Sunday, 9 October 2011

The world's greatest - looking from QF towards finals

So, qualifications are over and now the real excitement begins. There has already been plenty of drama and eventfulness in Tokyo, and who knows what more is to come. Biggest surprises and upsets for me so far were the bars qualification (quite a few spills and as a result the two latest world champions will not be competing for gold) and also the hugely sad exit of multiple time world champion Alicia Sacramone, after an Achilles injury sustained whilst performing a double Arabian in training. Alicia is a real star and will be sorely missed not only by the American team but by her huge global fan base. I wish her the speediest of recoveries.
But we must look on to the excitement that is to come in the next few days. With that in mind I am going to do a quick roundup of the qualifying lists and carry out some giddy speculation of the imminent individual finals.

All Around

As expected, the all around qualifications were topped by Wieber and Komova, both of whom were within a whisker of each other (just over a tenth) and clear of the third highest qualifier by a full point. I was a little surprised at the order of their qualifications: I thought that with Komova having been delicate recently she may have felt the pressure a bit giving Wieber the edge, but as we can see she pipped her to the post coming in at the top of the AA standings. However this is clearly going to be a tense, exciting and very closely fought battle and the smallest of errors could decide who takes home the big prize. I think this is the first time in a long time that the two front runners were so closely matched and that us fans were treated to such a tense race.

Yao Jinnan came in third, with some cracking performances including this beauty:

Shades of Mo Huilan right there.She really is a lovely gymnast and I am pleased to see her qualify so well.

Raisman took fourth place, filling the slot for the second American all arounder, as expected. Its a real shame she can’t do anything about that bars set because with a slightly beefed up score she would have such better chances of making a splash in the AA finals. I am rooting for her though, because I feel like this is probably her last chance in the second AA spot (I don’t rate her chances of having this position in London) so it would be great for her to sneak in a bronze (but I realize this would take a brilliant performance and some help from the others).

Worth mentioning (despite her not qualifying) is Gabby Douglas, who finished in 5th place just below Raisman. This is a really impressive achievement for such an inexperienced gymnast, and one who had been labelled as something of a headcase due to her performance at this year’s VISA champs among others. Qualifying in 5th in her first world championships should provide her with a much deserved energy and confidence boost to take on into the next stages. Well done Gabby!

So, given the 2 per country rule the top 8 qualifiers to advance to the AA finals are:

Some additional thoughts include a well done to Hannah Whelan of GBR for finishing in 13th and advancing to the AA. I am hoping that by the time of London she might be able to top Becky Downie’s fantastic 10th place finish from Beijing, although competition is likely to be much stiffer. Also it’s a shame that Ana Porgras and Lauren Mitchell are still struggling to get up there with the AA leaders.

Prediction to win: Komova
WANT to win: Undecided (I love them both!)
Wildcard medal hope: Raisman

Vault final

The apparatus final with a top 8 that I am least familiar with, although I am thrilled to see Maroney out there on top. It really is refreshing to see a vaulter who makes the amanar look PRETTY, someone who is clearly suited to the vault and who doesn’t make you hold your breath every time they start sprinting for the table. A real pleasure and definitely my top favourite for the win, as well as the frontrunner. It is absolutely fantastic to see a top qualifier who also has the highest E scores. A new trend? Let’s hope so.

Old favourite Chusovitina came in second. As usual it would be a great win for the sport if she could get a medal out of this final.

Tatiana Nabieva, the Russian who was part of a small scandal in last years vault finals due to vault downgrading, creeped into 7th place with much less difficult vaults than this time last year. Perhaps she will pull out the difficulty in the finals, but I find them so frightening to watch I would really rather she didn’t.
Interesting notes: if we look at qualification based on 1 vault only we see that Maroney is still on top – she really is a winner in every sense. Chusovitina comes in third with Wieber in second (the second best, but still great, amanar). Interestingly, veteran and Romanian comeback queen Catalina Ponor had the sixth best vault of the day, on an apparatus she is not renowned for.

Prediction to win: Maroney
WANT to win: Maroney (but I am crushed that Alicia isn’t here)

Bars final

 I must initially express my utter dismay at Beth’s absolute mare in the qualifier. Seems like she just lost it a bit mentally, which is such a shame because she would have been a dead cert to qualify and probably medal, given the field.

It was also a sad sight to see He Kexin’s performance. Everything seemed laboured and clunky. I was never a big fan but back in 2008, she had this brilliant flourish and energetic presentation to everything. The amplitude on her giants made it look like she was defying gravity and her pirouettes were as light as a feather. But now everything looks so muscled and difficult. The jaeger was less laid out and the dead hang worse than ever. I feel sorry for her not being able to perform the way she used to.

But now to the list of qualifiers. Komova is way out in front. She is Usain bolt heading down the 100m stretch. With an almost 7 tenth advantage, the gold is hers is she just goes clean (and clean is exactly what she is, with the highest E score by a 5 tenth margin).


Really nice to see Dufournet up there with the top qualifiers. She has been trying for years to incorporate difficultly cleanly, and I think she is a great gymnast. I would love to see her medal.

 Quishang probably has a chance if she cleans up,  given that she has the same D score as the leaders. It’s nice to see two Japanese gymnasts that will get to perform in the final on home soil.

Very impressive of Gabby Douglas to make the final, due to her often feeling the pressure as I mentioned earlier. Would be great to see her come through and she is definitely a sentimental favourite of mine.

Predication to win: Komova
Want to win: Komova
Wildcard medal hope: Douglas.

Beam final

Who topped the qualifier....? You guessed it...Komova! This is getting boring. I jest. Its fantastic to see such a high calibre gymnast that can be both an all around threat AND a threat in multiple individual finals. I hate those drab years after an Olympics with half baked world champions...sorry Bridget, I think you are a nice athlete, but this is the kind of sport I enjoy. Real quality over a large range of disciplines.

Sui Lu is in second. I LOVE LOVE LOVE her beam work. That front with a half just floats through the air beautifully, and that initial front pike to korbut flip is so airy and nice to watch. She has the D score advantage, and so if she can clean up a bit she might sneak into first place in the final.

Wieber also features and is a good contender for bronze, in my opinion. Also, down in fifth, is the great Catalina Ponor. I am rooting for her to medal at next year’s Olympics and break some records. Her latest beam and floor work has blown me away. I would love for her to go through solid in the finals and come away with a medal. A repeat of this please:

Obv that isn't going to happen, but a nice solid clean set would make me very happy.

Interesting things to note here are that 4 Chinese athletes finished in the top 10, which I think is very very impressive. Also I am slightly distressed that Maria Livchikova is nowhere to be seen in this lineup.

Predication to win: Komova
Want to win: Sui Lu
Wildcard medal hope: Ponor

Floor final

Looks like Raisman has got this one, and I am actually happy about that. She is by no means my favourite gymnast, but I think her floor has got better and better over the years and I love how she has brought the double Arabian punch front tumbling pass back from the dead. When I watch it I am instantly reminded of old favourites Viktoria Karpenko and Elena Produnova. So, I love her tumbling. Her presentation isn’t great but I think there has been some improvement, and hopefully that will continue.

In the name of patriotism and old favourites, I would love for Beth Tweddle to get a medal. I am upset that she didn’t get into the bars finals for two reasons. The first being what is already clear, I love her as a British gymnast, but secondly, I think her bar work is actually world class anyway and her release combinations amaze me. Floor I feel a bit differently about. Her tumbling is great, and that double Arabian full out she was training is INSANE. But, her leaps are not the best and her dance is just awful. So basically I find it hard to get completely behind the cause on floor exercise. I want her to medal, but not win.

Prediction to win: Raisman
Want to win: Raisman
Wildcard medal hope: Tweddle

So there we have it. Most of all though, and any petty favouritism aside I would like a clean competition where everyone performs to their best. I can't wait!

All scoresheets features in this post were taken from

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