About a month before the start of the 2015 artistic gymnastics world championships, the FIG released a nominative list of the athletes that might be representing their countries in Glasgow. This list is not final. In fact, each team is allowed to make as many changes as they want before the qualifications begin. That means, that some of the athletes whose names are included in this list, may never get in a plane for Glasgow while others may take their places. Important competitions and internal tests like the Romanian nationals, the Novara Cup or the USA world selection camp have not taken place yet so the athletes in contention still need to prove that they have what it takes to represent their home countries at the most important competition of the year. That being said, the nominative list can give us an idea of the gymnasts who are being considered for their country’s worlds teams.
One of the names I was most excited to see on the list was Canada’s Brittany Rogers. After helping her country achieve a historic 5th place finish and qualifying into vault finals at London, Brittany retired from elite gymnastics and started competing for the University of Georgia. However, with the Rio Olympics only a year away, she returned into elite training so she can have a chance to become a two times Olympian. There was never a doubt that she is a very talented athlete and she could definitely offer a lot to the team especially on vault and bars, but comebacks in gymnastics are far from an easy thing and we haven’t seen Brittany competing any world class routines yet. The Canadian gymnastics federation recently announced their world team and she is part of it so I’m very excited to see what she’s capable of. However, notably absent from the Canadian team is Commonwealth Games finalist Maegan Chant, who has been among her country’s strongest athletes during the quad. She is a powerful vaulter and tumbler with impressive skills, like a front layout half out on vault, a double layout on floor and an aerial round of on beam so I’m surprised to see she is only going to be a reserve for the team this time around.
An other name who is surprisingly missing from her country’s nominative team is world champion Huang Huidan of China. During the quad, she has been a rock for her team as well as one of the strongest gold medal contenders on the uneven bars. 2015 hasn’t been a great year for her but I still think she has a lot to offer on bars and beam. The Chinese team already includes two bars and beam specialists: Zhu Xiaofang and Fan Yilin. They are both first year seniors and they are the Asian championships bars and beam champions. It was previously announced that Huang will actually be on that team instead of Zhu so we should definitely not count her out yet.
The explosive Yesenia Ferrera, who stole the show at the 2014 Panamerican championships is also not listed to compete. The Cuban star injured herself at the Anadia world cup and according to this post, she is out of the national team due to discipline issues. I’m not sure what her status is right now but I really wish she will actually end up competing at worlds, even though I don’t know how likely this is. Kristyna Sankova is not listed among the other Ukrainian athletes, which makes me think that she’s probably injured while everyone’s favorite, Anna Pavlova, seems to be healthy enough to represent Azerbaijan.
The fabulous Marta Pihan Kulesza is also not set to compete for Poland. The two times Olympian suffered from an injury that took her out of the European Games earlier this year but she recently returned to competition at the Poland vs Austria vs Hungary friendly meet. She didn’t post any massive scores, but even though she’s still recovering, she still is one of her country’s best gymnast so I really hope she will be ready to compete at Glasgow.
The Romanian team does not include European champion Andreea Munteanu but this is not necessarily surprising since Andreea has been struggling for the entire year. It’s crazy to think that the team has more confidence to an athlete like Larisa Iordache, who hasn’t competed for the whole year, or Catalina Ponor, who is just coming back to the sport, or even Diana Bulimar, who recently had surgery instead of this year’s European champion but Andreea hasn’t been progressing for a long time. However, she will still have a chance to fight for a spot on the team at the upcoming Romanian nationals.
After lots of drama and questions, Olympic and World champion Aliya Mustafina, is part of Russia’s nominative team. Aliya was supposed to take a break in order to let her body rest but it seems like she changed her mind and she has set her mind to Glasgow. If it was anyone else I would doubt whether or not she’d be able to come back in shape but Aliya has achieved more surprising things in the past.
And then we have USA which is undoubtedly the best team in the world right now. Most gymnastics fans agreed that Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas, Bailie Key and Maggie Nichols are going to be part of the team while the last member would be someone between Madison Kocian, MyKayla Skinner or Alyssa Baumann. However, to everyone’s surprise, Bailie Key, who had consistently been top 5 All Around and top 3 on bars and floor was actually not in the nominative list while the last member of that nominative team was Brenna Dowell out of all people. Νοw, I root for Brenna just as hard as everyone else, I would LOVE to see her competing at the sport’s highest stage after coming so close in the past and I actually think she could fit very well into the team. Ηer bars set is one of the most exciting ones being done in the world and if I definitely prefer it to a routine like Kocian’s, which is obviously awesome but it’s very similar to a million other routines we’ll see.
Let’s see how Brenna would fit into a team of Biles, Raisman, Douglas, Nichols and Skinner.
VT: (Gabby/Aly), Maggie, Brenna, MyKayla, Simone (maybe 6.3 if she gets her amanar back if not 5.8/ 6.3/6.3/6.4/6.3)
UB: (Aly) Maggie, Simone, Gabby, Brenna (5.8, 6.0 6.1, 6.4, 6.7)
BB: (MyKayla) Maggie, Gabby, Aly, Simone (6.0, 5.9/6.2, 6.3, 6.8. 6.9)
FX: (Brenna/Gabby) Maggie, MyKayla, Aly, Simone (5.8/5.8, 6.0, 6.5, 6.7, 6.8)
start value with four events counting (qualifications): 103/102.7
start value with three events counting (team finals): 78.2
If MyKayla Skinner is the alternate and Madison Kocian is part of the team we have:
VT: (Gabby/Aly), Gabby/Ally, Maggie, Brenna, Simone (6.3 + 6.3 + 6.3 + 6.3)
UB: (Aly/Maggie) Simone, Gabby, Brenna, Madison (6.1, 6.4, 6.7, 6.5)
BB: (Madison) Maggie, Gabby, Aly, Simone (5.8, 6.2/5.9, 6.4, 6.8, 6.9)
FX: (Gabby) Brenna, Maggie, Aly, Simone (5.8, 5.8, 6.0 6.7, 6.8)
start value with 4 scores counting: 102.5/102.2
start value with 3 events counting: 78.1
(team start values without Brenna here)
I counted Brenna’s vault as an amanar because I think that she doesn’t even have a chance of being considered unless she’s capable of that skill. Now those are some massive numbers, and if Brenna makes the team instead of Bailie, their difficulty total will be higher. However, nobody ever doubted that Dowell is ridiculously talented and capable of amazing skills. The problem always was her lack of consistency. In fact, with an amanar and her fabulous bars set she would be an ideal pick for team USA but the problem is that having a high start value is not enough, you also need to prove you can hit your routines under pressure and Dowell hasn’t done that. The thing Marta values the most is consistency. She wants her athletes to train the same routines over and over again for months so they can go out there and compete them without any errors at the major competitions. Every athlete in contention for the worlds team has been training like that for the whole year but Brenna only had a couple of months to put full routines together and I’m not sure if Marta would trust her. In addition to that, she often does great at camp and then underperforms at competitions. It’s not that she has meltdowns and falls multiple times during the same routine but she’s just not as sharp and as solid as she should be. From what we’ve learned, Brenna was great at the last training camp but that doesn’t mean that she will be great at worlds too and Marta knows that. On the other hand, Bailie Key has barely had any mistakes for the entire year and she has proven she can handle the pressure at the Jesolo Trophy, the Secret Classic and the National championships. Her start values are a bit lower, but she will probably receive higher execution scores because she’s cleaner and more consistent than Brenna so I’m having a hard time leaving her home. Meanwhile, with Paseka looking strong, Skinner’s chances for a vault medal don’t seem as great as before and since the main reason why they’d take her to worlds was an extra individual medal, I’m not sure she’ll be getting a ticket to Glasgow. The official team USA will be announced after the conclusion of the next training camp so we just have to be patient until then. I don’t want to say that Dowell has absolutely no chance to be considered, but she would need to stick one amanar after the other and to nail every single bars routine in order to just be in the mix for an alternate spot.
There are no other major surprises in the list and even though I wish Tea Ugrin was part of team Italy and I’m ridiculously excited to see Roxana Popa, who was diagnosed with a torn ACL at the end of last year to be part of the Spanish I can’t say that I’m shocked by any of those things