Worlds Wrap Up, Two Weeks Later
Worlds in Japan were great, because I could watch live without skipping school. Unfortunately, the minute that they ended, I was exhausted and behind in my school work. There has been a lot of catchup over the last two weeks.
Guess what I have learned about myself (as a gymnastics fan) from these world championships? I sometimes need time to process things. Jordyn Wieber’s all around win, for example. I thought that I had processed it when I initially posted about it. Well, apparently I had not thought about it enough, because on Sunday when I re-watched the competition for the first time, my feelings changed a bit (or a lot), and that was with the lovely NBC commentators, who I never want to agree with. The same goes for Ksenia Afanasyeva’s win on floor. Seriously, I was ecstatic. It is a great story, and she is a great gymnast. I can see, however, why people think that Sui should have won.
The BBC commentators, in both of those situations, kind of annoyed me. They probably should not have told the whole world that Komova had it in the bag, even if the whole world (except for Tim Daggett) would have believed it no matter what. They also said that all of Afanasyeva’s landings were perfect, or stuck, or something along those lines. They were good, especially for her, but there were definitely small hops/steps on all but one of them.
“They are lovely, and could be on top of the world if they could just hit a routine,” is something that I would have said about a lot of these gymnasts before worlds. And guess what? A lot of those gymnasts came to Tokyo and finally hit. Sui Lu hit all of her routines and earned an individual gold. Nabieva hit all of her routines and earned an individual medal. Afanasyeva missed only one routine and earned an individual world title. Huang missed three routines (I still would say that it was better than expected) and earned an individual medal. Douglas, who missed half of her routines at nationals, did not have a single fall here. All in all, it was a pretty great world championships for our favorite headcases.
This paragraph is devoted to Sui Lu, because I think that she deserves some recognition. It would have been easy to count her out after her disastrous team finals beam routine in 2010, but she got her redemption here, big time. She has been delivering nearly flawless routines in China all year, and finally got the kind of scores that she deserves here. Sui Lu is no longer a liability, she is a proven competitor, and a near-lock for China’s Olympic team.
There was an unusual amount of young talent at this year’s world championships. When was the last time that three new seniors made up the all around podium? I’m pretty sure that the answer to that question is never. The first three individual golds awarded were awarded to new seniors, and the average age on the US team was under 16, so they pretty much count as well. The all around medallists, Wieber, Komova and Yao, all walked away from their first worlds with three medals. That is pretty impressive.
It was a disappointing worlds for Romania, and that is an understatement. They walked away with no medals for the first time since 1981. Yes, they are rebuilding, but they have been rebuilding for years and it never stopped them from taking home a medal or two. This team missed Izbasa. She could have easily earned the 5 tenths needed to put them on the podium ahead of China, but she could not have erased their biggest weakness: bars. Something needs to be done when one of the top four teams in the world finishes 6th one year and last the next. They brought what seemed like a stronger bars team than last year’s with the addition of Racea, but their total was over two points lower than it was last year. There is a very good chance that Romania will start on bars during team finals at the Olympics, and I am afraid that they are going to have a deep hole to climb out of. This post is not just about Romanian bars, though, so I will stop there for now.
Continuing with the theme of Romania (sort of), Germany and Vietnam both beat Romania in medal count. Who would have guessed that would be possible, ever? Well, years ago it was possible for East Germany to out-medal Romania (it happened in 1985), but that is not very relevant. I love that Phan of Vietnam got a medal. It is so nice to see gymnasts from minor gymnastics countries stepping up and doing a great job. Phan even upgraded between prelims and finals! Oksana Chusovitina got the medal for Germany, but that entire team deserves to be congratulated. I did predict this before worlds, but my prediction had more to do with their potential than my faith in them as a team. Even in my wildest dreams, however, I did not think that Germany would finish 6th in team finals. This team blossomed in Tokyo.
There was some USA DOMINATION going on in team finals. I already knew the results when I watched it with my mom later in the day, and when the scores came up after the third rotation, she said “Well, that lead is not two big, is it? The results could still change?” I said yes, so that she would enjoy the last rotation more, but I think that it was pretty obvious, even just after vault, that USA was there to win, and they did so with one of the best performances from a team ever.
It is looking like the top two teams going into the Olympics are going to be USA and Russia. We know now that Russia’s podium training has no relation at all to how they perform (actually, maybe if they trained well, they would have a poor performance). Both teams may look very different a year from now. There were girls on these two teams that nobody expected to see at worlds a year ago (Inshina, Belokobylskaya, Douglas and Vega). Injuries allowed that to happen, and the great thing is that those gymnasts came through for their teams. Douglas, in particular, has set herself up to be a strong contender for the US olympic team. Marta seems to love her.
The all around battle in London could also be quite interesting. First, we will have the young talents that made up this year’s podium. Then, we will have all of the top contenders who were out with injuries. Mustafina and Bross headline that group. There are a lot of talented juniors who can challenge their more experienced teammates for a spot in the all around next year, including Grishina, Ross and Iordache. Maybe even little Zeng Siqi, although I do not see her as a medal contender. Finally, if Ana Porgras can upgrade on all events, especially vault, she may be able to be up there with the best of them. Let’s cross our fingers. NO INJURIES, PLEASE.