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What I Want to See Today

January 11, 2012

Qualified Teams: Italy, France, Canada, and whoever has a great day.

Photo: FIG

Italy, France and Canada seem like near-locks to qualify (I shouldn’t say these things), and I am happy with that. Italy has a gorgeous team and France has many great individuals who I would hate to not see in London. Canada is my #1 favorite- maybe it is because Canada is my second home (I wanted to become a citizen a few years ago…), but I love their gymnastics. Almost all of their girls have a star quality, and I would never want to have to predict who of Victoria Moors, Peng Peng Lee and Kristina Vaculik will compete in London.

I don’t care much about that fourth spot. Part of me wants Korea to pull an upset like the Italian men did today. Their girls are elegant and spectacular on bars and beam. They are also one of the best vault teams competing. On paper, they are one of the top 4, if not the top team in London, but as we saw in Tokyo, they don’t do well under pressure. Either way, Korea is certainly a team that is on it’s way up in international gymnastics. The same goes for Spain, which made many team finals in the early 2000s only to fizzle out prior to the 2008 Olympics. They looked good for the most part during podium training. Half off the team is extremely powerful, performing double twisting yurchenkos on vault, and half of the team is elegant and artistic, with leaps and choreography to die for. They had a rough time on bars, however, where they had trouble making it through their routines and had many form breaks.

There are many familiar faces on the Brazilian team, including Daiane Dos Santos, Jade Barbosa and Daniele Hypolito. For that reason alone, I want them to qualify. It would be so much easier for me to write them off if Barbosa hadn’t had that stumble and failed to medal on vault in Tokyo (not that I think it was a failure!). Now, they can only send one woman or a team to London, and judging by the fact that Barbosa is a serious medal contender, she is the top choice. Denying Hypolito a trip to her fourth Olympics after steady improvement and great results this quadrennium, however, does not seem fair.

Those look like the serious contenders to me, but there are two other teams in London: The Netherlands and Belgium. The Netherlands has had some unlucky injuries to crucial team members between Tokyo and London. Their performance at worlds was lackluster, especially compared to their spectacular performance at home in Rotterdam, where they finished 9th in prelims. They are competing in London with a young, inexperienced and talented team. The surprising double twisting yurchenko from Wyomi Masela will help, but they are going to need more than that to make it to the Olympics. They are going to need hit routines and a whole lot of luck.

I think that this is also interesting to look at. Teams have changed and routines have been upgraded, but looking at the top 4 difficulty scores from 2011 worlds for each team certainly says something about potential.

Vault Bars Beam Floor Total
1 Korea 22.2 23.8 22.3 22 90.3
2 Italy 21.1 22.3 23.3 22 88.7
3 France 20.7 23.5 22 21.7 87.9
3 Brazil 21.7 22.2 21.8 22.2 87.9
5 Spain 20.8 21.7 22.2 21.7 86.4
6 Canada 20.6 21.9 22.1 21.7 86.3
7 Netherlands 20.8 22.3 22.1 20.7 85.9
8 Belgium 19.9 21.4 21.7 20.6 83.6
The numbers in red are low scores and the numbers in green are high scores out of all of the teams. What does this show? If Korea gets it’s act together, they should make it, but they were nervy at worlds and had lots of mistakes. 1.6 points seems like a lot, but it’s only a fall off of bars, a super low chest landing and a step on floor. Belgium would need a whole lot of help.

My favorite individuals make it

Photo: FIG

Yes, that is a horrible header (isn’t that obvious)), but the list is too long! I want Jessica Lopez, Ana Sofia Gomez, Yamilet Pena (just for fun), Livchikova Nataliya Kononenko, Valeria Maksiuta, A Mexican (I love both of them!), Valeria Pereyra, Dorina Boczogo, Jonna Adlerteg, Daria Elizarova (or Luiza Galiulina), Marta Pihan-Kulesza, Giulia Steingruber and Vasiliki Millousi to compete at the Olympics. The good thing is that all of them should make it. The bad thing is that one moment could end their olympic dream. They all need to be on today, and they need to stay healthy between now and the Olympic games. In a way, though, these girls have it easy. Most of them will know tomorrow if they are going to the Olympics. A few can still be switched out for one other teammate, but they are not going to be going through the selection process that gymnasts from teams that are in London but do not qualify will have to go through.

In reality, almost all of the gymnasts competing will qualify. It’s a kind of silly process. At the end of the night, with only one gymnast per country counting, there will be 37 individuals in the race. I calculated, and this is not definite, that 34 gymnasts will qualify as individuals. One of the competitors, Heldsinger, already has a spot locked up because she is from Africa. I think that leaves about two gymnasts out. One if one of them gets the wild card. Again, don’t quote this, but it is what I am getting when I do the math.

Grishina wins the all around, Yao and Sui look better than they did in podium training, Tunney makes herself a contender

With Yao Jinnan out of the all around (which I think isn’t a real competition with medals awarded, but whatever), I think that it would be pretty pathetic if Grishina didn’t win the all around. She has scored high 59s in the past, and nobody else at the test event has come close to that. I’m not sure that there have even been any 57s. Of course, I don’t want this to be a “I fell all over the place but I’m still better than you” win, I want it to be a “I hit and that is why I won” win. It’s pretty obvious that someone is the class of the field when I predict them as the winner in seconds but cannot think of one gymnast who I think will be second (okay, maybe Lopez).

Yao Jinnan and Sui Lu were the other two really exciting names to see on the nominative roster. Unfortunately, they did not look like they were quite ready during podium training. Yao was landing vaults on her head. Remember her beautiful DTY from Tokyo? They are not competing all around, so my hope is that they qualify for and medal on their specialties, bars and beam for Yao and beam and floor for Sui.

Rebecca Tunney could be the one to upset the veterans on the British team in 2012. I have had the team of Tweddle, Downie, Francis, Whelan and Pinches in my head for awhile, but Tunney has a double twisting yurchenko and is a good all arounder. A strong performance here will help her case.

No injuries!

This depresses and inspires me. Fokin hurt his knee on vault, and limped off the podium. He proceeded to compete two events, and was actually on track to qualify until he got to floor. He gave a gutsy performance on floor, but he could not tumble and ended up with a 7.166. I really don’t know much about Fokin, with the exception of his medal record, but now I want to send a “send Fokin to the Olympics” petition to the IOC.

It would be so, so heartbreaking to see somebody go down with an injury and have in knock them out of the all around. For that reason, I think that it may be a good idea in the future to give 5 individual spots (random number) to gymnasts who do not qualify at the test event but have better scores than the bottom 50% of gymnasts who qualify at the test event from worlds (if the test event is even a qualifying meet in the future). I know that gymnastics is all about what you do when it counts, but sometimes I wish that it wasn’t.

Next time I post, the olympic picture will be much clearer. Good luck to each and every one of the gymnasts competing tomorrow!

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