The weekend brought a number of developments in the realm of worlds teams, some of them even surprising. Here’s what you need to know:
China has named its women’s team for worlds as Liu Tingting, Li Shijia, Qi Qi, Tang Xijing, and Chen Yile, with Zhang Jin as the traveling alternate.
The big news there is the presence of Chen Yile. As recently as the first worlds team trial, Chen seemed to be well down the pyramid of likely options for worlds, but she finished 3rd AA at the final trial and seems to be gearing up just in the nick of time.
The AA at the final trial was won by Tang Xijing, solidifying her position in the group and likely acting as the nail in the coffin for Zhang Jin’s chances. Earlier in the process, I had thought of Zhang as having a very solid argument for worlds, but the usefulness of the emerging DTYs from LSJ and TXJ make the DTT from Zhang Jin semi-obsolete, especially if she’s not bringing a consistently big floor number. Zhang finished 7th AA at the final trial, which did not help her chances, though she did still get the traveling alternate spot over Luo Huan, who finished 6th. It’s a shame for Luo Huan, but it looks like Chen swooped in to fill what would otherwise have been the Luo Huan role. Similar strengths there.
So in all, this group has the events pretty evenly covered and right now is my favorite to win team silver. They have 3 DTYs from Li SJ, Qi Qi, and Tang XJ—and they are totally stacked on beam (which 3 of the beamers end up going in the team final will be a tough decision). I’m not sold on floor, but the team’s prospects on the leg events are at least much more encouraging than they were at this time last year.
China also named its drama-free men’s team of Xiao Ruoteng, Lin Chaopan, Deng Shudi, Sun Wei, and Zou Jingyuan—the exact same team as last year.
The news out of France: Coline Devillard has withdrawn from the worlds team with injury. Devillard was on this team to do vault, and there’s not a logical vault replacement to join DJDS and Friess in that lineup (either Charpy or Boyer will have to pop in as a third counting score with a Yfull, and there’s no backup gymnast who would do any better).
I assume Devillard’s replacement will then be Claire Pontlevoy, who has a ton of potential with a huge bars score to elevate that lineup instead (and who also scored well on floor in Germany the other weekend), but it’s a definite blow to France’s upset-medal chances.
The Netherlands has named its six for worlds (with the alternate to be decided at a later date) as Eythora Thorsdottir, Naomi Visser, Lieke Wevers, Sanne Wevers, Tisha Volleman, and Vera van Pol.
The other one in the mix was Sanna Veerman, who struggled at the first trial but pulled it back together at the second trial over the weekend with a hit Y1.5 and a big bars score. I thought that performance might save her, but it did not. Instead, Sanne Wevers came back with a Sanne-ish enough performance on beam to get herself into the six.
Importantly, we also saw vault upgrades with Thorsdottir bringing back her DTY and Visser hitting a 1.5. If the team feels comfortable with those two vaults and Volleman’s DTY, that probably relegates van Pol to an alternate position since she would be on a team nearly exclusively to do her 1.5, but we shall see. The argument van Pol has going for her is that her 1.5 is exceptionally reliable.
Brazil has confirmed its worlds team as Flavia Saraiva, Jade Barbosa, Thais Fidelis, Lorrane Oliveira, and Leticia Costa. In addition to the obvious four, the veteran Leticia Costa has been added to the team in place of Carolyne Pedro, who was in the nominative group.
There’s not a ton that any of the other options for Brazil were going to add to the obvious four, but Costa’s best piece is typically vault, which tells me that Brazil may not be sold on the vaults they’re getting from Barbosa and Fidelis and wanted another option.
We haven’t heard news on Australia’s final team yet, but there were developments at the first day of Australian Classic today. Emily Whitehead, who appears on Australia’s nominative team, did not compete at all. Meanwhile, Kate McDonald, who was the alternate on the nominative team, finished 3rd AA with top-3 scores on bars, beam, and floor.
Meanwhile, the top beam score belonged to Breanna Scott, who was not on the nominative team at all, and currently sits 4th overall. Day 2 is coming up Wednesday.