Pan-American & African Championships Preview

Pan-American Championships

Friday, May 26
11:30am ET/8:30am PT – MAG Subdivision 1
USA, Venezuela, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic
4:00pm ET/1:00pm PT – MAG Subdivision 2
Colombia, Mexico, Chile, Panama, Costa Rica
7:30pm ET/4:30pm PT – MAG Subdivision 3
Brazil, Canada, Argentina, Peru, Jamaica, Ecuador

Saturday, May 27
12:05pm ET/9:05am PT – WAG Subdivision 1
Brazil, El Salvador, Peru, Haiti, Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, Aruba
2:50pm ET/11:50am PT – WAG Subdivision 2
Mexico, Chile, Venezuela, Bolivia, Barbados, Uruguay
4:55pm ET/1:55pm PT – WAG Subdivision 3
USA, Canada, Colombia, Panama, Dominican Republic
7:00pm ET/4:00pm PT – WAG Subdivision 4
Argentina, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Ecuador, Costa Rica

Sunday, May 28
11:30am ET/8:30pm PT – MAG Team Final
5:05pm ET/2:05pm PT – WAG Team Final

YouTube Stream
Pan Am Sports Channel

What’s at stake

**2 team spots at worlds for women and men**

At 2022 worlds in Liverpool, the women’s teams from the US, Canada, and Brazil, along with the men’s teams from the US and Brazil, automatically qualified to the 2023 world championships and therefore do not need to qualify from this year’s Pan-American event, leaving just 2 available team spots in each division.

On the women’s side, Mexico will be eager to take one of those two available spots, sending a strong team led by Alexa Moreno, who has not competed internationally since the Olympics, and her rudi. This Mexican squad really should have enough of a buffer over the remaining teams to allow for some mistakes without jeopardizing qualification.

Last year, Argentina actually outscored Mexico on the qualification day— the competition that decides the worlds spots, rather than the team final—which bodes well for Argentina’s chances for team qualification here, though the Colombians probably own the next-best scoring potential of the bunch and will be eager to upset Argentina on home soil to make worlds. The teams from Panama and Chile also have some real talent that, if not quite deep enough to challenge for worlds, can get them into the team final, though a Sydney Barros-led Puerto Rico team and the eternal mystery that is Cuba might have something to say about that.

The US women’s team of Addison Fatta, Joscelyn Roberson, Nola Matthews, Tiana Sumanasekera, and Madray Johnson (Zoe Miller had to pull out with a training concussion) is expected to take the team title given their scoring advantage compared to the squads sent by Canada and Brazil. If those teams were at full strength, we might have a different conversation, but none of the pre-qualified countries are sending their biggest hitters. Brazil’s team will feature two members of last year’s worlds team in Julia Soares and Carolyne Pedro, while Sydney Turner will be the only member of Canada’s 2022 bronze team to make the trip to Pan Ams, joined by new national champion Aurelie Tran.

In terms of the race for the 2 men’s qualification places, the surging Canadian program took third behind the US and Brazil last time around and will expect a repeat with a squad led by Felix Dolci and William Emard. Colombia also qualified last year and, as hosts this time, will be eager not to break the streak, though Mexico will also be in the hunt, hoping to turn around a 2022 result that saw them finish 3.7 points behind Colombia and out of the world championships. Also, don’t look now, but Argentina did beat Colombia at the South American Games last fall and has several competitive all-arounders on the squad.

The US men’s team will be absent Asher Hong, Fred Richard, and the injured Brody Malone but will lean on the veteran duo of Yul Moldauer and Shane Wiskus as well as the pbars of Curran Phillips in the quest for another title.

**11 all-around spots at worlds for women/6 all-around spots for men**

In the race for the women’s all-around spots, the spotlight will be on a series of gymnasts newly representing their countries with Sydney Barros competing for Puerto Rico, Lynnzee Brown competing for Haiti, and Anya Pilgrim competing for Barbados, all of whom should have the routines necessary to reach the qualifying standard, but we shall see. Pilgrim hasn’t competed elite since 2021, and Brown is new to elite composition. It took a 44.800 AA to make worlds out of Pan Ams last year, though this influx of athletes is expected to push the mark higher in 2023.

In terms of others to keep an eye on, Panama has a very successful duo in Karla Navas and Hillary Heron, with Navas placing as the top gymnast from…not Brazil/Argentina…at last year’s South American Games, while Heron recently had a strong performance at the Cairo World Cup that earned her a vault bronze and a spot in the floor final. Ana Karina Mendez of Peru also ranks as one of the top-scoring contenders after her 4th-place AA finish at 2022’s South American Championships.

Colombia, meanwhile, will expect to qualify two AAers if not a whole team, with veteran Ginna Escobar typically the top scorer. Chile could also have an interesting intra-team thing going on with Makarena Pinto, Franchesca Santi, and Antonia Marihuan all very close to each other in scoring potential.

Tyesha Mattis, who was the #1 qualifier last year but unable to compete at worlds, returns this year for Jamaica, while other favorites Annalise Newman-Achee for Trinidad & Tobago and Olivia Kelly for Barbados are back to try to qualify again in what should be a dramatic race for those last few spots.

For the men, all six of last year’s individual qualifiers return in Santiago Mayol (ARG), Edward Gonzales (PER), Jose Lopez (PUR), Isaac Nuñez (MEX), Leandro Peña (DOM), and Joel Alvarez (CHI), but it’s always going to be crazy-close. Whoever doesn’t just completely go to pieces on horse. Argentina’s Julian Jato had a great result at those South American Games last fall, coming in just a tenth behind Jossimar Calvo (who is not here for Colombia) for bronze.

African Championships

Women’s Competition – Friday May 26, 5:15pm local, 11:15am ET
Men’s Competition Sub 1 – Saturday, May 27, 1pm local, 7am ET
Men’s Competition Sub 2 – Saturday May 27, 4:30pm local, 10:30am ET

What’s at stake

**1 team spot at worlds for women & men**

For the women, this spot comes down to a battle between Egypt and South Africa, though Algeria is also sending a full team with the added benefit of Kaylia Nemour—now fully licensed and registered for Algeria—so should be able to get much closer this time around.

In 2022 in Cairo, it was Egypt that came out on top by 3.5 points thanks to a massive advantage in the beam-hitting department. This time, South Africa hosts and will hope to turn the tables with a full-strength team, featuring Caitlin Rooskrantz and Naveen Daries, that has developed a recent scoring advantage over the Egyptian roster. This year’s Egypt team is missing defending beam champion and bars medalist Zeina Ibrahim as well as defending beam and floor silver medalist Jana Aboelhasan, but will be led by Jana Mahmoud and Jana Abdelsalam and features the now highly anticipated Egyptian debut of Georgia/Ball State’s Sandra Elsadek, whom Egypt will hope functions as a game changer.

In the men’s team competition, Egypt won last year by a massive 13-point margin and enters again as major favorites for the team spot against next-closest competitor Algeria.

4 all-around spots at worlds for women/2 all-around spots for men

The most likely scenario for the 4 women’s all-around spots is that we’ll see 2 each go to whichever two countries among South Africa, Egypt, and Algeria don’t get the team spot. With the benefit of her potentially gigantic scores on bars and beam, Kaylia Nemour will be the frontrunner for one of these spots. Last year’s qualifiers for Algeria, Fatma Boukhatem and Lahna Salem, both return to this year’s Algerian team looking for a spot as well.

Should Egypt not qualify as a team, their top all-around qualifier nominees would be Mahmoud and Abdelsalam, but we’ll see what Elsadek brings in terms of elite composition. Her NCAA beam and floor actually translate pretty well in terms of composition requirements already and can become D scores in the solid 4s without too much adjustment.

If South Africa doesn’t qualify as a team, Rooskrantz and Daries would again be the odds-on picks to make worlds as all-arounders.

Last year, the scant two AA spots available for men went to Hillal Metidji of Algeria and Abderrazak Nasser of Morocco, both of whom are in the competition again this year, but these spots are much less pre-defined than those on the women’s side. In 2022, South Africa’s Ruan Lange missed by less then a point, and this year he’ll be joined on SA’s team by Aidan Maguire, the team’s best finisher in 2021, who missed last year’s event.