Who Will Make the All Around Final in Tokyo?
Previously titled “The Race to Become the Second All Arounder,” until I realized that out of the top four teams that I am focusing on, it is possible for the top all arounder to be knocked out of the final.
What I said about it being possible for the top all arounder to be knocked out of the finals? Well, that is technically possible but extremely unlikely for Jordyn Wieber. She is heads and shoulders above the other all around gymnasts on the US team, and arguably all of the other age-eligible gymnasts in the world at the moment.
The second all around spot will likely go to either McKayla Maroney or Alexandra Raisman. Maroney probably has the best vault in the world, but the other events are somewhat questionable. She has improved a great deal in the past year, though, and finished second at nationals. Floor in particular is coming along very nicely, with some very difficult tumbling. Hopefully she will change her dismount, which seems to be difficult for her to land well. Raisman’s strongest event is floor, where she will be one of the favorites for the world title. Her vault is also strong, and she is capable of an Amanar, but with all of the vault injuries this season I hope she doesn’t try it, because she tends to under rotate and her form is much much better on her DTY. Her beam is decent, with high difficulty when she hits all of her connections and she can stay on. She sounds like a shoe-in, right? But bars are her nemesis, and what could easily keep her out of this final. She can score in the high 13s or low 14s when she hits, but she often struggles with consistency.
One interesting thing is that Gabrielle Douglas was second all around at the first camp. Will that be enough to make Marta test her out in the all around during prelims? If she hits, she could make the final, but it is somewhat unlikely. It seems like she will compete all around in prelims, but we’ll see.
My vote probably goes to Alexandra Raisman. I trust her more to hit than Maroney; the only event I think we can count on Maroney to hit is vault and the only event I think we can’t count on Raisman to hit is bars. If Raisman cleans up her Amanar, my opinion could change.
I don’t think that anybody is a given for Russia. Mustafina and Komova would have been the best bets last year (nearly 100%), but things have changed drastically.
From the end of 2008 to the end of 2010, she had won every single all around competition she entered, but Komova just won her first all around competition of the year in Penza. Of course, this is almost all due to two ankle injuries in late 2010 and early 2011 that forced her to get surgery in May. Her ability to compete all around, or at all at worlds was questioned at that point, but now it seems like there is almost a 100% chance that Komova will get a chance to compete all four events in prelims at worlds. Right now, she is the strongest Russian by far on bars and even with Dementyeva on beam. The injury, understandably, has kept her from competing full difficulty on vault and floor, where she is usually up there with the best in the world. If she upgrades to a double twisting yurchenko, upgrades one tumbling pass on floor and hits, she’s in the final and in contention for a medal, no doubt about it. If she magically becomes 2010 Komova in 3 weeks (raising her all around score by about 3 points), she is in contention for the gold.
The next spot seems a bit more up in the air, although all of them are, and I can’t decide who I’d like to see more. Ksenia Afanasyeva has been left out of the all around due to the two per country rule twice, in 2010 where she had a disasterous bars routine and qualified 17th and in 2008 where she had the best meet of her life and qualified 6th. It would be great to see her finally make it. Anna Dementyeva, meanwhile, has had a fantastic year, winning the Russian Championships, European Championships and the Russian Cup. Her confidence has been boosted time and time again, and even though Alexandrov said that she was only competitive in Europe earlier this year, it no longer seems to be true. She has upgraded on every event except for beam since Europeans, adding about 1.6 to her total difficulty. She has come a long way since coming to Rotterdam as the alternate last year, and is not in contention for a world all around medal.
Yulia Belokobylskaya also has a small chance at making the final. She has high difficulty all around, but often appears to be somewhat nervous. Additionally, I’m not sure that the coaches will have her competing vault in prelims if Paseka and Nabieva are on the team, because they will want to a) test out their Amanars and b) qualify them to event finals. Belokobylskaya is the unlucky one who is probably going to sit out in that scenario.
Yao Jinnan has established herself as China’s top all arounder by winning pre-worlds test events. She has a DTY that can be okay or great, depending on the day, and is powerful on floor, with a double layout and one of the cleanest triple fulls around. She has highly difficult beam and bars sets, as you would expect from a Chinese gymnast. In my opinion, Yao is one of the only gymnasts who has an outside shot at challenging Wieber for the gold.
Chinese national champion Tan Sixin should also factor in in the all around. She is one of the best beam workers in the world, but is otherwise pretty much average. Still, she has a decent DTY, decent bars FOR CHINA and is the YOG floor champion. She is clean, but sometimes doesn’t compete well. I would love to see her make the all around final.
Then, there is Jiang Yuyuan. She is the reigning world all around silver medalist, but in my opinion will likely be the third 2010 world all around medalist to be knocked out of the all around finals… at least she’s going to worlds! She has looked weak all year, although she has recently looked much better on bars. Her floor, in particular, has been inconsistent. Having said that, if she hits in prelims she is in the mix.
At this point, we are all expecting Ana Porgras, who has been the top Romanian gymnast for three years, to make the all around, but she might have some fierce competition. She only vaults a full twisting yurchenko on vault, and even her upgraded floor routine is simple compared to the top floor workers. Her beam is reliable and will score well, as it did last year. Bars used to be one of her best events (world medal in 2009), but while the interior of her routine is similar (but a bit simpler) than it was last year, I am worried about her dismount. In the past four competitions, she has either underroted her double layout dismount and taken a .5 step or fallen. Still, I’d say that she has a better shot than anybody on her team at making the final.
Amelia Racea has been Romania’s second strongest all arounder for awhile, and has a very good shot at making the final. She is arguably Romania’s strongest gymnast on bars at the moment, and one of their best on beam and vault. Floor remains questionable, but she has improved there since Europeans and now has a very nice triple full. Diana Chelaru was very close to Racea all around at Europeans, but is much weaker than Racea on bars and beam and Racea seems to be closing the gap on floor. Chelaru, however, is more consistent on her weaker events and has trained an Amanar in the past.
Izbasa is also a possibility. She has been playing it safe due to an injury, but the hope definitely seems to be for her to compete all around at worlds. She has recently added bars, and while her routine is nowhere near world class, it is cleaner than I expected. Because she is the best Romanian on vault and floor and consistent on beam, she could make it. If she is not back doing floor for worlds, I can see Haidu potentially competing for an all around spot.