By Zjan Shirinian

Yana Kudryavtseva's elegant ball routine has seen her take the lead in the standings ©AFP/Getty ImagesReigning world champion Yana Kudryavtseva has got her multiple title defence off to a fine start by topping the early qualification standings after a magical ball routine on the opening day of the Rhythmic Gymnastics World Championships in Izmir. 

Kudryavtseva, gold medallist in the Ukrainian capital Kiev a year ago in all-around, ribbon and clubs, danced to La Boheme with the ball for 18.650 points.

The 16-year-old Russian was handed the highest difficulty of the competition, with 9.400, as well as the highest execution score of 9.250.

It means she is also the early leader of the all-around qualification.

Team mate Margarita Mamun, Kudryavtseva's biggest rival, also treated the crowd in the Turkish city to an impressive routine, scoring 18.366.

Melitinia Staniouta of Belarus lies third with 17.966, while Aleksandra Soldatova, also of Russia, is fourth with 17.675.

In the hoop, South Korea's Son Yeon Jae has the lead.

South Korea's Son Yeon Jae leads the hoop standings after the first day of action in Izmir ©AFP/Getty ImagesSouth Korea's Son Yeon Jae leads the hoop standings after the first day of action in Izmir ©AFP/Getty Images



She lit up the Halkapinar Arena with her well-executed classical hoop routine, which scored 17.350.

That put her ahead of Azerbaijan's Marina Durunda, who scored 17.150, and France's Kseniya Moustafaeva with 16.933.

Today is the first of two days of qualification for event finals in the hoop and ball events.

Gymnasts will switch events as qualification continues tomorrow morning and afternoon.

The top eight gymnasts - with a maximum of two per country - will advance to event finals, and the top 24 overall based on their best three scores will qualify for Friday's (September 26) all-around final.

Proceedings got underway yesterday with an Opening Ceremony that told the story of Turkey.

Entitled A Tale of the Aegean, the hour-long Ceremony featured an orchestra and recalled scenes in the country's history, told through dance.

Turkey's famous whirling dervishes also made an appearance.