1. Hong Un Jong’s vault
The 2008 Olympic champion on vault didn’t get to compete much during the 2009-2012 quad since her country was suspended from any FIG competition after being involved in age falsifications. However, Hong continued to train and despite her age and her long absence from competitions, she managed to stay in shape and she came back strong in 2013, where she won a bronze medal on her favorite event. After that, she became the world vault champion in 2014, defeating Simone Biles and now, she seems determined to defend her title. I don’t think she has competed at all during the year, since her country did not send a team to the Asian championships but that doesn’t seem to have affected her much. During qualifications, she nearly stuck her amanar and she landed her cheng without any trouble to earn the third highest score on this event. There is definitely room for improvement in both her vaults. Her amanar was a bit off line and she had a big step on her cheng so if she perfects those areas she is a strong contender for the vault title once again.
2. Team Belgium
What a day for those ladies! They came into the competition as underdogs and they all did a brilliant job. Of course, everyone expected the Belgian team to place in the top 16, but I don’t think that anyone believed they would do so well. The are absolutely fabulous, there’s no question about this, but they are also terribly inconsistent, and their recent performance at the Novara Cup, where they had several falls on balance beam was enough to make us worry. However, they had none of those problems today. They managed to stay on the beam, hitting beautifully executed and solid routines, they were very efficient on vault, nailing their full twisting yurchenkos and they captivated the crowd on floor, where they posted some of the highest execution scores of the day. They did have two falls on the uneven bars, but overall they were beyond impressive and they placed in an impressive 11th place, beating countries like Romania, Germany and Australia. Next year, Nina Derwael and Axelle Klinckaert, who achieved excellent results at EYOF, will also be eligible to compete and they should improve the team’s total significantly. I absolutely love Belgium, mainly because they are one of the most artistic and creative teams out there. Their choreography on floor is just fabulous and it makes them stand out among every other country in the world. During the last quad, they barely missed out on qualifying a full team at the Olympic Games. Hopefully, this time they will be more lucky.
3. team Netherlands
What a magnificent performance this team had! The Netherlands were one of the many underdogs fighting for one of the last team finals spots. They are a fairly inconsistent team, who had struggled a lot at their last competition. They have lost some of their top gymnasts to injuries, they were relying on two young and inexperienced gymnasts, they knew that they would need an excellent performance to beat Brazil, they knew that their Olympic chances were depending on this and they were under tremendous pressure. And yet, they somehow managed to handle it and deliver one of the best performances of the entire competition. Their only major mistakes happened on balance beam, where they had to count Lisa Top’s 12.333 after Mara Titarsolej only scored a 10.633 but Sanne’s, Lieke’s and Eythora’s high scores were enough to make up for that. Besides that, they only had minor errors, like small wobbles, missed handstands and steps out of bounds. They were particularly impressive on the uneven bars, posting solid scores, they hit their vaults and they captivated the audience with their beautiful artistry on floor. In addition to an excellent team performance, Sanne Wevers hit what probably was the cleanest beam routine of the entire competition so far and she’s currently second on balance beam while Eythora also grabbed a spot for the beam finals. Lieke Wevers had an excellent competition and she qualified sixth into the All Around finals, while also being the second reserve for the uneven bars finals. I just am incredibly happy and incredibly proud of this beautiful team, that got it together and delivered under pressure when it counted the most. Now, that they don’t have to worry about qualifying into the Olympics, I hope they can have the competition of their lives into team finals and fight for some individual medals.
(photo credit: sports2visuals, gif credit: icannotcountthosetwists)
4. team USA
This was one of the worse competitions USA has had during the last couple of quads, and yet, they were still able to finish first, with a significant advantage over Russia. This just proves what we all already knew. USA is on a different level than anyone else. They have so much difficulty than they can have several mistakes and still finish on the top of the podium. Of course they have lots of things to work on and it was very disappointing to see falls from Gabby Douglas, Brenna Dowell and Aly Raisman, but this team still has so many things to celebrate. Simone Biles had an excellent performance, qualifying first into the All Around, the vault, the balance beam and the floor finals, where she scored a full point higher than the second qualifier. Despite a fall on balance beam, Gabby Douglas will participate into the first (!) world All Around finals of her career and she’ll have the chance to prove that she still is among the world’s best and Maggie Nichols had an excellent competition and made it into the floor finals. Meanwhile, Madison Kocian hit her routines on both bars and beam and she will be fighting for an uneven bars medals in the finals and Brenna hit her floor routine under difficult circumstances, when her music stopped playing. Knowing how USA competes, I am sure that they will put any disappointment behind them and absolutely dominate the team competition. Despite the mistakes they made, all those athletes have a brilliant chance to become world champions and they have every reason to be excited and proud of that.
5. Giulia Steingruber
2015 has been the best year of Giulia Steingruber’s career. She already wrote history for her country at the European championships, where she won the All Around title, and the European Games, where she placed second All Around while winning gold medals on vault and floor. Now, after getting over some health issues, she is ready to shine at the world championships. During qualifications, she lead her team into a 16th place finish, that qualifies them into the test event, and she did an excellent job, qualifying into the vault and floor finals and placing 2nd into the All Around behind Simone Biles. It’s needless to say, that being just behind the absolute best gymnast in the world is as far as anyone could get, so this is an amazing achievement for Giulia by itself. She did that with a very respectable score of 57.640, and this is counting a fall on the balance beam, so she could actually score close to 59 if she does her best. I am personally not the biggest fan of her gymnastics, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not ridiculously impressed by her success. She is a potential medalist on three events and this is enough to make her a legend for Switzerland.
6. Alexa Moreno
Mexico lost the leader of their team to an injury and did not manage to qualify into the test event after a rough competition during qualifications. However, they will have an event finalist on vault and this is the lovely Alexa Moreno. The 21-years-old athlete has already been a vault finalist at multiple international competitions, including the 2014 and the 2011 world championships and she was won medals on this event at the Pacific Rim championships, the Pan-American Games and the Central American and Caribbean Games. She is capable of a double twisting tsukahara and her rudi and I hope she will manage to represent her country the best way possible into the finals.
1. team China
The Chinese are renowned for their gorgeous layouts, the stunning forward pirouettes, the beautiful flexibility and their incredible difficulty on bars and beam. But they are also renowned for their inconsistency, and their inability to hit under pressure and we all understood why during qualifications. We obviously saw some beautiful routines from them. I was delighted to see Wang Yan hitting two powerful vaults and a strong beam set to qualify into the finals and Shang Chunsong to finally receive a high score on floor. I loved Fan Yilin’s and Shang Chunsong’s uneven bars routines and I enjoyed Chen Siyi’s and Wang Yan’s floor and Mao Yi’s Tan Jiaxin’s double twisting yurchenko. However, it’s quite hard to focus on the positive things after watching a team having the one fall after the other during a competition. Mao Yi fell on floor, Tan Jiaxin fell on bars, Chen Siyi barely got her DTY on her feet and fell on both beam and bars, Wang Yan made major errors on bars, Fan Yilin and Shang Chunsong fell on beam. At the end of the competition, the Chinese team finished fourth behind USA, Russia and Great Britain and they only had the seventh highest beam total of the day. This is so frustrating, considering that they have the potential to fight for a silver medal. Of course, whatever happened happened and now, they will get the chance for a fresh start during the finals. I hope that they will do their best and fight for a spot on the team podium while also winning a couple of individual medals.
(second gif credit: mustafinesse)
2. Marcia Videaux’s falls
Marcia Videaux of Cuba was one of the biggest surprises of the year. Her country doesn’t compete a lot internationally so most people hadn’t even heard of her when she was a junior and she came out of nowhere to win a World Cup title in her senior debut. During the year, she also became the Pan american vault champion and earned world cup medals on other events. Vault is obviously her strongest apparatus, and she is capable of a powerful rudi and a clean tsukahara with a double twist but she’s also beautiful on bars, where she shows a high tkatcev and an endo half into a bail and on floor, where she starts her routine with a whip + triple twist combination. Coming into Glasgow, Marcia was considered a top contender for the vault finals but she unfortunately did not manage to qualify. It seems like she performed a beautiful tsukahara double but then, she barely got a block and crushed her rudi attempt, without ever getting the 1.5 twists around. It was a scary fall and the most important thing is that she did not hurt herself but it’s definitely a big disappointment. Hopefully, she will put that behind her and come back strong to fight for a spot in next year’s Olympic Games.
3. Ana Sofia Gomez Porras’ mistakes
Ana Gomez showed fabulous potential during the Pan-American championships, where she qualified third into the All Around finals and made it into three event finals. Despite the problems she had during the bars and beam finals, Ana had proven that she is a world class All Arounder with impressive difficulty on every event. She came into Glasgow with a double twisting yurchenko on vault, a ray on the uneven bars, a back handspring + tucked full on balance beam and a triple twist and a full in on floor exercise. Those are all skills that she’s been doing for a long time and she’s absolutely capable of hitting them but unfortunately, she had a rough competition during qualifications. She started things off with a fall on the uneven bars and after that she also fell on balance beam and gave away lots of valuable tenths on her double pike dismount on floor exercise. After those mistakes, her strong double twisting yurchenko was not enough for her to qualify into the All Around finals.
4. team Australia
Australia is an other team that has not competed a lot during the year, but based on their previous results and the skill level they showed during qualifications, they were expected to fight for a spot in the team finals. It was clear that the top 8 wasn’t an easy task for them, but if they actually hit their routines it seemed doable. Unfortunately, they did not manage to do that after a rough competition. They had several falls and mistakes on bars and beam while also having some deductions on floor and their strong vault rotation wasn’t enough to put them back in the running. Things were particularly bad on balance beam, where only two gymnasts managed to even break 13. They also did not manage to qualify an athlete into an individual finals so we won’t be seeing any of them in the next few days. Of course, their Olympic dream is not over and they have plenty of time to prepare for next year’s test event. They need to focus on their tumbling, clean up their execution on the uneven bars and work on their consistency and they will definitely be in the mix.
5. Aly Raisman
Before Aly Raisman learned how to do amanars and 1.5 + double arabian + layout combinations, the main reason why she was selected to represent her country at major competitions was her consistency. You just knew that this girl would go out there and get the job done. This is why she managed to repeatedly qualify into All Around and event finals over gymnast with better scoring potential and this is why she has been so successful during her career. During her comeback, she has had more mistakes than we were expecting, but overall she has definitely done a brilliant job and she was very well prepared coming into Glasgow. However, she had what probably was the worse competition of her life during qualifications. She stepped out of bound and had minor errors that all added up on floor exercise, she took two huge steps out of her amanar, she surprisingly fell on the uneven bars for the first time since she came back and she did not have the best balance beam routine of her life. After those mistakes, Aly was not able to qualify into the All Around finals over Simone Biles and Gabby Douglas and she did not make it into any event finals. This means that she will not compete in any individual finals which is something that has never happened to her before. It’s crazy to think that she made it into both the AA and FX finals back in 2010, when she did not have the difficulty or the confidence she has now but she fell short this time. Of course, a bad competition is not the end of someone’s career and Raisman will have plenty of chances to prove that she is on of the best in the world in the future.
6. Brenna’s uneven bars routine
Oh god, that was painful to watch! After nailing her floor routine despite her music stopping and sticking her double twisting yurchenko, it was time for Brenna to compete on her best event, the uneven bars, which was the only apparatus where she had the chance to qualify into the uneven bars finals. She has one of the most difficult and spectacular routines in the world but unfortunately, she was not able to hit it. Firstly, she didn’t connect her tweddle to her ezhova and she had to repeat the skill in order to hit the combination. After that, she had problems with her toe on full on the low bar and she did not connect her church to her pak. And then, she missed her grip and fell. She got back on only to have a second fall on her van leeuwen, that has given her a fair amount of trouble during training. She stuck her full twisting double layout cold but the damage had already been done. After this meltdown, Marta is very unlikely to give her a chance to get her redemption in team finals so I’m not sure if we’ll see anymore routines from her during those championships. It’s needless to say that Brenna deserves all the admiration and recognition in the world for actually making it that far and she has every reason to be happy for potentially getting a skill named after her but I wish she could have been able to show as what she really can do.
Photo credit: sports2visual
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