With the completion of the team and all-around events at the woefully unbroadcast Asian Championships—a competition that may have happened or may have just been a fevered vision of 1974 bleeding into this reality (we’ll never know)—we can now add a bunch of countries and people to the world championships qualification charts.
|Aida Bauyrzhanova (KAZ)|
Rifda Irfanaluthfi (INA)
Milka Gehani (SRI)
Dildora Aripova (UZB)
Nadine Joy Nathan (SGP)
Ominakhon Khalilova (UZB)
Korkem Yerbossynkyzy (KAZ)
Sasiwimon Mueangphuan (THA)
|Oceania||Australia||Keira Rolston-Larking (NZL)|
Reece Cobb (NZL)
Ultimately, China romped to the team title with little drama. The squad elected to ignore my advice and go with Luo Rui in the alternate spot as an act of aggression against me personally, though it ultimately made no difference in the final results with China taking gold by 10 points over South Korea in second.
This South Korea team outpacing the new-look Japanese squad for silver proved the one surprise of the women’s team competition—and may provoke some real concern for Japan this year. Korea’s big three of Lee Yunseo (who took AA bronze behind Zhang and Tang), Yeo Seojeong, and Shin Solyi all came through well and proved comfortably stronger than Japan’s three automatic qualifiers to the worlds team: Miyata Shoko, Yamada Chiharu, and Kasahara Arisa. That provokes the question, would we expect worlds to be any different, presumably with most of the same athletes? And does this mean South Korea is moving out of its typical place in the teens to become a team final contender, or is Japan falling down the ladder? Or both?
For Japan, this was not necessarily the best possible team, and eyes will be on this weekend’s event championships to see who might best be able to supplement this automatically qualified group—like for instance, perhaps, picking a name at random, world beam champion Ashikawa Urara. Also keep in mind Sakaguchi Ayaka’s vault scores, which I’d be keenly interested in given the vault downgrades and floor misses we saw from the Japanese team here. That’s not exactly a new development when Japanese gymnasts leave domestic competitions and have to go compete on boulders from other equipment brands, but also worlds this year is on Gymnova and the 2017 flashbacks are still raw, so…
As expected, Taiwan took the final available team spot, only about six points behind Japan, which should be gratifying for a team that finished 21 points behind Japan at 2018 worlds. Taiwan ended up eight points clear of Kazakhstan, so there was no real drama over team qualification in the end.
For the all-around spots at worlds, we saw a mix of the expected and the surprising. Bauyrzhanova (KAZ) and Aripova (UZB) have shown through their apparatus world cup scores that they had this in them, and Irfanaluthfi (INA) and Nathan (SGP) proved with their performances at the SEA Games that should be able to qualify here, especially with countries like Vietnam and the Philippines not sending any WAG athletes. Milka Gehani of Sri Lanka followed her Olympic appearance with a strong number here that improved on her results from both the Olympics and 2019 worlds, while it was Mueangphuan of Thailand who surprised for the final spot with bigger vault and floor scores that put her just one tenth ahead of Hariadi of Indonesia, who just missed out. (Mueangphuan also tied with Jumabekova of Uzbekistan, but Jumabekova would have been 2-per-country-ed out anyway.)
Also missing out on an all-around spot was Hiu Ying Angel Wong of Hong Kong, but she should get to worlds to do beam through her world cup results once all the dust settles. Illinois gymnast Ruthuja Nataraj was the top all-around performer for India, but also just missed out on a worlds spot.
Up next is the African Championship in early July, where South Africa and Egypt look to go head-to-head for the one team spot and a couple of those all-around spots should be up for grabs.
|Carlos Yulo (PHI)|
Mahdi Ahmad Kohani (IRI)
Abdulla Azimov (UZB)
Khabibullo Ergashev (UZB)
Yogeshewar Singh (IND)
Gaurav Kumar (IND)
|Oceania||Australia||Mikhail Koudinov (NZL)|
William Fu-Allen (NZL)
The men had five team spots available from Asia compared to the women’s four, and the favorites all came through to get the spots they were expected to get. China again won the team title comfortably over a less-proven Japanese side, which just barely poked ahead of Taiwan and Korea for 2nd place. Kazakhstan finished farther back in 5th but still comfortably in the worlds spots ahead of Uzbekistan thanks largely to Milad Karimi Power.
While more team spots were available for the men, fewer all-around spots were, with just six available. (There are fewer all-around spots overall for the men because they have more apparatus spots through the apparatus world cups, because of more events.) Carlos Yulo’s all-around silver medal, finishing less than a tenth behind China’s Shi Cong, of course earned him a spot at worlds, and India did get some all-around representation in the men’s competition with two qualifiers.
Hong Kong did not pursue an all-around spot here but with have Shek Wai Hung at worlds to do vault, and while Vietnam will have to bear not knowing this was the worlds qualifier [facepalm], Nguyen Van Khanh Phong should end up getting to worlds for rings.