The heroes of Glasgow, part 1

Simone Biles, USA

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photo credit: USA gymnastics

The maximum number of medals a woman can earn during a world championships, is 6. The 18-years-old Simone Biles earned 5, and four of them were gold and she now has more worlds gold medals than any other woman in the history of the sport. She also became the first gymnast to ever win three All Around titles in a row and the first athlete to ever dominate the All Around in a world championships during the entire quad. And she did that without even having a great competition. That’s the thing about Simone, even in her bad days she is miles ahead of everyone else. Her amanar during the All Around finals was probably the worse one she has shown in Glasgow, and yet, it still was one of the best vaults we have seen during the competition. She had to grab her beam after her front tuck and she still received one of the highest scores of the night on this event! She went out of bounds on floor but guess what, she still had the top score of the night. During the beam finals, she sat down and watched all of her competitors falling or having very shaky routines. And then, she went on that beam and delivered one of the strongest beam sets we saw. After that, she dominated the floor finals, winning gold with a significant advantage over the silver medalist. She is so freaking good that nobody else comes even close. Regardless of whether someones likes her gymnastics or not, everyone has to admit that Simone is one of the best athletes who have ever lived, if not the absolute best and I feel extremely privileged that I get to watch her write history in front of my eyes.

Gabby Douglas, USA

12196359_1201968456486687_7579093979165066663_n“Gabby will never make a major team after how she did at the 2011 nationals! Gabby will fall all over the place at worlds! Gabby just got lucky in 2012! Gabby is only making a comeback for the fame! Gabby is not serious about coming back! Gabby just wants attention! Gabby will get nowhere without Chow! Gabby will never make it to worlds! Gabby should be the alternate! Gabby will never make it to any finals!” Well, Gabby just became a two times world champion and an All Arounder silver medalist! Douglas was under so much pressure to prove to everyone that she is still competitive in the sport’s highest level, she had a fall during qualifications and this was her first major international competition back since she won the All Around title in 2012. Thankfully, she has come a long way since she first turned senior in 2011 and she’s absolutely capable of handling the pressure. She had one fall during qualifications but besides that, she did what she was supposed to do. She performed an excellent double twisting yurchenko and a beautiful bars set to help her team win the gold medal, she delivered four strong routines to win the All Around silver medal just behind Simone and she hit for one more time during the uneven bars finals. I do agree that she received some generous scores, but so did everyone else in the competition and there’s absolutely no doubt that Douglas, is one of the world’s best once again. There aren’t many Olympic All Around champions who have returned to win a worlds medal in the All Around. Yelena Davidova did it, Andreea Raducan did it but it’s certainly something that doesn’t happen often so it’s great to see Gabby actually achieving it. And the best thing is that she was second in the world without even showing her absolute best difficulty. She is still coming back and she has so much room for upgrades on every event so I can’t wait to see what she can do next year.

Larisa Iordache, Romania

12004005_1201970086486524_7456678082286314064_nI have been following gymnastics for a long time, I have loved lots of gymnasts with all my heart but I have never rooted for anyone nearly as hard as I was rooting for Larisa in the All Around finals. I can’t even imagine the pressure she was under. After carrying the Romanian team for two years, she missed the biggest part of the year due to injuries. During that time, her teammates did not achieve any spectacular results so everyone was delighted to see her coming back strong to help the team when they needed her the most. She dominated the friendly meet against France, the Romanian nationals and the Novara Cup and she came into Glasgow expected to lead her team to a top 4 finish and challenge for medals on the individual finals. However, everything that could possibly go wrong during qualifications went wrong. Larisa fell two times and Romania did not make it into the team finals for the first time in almost 50 years, they did not get a ticket to Rio and they did not qualify a single athlete into the event finals. This means that unless Larisa won a medal in the All Around, the Romanians would have absolutely nothing to celebrate after those world championships were over. And as if this was not enough, she had to start her competition on her most inconsistent event, the balance beam. She was carrying the entire country of Romania on her shoulders, she was the only one who could maintain her country’s long tradition in the sport and she had to get over the biggest disappointment of her entire career. But she somehow managed to control her nerves and prove that she is in fact one of the best in the world. She started her competition with a fabulous balance beam routine, posting the highest score of the night on this event, she brought back all her difficulty on floor and she nailed her double twisting yurchenko. She found herself in the fourth position after three rotations and she had to head into the event that ruined her team’s chances during qualifications, the uneven bars. And for one more time, she performed like the champion she is. Words can’t express how proud and impressed I am with this comeback and I hope that from now on, there will only be pleasant surprises during her career.

12038032_1199120810104785_4493439924111332107_nShang Chunsong, China

Finally! After two years of falling over and over again during the world championships Shang Chunsong showed us that she is in fact one of the best gymnasts in the world. She did not win any individual medals but this just doesn’t matter! Chunsong was not expected to dominate, she was not expected to be on the podium, she was not expected to be one of the stars of the competition, she was expected to have multiple falls and mistakes, just like she did in the past. And yet, this rising star from China was one of the most successful athletes of the competition. She showed innovative routines, she performed skills and combinations that very few people in the planet can do, she did the best she could possibly did and she earned thousands of fans from all over the world. She obviously had a disappointing fall off balance beam during qualifications, but this was her only major mistake of the entire championships. She was a rock for her team and she lead China to a well deserved silver medal after nailing her routines on the three events she competed, she showed fantastic performances during the All Around finals, where she placed just outside of the medals, she hit a strong routine during the uneven bars finals and she had the floor routine of her life during the floor finals, receiving the highest score of her entire career. Sure, finishing fourth over and over again is not ideal, but Shang has so much to celebrate after those worlds. Considering Shang’s mistakes during the past two years and given that the Olympics are only a year away, those world championships were Shang’s only chance to prove that she can be consistent in a major international competition and she did exactly that. Hopefully, next time this will be enough to get her a medal too.

10557299_1203072403042959_5565391365643656339_nSanne Wevers, Netherlands

Sanne Wevers, who is now a veteran at the age of 24, came into Glasgow with a very realistic goal. She was hoping that she would be able to hit her routines and help her country finish in the top 16 so they can qualify to the Test event. Instead, she won the Netherlands’ first worlds medal in a decade. In addition to that, she delivered two excellent scores that helped her team place in the top 8 and qualify into the team finals and the 2016 Olympics. Her beam routine during qualifications was one of the cleanest, most confident and well executed routines we saw during the entire competition. She just nailed every single element before dismounting with a perfect gainer layout to receive one of the highest execution scores of the championships. She didn’t just grab a spot for the finals, she actually qualified in second place, posting a score that some of the world’s best gymnast would kill for. She was not as impressive during the event finals, where she missed a few combinations and had some wobbles, but she did have the second best routine of the day and she earned a historic medal for it. Sanne is a unique beam worker. There’s nobody else in the world who has her spinning ability and there’s nobody else who can perform her eponymous double L turn, her unique L turn + full turn + double turn + split leap combination or her difficult switch leap + kochetkova. Through the years, Sanne has struggled with plenty of injuries and disappointments and she has shown so many fantastic routines, full of difficulty and originality and I’m delighted to see her finally medaling on this event.

Photo credit: sports2visuals, gif credit: sparklesandchalk

part 2 here

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