The Race to Tokyo – Women’s Team Qualification

This October in Stuttgart, the final 9 teams qualifying to the Olympics will be decided. But who will it be?

Using the principles of the National Team Rankings (I know, I know, I got behind and couldn’t catch up…), I ranked the contending nations based on how each country’s best-scoring group of five senior gymnasts would do in a three-scores-count format using each gymnast’s top score on each event recorded at a major international meet this year.

I do have a methodology departure from the previous National Team Rankings in that I’m using only major international meets** and excluding scores from smaller and domestic meets in order to provide a slightly more realistic impression that isn’t skewed by “I got a 14.500 on beam even though I’m getting at best a 12.700 at worlds!” national championship scores. I’m looking at you, Ukraine.

This method does cause equivalent problems of its own—Canada’s score is a little low because Moors and Olsen have competed only domestically so far in 2019, Brazil’s supply of countable routines is misleadingly paltry, etc—but there’s no perfect system.

Because this ranking is specifically about the race for the remaining 9 spots at the Olympics, I have not included the US, Russia, and China since they are already qualified. I’m also not including injured gymnasts that we know will miss worlds (like Rebeca Andrade) or gymnasts who have been deemed ineligible like Mai Murakami, in an effort to provide the most realistic picture of the race as it could play out at worlds. That means I’m saying Japan’s group of five must include the four gymnasts already named—since we know they’re going to worlds—and the fifth gymnast is selected only from those eligible through the inane selection procedures.

**I’m defining major international meets as FIG world cup events, continental championships, and larger-scale multi-nation competitions: Jesolo, Gymnix, the DTB Team Challenge, and the FIT Challenge.

1. FRANCE – 166.531
Melanie DJDS 14.433 14.033 13.733 13.833
Lorette Charpy 13.600 14.100 13.666 12.566
Marine Boyer 0.000 11.966 14.100 13.300
Coline Devillard 15.000 0.000 12.300 12.833
Carolann Heduit 13.366 13.900 11.666 12.700

166.531

43.033 42.033 41.499 39.966
If you’re using domestic scores, you’d put Juliette Bossu in there for her bars score instead of Carolann Heduit, but either way France is looking very strong right now as long as the major players stay/get healthy. This is a comfortably Olympic-level group of routines.
2. ITALY – 165.514
Alice D’Amato 14.633 14.400 12.466 12.700
Asia D’Amato 14.633 14.033 11.967 12.900
Elisa Iorio 13.633 14.300 13.350 12.633
Giorgia Villa 14.300 13.533 13.766 12.666
Lara Mori 0.000 0.000 12.633 13.866
165.514 43.566 42.733 39.749 39.466
This year, expect an Italian team packed with those new seniors to deliver the kind of scores on bars Italy hasn’t enjoyed in quite some time. I’m still a little worried about this group’s scores and consistency on beam and floor (be honest, you wouldn’t be that surprised to see one of the old standbys swoop to do those two events at worlds, would you?), but Italy is on track for its best team result in a while, and at just the right time.
3. CANADA – 165.496
Ellie Black 14.500 14.266 13.800 13.266
Ana Padurariu 13.533 14.666 14.333 13.600
Rose Woo 13.733 12.366 11.366 12.400
Victoria Woo 13.666 13.433 12.600 12.833
Laurie Denommee 13.566 12.866 13.133 13.100
165.496 41.899 42.365 41.266 39.966
Once Moors and Olsen compete at Pan Ams, we’ll have a better sense of how they influence the team score because they’d certainly be included in the best five (plugging in their scores from nationals, Canada would zoom to the top, but scores from Canadian Nationals, especially on floor, are notoriously 5-ish tenths higher than reality). Either way, Canada is in an exceptionally solid position for Olympic team qualification. Shouldn’t be a problem at all.
4. GREAT BRITAIN – 164.664
Alice Kinsella 14.200 13.800 13.566 13.100
Ellie Downie 14.500 14.066 13.333 13.466
Amelie Morgan 14.100 13.900 13.033 12.666
Claudia Fragapane 0.000 0.000 0.000 13.600
Phoebe Jakubczyk 13.558 11.733 11.700 12.833
164.664 42.800 41.766 39.932 40.166
Great Britain hasn’t done a ton of non-domestic competing so far this year, but when they have, it’s been successful (like the European Championship), so this ends up being pretty close to a first choice team, just probably with a Fenton or a Simm or a Becky in there. Or more than one.
5. NETHERLANDS – 163.847
Sanna Veerman 14.100 14.133 12.166 11.833
Eythora Thorsdottir 13.600 13.866 13.550 13.666
Tisha Volleman 14.000 13.000 12.366 13.333
Naomi Visser 13.800 14.100 13.433 13.200
Sara van Disseldorp 13.366 12.200 12.666 12.733
163.847 41.900 42.099 39.649 40.199
Netherlands has put up some reassuring performances recently, and if van Gerner gets back and Lieke continues this trajectory in her return as well, this can be a very formidable group.
6. BELGIUM – 162.963
Maellyse Brassart 13.600 13.300 13.166 13.100
Jade Vansteenkiste 13.733 12.866 11.333 13.233
Fien Enghels 0.000 14.200 13.033 12.866
Nina Derwael 13.566 15.233 13.633 13.066
Dorien Motten 13.666 0.000 0.000 11.866
162.963 40.999 42.733 39.832 39.399
We have seen a change this year for Belgium, an introduction of depth. For the last quad+, Belgium has fielded a competitive team, but an exact specific five had to be healthy (and as Mys and Waem left, Kinkcaert and Brassart took their places in that five). If people like Hermans and Klinckaert were out (as we’ve seen recently), Belgium just wouldn’t have a team score. Now, new seniors like Enghels and Vansteenkiste have come in to give Belgium a little more buffer for someone critical being out.
7. GERMANY – 162.514
Kim Bui 13.800 14.400 12.766 13.233
Elisabeth Seitz 14.500 14.233 12.466 13.200
Pauline Schäfer 13.450 13.266 13.666 0.000
Isabelle Stingl 13.600 11.333 12.566 13.050
Leah Grießer 13.133 13.150 12.800 12.800
162.514 41.900 41.899 39.232 39.483
Germany really should be one of the 9 qualifying teams at worlds this year and is too talented not to make the Olympics as a full squad—Seitz, Schäfer, Bui, Scheder, Voss is still such a formidable-seeming group—but what we’re seeing right now is a German team that’s exceptionally reliant on a select group of veterans all being healthy at the same time. You worry whether that next generation of backup routines/future stars is coming along or not.
8.  AUSTRALIA – 160.633
Georgia-Rose Brown 13.700 13.633 12.266 12.400
Emily Whitehead 13.633 13.233 12.833 12.500
Emma Nedov 13.333 13.333 14.100 13.033
Elena Chipizubov 12.866 12.166 13.200 12.766
Georgia Godwin 13.733 13.500 13.266 12.766
160.663 41.066 40.466 40.566 38.565
This spring, we’ve seen an Australia squad that’s attempting to make a push out of the borderline territory and into the qualifying group of 9. This 8th-place position is therefore encouraging, the lingering issue being that Japan and Brazil are both lurking below Australia here…for reasons that we’ll get to. 
9. JAPAN – 160.464
Asuka Teramoto* 14.600 13.266 13.333 13.600
Hitomi Hatakeda* 13.933 13.566 12.900 12.300
Aiko Sugihara* 14.100 12.866 13.000 12.000
Nagi Kajita* 13.033 11.766 11.366 12.833
Ayaka Sakaguchi 14.100 0.000 0.000 0.000
160.464 42.800 39.698 39.233 38.733
The * indicates athletes who have been named to the worlds team already and therefore must be included here. This is, of course, not the highest-scoring possible team Japan could come up with, but if they stick to these selection procedures, it could be the team that happens. Of the remaining eligible athletes, Ayaka Sakaguchi or Kiko Kuwajima seem to make the most sense for that last spot because they can deliver a DTY and a beam and floor routine, though they’ve only rarely competed outside of domestic competitions. Still expect Japan to be a couple points better than this, but it is perhaps worth being a little concerned if they send a team like this.
10. UKRAINE – 160.463
Valeria Osipova 13.933 12.400 12.266 12.400
Anastasia Bachynska 14.000 13.566 13.533 12.700
Diana Varinska 13.500 13.966 12.866 12.966
Angelina Radivilova 13.900 12.367 13.333 13.033
Yana Fedorova 13.555 12.667 10.600 11.100
160.463 41.833 40.199 39.732 38.699
Ukraine should be considered a major outsider for an Olympic spot, but the team is quite a bit better than last year’s 20th-place showing would indicate (they didn’t have a particularly great competition and didn’t yet have Bachynska). If Varinska and Bachynska both have legit meets at the same time, the score can be competitive.
11. BRAZIL – 159.445
Flavia Saraiva 14.600 13.266 13.033 13.666
Thais Fidelis 13.566 12.300 12.933 13.266
Carolyne Pedro 13.733 12.566 12.233 12.933
Jade Barbosa 0.000 13.650 0.000 0.000
X 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000
159.445 41.899 39.482 38.166 39.865
Things are not quite as dire as all this, even without Andrade. Brazil went all-in on a very specific group of gymnasts in international meets early in the year, so there’s not a lot of backup scores to use right now. If you were to give the team the scores from Lorrane Oliveira and Jade Barbosa from nationals (high but still), they’re in the mid 162s, which is probably more reflective of where this team is without Andrade. In the 9, but not safely so.
12. HUNGARY – 159.281
Sara Peter 14.533 0.000 9.450 12.533
Nora Feher 12.966 13.550 12.800 12.466
Dorina Böczögo 13.750 12.650 0.000 13.000
Csenge Bacskay 14.100 0.000 12.266 11.733
Zsofia Kovacs 13.933 14.000 13.450 11.333
159.281 42.566 40.200 38.516 37.999
We’ve seen from Hungary’s team results in Europe this quad that the potential for contention is there. This is not yet a top-12 country, but Hungary has a good crop of new seniors this year and should be at least somewhere in the vicinity of the qualification spots at worlds.
13. ROMANIA – 158.730
Iulia Berar 13.266 12.533 12.950 0.000
Carmen Ghiciuc 13.466 11.933 13.100 10.933
Denisa Golgota 14.500 12.966 13.500 13.866
Ana Maria Puiu 13.600 12.100 13.233 12.900
Maria Holbura 13.233 11.300 12.533 12.966
158.730 41.566 37.599 39.833 39.732
Romania will not arrive at worlds with the expectation of Olympic qualification, but the way things have been going, the fact that it’s not completely out of the question feels like a win.
14. SPAIN – 158.446
Alba Petsico 13.600 12.566 12.033 12.766
Laura Bechdeju 13.400 13.100 12.033 13.250
Ana Perez 13.666 13.733 12.733 13.500
Nora Fernandez 13.766 13.266 11.500 11.600
Cintia Rodriguez 13.333 12.333 13.033 12.733
161.682 41.032 40.099 37.799 39.516
There’s some hearty talent in this generation of Spanish gymnasts, and a few newbies who are showing competitive scores on select pieces. There’s probably not enough depth to get up into the fancy places, but the scores haven’t been too, too far away so far this year.

Right now, I would say the next tier is countries like South Korea, Switzerland, and Mexico, but they’re currently a step lower, closer to a 154 kind of team total based on the scores so far in 2019

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16 thoughts on “The Race to Tokyo – Women’s Team Qualification”

  1. If Romania can get a 2017 Iordache (a big ask, but hey, we haven’t seen her yet!), they’ll jump ahead of Ukraine, in my opinion. With Iordache and Golgota leading the show for Romania, with some support from talented newbies, like Ana Maria Puiu, who just got a 51+ in an international competition!!, they certainly have a chance. Of course, Iordache may only bring UB and BB to Stuttgart, and even that would be a boost to their potential.

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    1. I would honestly just rather have Iordache stick to bars and beam than try to do vault or floor and reinjure herself. Bars is (obviously) where Romania needs the most help anyway.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I really hope I’m wrong and you all are right, but I would be so surprised to see Iordache in competition at any level this year (or ever again, really) – it’s summer and we haven’t seen anything close to elite gymnastics from her since her injury.

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      1. Ugh. I haven’t been following Iordache so I’ve kind of been going on wishful thinking that she could get a bar and maybe beam routine together for worlds. I’m not asking for AA…just a couple routines.

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  2. Wow, didn’t realize Japan and Brazil would be this low without Mai and Rebeca. Sure, lack of international meets, but still, worrying. The countries above them can only improve, too. If Japan doesn’t qualify a team for its home olympics when it has TF medal talent potential solely because of its selection procedure…

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    1. Honestly it would serve Japan right to not qualify a WAG team to their own Olympics, maybe then they would change their ridiculous procedures for selecting World and Olympic teams…

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      1. That’s how I feel too. It’s really sad that it would happen to them at a home Olympics but that they would even chance it is their own damn fault.

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  3. GB can definitely improve on that score. We’ll see how GMF and Downie senior do at European Games, and Downie junior is still not at full-strength yet, either.

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    1. I think the only top team that really has the peak scoring team in here is Italy. However, I think from an overall perspective, this is still a useful tool. France, Italy, Canada, and GB all look in excellent shape to qualify at this point. Netherlands looks pretty solid too. After that is where I think the fight is.

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    1. This juxtaposition is amusing because in Australia (and New Zealand), rooting is a synonym for screwing.

      There is a funny story about how at the 2000 Olympics, the Canadian team was sponsored by the store Roots, who made all their gear. The Australians thought it was hilarious when they saw the Canadians walking into the Opening Ceremony all wearing hats that said “Roots” on it.

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