After a very intense week, full of surprises, historic moments and amazing gymnastics, it’s time for the last event final of those world championships. As always, the athletes will finish on floor exercise, and hopefully they will give us a grande finale and end their competition in a good note. It’s important to note that the defending Olympic champion, Aly Raisman did not manage to qualify into those finals over her two teammates while Italy’s Erika Fasana, who had originally qualified will not get to compete after unfortunately hurting herself during training. This means that the first alternate, Shang Chunsong will get a chance to show us what she can do. Here, we don’t really have an intense battle for gold, like we did in the other events, since Simone Biles seems to be in a whole other level on this apparatus. However, there will definitely be a strong fight for the two remaining medals, so let’s take a look at the athletes who could get them.
Simone Biles (USA)
After the two first days of competition, Simone Biles qualified first into the floor finals, scoring over a point higher than the second qualifier. This means that she could have had a fall, and she would still have the highest score of the competition. This is how good she is on this event! She is just so ahead of everyone else and so ahead of her time. Her tumbling is simply out of this world. She performs some of the most difficult tumbling passes in the world but her routine seems to be easy for her. She has one of the cleanest full twisting double layouts this sport has ever seen, she executes her eponymous double layout half out as well as she possibly could and she performs a sky high silivas as her THIRD tumbling pass before dismounting with a huge full twisting double tuck. The height she gets is unbelievable, her form is pretty close to perfect and her landings are usually well controlled. However, the difficult tumbling is not the only thing that makes Simone the best in the world on this event since she really has the whole package. Her leaps are all high and well performed, her double wolf turn is actually beautiful and her routine is very well choreographed. She goes out there and she puts on a show. She connects with her music, she smiles, she makes eye contact with the crowd and she’s not afraid to perform. All the surprises we have seen in Glasgow prove that nothing is guaranteed in this sport, but I would be absolutely shocked if anyone else besides Simone ended up winning this floor title. She could step out of bounds, like she did in the All around finals, she could have messy landings and she would still win. Even if she falls, she is very unlikely to not end up on the podium
Sae Miyakawa (JPN)
Sae started getting attention in 2013, when she showed a spectacular floor routine, which included difficult and well executed tumbling. During the next couple of years, she continued to impress with her difficulty but at the same time, she turned out to be a terribly inconsistent gymnast who could not perform well under pressure and she lost titles she could have easily won due to falls. This is why her excellent performance in Glasgow has been one of the most pleasant surprises of the competition. So far, she has competed on floor twice and she has hit both times. She does not quite have the performance quality of other gymnasts and she is not capable of performing any difficult leaps or turns but her tumbling is right up there with Simone’s. She starts her routine with a gorgeous full twisting double layout, she connects a font layout into the prettiest double front you will see during those championships, she performs a silivas as her third pass and she dismount with a double layout. Her last two tumbling passes are a bit low at times but her form is incredibly clean and she’s just breath taking to watch. Japan has had an excellent performance so far and if Sae hits, they could actually go home with a worlds medal.
Maggie Nichols (USA)
What an amazing world championships for this girl! After not being very successful as a junior, Maggie proved herself as a world last gymnast last year but she did not get a chance to fight for a spot in the world’s team due to an injury. However, she came back this year and she looked stronger than ever. She had upgraded all her routines, including vault and she became the National All Around silver medalist, beating Olympic champions Gabby Douglas and Aly Raisman. She was named to the world championships team but lots of people (myself included) thought that she does not really have a stand out event and that she could be more useful as an alternate. At the end, Maggie ended up competing in qualifications and she actually gave us an amazing performance. She was so impressive that she was chosen to compete on all four events during the team finals and she did a brilliant job there as well. One of the most amazing things she achieved was that she actually managed to qualify into the floor finals over the reigning Olympic champion and now, she has a very realistic chance to earn a medal. She is not quite as clean as Sae and Simone and she doesn’t have as much variety in her tumbling but she is capable of difficult skills, like a double double, a piked full in and a tucked full in. She is also an excellent, expressive performer who is not afraid to show off to the crowd and overall, she is a joy to watch. I can’t say that I’m the biggest fan of Maggie, but I am definitely impressed by her and I’m curious to see what she can do. She posted a score above 15 during the team finals, so a medal is definitely within her reach.
Ksenia Afanasyeva (RUS)
In 2011, Ksenia Afanasyeva was the third reserve for the floor finals. Other athletes withdrew so she ended up competing and at the end, she ended up winning. Now, she returns to the world championships for the first time since she achieved this amazing results. Since then, she has been an Olympic finalist, a Universiade champion and a European champion and she has proven that she is one of the best floor workers in the world. She performs a gorgeous double layout, two whips into a high triple twist, 2.5 twists into a front layout and a double pike and she is capable of the most beautiful turns you will see during the competition. Ksenia is renowned for her artistry and presentation but her current routine is not quite what we are used to seeing from her. There are certainly some good moments in there and I live for her choreography at the end but overall, her music and choreography is a bit weird. However, I would absolutely love to see her winning a medal here. She has had so many injuries and so many problems during this quad, but despite her health issues and her age, she continued to train until she was finally ready to compete this year and she has been a rock for the Russian team so far, so hopefully she will get rewarded for that.
5. Claudia Fragapane (GBR)
What an amazing progress this girl has shown during this quad! In the beginning of 2014, Claudia was an unknown first year senior who was just coming back from injuries and in one year, she became a European finalist, a European medalist, a national champion, a world team member, a 4 times Commonwealth Games champion and a two times world finalist. Now, she also helped her team win their first worlds team medal in their history and she qualified into floor finals once again. She definitely has her execution issues and she lands some of her tumbling passes low some times but I absolutely love her on floor. Her routine includes a much improved full twisting double layout, a sky high double arabian, a triple twist and a double layout dismount and it’s one of the most difficult ones being done in the world. She gets fantastic height during her tumbling and she has some entertaining choreography so she is definitely one to watch. She showed excellent routines during the qualifications and the team finals and the crowd absolutely exploded as she landed her difficult tumbling passes so I’m really looking forward to watching her perform during the finals. Hopefully, this time she will do better than she did last year and fight for a medal.
6. Giulia Steingruber (SUI)
Giulia is an other athlete who has shown massive progress during this quad. In just three years, she has proven that she is one of the world’s best gymnast and she has written history for her time multiple times, by becoming their first European All Around champion, qualifying into worlds finals and being one of the stars of the Baku European Games. She has also been brilliant in Glasgow, where she helped her team qualify to the test event, made it into two event finals and did well in the All Around, despite some problems on balance beam. On floor, she is capable of a full twisting double layout, a double layout and a full in, and she has actually even shown a silivas in the past. However, she had a scary second vault during the vault finals and injured her knee. Thankfully, it looks like her injury is not major and she has not been removed from the star lists yet but we are still not sure if she will actually be able to compete. Representing your country at a world final is very important, but taking care of your body so you don’t risk any further damage the year before the Olympics is even more important so I hope that she does not push herself too hard.
Edit: Giulia has indeed withdrawn from floor exercise finals, we wish her a quick recovery
7. Ellie Downie (GBR)
Ellie Downie is a first year senior but she has already achieved more than other gymnasts have achieved in their entire careers. Between her historic European bronze All Around medal, her contribution to the team’s historic team bronze medal and her dominance at the friendly meet against the Netherlands, Ellie has shown that she is a fantastic athlete, capable of amazing results. Now, she has the chance to finish her competition in a strong note on floor finals. Her routines during qualifications and team finals were simply amazing. She performs a huge 1.5 + double arabian + stag jump combination, a massive Dos Santos and a clean 2.5 twists + front pike combination. She gets great height during her tumbling and she has very clean execution. I’m not sure if she can challenge for a medal but we have seen lots of underdogs doing an excellent job in Glasgow so I would not count her out.
8. Shang Chunsong (CHN)
Shang is having the competition of her life in Glasgow. She has finally found the ability to control her nerves and she has produced some excellent routines here. She was not able to win many medals but she has definitely proven herself as a strong contender for next year’s Olympic Games. She is an other athlete who is an underdog for those finals. Her tumbling is ridiculously difficult. She is the only person in the world who performs 3.5 twists into a front pike and one of only two people capable of an 1.5 + triple twist + front tuck combination. Her twisting ability is incredible and she also shows great dance elements, like a gomez and a double wolf turn but the truth is that some of her tumbling passes are scary. She doesn’t quite get all the rotations around, she still twists when she lands and some of her attempts seem to be rough for her knees and ankles. That being said, she has not had any problems on floor during the qualifications, the team and the All Around finals, so she will hopefully continue to be successful.
9. Lieke Wevers (NED)
Steingruber did withdraw from the finals due to injury after all and she will be replaced by the lovely Lieke Wevers. Lieke has an interesting routine, since she only performs two tumbling passes but still manages to score very well internationally. She is not a great tumbler. She has had to deal with lots of injuries during her career and she’s not the most naturally powerful gymnast anyway so she did not even attempt to perform any massive skills. Her routine only includes a double tuck and 2.5 twists, but she is capable of sticking those passes every single time. Then, she makes up for her easy tumbling with some fantastic dance elements. She performs some lovely turns and her double L, her gomez and her semenova are simply stunning. She also has fantastic choreography, she connects with the music and the crowd, she is expressive, she’s is elegant and overall, her routine is gorgeous to watch. I understand why people would not want to see a routine with only two D tumbling passes in a floor finals but I would love to see her showing what she can do if given the chance.
The draw for the final is: Miyakawa, Biles, Steingruber, Nichols, Afanasyeva, Fragapane, Downie and Shang
photo credit: sports2visual