Road To Rio: Wacky Worlds

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The 2016 World Championships in Glasgow were held from October 23-November 1st and served as a qualifier for the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

It was a wacky worlds.  That is the best way to describe it.  It started when Kyla Ross did not make the team.  After a disappointing showing at USA Nationals she bowed out of the process and decided not to attend the World Team Selection camp.  She has been part of every World Championship team and won medals there since the Olympics so it was a big deal that she wasn't going to be part of it.  She's been spending a lot of weekends at UCLA.  No one is certain what her next move will be but I hope she hasn't given up on Rio.

Making The Team
People were also shocked that a key gymnast was left off the team and one who didn't seem to have a chance in hell was added.  Bailey Key is that key gymnast.  She was a consistently top performing All-Around junior for years, and had a solid 4th place at her first Senior Nationals.  I could not believe that Marta decided not to take her and just as shocked that she took Brenna Dowell.  I was sad for Bailey.  It had to feel like a slap in the face after doing so much for the team for so many years, but I was really happy for Brenna.  This is an athlete who had her heart broken at the 2013 Worlds when she made the team, got all the way to  China and then at the last minute was not used on a single event in favor of Mckayla Maroney competing the all-around.  She was an alternate for the 2014 Worlds and then left elite Gymnastics to compete at Oklahoma University.  She decided to come back for one last shot at competing in Worlds and getting a signature skill named after her.  The girl just wouldn't give up and her tenacity was rewarded.  After a disastrous 2015 Nationals I didn't event hink she would get invited to World Team Selection camp.  Then, shockingly she was named to the team.   

USA Gymnastics: Oct. 20 - Women's Podium Training &emdash;
Maggie Nichols, Gabby Douglas, Madison Kocian, Aly Raisman, Brenna Dowell, Simone Biles, Mykayla Skinner

The Final Roster
Once the team was finally named, the big question was who would be the alternate.  It has to be Brenna right?  She is great on bars but the routine is risky and she doesn't consistently hit her routines.  Maybe it should be Gabby Douglas.  She might be reigning Olympic Champion but she's not top on any event and placed 5th at Nationals behind Bailey Key who didn't even make the team.  I knew there was no way she would be an alternate.  The odd woman out was Mykayla Skinner.  She is consistent, but maybe her high risky difficulty and loose form did her in.
USA Gymnastics: Oct. 24 - U.S. Women's Qualifications &emdash; Brenna Dowell
The next big question was who would compete all around on day 1 and have the chance to qualify for the coveted AA finals.  Maggie Nichols who placed 2nd at Nationals was bumped from that opportunity in favor of Gabby Douglas.  Marta put Simone Biles, Aly Raisman and Gabby on all four events but only two could advance to All-Around finals.

There was a malfunction with Brenna's floor music and she did her entire routine without floor music.  I have never seen that happen, ever in all the years I have been watching gymnastics.  The crowd clapped a beat to cover the odd silence.  She handled it, with only a stumble throughout only to go to bars and fall twice.  It was really sad to watch.  I was hoping that after finally making the World team she would hit everything and prove to everyone that they should have taken her all along, but it didn't go as planned.  Her consolation prize is that because she completed her signature skill, a piked double front on floor, it will be named after her.  She accomplished that goal at least.  She was near tears in her interviews after worlds in 2013 after not competing and her eyes were filled with tears once again in 2015.  I don't think she will ever get this chance again.  I think she should go back to Oklahoma University and enjoy the rest of her gymnastics career without the pressure of elite gymnastics.  

Aly didn't do so great either.  She put two feet out of bounds on floor and then fell on bars.  She never falls.  Gabby fell on beam, but you know who didn't fall on any events and scored high enough to have qualified for all-around had she been given the opportunity to compete?  Maggie Nichols.  She was rewarded by being the only person put on all four events in team finals.  Not even Simone Biles did all four events.  They let her rest bars since she still had many individual finals ahead of her.   

Perhaps the biggest shocker of the entire qualification round is that Romania had a serious meltdown and did not qualify to the Olympics.  Top Eight qualify and Romania placed 13th.  When you think of gymnastics you think of Romania.  I cannot imagine any team final without Romania let alone an Olympics.  I heard that Nadia Comaneci said, "I am sick to my stomach."  Brazil also did not qualify for their own Olympics placing 9th.  There will be another opportunity to qualify at the Olympic Test event in Rio next year so they better get it together or else they will be out.

I can't remember a competition ever, where girls from the US competed for another country.  Alaina Kwan and Kylie Dickson did not qualify to Nationals and therefore were not in the mix to make the World Team so they decided to compete with a different country.  They staged a temporary defection to Belarus for the opportunity to compete internationally.  They finished 73rd and 74th after qualifications and did not advance to the AA finals.

Team Finals
Another shocker was Russia not making the podium for top three and that Great Britain did.  Russia was 4th and Great Britain placed 3rd to win their first World Championship ever.  Team USA won as expected by a whopping five points.  They have won every World team title since 2011, plus the 2012 Olympics.  There was no World Championships during the Olympic year so this makes five years of Team USA World domination and maybe gymnasts from other countries are getting sick of it.  During 2013 Worlds Italy's Carlotta Ferlito was called out for racist comments about Simone Biles. This time Russia's star Viktoria Komova accused the USA of steroid use and claimed that Great Britain and China just got lucky on a Russian message board.  Russia's last team gold victory was 2010 Worlds and Komova was not part of that team.  They placed 2nd at the 2012 Olympics.  Russians only like gold, so I can see why she was a little bitter but it was a three up three scores count format and every single Russian girl fell off balance beam.  They probably hoped they could still hang onto bronze.  I've seen them reduced to tears over a bronze and remove the offending medal from their necks before they make it off the podium.  In contrast, Great Britain cried tears of joy.  The Netherlands qualified 8th making this the first time they have qualified a team since 1976.   Full results here.

USA Gymnastics: Oct. 29 - Women's All-Around Final &emdash; Gabrielle Douglas, Simone Biles and Larisa Iordache (ROU)

All Around Finals 
Those wily Russians and Romanians will not be denied medals at Worlds.  Larissa Iordache salvaged something of this World Championships for Romania by winning the Bronze medal in the All Around with a solid performance.  Gabby Douglas proved her comeback is real snagging the silver.  She had clean execution all around.  She is not my favorite, but her gymnastics is nice to look at.  Were it not for falls from two competitors she would not have medaled, but that is the thing about gymnastics.  You have to hit when it counts and Elsabeth Black (Canada) and Giulia Steingruber (Switzerland) did not do that.  Simone Biles put her hands on the beam saving a fall after her punch front and landed with two feet out of bounds on floor after a leap.  I wasn't worried because, it has been said that she could fall about 3 times and still win.  This time she won by just a little over a point, which is still a very big gap in gymnastics.  Her difficulty is insane.  The girl truly is unstoppable.  The rest of the World is just clamoring to catch up and they have less than a year to do it.  Full Results here.   

Event Finals 
Simone Biles qualified for three events, Gabby Douglas qualified for Bars and Maggie Nichols qualified for Floor.

There are so few who even qualify for vault because in order to do so you have to compete two vaults from two different families.  Simone Biles was the only US Gymnast to do this.  She placed third, while Russia got redemption with a Gold for Maria Paseka.  The silver went to Un Jong Hong from PRK.

USA Gymnastics: Oct. 31 - Event Finals Day 1 &emdash; The four uneven bars gold medalists

Bars was another wacky worlds event because there was a tie for gold.  Not a two way, not a three way, but a four way tie!  Fan Yilin (China), Viktoria Komova (Russia), Daria Spiridonova (Russia) and Madison Kocian (USA) all earned 15.366 in that order.  Gabby Douglas ended up with no medal in fifth with the second best score.  All four fit up top the podium.  There were four flag bearers, one for each medal, and three national anthems played one after the other in alphabetical order.  The FIG allows ties the USOC does not and I think that's a good thing because I hate tie breakers. It doesn't seem fair to withhold medals from athletes who technically earned it.

This event was shaky.  Half the qualifiers fell off, but Simone Biles came through again for the win and another Gold.  I was glad to see athletes from two countries who don't medal often win.  The silver went to a beautiful routine for Sanne Wevers of the Netherlands.  Her twin Lieke Wevers qualified to floor finals.  The bronze medal went Pauline Schaefer of Germany.

USA Gymnastics: Nov. 1 - Event Finals Day 2 &emdash; Maggie Nichols

This is getting redundant now, but in a really good way. Simone Biles won yet another gold and she is dominating gymnastic right now like no other.  She just hits and hits and hits.  That is what she does.  Russian Ksenia Afanaseva scooped up another gold for Russia.  I was most excited for Maggie Nichols who won Bronze.  She nailed every single event she competed on for Team USA and I am glad that she got to hit for herself and get an individual medal.  It was a great way for her to go out of her very first World Championships.  She needs to be on that team in Rio and I think that she has earned it more than anyone else.  Except Simone Biles.  Because Simone Biles.  You can't ever feel too bad about her beating you because she's just that hard to beat.After three World Championships she has amassed a total of fourteen World medals.  Ten out of fourteen are Gold.  All event final results here.

So that was Worlds.  I was fully immersed in gymnastics coverage for a week and I loved it.  Team Finals and All Around finals aired on NBC over the weekend, but I was so happy to be able to get see everything online.  USA Gymnastics posted playlists of all team USA events and entire meet coverage on You Tube so I got to watch everything!  The SSE Hydro Arena looks like a space ship.  All the gymnasts were introduced like rock stars to blaring music, strobe lights and fog with their image displayed on a huge screen while they stood on stage.  I could feel the energy just watching it online.

This competition set the state for Rio and I can't wait to see what happens next.  You are only as good as your last competition.  These athletes have less than a year of continuing to prove that they belong on the team.

Fierce Five Update 


Jessica said...

I remember my childhood dreams of being an Olympic gymnast. I still love watching and keeping up with the sport.

P.S. I hope you will join our Christmas card exchange. All you need to do is email me your mailing info.

Law_Fal said...

I can't wait for the Olympics! Gymnastics is so exciting!!