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Commonwealth Games Women’s Preview

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Gymnastics is finally ramping itself up again this weekend with both the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham and the US Classic (preview for that one coming later) starting Friday. For now, the Commonwealth Games.

Team

In the women’s team competition, England should be considered the favorites, but the Australian scores this year have been ever so slightly higher than those of the English gymnasts (with all necessary caveats about the varying standards of domestic scoring both assumed and significant), so it would not be a massive surprise if Australia were to defeat England for the team title. It would, however, be massively significant for an Australian squad that used to be an easy team final pick but has been in the team-score wilderness for a serious 7 years now.

Of note in that regard, Australia is alone among the major players in sending its best possible five to this competition. Australia’s team of Georgia Godwin, Emily Whitehead, Kate McDonald, Romi Brown, and Breanna Scott definitely produces the highest team total they could put together—and should be the favored five for Australia’s worlds team at this point. Meanwhile, England will be without both of the Gadirovas, who have elected to focus on later competitions like the European Championships. Instead, it’s Kelly Simm and Claudia Fragapane who join the Euros trio of Alice Kinsella, Ondine Achampong, and Georgia-Mae Fenton on England’s team. We haven’t seen any of Fragapane this year, but the addition of a big floor score could be a difference maker for the English team.

For its part, Canada will be without Ellie Black, Shallon Olsen, and the entire all-around podium from nationals (Rose Woo, Denelle Pedrick, and Ava Stewart). Olsen, Woo, Pedrick, and Stewart were all on the Pan Ams team which—likely because of its status as a world championships qualifier—was favored by Canada in terms of a first-choice team selection. Rather for the Commonwealth Games, Canada is sending a team of Emma Spence, Jenna Lalonde, Cassie Lee, Laurie Denommée, and Maya Zonneveld that will not be favored for a Canadian gold medal repeat but should still be a safe bet for the medal stand. 

We definitely have a big 3 in this event who are favored for team medals, but if any country is going to break them up, Wales looks the most ready. The Welsh team is led by Poppy Stickler, who took bronze on floor at the British this year behind only the Gadirovas, and the whole squad should be pretty competitive with the medal countries on vault and floor while putting a bunch of athletes into event finals. On scores this year, Wales is about 4 points back of this Canadian side, which is a clear margin but not an insane one. 

After initially announcing that only top AAer Shannon Archer would be representing Scotland in women’s artistic (compared to a full men’s team [hrmhrmhrm]), Scottish Gymnastics was thankfully granted additional spots and will now send 4 women to CWG. That’s enough athletes to get a team score but not the full 5 members that other countries will send, which puts the Scottish team in a hole not of their own making before the competition even begins.  

Scotland and South Africa (which is sending the identical quintet from the African Championship when South Africa got 10s-on-beam-ed out of worlds) will look to battle for the next couple ranking spots, while the remaining three teams of Singapore, India (with 3 athletes), and Sri Lanka (with 4 athletes) will be able to record a team score but are unlikely to figure in the top places. 

All-Around

In the all-around final, 2018 silver medalist Georgia Godwin and 2018 bronze medalist Alice Kinsella should both like their chances at victory this time around with defending champion Ellie Black not in attendance. Scores from this year tell us that it should be either 2 ENG and 1 AUS on the podium or 2 AUS and 1 ENG. We shall see.

Really, the race to see which two athletes advance to the all-around final from the top countries should be at least half the fun. If not 61% of the fun. Kinsella, Fenton, and Achampong all seem exactly as realistic as each other for England—as long as they do the all-around on the qualification day. If it were me, I’d have all 3 in the AA and then Simm and Fragapane on select events.

Meanwhile, Canada is a total free-for-all that could go any which way, though I would rank Spence as the top AAer in the group and most likely non-English, non-Australian gymnast to spoil the medal stand here. For Australia, the Olympians Godwin and Whitehead will be the default picks to make the AA final and challenge for medals, but a single fall could upend the whole arrangement. 

Outside of the top 3 teams, keep an eye on Scotland’s Shannon Archer, who has the tools to match the others on most events, as well as Poppy Stickler and recently crowned African all-around champion Caitlin Rooskrantz. All should comfortably advance to the all-around final and will at least aim for scores into the 50s. Expect all 3 of Scotland, Wales, and South Africa to put a second gymnast in the final as well, with Naveen Daries the most likely for South Africa, Cara Kennedy the most likely for Scotland, and Jea Maracha the most likely for Wales, but those margins are slim. Basically anyone on the Welsh and Scottish teams could get the second AA final spot for their country if they stay on in qualification.

Speaking of those with the scores this year to put in a good all-around showing, Tara Donnelly will be there representing the Isle of Man and has a good chance to improve upon the 15th-place finish from Nicole Burns in 2018. Incidentally, I was a bit disappointed that Isle of Man didn’t put forward a full squad here because with Donnelly, her sister Chloe, and Lucy Worthington, Reine Temporaza, and Madison Nicol, they have the gymnasts to put together a team score. 

Also keep an eye on Milka Gehani, who is Sri Lanka’s best-ever gymnast by about a million miles, and Malaysia’s Rachel Yeoh Li Wen and Singapore’s team leader Nadine Joy Nathan who just finished 3rd and 4th respectively at the Southeast Asian Games a couple months ago. Yeoh Li Wen went on to win both the bars and beam titles at those SEA Games and is definitely among those gymnasts who could get a 50 with a good hit.  

Events

On vault, the advantage goes to any living human with two vaults. Expect a bunch of athletes to throw out a second vault with a D score in the 3s to see if they can make finals, and several will.

Make note of Pranati Nayak of India here, who just took a bronze medal at the Asian Championship on vault and could bust out the highest cumulative D score of any of the vaulters, which would put her in a good position. Shannon Archer should also like her chances with her DTY first vault, and while Georgia Godwin and Emily Whitehead don’t always show second vaults, they have before when the opportunity presented itself and both made the vault final at CWG in 2018. For Canada, Emma Spence took second to Shallon Olsen on vault at nationals this year, and Laurie Denommée regularly puts out a second vault.

Uneven bars presents a real opportunity for Georgia-Mae Fenton to defend her title from 2018, but she’ll face some challenges. Teammate Kelly Simm excels on bars and will look to make her individual mark there (though it was beam where she won a medal at the last Commonwealth Games), and Romi Brown is Australia’s national bars champion and will look to take a medal, though she’ll have to make sure she gets past McDonald and/or Godwin in qualification first. Bars is also the best event for Caitlin Rooskrantz, and her routine probably ranks the best medal hope for South Africa.

Beam is beam and therefore largely an “any of them” prospect, but we do have Alice Kinsella in the field, who has been European champion on the event and won last time around in 2018. This is also the most likely apparatus for Ondine Achampong to have individual medal success as long as she gets into the final. Meanwhile, Jenna Lalonde’s national silver medal for Canada on beam may represent a slight advantage for her in getting into the final, as perhaps does Georgia Godwin’s Australian beam gold, though you wouldn’t really be surprised to see McDonald, Whitehead, or Scott get into the final for Australia instead. Any given day. Otherwise, Welsh gymnasts like Stickler, Mali Morgan, and Jea Maracha will look to get in for some individual Welsh representation, and this should be the best individual event for IOM’s Tara Donnelly. 

On floor, we know what Fragapane is capable of delivering when she’s in form, but qualification will be the test as to whether that’s realistic at this point. Alice Kinsella will also like her chances here, and again Godwin and Whitehead present Australia’s most likely floor finalists and medal contenders. Cassie Lee is probably the best floor worker for Canada and seems a reasonable bet for a medal, and Poppy Stickler’s routine probably represents Wales’ best shot for a medal in this year’s competition.

Schedule

Friday, July 29
Session 1
1:00am US Pacific
4:00am US Eastern
9:00am Local
6:00pm Australian Eastern
MAG Qualification/Team Final Subdivision 1
RSA, PAK, JER, CAY, BAN, SRI

MAG Qualification/Team Final Subdivision 2
WAL, NIR, JAM, IND, MAS, SIN
Session 2
9:00am US Pacific
12:00pm US Eastern
5:00pm Local
2:00am Australian Eastern
MAG Qualification/Team Final Subdivision 3
ENG, AUS, CAN, SCO, CYP, NZL
Saturday, July 30
Session 1
1:00am US Pacific
4:00am US Eastern
9:00am Local
6:00pm Australian Eastern
WAG Qualification/Team Final Subdivision 1
JAM, SIN, CYP, BAR

WAG Qualification/Team Final Subdivision 2
RSA, TTO, IOM
Session 2
8:30am US Pacific
11:30am US Eastern
4:30pm Local
1:30am Australian Eastern
WAG Qualification/Team Final Subdivision 3
SCO, MAS, IND, SRI

WAG Qualification/Team Final Subdivision 4
ENG, AUS, CAN, WAL
Sunday, July 31
Session 1
1:00am US Pacific
4:00am US Eastern
9:00am Local
6:00pm Australian Eastern
Men’s All-Around Final
Session 2
6:30am US Pacific
9:30am US Eastern
2:30pm Local
11:30pm Australian Eastern
Women’s All-Around Final
Monday, August 1
Session 1
5:00am US Pacific
8:00am US Eastern
1:00pm Local
10:00pm Australian Eastern
Event Finals Day 1
Tuesday, August 2
Session 1
5:00am US Pacific
8:00am US Eastern
1:00pm Local
10:00pm Australian Eastern
Event Finals Day 2
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