1. team Russia
Everyone was expecting Russia to be in the lead after the first day of qualifications, but I don’t think anyone expected them to perform as well as they did. I certainly did not. They are here without their leader, their captain struggled with a kidney infection and their team is comprised by terribly inconsistent and injury prone athletes. There were lots of doubts surrounding them and the fact that the first athlete we saw was Paseka falling while preparing for a wolf turn wasn’t exactly promising. However, at the end it turned out that there was no reason to worry. Viktoria Komova finally returned to the world championships after being sick and injured for the last two years and she did a brilliant job. She definitely wasn’t perfect and she undoubtedly received some generous scores, but it was so exciting to see her actually fighting to stay on the apparatus. She wobbled on beam, she had some hesitations on bars but she did not give up and now, she will most likely qualify into two event finals. Maria Paseka, who is finally competing at the first world championships of her career is currently the leader on vault, after performing her amanar and her cheng as well as she possibly could have. We weren’t even sure if Ksenia Afanasyeva would be able to compete, but after all she went out there and delivered a solid double twisting yurchenko and a strong floor routine, that earned the second highest score of the day. Daria Spiridonova may have fallen on balance beam but she delivered a fabulous uneven bars routine, showing fantastic amplitude and execution and Seda Tutkhalyan, who has a great chance to qualify into the All Around, the vault and the balance beam finals, hit for out of four while Maria Kharenkova had beautiful routines on beam and bars. I’d be lying if I said that this situation doesn’t seem too good to be true and that I’m not terrified of how they’ll do at team finals, but the certainly had a great first day of competition.
(credit for the second gif: jordynslefteyebrow)
2. Team Great Britain
Great Britain has come to Glasgow with the strongest team they have ever had, they were under tremendous pressure to impress their home crowd and they did not disappoint. They are capable of impressive difficulty, they only had one major mistake on their weakest event, they showed fabulous vaulting and their floor rotation was definitely one of the highlights of the competition. They performed ridiculously difficult tumbling passes, like Amy’s silivas, Ellie’s Dos Santos, Kelly’s whip + full in and Claudia’s full twisting double layout and they earned strong scores. One of the biggest surprises of the day was Ruby Harrold, who somehow managed to qualify into the All Around finals over European bronze medalist Ellie Downie. Ruby has been injured for the biggest part of the year and she has had some struggled during her recovery. However, she continued to add difficulty to her routines and she delivered solid performances to earn the second highest All Around total of her team. I am not sure if they would consider pulling her out of the final in favor of Ellie Downie, but she was certainly impressive during qualifications. Claudia Fragapane, who is also coming back from an injury, had a fantastic floor routine and she’s currently 3rd on this event while Ellie Downie has a great chance to make it into vault and floor finals and Amy Tinkler was excellent on all four events. Great Britain is currently second and they will certainly qualify into team finals, where they will even have an outside chance to fight for a medal if others make mistakes.
3. Team Italy
2015 has not been an easy year for the Italians. Their star, Vanessa Ferrari has been sick and injured for the biggest part of the season, they lost Martina Rizzeli, who broke her foot right before the Novara Cup and most of the members of their world team are coming back from some injury. During the last couple of months we have seen them falling, making mistakes and struggling, but they managed to overcome all the obstacles and they delivered when it counted. The had two falls from Mori and Meneghini, but at the end they didn’t have to count any of them towards their team total. Carlotta Ferlito nailed her difficult beam set and is likely to make finals on this event, Tea Ugrin hit her routines on every apparatus, Vanessa Ferrari proved that she still is among her country’s top gymnasts and Erika Fasana posted one of the highest scores of the day on floor exercise while Elisa Meneghini did an excellent job on vault and floor and Lara Mori delivered a beautiful beam routine.
4. Team Japan
When Japan announced their world team several months ago, it was clear that they had plenty of talent and massive potential. However, they later struggled with injuries, they had problems during podium training and I had started to doubt them. Today, they proved that they really are one of the best teams in the world and they are currently rankled fourth after hitting their routines with very few major mistakes. Asuka Teramoto was very impressive and despite a fall on vault, she did an excellent job on the three remaining events while the injured Aiko Sugihara was beautiful on beam and especially bars. The biggest surprise of their line up was first year senior Sae Miyakawa who managed to handle her nerves and overcome her inconsistency to hit the best floor routine of the day. Mai Murakami, who was originally the alternate of the team and did not find out that she was going to compete until recently also delivered solid routines on every single event and posted her country’s highest All Around total.
5. Team Brazil
Brazil is one my favorite teams competing in Glasgow but even though I knew they were capable of greatness, I also knew that they are capable of having complete meltdowns so I was incredibly nervous of their performance. Today, they were not perfect. In fact, they had a few falls and mistakes. However, they did show some fabulous gymnastics and they proved that they are strong contenders for the team finals, even without their superstar Rebeca Andrade. First year senior Flavia Saraiva handled the pressure brilliantly, delivering strong routines on every event and for the time being, she is in the top 8 on the All Around, the balance beam and the floor exercise. Lorrane Oliveira, who has been terribly inconsistent during the year, chose the perfect time to actually get it together and show us what she can do and she’s currently 6th All Around, after posting the highest total of her team. I’m not sure if Brazil will make it to team finals. Jade Barbosa earned the 7th highest score on the balance beam and Daniele Hypolito showed incredible fight on every event. They are currently in 6th place and plenty of strong teams have yet to perform. However, I feel extremely confident about their future and I’m starting to love the idea of them qualifying a full team to the Olympics at the test event, in front of their home crowd.
6. team Canada
Last year, Canada was expected to challenge for a spot in the team finals. Instead, they had several falls and mistakes and they even lost an athlete to a torn ACL during qualifications. Thankfully, this time, things worked much better for them. They avoided major errors, they showed a good level of difficulty and they hit their routines under pressure, to finish in fifth place after the first day. Of course, they are not guaranteed to make it into the team finals, but they really did everything they could and they have every reason to be extremely proud. Their leader, Ellie Black, had an other historic performance and she’s currently leading the All Around and the balance beam. I was also very impressed by veteran Brittany Rogers, who is making her comeback after competing in NCAA for the last couple of years. Despite not having competed in an international competition since 2012, Brittany handed the pressure and showed one of the strongest double twisting yurchenkos of the day, while also delivering on bars and beam. She is currently fourth on vault while Isabela Onyshko is currently 7th on the uneven bars after a wonderful routine and Rousseau, Townsend and Woo gave us some great performances.
7. Paula Mejias
Paula proved herself as a world class vaulter several times this year. She qualified into the finals at the Anadia World Cup, and the Pan-american Games and she became the vault champion of the Osijek World Cup. However, she has also gave in under the pressure in the past, so I was absolutely delighted to see her hitting her routines on vault and floor. She is currently fifth on vault and has a great chance to qualify into the event finals. This would be a massive accomplishment from Paula herself and for Puerto Rican gymnastics in general, and I hope we get to see her writing history.
8. Oksana Chusovitina
It doesn’t really matter how Oksana performs. Just the fact that she’s still competing at the age of 40 is impressive enough to make her a legend. However, this time, she did not just compete, she also showed the most difficult vault that has ever been done by a woman and she put it on her feet. It was nowhere near perfect, in fact it wasn’t even good and she barely landed it but I was very glad to see that she her putting it on her feet and looking happy with it. She is currently seventh on vault so she will most likely not qualify into the finals, but one has to admire her courage and determination.
Also, she did not die while attempting it so I’m very excited for that.
1. Team Romania
What can I even say about this team? What happened this morning was even more terrible than the worse case scenario I had in mind. They really had a nightmare during qualifications, they did not manage to break 14 on floor, they had a meltdown of epic proportions on the uneven bars and most importantly, they did not manage to qualify even one athlete into the event finals. We always talk about how Larisa Iordache is the entire Romanian team, and that means that when Larisa is off, the entire team is off and this is what happened today. Iordache, who was a medal contender in the all Around, the balance beam and the floor exercise, had two falls and did not manage to qualify into the event finals and her teammates couldn’t make up for those errors. Unless a miracle happens, Romania will have to compete at the test event in order to qualify a full team to the Olympics and this is absolutely devastating, considering their glorious history in the sport. Back in 2010, we were all talking about the disappointing state of Romanian gymnastics because they did not manage to win any medals. In 2011, we were worried because they were consistently finishing in fourth place at worlds. Last year, we were terrified because they qualified in team finals in seventh place but now, the situation is worse than ever before. Hopefully, this disappointing result will motivate the athletes to work even harder and the coaches to make some major changes in their program so they can come back strong next year.
2. Becky and Ellie Downie’s mistakes on bars
The Downie sisters have been superstars for the British team all year long. It really is amazing to see both of them achieving great results internationally and there’s nothing I would want more than to see them both in Rio. Coming to Glasgow, Becky was expected to fight for a medal on the uneven bars and Ellie was supposed to be her country’s top All Arounder. Unfortunately, a rough uneven bars rotation ended both of those dreams. Ellie fell in the first element of her routine and then had a major form break during her van leeuwen while Becky fell on her own eponymous element. As a result, Ellie did not have one of the two highest All Around totals of her country and Becky did not post a high score on her best event. I still don’t understand why Becky took the risk to perform her new, upgraded uneven bar routine that she had never hit in competition before. The set she did at the European championships would definitely get her a spot in the event finals and she was actually capable of executing it cleanly. It’s needless to say that both athletes have a lot to celebrate. They helped their team finish second and they will most likely compete in the team finals. In addition to that, Becky delivered a fabulous beam routine that earned the 8th highest score of this event and Ellie has a good chance to qualify into the vault and floor finals and ho knows, maybe they will even consider having her compete in the All Around finals instead of Ruby Harrold.
3. Maria Kharenkova did not qualify into any individual finals
Russia’s Maria Kharenkova had a fabulous performance during qualifications, but she will still not get to compete in any individual finals. Despite being Russia’s national champion, she did not have a chance to fight for a spot in the All Around finals because she did not compete on vault and despite currently being in the top 5 on both bars and beam, she will not get to compete in any of those finals due to the two per country rule. Of course, she will have a chance to show us what she can do during the team finals, where she has a brilliant chance to win a medal, but I really wish she had the chance to shine individually too, especially since she missed her chance on the beam finals last year, after major mistakes during qualifications.
4. Jessica Lopez
Coming into Glasgow, Jessica Lopez, who won a silver medal on the uneven bars at the Pan-american Games, was an underdog for the uneven bars finals and a strong contender for the All Around finals. Unfortunately, the event finals are out of the question since she fell on her tkatcev during qualifications. She had a second fall on balance beam and even though she was impressive on vault and floor, she had a fair amount of trouble. She is currently 18th in the All Around and she has a fairly good chance to qualify into the finals, but I really wish she could have had a better first day of competition.
5. team Germany
During the year, Germany has lost two of their top athletes, Kim Janas and Kim Bui to torn ACLs but even without them, they were still one of the top teams coming to Glasgow. And yet, they will not manage to qualify into the team finals after having several mistakes during qualifications. Elisabeth Seitz and Lisa Hill were both contenders for the uneven bars finals but they both ended up falling today, while Leah Griesser had a rather rough competition, making mistakes on beam and floor. Pauline Tratz did not perform an acro series on her beam routine and Sophie Scheder, who is dealing with some knee pain, fell on floor. Thankfully, Sophie hit her uneven bars routine and she’s currently third on this event while Pauline Schaefer is fifth on beam for the time being. Germany was in a similar situation last year, when they lost a team finals spot to a much weaker team from Australia, after having multiple falls during the first day of the competition. Hopefully, they will be very successful at next year’s test event, when their talented juniors will be eligible to compete, but it’s really disappointing to see such a talented team missing out in team finals for the second year in a row.
header photo by John Cheng for USA gymnastics
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