1. Maggie Nichols, USA
I am not going to lie, when team USA headed into Glasgow I thought that Maggie Nichols should be the alternate. I didn’t think that this would actually happen after her excellent performances in the national competitions and the selection camp, but If I were responsible, she’s the one I’d choose as a reserve. When it turned out that Douglas and Dowell did not have amanars as people expected them to and Skinner had to water down her floor routine during podium training, I realized that Maggie’s amanar and floor set could help the team, but I never imagined that she would end up being as successful as she was. Through the years, she built the reputation of a solid consistent competitor who can always deliver under pressure and she lived up to it, since she didn’t put a foot wrong during the entire competition. After excellent performances on the three events she competed during qualifications, she was the only athlete who was selected to perform on all four events during the team competition and she did a brilliant job once again. The All Around score she posted there was one of the highest ones we’ve seen in Glasgow and it proves that Nichols is a world class, competitive All Arounder. She also managed to outscore the reigning Olympic floor champion during the first day of competition and she qualified into the floor finals along with Simone. There she delivered an other excellent routine to place third and she received her first individual worlds medal. Maggie is not a perfect gymnast and she did not show perfect routines in Glasgow, but regardless of whether her legs form during her amanar is similar to Mustafina’s or whether or not her execution score on floor was a bit too high, she is athlete who exceeded everyone’s expectations to deliver her absolute best under tremendous pressure and this is something that she should be incredibly proud of. I don’t think there are locks for the Olympic Games, and I’m not sure if Maggie will make it in such a deep field, but she certainly proved herself this past week.
2. Viktoria Komova, Russia
It happened, it finally happened! After two years full of health problems, injuries and disappointments, Viktoria Komova finally returned to the world championships! She did not trip on a mat, she did not fall on the stairs while entering the arena, she did not get hit by a light bulb that exploded and she was not pulled out of the competition three minutes before it was time to salute the judges! She actually went out there and performed at worlds for the first time since 2011. Between her two falls during the team finals, her shaky beam routine during the event finals and her disrespectful comment (for which she sincerely apologized multiple times) in social media, Vika had some disappointing moments in Glasgow. However, what matters the most is that she actually returned to the sport’s biggest stage. She may have had mistakes, but she was actually healthy enough to compete and she proved that she is indeed serious about this comeback. After such a long absence from the sport, after so many health problems, lots of people doubted that she would ever be able to return to the sport and even some of her most loyal fans lost hope somewhere around her millionth ankle injury but she actually made it and she became a world champion for the second time (well, along with three other people)! Her bars routine during the event finals was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen in my life and it reminded me why everyone thought that this girl would be the next gymnastics legend since she was 12 years old. Vika is magical! She has this special something that sets her apart from everyone else and she is one of my biggest “what ifs” in this sport. I think she’s an incredible talent and if she did not have so many injuries during her career she could be competing against Biles for All Around gold medals right now. This will probably never happen, but I certainly hope that from now on she will stay healthy and motivated and she will be able to live up to her potential at the Olympic Games.
3. Sae Miyakawa, Japan
As Sae started getting international attention, it looked like she would be an other ridiculously talented and ridiculously inconsistent athlete who would break our hearts over and over. As a junior, she clearly was the best tumbler in the world, but she would rarely put all of her difficult tumbling passes on her feet. She fell at the Jesolo Trophy, the Elite Massilia and during the qualification and the All Around finals of the Youth Olympic Games, handing medals to gymnasts who couldn’t even dream of performing the skills she was capable of. She was more consistent as a senior, but she still had major mistakes on floor at the WOGA classic, the Japanese championships and the Asian championships while also posting low scores on bars and beam. Given her history, I didn’t have very high expectations from her but she definitely proved me wrong, by hitting every single routine she competed at Glasgow. The three floor routines she showed during qualifications, team finals and event finals were all mind blowing. Her full twisting double layout, her front layout + double front combination, her silivas and her double layout were all very well landed and executed. I’m still not sure why she did not perform her second vault, which would make her a strong contender for the event finals, but I was very excited to see her performing two beautiful rudis during the qualifications and the team finals. I wish she could have gotten a floor medal for her amazing work and it’s hard to see a Japanese woman controversially finishing just outside of the podium for the third world championships in a row, but I certainly hope that Sae will continue to impress and make it to Rio.
4. team Italy: Vanessa Ferrari, Tea Ugrin, Carlotta Ferlito, Erika Fasana, Enus Mariani, Elisa Meneghini and Lara Mori
2015 has not been an easy season for the Italian team. Elisa was coming back from a back injury, Εnus has struggled with an ankle injury and mental blocks, Lara was coming back from an ankle injury, Vanessa was struggling with tendinitis and Erika was suffering from a stress fracture. As if this was not enough, they lost Martina Rizzeli, who was supposed to help the team on their weakest events, vault and bars. They were not as well prepared as they would have hoped, they had been very inconsistent during the last month before worlds and they did not have the difficulty level we had seen from them in the past. And yet, when it was time for them to fight for a spot in the Olympic Games, they got it together and delivered excellent routines under pressure. They had a fantastic performance during qualifications, placing fifth, and they achieved their main goal after qualifying into the Olympics. Then, Carlotta Ferlito and Tea Ugrin both delivered excellent performances in the All Around finals and Erika Fasana had originally qualified into the floor finals but was not able to compete due to an injury. If they can achieve such a great result after struggling with so many injuries, imagine what they’ll be capable of if they are healthy! Hopefully, their road to Rio will be smooth and injury free and they will shine in the Olympic Games.
5. Dipa Karmakar, India
Do you even remember the last time a woman from India qualified into event finals at worlds? You certainly don’t, simply because it has never happened before. The 18-years-old Dipa Karmakar, who became the first Indian woman to ever win a Commonwealth medal in woman’s gymnastics did not manage to get a ticket to Rio but she wrote history by becoming her country’s first event finalist last week and she actually finished into an impressive 5th place. She comes from a country with no history in gymnastics, she didn’t even have any facilities to train at for eight months last year but she still somehow manages to produce diffcult elements. She is capable of the most difficult vault that has ever been done by a woman, she upgraded her second vault into an impressive double twisting tsukahara and she showed high level skills, like a double layout on floor and a front pike and a layout on balance beam. Yes, her execution is not good, yes, she is not consistent, yes, some of her basics are poor but can you imagine what this girl would be capable of if she could actually have world class coaching and facilities? I am just as scared as everyone else every time she performs her Produnova, I don’t like the idea of an athlete sitting out her vault and still finishing in the top 5 during a worlds finals and I hope that the next Code of Points won’t allow such a thing to happen. However, nobody can deny that when we saw an Indian woman finishing fifth in the world during the vault finals, we witnessed history being written.
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