This year, we have one of the deepest uneven bars fields in the history of the sport, since there are so many athletes from so many countries who are actually capable of fantastic work on this event. Some of the top medal contenders, like Becky Downie (GBR), Elisabeth Seitz (GER) and Tan Jiaxin (CHN) had major mistakes during qualifications and did not advance to the finals but even without them, the fight for the medals will be intense. So, let’s take a look at the athletes who will be fighting for the podium today.
Daria Spiridonova (RUS)
score in qualifications: 15.466
start value: 6.7
biggest accomplishment: 2014 worlds bronze medalist, 2015 European champion
After a disappointing performance during the team competition, Russia desperately needs to win as many medals as possible during the event finals and the uneven bars is the apparatus where they are most likely to shine. Daria Spiridonova has already proven herself as one of the world’s best on this event, winning world and European medals. Yao Jinnan and Huang Huidan, who beat her last year, are not competing in those championships while Becky Downie, who has been her biggest competitor at the European championships, did not manage to qualify into the finals after a fall during qualifications. This makes Daria, who qualified first into those finals, the top contender for the gold medal. She is a gorgeous uneven bars worker, capable of a spectacular inbar full + komova 2 + pak + van leeuwen combination, an inbar half into a gorgeous piked jaeger and a toe on full + full in dismount. She has upgraded her routine since last year and her execution is absolutely lovely. I love her style on this event. She is aggressive and she attacks the apparatus, but at the same time, she is incredibly graceful and elegant and her swing seems effortless. She is the last to perform out of the top medal contenders, so she also has a very good draw and she has a great chance to win her first worlds gold medal if she does what she’s capable of doing.
Viktoria Komova (RUS)
score in qualifications: 15.300
start value: 6,5, potential 6.8
biggest accomplishment: 2011 world champion, 2012 European champion, 2012 Olympic finalist
Four years ago, Viktoria Komova won the world title in Tokyo after a stunning routine. Now, she returns to the world championships for the first time since then, and she’s hoping to get an other gold medal on her favorite event. Every gymnast in those finals has great difficulty and fantastic execution, but Viktoria’s work has this special something that makes her stand out. She is just magical. Her lines are gorgeous, her toe point is stunning, her swing is incredibly fluid and the amplitude on her flight elements is beyond impressive. There’s something unique about the way this girl swings bars. It feels like she just floats between the bars and everything she does seems so effortless. She is not just an excellent uneven bars worker, she is an artist. She is also quite innovative on this event, where she has two skills named after her. It’s important to note that four of her biggest opponents in those finals perform a skill that she has created! Viktoria has been very inconsistent during her career, but she has always been a rock on this event. Unfortunately, this does not seem to be the case this year. She has made several mistakes, mainly because she was not 100% comfortable with the upgrades she added on this routine and she surprisingly fell off this event during the team finals. We haven’t really seen her best in Glasgow yet. Her performance from qualifications earned one of the highest scores of the competition but it was far from perfect and then, she had a fall during team finals. In the past, she also showed a double double dismount and if she competes it she will have one of the highest start values of the finals. However, I’d prefer to see her sticking with her perfect full in, since she has had trouble with the Fabrichnova. If Vika hits all her combinations without hitting her feet on the low bar or making an other major mistake, she has a brilliant chance to be on the top of the world once again.
Madison Kocian: (USA)
score in qualifications: 15.233
start value: 6.7
biggest accomplishment: 2014 pan-american championships bronze medalist, undefeated on bars in national competitions during 2015
This is the second time Maddie competes at the world championships as USA’s uneven bars specialist, but it’s the first time she actually manages to qualify into the finals. Last year, a mistake during qualifications prevented her from placing in the top 8 but now, she’s back and she is ready to fight for a medal. I am absolutely delighted to an athlete who has struggled with injuries for years to finally get her chance to shine and I would absolutely love to she her doing well here. So far, she hasn’t put a foot wrong during the entire competition. She was brilliant during podium training, she delivered beautiful routines on the two events she competed during qualifications and she performed an excellent bars set, to help her team win the gold medal. She has upgraded her routine, adding an inbar full that she is hoping to connect with her Komova 2. So far, she has only hit this combination during training, but if she does it, she will have a very respectable 6.7 start value. There is definitely room for improvement in Madison’s execution, but she has a fairly clean routine, which includes an inbar full + komova + pak + chow half combination, an inbar full into a high jaeger and a stalder full into a full in dismount. If she does what she’s capable of today, her chances are as good as anyone’s.
Sophie Scheder (GER)
score during qualifications: 15.033
start value: 6.6
biggest accomplishment: 2012 junior European champion, worlds and European finalist, 2015 European Games silver medalist.
Germany had a rough competition during qualifications. Eli Seitz and Pauline Schaefer put that behind them and delivered beautiful performances during the All Around finals. Now, Sophie Scheder needs to do the same. Her teammates, Elisabeth Seitz and Lisa hill, both of whom have been event finalists in the past, made mistakes during their first day of competition so Sophie is Germany’s only hope on this event. She is a beautiful uneven bars worker, with gorgeous lines and difficult work. Her routine includes an inbar full + komova 2 + bail + toe on full combination, a high jaeger and most importantly, an inbar piked tkatcev. This is a skill that she added to her routine this year and she was hoping to get it named after her. However, Kelly Simm of Great Britain also submitted it and performed it successfully during qualifications so unfortunately it won’t be named after neither of them. With her 6.6 start value and her clean execution, Sophie certainly is a medal contender for those finals. She just needs to perform to the best of her abilities. In the past, we’ve seen her making minor mistakes that all add up and hurt her execution scores, but if she actually hits her routine she should not be counted out.
Fan Yilin (CHN)
score during qualifications: 14.966
start value: 6.9
biggest accomplishment: 2015 asian games bronze medalist
First year senior Fan Yilin proved that she is one to watch on this event, when she won the national title over world champion Huang Huidan at her first Chinese championships as a senior. After that, she won a bronze medal at the Asian championships and she was named to her country’s worlds team. She was a promising junior who struggled with injuries so it’s absolutely great to see that she actually managed to recover from that, especially since many young Chinese talents never manage to reach their full potential after similar problems. She upgraded her routine for the world championships and now, she starts things off with a spectacular inbar full + komova 2 + pak + chow + gienger combination and if she connects all those elements together, she will have the highest start value of the day. During qualifications, she received a relatively low score below 15, but she posted a massive 15.266 at team finals, proving that she should not be counted out. There are a couple of areas she can improve and if she hits all of her handstands, gets some more height into her gienger, and cleans up her double layout dismount, she could definitely challenge for the gold medal. China has won the uneven bars title at the 2013 and the 2014 world championships and I’m sure they would be delighted to dominate the apparatus for the entire quad.
Gabby Douglas (USA)
score during qualifications: 14.750
start value: 6.4
biggest accomplishment: 2011 worlds and 2012 Olympics finalist
Douglas only qualified into the finals in sixth place, after not managing to connect her piked tkatcev into her pak salto during her first day of competition. However, she should not be counted out, since she posted the highest score on this event during the team finals. This is the apparatus that made Gabby famous in the first place, this is the reason why she made it into the 2011 worlds team and got this experienced that gave her the confidence to finally live up to her full potential but she does not have a major international medal yet. However, this could very well change today. I really love her routine and her inbar half + endo half + chow combination is to die for. Her piked tkatcev is high, her handstands and her pak salto are much improved and she is capable of sticking her double layout. I still wish she had a better body position during her inbar stalders, but overall, she has a strong and clean routine that could potentially win her a medal. Her start value is a couple of tenths lower than other gymnasts’ so she will need to minimize deductions in order to get on the podium though. One missed connection, one short handstand and one step on her dismount could be the difference between a bronze medal and a fourth place finish, so there’s no room for error.
Shang Chunsong (CHN)
score during qualifications: 14.666
start value: 6.4
biggest accomplishment: World Cup champion
Shang Chunsong has always been a promising uneven bars worker with some interesting and unique work but she was always overshadowed by her teammates, who usually made it to the event finals ahead of her. Now, she finally gets her chance to shine on this apparatus. She has a fabulous routine, which includes her own original element connected into a pak salto as well as a shaposhnikova right into a gienger. The 14.666 she received during qualifications is a rather low score, but she managed to improve her routine and post a massive 15.233 during team finals and a 15.166 during the All Around finals, so she certainly is right up there with the best in the world. Shang has been having an amazing competition so far. She had one fall on beam during qualifications but she was a rock for her team at the team finals and then, she was magnificent in the All Around finals, delivering strong routines to finish in fourth place. Hopefully, she won’t be exhausted after competing for three days already and she will continue to impress. Shang has competed in two world championships but she has not managed to win an individual medal and I’m sure she would love to change that. However, she is the first to compete in the finals, so the draw does not help her.
Ruby Harrold (GBR)
score during qualifications: 14.666
start value: 6.3
biggest accomplishment: 2012 European finalist, 2013 and 2014 world finalist, world cup champion
It’s incredible to think how far Ruby Harrold has come during this quad. Back in 2012, she was “that British girl who does a bhardwaj” and now, she is one of the most valuable athletes of her country. She helped her team win a silver medal at the 2014 Europeans, she has qualified into multiple major finals and now, she helped them win their first worlds team medal in the history of the sport, while also surprising us all by qualifying into the All Around finals. She didn’t have a great competition there, but just the fact that she made it that far after being injured for the biggest part of the year is admirable. She made her comeback last month and since then, she looked a bit stronger every time she competed until she was one of the best in the world again. Ruby has one of the most interesting routines in the world. She performs an unusual maloney + bhardwaj and she’s the only athlete capable of a van leeuwen + zuchold combination. This is definitely refreshing to see in a time where most bars set look very similar to each other. She had mistakes during the AA finals, but she has hit her bars routine every time she competed it, so she has been consistent on her favorite event. Her execution is a tiny bit messy and she doesn’t have the highest start value, so it will be very hard for her to win a medal but she is one of the athletes I’m most excited to watch and I hope she can finish the competition in a strong note in front of her home crowd.
The athletes who will not get to compete due to the two per country rule are Simone Biles (USA) and Maria Paseka (RUS) and the reserves are Loan His (FRA) Lieke Wevers (NED) and Noemi Makra (HUN)
The draw for the finals is: Shang, Scheder, Fan, Komova, Douglas, Kocian, Spiridonova, Harrold.
photo credit: John Cheng/USA gymnastics
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