Now that we have nominative rosters for the world championships, it’s possible to play around with scoring permutations and team rankings with a little more confidence and realism than when we didn’t know which random local urchins were going to make up these teams.
So, to the hierarchy. As it currently stands, I have USA, China, France, Russia and Italy as a top 5 teams, with Canada, Great Britain, and Japan rounding out the team final, and Germany close but just missing out. That’s just a very rough sketch of this step pyramid as I see it in present day, and it will be refined as we get closer to worlds. Many previews in our future.
But for the moment, I simply establish that hierarchy to say that if you favor those 9 teams to advance to Tokyo—as I currently do—then we have three Olympic spots left for the remaining teams. And those are the teams I want to deal with today.
Using each team member’s best score recorded on each event in 2019, here’s how those remaining teams rank in the race for those final spots. (And of course, those teams that haven’t been officially named yet are subject to change.)
| 10. NETHERLANDS – 165.666
|Vera Van Pol||14.167||13.400||11.633||13.033|
|Things have looked a little tenuous for the Dutch at times this quad, but if Thorsdottir, Visser, and Wevers are all competing well, the Netherlands should be able to qualify a team to Tokyo with too much drama. Right now, I’d classify this team as the leader of the bubble group—and closer to a team like Germany than to the drop zone—but the situation not safe enough to be complacent or be able to afford multiple counting falls in qualification at worlds.
|11. BRAZIL – 164.448
|The injury to Andrade knocked Brazil down from that group of team-final favored teams right into the bubble zone, and we now have a team that’s going to have to count a Yfull and potentially going to have to count Flavia’s bars score. That opens up the possibility for a lower team total—as we see even in this projection assuming those…pretty high floor scores.
|12. BELGIUM – 162.931
|I’m a bit more concerned about Belgium’s prospects for Olympic qualification following the meet in Germany last weekend than I was before. There were some serious issues with hitting and wayyyy too many counting 12s. Now, I would still swap in either Senna Deriks or Fien Enghels for Julie Vandamme on this nominative team, which would help increase the score a little—and I’m still putting Belgium in my 12 at the moment. But, a performance like that repeated at worlds would not necessarily stay ahead of a hit meet from a team like Australia.|
|13. AUSTRALIA – 162.299
|Australia is still on the outside looking in (and I think a couple of the higher-end domestic scores included here are not too realistic), but Australia also has to be encouraged by looking at the totals for a team like Belgium and seeing itself not too, too far behind that. At least, I would put Australia in “on any given day, it could happen” territory.
|14. UKRAINE – 161.880
|I will admit to cooking the books a little bit here and not including scores recorded at meets within Ukraine. The reason: I want this to be at least a somewhat reliable picture of national quality, and…no Yana Fedorova is not going to score 14.500 on beam at worlds. Putting that score in here would just be comical. Even without those bonkers scores, Ukraine should consider itself in the hunt as long as Varinska and Bachynska deliver in qualification. I look at this Ukrainian team as being on par with these other “next-closest” countries.
|15. HUNGARY – 161.649
|I don’t have the individual event scores from Hungarian nationals, so those are not included here, but we’re nonetheless seeing a team that has enough spot routines to be a thorn in the side of the favorites At least, as long as they get three beam hits in there since that’s Hungary’s least-competitive number.
|16. SPAIN – 161.267
|The scores tell us that Spain should also be competitive with these outsider Olympic spot contenders—just a point back from Australia—though I have a little more skepticism about some of these scores and Spain’s likelihood of getting that close to Olympic qualification. Realistically, I’d put Spain in the next tier down.|
|17. SOUTH KOREA – 160.366
|Keep in mind that South Korea finished 14th at worlds last year, so this is not truly a team on the deserted outskirts of Olympic qualification—even though they compete at fewer meets as a group and therefore have a lower profile. I don’t think the four-event scores are really there (floor is going to be a problem for competitiveness), but KOR can put together another solid finish.
|ROMANIA – 159.897
|Ana Maria Puiu||13.600||12.300||13.233||12.900|
|Romania did place 13th at worlds last year, just one position out of the Olympic spots, but the outlook is not auspicious this year despite a largely intact team. Even these current scores, which I think are quite charitable in some places, put Romania down in 18th.
There’s also North Korea, which qualified a team to compete at worlds this year after finishing 16th last year. As always, we have basically nothing to go on about that team.
To me, we still have a collective of 12 clear teams—the same teams that finished in the top 12 at worlds last year, and the same teams that qualified to the 2016 Olympics—but there’s quite a bit of parity among the next-best countries, so if one of the favorites falls apart, it’s suddenly a wide-open race.