Sunday, 29 July 2012

Place your bets...

What an epic day. Lets take stock, shall we?

Top 10 AA qualifiers:

  1. Viktoria Komova
  2. Alexandra Raisman
  3. Gabrielle Douglas
  4. Aliya Mustafina
  5. Deng Linlin
  6. Vanessa Ferrari
  7. Asuka Teramoto
  8. Larisa Iordache
  9. Huang Quishang
  10. Sandra Izbasa
WHAT a qualifier, and what upset about Wieber. But enough of that. Huge congratulations to Raisman for pulling off the meet of her life. Here we find ourselves in a similar situation to one year ago. Komova performed well, not stunningly, but well in the qualifier. The difference this year is the all important Amanar, which is looking good. The question now is whether she can improve on this in the finals, which I think she will need to in order to hold off the Americans.

This competition will be whisker close and could potentially be won or lost on stuck landings and tiny wobbles. The decider will most likely be beam: the area in which both Komova and Douglas are most likely to falter. Iordache has been tipped to be amongst the challengers but her foot injury will probably keep her out of the top spot, which to my mind will be a battle between the aforementioned American and Russian.
Interesting to note the 5th place QF position of Deng Linlin, and the lack of teammate Yao Yinnan, who did not look anywhere near her top form today.

Want to win: Close, but I am going to go with Douglas.

Prediction to win: Closer, but my money is on Komova by a whisker.

Other medallist hopes: Would love a medal for Mustafina. For Komova and Douglas, I want the win to be by a fraction and not a fall so by this logic it would be bronze for Musty. Having said that I would love for Raisman to medal, just because it would be so unexpected. Elsewhere I really want Whelan in the top ten again.

Top 8 Qualifiers:
  1. Mckayla Maroney
  2. Sandra Izbasa
  3. Maria Paseka
  4. Oksana Chusovitina
  5. Yamilet Pena
  6. Janine Berger
  7. Brittany Rogers
  8. Elsabeth Black
All the big names present and correct, but this final may not be as academic as people once thought. Maroney is the clear leader after QF with 15.800, but Izbasa scored a tidy 15.316 WITHOUT her Amanar OR her Cheng. If she hits that on the day she will beat Maroney in terms of D score and if this is the case, Maroney will have to make it on her execution alone.

This is definitely possible for her, and in my mind she is still the rightful winner. I would love for Isbasa to take silver and believe that she will. Bronze seems to be the medal to fight for in any case, and presumably Pena and Chuso will be fighting it out for this one.

Want to win: Maroney

Prediction to win: Maroney

Other medallist wishes: Izbasa silver and Chuso bronze.

Top 8 Qualifiers:
  1. Beth Tweddle
  2. Kexin He
  3. Viktoria Komova
  4. Yinnan Yao
  5. Aliya Mustafina
  6. Gabrielle Douglas
  7. Elisabeth Seitz
  8. Koko Tsurumi

Now obviously I am thrilled with this. GO BETH. Bars routine of her career I would say. It was fantastic to see her put everything together under pressure, and that dismount was stunning.

Any hint of being unbiased and neutral truly shelved for a minute, I undoubtedly want Tweddle to take this. I think she wholeheartedly deserves it. However, it will not be easy for her. Any of Komova, Mustafina or Kexin could take this away. Kexin performed a 7.1 difficulty and she can potentially up it (although I doubt that she would given her consistency issues with the harder version). Regardless of this, she hit her routine royally and proved to everyone that she is not quite done yet.

Komova was beautiful as usual and outscored Mustafina. Both have brand new elements/combinations. Mustafina’s inbar 1/1 – pak – stalder – khorkina variation is super impressive.

Want to win: Tweddle

Predict to win: Tweddle (by a whisker, IF she puts it together)

Other medallist wishes: either two Russians, or Mustafina and Douglas (or a Russian and He Kexin). Very undecided on this one.

Top 8 Qualifiers:
  1. Lu Sui
  2. Victoria Komova
  3. Gabrielle Douglas
  4. Linlin Deng
  5. Alexandra Raisman
  6. Ksenia Afanaseva
  7. Catalina Ponor
  8. Diane Bulimar
Beam was an interesting one today. No surprises about Sui, her routine was great and I think she is the logical winner. However, her performance at the test event proved that she can royally mess up as well as totally smash it cold. Still, she is the deserving winner in my eyes.

Glad to see Komova so high up despite all her consistency issues on this event. Having said that i do think 15.233 was a bit of a gift considering the two big breaks she had in there. But in fairness Ponor had a pretty big dip and she still qualified, so I guess it balances. On the topic of Ponor, I desperately want her to medal here. There should be some sort of lifetime achievement award for contributions to beam flight series. She would get my vote.

How strange it is to see “headcase” Gabby Douglas qualifying third whilst “rock” Wieber fails to qualify at all. Seems like years of fake connections came back at once to bite Wieber squarely in the ass. My opinions on this are mixed: she never really connected that full twist to anything but still got world level credit, so shouldn’t they at least be consistent with that marking style?

Want to win: Lu Sui

Prediction to win: Lu Sui

Other medallist wishes: Any colour for Ponor, and an American.

Top 8 Qualifiers:
  1. Alexandra Raisman
  2. Sandra Izbasa
  3. Vanessa Ferrari
  4. Ksenia Afanaseva
  5. Lauren Mitchell
  6. Jordyn Wieber
  7. Catalina Ponor
  8. Aliya Mustafina

As expected, this is an EPIC floor final! Best Olympic final I can remember, in my humble opinion. After all, how often is it that we get to see the Gold medallists from the last two Olympics competing side by side for the podium?

My only complaints are the lack of Chinese representation, Beth Tweddle’s an eighth place alternate spot and Iordache missing her rightful smashed routine. Still, the quality of the field makes up for this.

Calling this one is difficult: there isn’t a single gymnast in this lineup who I wouldn’t want to see winning a medal. I am less offended that some by Aly Raisman’s floor. Yes it isn’t very artistic, but there has to be room for the powerhouse tumblers and she is certainly not lacking in that department. I would say, though, that I would prefer a more graceful routine to take the gold. For me, Izbasa’s routine is the best and I would love her to take the Gold. But I also want a medal for Mitchell, Afan, Ponor and Ferrari, and obviously that is impossible. There is a definite argument for Wieber as well. Given that this is her only EF in an Olympics she was expected to own, and given that she has one of the most memorable routines this quad, a medal for her wouldn’t go amiss either.

Want to win: Izbasa

Predict to win: Raisman

Other medallist wishes: Literally all of them. 

Do you agree? Disagree? Tell me! I really want to know what fans are thinking and what fans want to see happen in the coming weeks. 


The price of depth

Less than one day in and this is already shaping up to be the most unpredictable Olympics in recent history.

For several years now, we have been tipping Wieber for an Olympic challenge. Yet here we are at the end of subdivision 3, and not only is Wieber not posting the highest scores, she has failed to qualify for the individual all around.

This is literally an unthinkable scenario. Sure, there have been those along the way who championed Aly, and rightly so. However, internet forums have predominantly buzzed with negativity about Raisman despite her huge talents, mainly on the grounds of her execution. Two weeks ago, the idea that at an international level, Aly Raisman would be the number one American over Gabby Douglas and Jordyn Wieber would have been pure farce.

It is hard to imagine how Jordyn Wieber must feel. With no AA competition on the horizon, and the potential for no finals, in the blink of an eye Jordyn Wieber has gone from Shannon Miller to Amanda Borden. Who knows how she will react to this swift change in team politics? To be undermined so shockingly and at such a high level must be very mentally stressful, and if I were John Geddert, I would be wondering how it is possible to get Wieber back in the mindset for the all important team finals.

It has been such a long time since gymnasts were fighting so vehemently and closely for AA spots, especially amongst American competitors. This situation is so evocative of the Unified Team in 1992 it is barely believable. What is Marta thinking? Does this mean that Raisman is an AA threat? The international scoring of her floor routine (15.325!), her wildly improved Amanar and her renowned beam consistency certainly suggest so. The big question is, can she stay on bars in an AA situation?

A million questions, and as yet no answers. What is certain, though, is that Raisman has gone out and proved a hell of a lot of people wrong (me included). If she stays on bars in the AA, could she make a podium?
In Gabby Douglas news, she did not have the best of days but did well enough to qualify. If she puts it all together in competition, she might also be one of the top tips for the AA crown.

As sad as the situation is, I think we should all be grateful for the huge depth of talent we are being treated to. Noone should ever criticize Aly Raisman for this: after all, all fans have ever begged of her is that she clean up and refine her gymnastics. She has done that, and this is the result. However, this is surely further evidence against the two up two count rule. The day a 60+ qualification score is not good enough for AA is a day where the Olympic Games cannot be considered a fair representation of international talent. 


Whatever the USA are doing, they are doing it right. Today was an insane display of talent and expertise. Today must have been amongst the most impressive outings on vault in any WAG competition of all time. All of those Amanars are looking good, and some of them marvellously improved. Raisman's for instance, is looking so much better. At this point they are the runaway favourites, but obviously we have to see Romania to be sure (watch this space..).

However, as mentioned, it seems ridiculous that team depth and success must come at expense of individual success. Raisman, Douglas and Wieber are unarguably three of the best gymnasts in the whole right now. The idea that they should have to fight for three spaces is artificial, unfair and basically indefensible.

WAG Qualifications - The wait is over

An Apology

New job = new stress = I have been absent in the lead up to the games. Thanks for still checking the blog and sorry that there has been such a long hiatus, but I am going to try my best to cover as much of the WAG as I can.

Here is a quick summary of The E Panel’s highlights from this morning’s action.
First off, what’s with all the pink? The USA are going to be a bit too matchy-matchy if they pull out their trademark hotpink hotmess leotards. The stadium looks like it is sponsored by Britney Spears Fantasy. Can’t say I am a huge fan.

The North Greenwich Arena, looking more like the video set for "Katy Perry - California Girls" than a setting for Olympic History

Subdivision 1

Dos Santos, BRA – Floor

First off, I want to know what this girl has been drinking. 29 years old?! It looks like the last four years didn’t even happen. She is still just as bouncy and just as fun to watch. Great full twisting DLO and LOVE the two whips into double tuck. Nice job

Boczogo, HUN – vault and floor

I love watching this gymnast. Her form and physique are wonderful. Sadly she doesn’t quite put it together. Particularly on vault. In the air that 1.5TY looks gorgeous but she just crumbles into the ground on the landing. Shame, but great to see such great, classic presentation from underdog countries. The same goes for.....

Millousi, GRE – Floor

You can’t not watch Millousi when she is performing. Her stature and head to toe presentation is so eye catching. Yes, the tumbling has to be considered weak by today’s standards, but I love qualifications for this because it is like a window into the past. It is so good to see tumbles that a gymnast can comfortably compete and that look marvellous execution wise. Further, her dance and musical interpretation is very, very nice. Sad that this is probably the last we will see of her in these games.

Porras, GUAT – Beam

I hadn’t even heard of this girl and wasn’t expecting wonders, then she shut me right up with a planted BHS into tuck full. Wonderful. The leaps on her splits were fantastic, as was the whole set. 2.5 twist dismount was great in the air, and the messy landing was really the only thing wrong with the routine. Would be fantastic to see her in the beam final.

Pena, DOM – Vault

Probably the one to watch in this whole subdivision, and all eyes were definitely on Pena for one reason: the double front that has been splitting opinion for nearly a year now. Nothing sums up the difficulty/execution row more than a vault than can be sat down and still be pushing a fifteen score wise. Unfortunately, she DID sit down the vault. BUT, I don’t know if it is just me but I think it looks better in the air than it has done previously. 

As pointed out by Christine Still, the problem seems to be that she absolutely sprints down the runway and throws the vault long rather than high. The distance she gets from the horse is unbelievable but she just doesn’t get the air to rotate it comfortably. 14.933. 

Come the second vault, things improve. This is the first I have seen of Pena’s DTY and I thought it was fantastic. Execution wise the best vault she has ever produced and mechanically far more impressive than her 1.5TY ever was. This should sail her straight to the vault final, which will surely be an interesting event: if she puts the double front to her feet she will certainly medal. Even if she doesn’t, with a bit of help she might get a bronze which would be a bronze with a fall in two consecutive Olympics. I wonder what the fans would think of that?

Highlight – Pena’s DTY

Low Point – Hypolito’s makeup. I mean seriously, what was that?

Subdivision 2

Pihan, POL – floor

I LOVED this routine. The opening tumble was so unusual and so well performed: punch front layout full walkout through to 2.5 twist rebound stag. Presentation was fantastic and her leaps are just wonderful. Her legs seem to go on forever and she hits splits like it is the easiest thing in the world. Shame that making finals never reflects the finer touches, because this was a great routine. Don’t know what was going on with the glittery hair, though.

Ferrari, ITA – floor

I was mesmerised. Her tumbling is beautiful AND superbly difficult and I would argue that her double double might just be the best in the world right now. She absolutely planted it today. Her second pass, full in connected to punch tuck-back, could do with being sped up a bit but it is great to look at. Dance good. 14.900. Hopefully that will sail her into the floor final which, based on the field, might just be the best Olympic floor final of all time.

Mitchell, AUS – beam and floor

Lauren is worrying me. Apparently she is suffering with a stomach complaint and I was terrified this might affect her. I want her in beam and floor finals, desperately. Not seeing her in any finals in Beijing was a real disappointment and I do NOT want a repeat of that.

Whether or not it did affect her is debatable. Some of her elements looked better than ever, but in other areas things that are usually right on the money were well off.

Floor came first. First tumble was fine but her legs were way more cowboyed than usual on the double Arabian. Still, she landed fine and jumped out well. Her full in double pike landed messily and there was no connected leap. The rest looked good though, and I have really grown to like the composition of this routine. Although I used to bemoan her leaping out, on balance (now that every gymnast and her dog is doing it) she is quite good at it. 14.833, should be final worthy where she can step it up a bit.

Beam started well. She has managed to stop that horrible slouch before the layout series, and it looked as high and flighted as it ever has. However, she had a massive break on her FWO and missed the connection into the tuck. Further, her double pike was a complete knee eater to get her a 14.300. Only time will tell if this is good enough or not, I am keeping everything crossed.

Low Point – Mitchell wobbling and being a millimetre from falling. My heart stopped.

High Point – Ferrari on floor. She smashed it out of the park and can hopefully repeat that in the final

Can't wait for 3 and 4. COME ON BETH.