, “Pink Panther” Marta Pihan-Kulesza won gold (she had finished 6th in 2012), Emily Little won silver (fourth in 2011) and Oksana Chusovitina won bronze (fourth in 2013). New senior at the time, Enus Mariani was fourth but awarded that year’s Elegance Prize. The Mexican Open was Mariani’s first international competition as a senior since she had missed the entire year because of injury. As for Angelina Kysla, she moved up one spot by finishing fifth.


Future Rio Olympic Beam Finalist, Isabela Onyshko, took the title in the fifth edition. Second behind her was 2011 Pan-American Floor Champion, and home-girl, Ana Lago, marking it the second time a local gymnast won a medal, a silver just like Yesenia Estrada had done at the 2012 edition.  Japan’s Azumi Ishikura was third and she also won the Elegance Prize that year. Angelina Kysla moved up again one spot to finish fourth.


For 2016 Angelina Kysla, who had been competing at the meet every year since 2013, finally made it to the highest part of the podium improving from a fourth place to gold at the 2016 edition of the Mexican Open. Carolyne Pedro from Brazil was second and Oksana Chusovitina was third repeating her result from 2014. Catalina Ponor was present at the 2016 edition not to compete all-around but to compete on beam and floor as there is also a prize for the winners of each event and Catalina easily took the top spots on beam and floor and she was awarded the Elegance Prize that year.


For 2017 only three scores counted towards the all-around, allowing Catalina Ponor a chance to medal in the all-around since she doesn’t do bars. Angelina Melnikova who came in as the favorite struggled on beam and dropped the score, she also had issues on bars effectively keeping her from the gold medal as she was third by only a fraction (0.350). She did take the Elegance Prize though.

In the silver medal position was Catalina Ponor after competing a full twisting Yurchenko, her usual beam routine, and a downgraded Floor routine. In first was Cuba’s Yesenia Ferrara who showed strong performances everywhere and took gold by a 0.100 margin after dropping her Floor Score.

What marked the 2017 edition was Ponor’s retirement, at the World Championships she announced she would retire after fulfilling her pending commitments with the Mexican Open being her very last one.  So her beam and floor were her very last competitive routines with her gala performance the next day her last gymnastics appearance.

Mexico loves Catalina and her participation was marked by numerous tributes and she took the microphone to give her farewell speech where she thanked everyone that helped her become the amazing gymnast she is.

The all-around gold medalists, besides from their medal, are given a typical Mexican hat (sombrero) distinguishing them from the silver and bronze medalists. Catalina (pictured above) was gifted one as part of the farewell party that became the last edition of the Mexican Open.


Angelina Kysla Golden, Finally, At The 2016 Mexican Open

Catalina Ponor Retires at the 2017 Mexican Open

10 Cool Facts from the Mexican Open History (2011 – 2017)

In Memory Of… Vera Caslavska (1942 – 2016)


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