Category Archives: Meet Preview

2022 US Nationals Preview

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The national championship is upon us, which means the summer elite season is officially live and in color—for realsies this time after the false start that was the Withdrawal Classic. Now, the gymnastics world gathers in Tampa for the annual right of passage where we learn which coaches are working out their emotional issues through the medium of leotard design and which gym moms are pouring into the hotel bar to speak some hard truths.

Also maybe a national champion will be crowned (or something, I don’t know) as the race to make the US worlds team enters its serious phase.

So let’s work through some of the major storylines and people to watch.

Item 1: Olympian comebacks

The most exciting development in the senior field is the presence of Jade Carey and Jordan Chiles, both of whom competed NCAA this season but have not performed elite routines since the Olympics, which was a year ago. Which is basically 8 years ago. Which is forever. But now they’re back.

If both are able to translate their 2021 level to this summer’s competitions, they’ll be in excellent position to make the worlds team and will contend for a national all-around title here.

Konnor McClain has taken over as the all-around leader for the US in 2022, but since she has been out since Jesolo, she’s not without her own questions about how close to 100% she’ll be at this meet, presenting a fairly wide open race for the title with both Chiles and Carey in the lead pack. Chiles was the clear third domestically in 2021 behind Biles and Lee (neither of whom are competing this year) while Carey pretty much took over that position at the Olympics as the third behind Biles and Lee, when she ultimately got into the all-around final as a non-team gymnast.

We don’t tend to think of Carey in the all-around champion conversation because of beam and whatnot, but the high score for US gymnasts so far year is 55.6 and Carey went 56.2 on Olympic qualification day. Start values on vault are down four tenths in the new code, but the changes overall are not so drastic as to render last quad’s scores completely irrelevant. If her four-event difficulty is back—which is an assumption leap for the purpose of a preview, though she seems the type for whom it would be—Carey should be among the top scorers with a hit meet.

Chiles has typically been the less predictable gymnast of the two in that we’ve never really known whether we’re going to see 2017 Jordan or 2018 Jordan, Trials Jordan or Olympics Jordan.

The spectrum of possibilities is wide, which makes her performance the most exciting prospect at nationals. But like Carey, Chiles’ college routines and composition would lead one to believe that as long as she is ready to compete all four at nationals, the necessary skills remain intact to help her score 55+ in the all-around.

In considering their worlds prospects, Carey’s vault and floor will always make her deeply valuable on a five-member team. Her vault is a reliable, automatic +0.4 over anyone else (as long as we collectively decide the Olympic vault final doesn’t exist), and even if she’s getting more than a point in artistry deductions on floor, she’s still gaining you tenths. Early indications from Pan Ams are that tenth-gaining on individual events could be an important factor in selection again now that the Forster era has been destroyed.

(On that note, however, the worlds selection procedures have been released and list Dan Baker—but neither Alicia Sacramone nor Chellsie Memmel—on the selection committee with Tatiana Perskaia and Jessie DeZiel.)

As for Jordan Chiles, her biggest team asset is her routine usability everywhere, but keep an eye on how bars is looking in particular this week because her ability to contribute a team final bars routine would be vital this year when trying to figure out how you fill events on a team that includes McClain and Carey. Potentially. One might imagine.

On that note…

Item #2: McClain as favorite

Konnor McClain easily ranks as the top US gymnast this year after her all-around victories at Winter Cup, Stuttgart, and Jesolo established her as a dominant force in international gymnastics. Her only loss this year came to Shilese Jones at the Jesolo selection camp, where she placed 2nd, and her score from Stuttgart ranked as the top AA score in the world until Rebeca Andrade blew it out of the water over the weekend at Brazilian Championships.

All of that speaks to someone who should be considered the most likely to win the all-around at nationals and slide easily onto the US worlds team. The main concern is that McClain did not go for Pan Am selection and went on to withdraw from the US Classic.

So there may be some leeway in terms of expecting a finished product at nationals. But at least she is on the roster for this event, which is an encouraging step. When it comes to the all-around here, McClain will have some serious competition with perhaps six gymnasts capable of producing a 55 on their day, though if you’re looking for a single gymnast whose name you would write in pen for the worlds team, right now that’s McClain.

Item #3: Eyes on progress

Among those other gymnasts who are capable of producing at least a 55, we have the stars of the US Classic, Shilese Jones and Leanne Wong, who both scored over 54 with falls there.

Jones is the only person to have defeated McClain this year, and she looked mostly in form at the US Classic with only her beam routine taking things to frown town. Even when she falls on beam, we’re currently seeing the best gymnastics we’ve ever seen Jones, so if she can add consistent four-event hits to that, there’s no reason she can’t win the all-around here. A hit meet at Classic would have gone comfortably into the 56s.

Plus, with the back injury to Zoe Miller that will keep her out of nationals, that makes Jones the undisputed best healthy, currently-competing-elite bars worker in the US, even without the potential upgrade to the Stalder Nabieva. And that matters, especially in terms of taking pressure off the other events. Right now, you need that bars regardless of what’s happening elsewhere.

As for Leanne Wong, she was the surprise of the roster at US Classic after having not attended the prior national team camp, but clearly she had been preparing intently, enough to show up and casually win the all-around.

Wong already looked in world championship form on vault and beam at Classic, so at nationals, watch to see how much the floor tumbling has progressed in the intervening weeks—as well as what is up with the Bhardwaj, which she was struggling on throughout the weekend at Classic. If she’s able to connect everything (toe full, Bhardwaj, Maloney, Pak, Van Leeuwen), putting the Bhardwaj in would gain 3 tenths in D over her worlds routine, which would start to make it a valuable upgrade. Then we might not have to throw a code of points at GAGE again.

Perhaps coasting under the radar here is Kayla DiCello because when we last saw her, she did not have her full routine composition. Still, she’s another one looking to show progress both in terms of the elements she’s competing and the hitting. If she has been able to use these intervening weeks since Pan Ams to bring the DTY back, she should at the very least be in the 54s and challenging several members of this top group with a hit meet.

Item #4: American dancing

Artistry deductions have been the single biggest conversation topic for Chellsie Memmel since taking over as technical lead, with the focus on reducing the ample and avoidable deductions the US women have been getting (word from Pan Ams was that the US women averaged 0.8 in artistry deductions). This is the biggest and best senior field we’ve seen in a while in the US, meaning it’s a chance to get everyone in the same place to see if the old motto about US floor routines

has been replaced with something a little more productive. And whether there has been tangible advice and tactics handed out on how to try to perform a little more.

If she’s doing floor, Jordan Chiles would be an excellent case study coming back from a season of college gymnastics. We saw in Chiles’ UCLA routines someone who has more than enough ability to engage an audience and perform a routine that should avoid the majority of artistry deductions, but looking back to the Olympics, Chiles was a major victim of the floor score apocalypse.

Are we seeing tangible changes in the approach to choreography—as well as skill selection for that matter—in these routines in reaction to the Olympics?

Item #5: Who’s out?

The best news for every other person in the field was Suni Lee’s decision not to compete this year.

As Olympic champion, she would have been the clear favorite to win and prance her way on the worlds team. That has opened up a spot for someone else, and while the most likely people to take that spot are the gymnasts already mentioned, there are others who might have a chance to take advantage but their current injury situations raise a cloud of doubt. Zoe Miller, whose bars score has put her consistently on the highest-scoring US teams this year, is out with a back injury, and Ashlee Sullivan, who made the US team for Stuttgart and was on the Jesolo team before having to withdraw, is also absent.

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Among others who might have been in the mix, eMjae Frazier has opted out in anticipation of joining college gymnastics next season.

Item #6: Who needs a good nationals

Several gymnasts are currently sitting on the borderline between the first tier and the second tier and are going to need to fight to get ahead of some of their bigger-name peers.

Gymnasts like Skye Blakely could really use a successful nationals to raise awareness of her gymnastics in the community and provide actionable resources and a pamphlet or two. Most potential teams based on 2022 scores do include Blakely, but she’s always bumped off the highest-scoring team when adding the likes of Chiles and Carey into the mix. I’ll be looking at Blakely’s routines here to see if her scores still stay in the top 5 after this competition.

Lexi Zeiss is another who rose from the ranks of the middle this year, climbing over supposedly stronger gymnasts to not only make the Pan Ams squad but be the best one on the team when it came to competition.

Only two US gymnasts have scored over 54 this year outside of US domestic meets, and one of them is Lexi Zeiss, so her competitiveness shouldn’t be overlooked. Still, she isn’t really on the highest-scoring-team radar yet and will look to change that at nationals.

Item #7: Wildcards and spoilers

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Junior champion Katelyn Jong, who finished out her junior career in 2021 with five consecutive all-around victories, keeps finishing 5th at camps and selection meets and being…almost on teams. We’ll see if her scores can keep up with the top athletes as we put everyone in the mix together. Her 14.350 on vault from the Stuttgart mixed cup is close to the top vault score for any US gymnast this year at 14.400.

Meanwhile, there’s also the trio of Elle Mueller, Nola Matthews, and Joscelyn Roberson to watch out for.

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Elle Mueller has earned a couple coveted assignments this year with Jesolo and Pan Ams, which speaks well of both her potential and her ability to deliver hit routines in pressure-filled selection contexts, while Nola Matthews is the only gymnast in the field besides Jones to have gone over 14 on bars this year, and Joscelyn Roberson’s new 1/2 on layout full has the potential to outscore the typical DTY to make a mark on vault.

The single unexpected development of the championships roster was the presence of Olivia Greaves, who hasn’t been seen since her injury during the post-worlds consolation tour of Switzerland.

Expectations will be nonexistent because we just haven’t seen her at all, but remember that one time at that camp when she scored with Wong and DiCello?

Event Schedule

Thursday, August 18 — Junior Men 1:30pm ET, Senior Men 7:00pm ET
Friday, August 19 — Junior Women 1:30pm ET, Senior Women 7:00pm ET
Saturday, August 20 — Junior Men 1:30pm ET, Senior Men 7:00pm ET
Sunday, August 21 — Junior Women 1:30pm ET, Senior Women 7:00pm ET

2022 US Classic Preview

Ah, US Classic. The meet that feels deeply significant right up until you forget it ever happened 2 weeks later. Remember last year when DiCello beat McCallum by a point and Aleah Finnegan got 5th? Me neither.

This year, one of the major stories heading into the competition is just how paltry the senior women’s field is at only 13 athletes. This is the smallest senior women’s roster at the competition since 2008, which is 1951. Some of this is a result of the calendar, with a number of athletes having just competed at the Pan-American Championships—and even more at the selection camp—and who really needs to compete three different times in the month before nationals? What are you, a coal miner?

We’re also experiencing first-year-of-the-quad-tri syndrome, when the seniors from last cycle are in their hiatus/retirement era and the seniors for this cycle aren’t seniors yet, leaving a smaller group of hangers on. And then of course there’s the “it’s just Classic” of it all. No teams are being named here. No basement dungeons are being opened because you fell.

But just because a roster is small doesn’t mean Leanne Wong and Shilese Jones aren’t on it. So let’s get into what’s most interesting this weekend.

Leanne Wong

While other college elites made much clearer proclamations about their intent to continue elite, Leanne Wong quietly ended up the only one of entire gang to enter the US Classic. As such, the keenest eyes in the arena will be on Wong to see how much of the routine composition from her 2021 world silver medal performance is back. Or never left. Over half of her elite bars and beam skills made it into her college routines at various times, so it’s hardly a stretch to think all that composition has been on a low simmer the whole time.

Looking at the current US elite setup, it’s probably not crucial that Wong upgrade her 2021 routines in order to make a team this year, but at some point this summer we’ll need to see the status of an event like vault. The Podkopayeva she was competing at Florida was good fun but also a 4.2 D (the same as the Yurchenko full), so it’s not a practical scoring option in elite, where the actual practical scoring options are DTY, Cheng, and end of list.

We may not see all the events from Wong, but I imagine if she’s competing (totally optionally, since she’s already qualified to nationals), it means that she’s some form of ready. She doesn’t seem the type to show up just to wave her hand.

Shilese Jones

Especially with the last-minute withdrawals of Konnor McClain and Kayla DiCello, Shilese Jones will very much like her chances at an all-around title if she elects to compete all four. Among the entered athletes, she owns by far the top totals of 2022, with the #1 bars and floor score, the #2 vault score, and the #3 beam score in the field.

Jones has shown video of a Stalder layout Tkatchev that may or may not make an appearance here, but more than upgrades (which could be essential this year if she ends up needing to stake a claim as the best bars option for worlds), I’m looking to see consistency from her at Classic. Despite more than sufficient talent, composition, and execution, we haven’t always seen Jones stay on beam. Or floor. She’ll need to show more than occasional flashes of excellence to emerge as a major player this year. Right now, Jones is easily on the highest-scoring US team for 2022 (she has the second most important scores behind McClain), but it’s very early and we haven’t seen everyone’s peaks. Or even everyone’s faces.

Katelyn Jong

Jong has withdrawn as of the last roster update.

Addison Fatta and Ciena Alipio

I’m perhaps most interested to see the performances of Addison Fatta and Ciena Alipio after they were left off the Pan Ams team. Despite finishing 3rd AA at the Pan Ams camp, Fatta was burned by being the prototypical alternate—fine on every event, absolutely necessary nowhere—while Alipio was burned by not having a second useful event to complement her strong beam scores.

Alipio is going to need to show something competitive besides beam (even though, for me, beam by itself is currently making a sufficient case for a September challenge cup assignment), while Fatta has reason to target bars as a place where she can rank higher. Fatta is currently tied for the third-best bars number in the Classic field, though also has the potential to elevate that floor D score to a place where she can score in the mid-13s.

What to watch from the field

Katelyn Rosen owns the third-best cumulative scores on the Classic roster this year, behind only Jones and Jong, which makes her a compelling contender for the all-around podium. She should produce one of the top-scoring floor routines of the event.

Nola Matthews made the DTB Pokal squad this year for her bars score and went on to win bronze on the event, the only non-Konnor-McClain individual medal for the US team. Matthews is one of only three Americans to have broken 14 on bars this year, along with Jones and Zoe Miller.

Joscelyn Roberson has the routine composition to be a competitive 3-eventer, and placing 2nd or 3rd among VT-BB-FX totals at Classic would not be out of the question for her on a hit day. At the Pan Ams camp, Roberson’s D scores on VT-BB-FX were the 3rd highest, behind only Blakely and Jong. I’ll be watching to see whether the DTY is back for a competitive score, as well as for a hit on beam.

Levi Jung-Ruivivar impressed as a junior with all the artistry and toe point. We haven’t seen that built on so far with the results in her senior career, but her bars routine is a showcase of how it’s supposed to look.

Amelia Disidore was sort of jangling around the maybe-qualifying-elite zone for most of the year, but she put up a very strong result on vault, beam, and floor at the American Classic, hitting a DTY and breaking 13 on both beam and floor. She went 51.800 with a bars miss, which could speak to competitive (for Classic) scoring potential with a hit.

Brooke Pierson and Charlotte Booth will look to run their way up the bars standings. Booth showed off a Tweddle + Yezhova combination on bars at Winter Cup, so watch to see if that makes another appearance here, and Pierson is among the more adept at finishing a full pirouette in an actual vertical.

Qualifying to nationals

Only two members of the senior field are still looking for scores here, at least as far as we know (scores from the June camp were never released). Lauren Little would still need the 50.500 qualifying score to make nationals, while Marissa Neal is already qualified to nationals on bars and beam thanks to her American Classic performance but would still need that all-around 50.500 to be able to compete all the events. Neal’s 13.600 on beam at the American Classic ranks second in the field behind Alipio.

Schedule

Friday, July 29 – 7:00pm MT – Junior Women Session 1
Saturday, July 30 – 12:30pm MT – Junior Women Session 2
Saturday, July 30 – 5:00pm MT – Senior Women
Sunday, July 31 – 12:30pm MT – Junior and Senior Men Session 1
Sunday, July 31 – 6:30pm MT – Senior Men Session 2

Coverage

The senior women’s session will be televised on CNBC. With only 13 people on the roster (and knowing not everyone is going to compete the all-around) there’s no actual reason this couldn’t be run like a college meet with two events going at a time, alternating routines, and showing all of them. But it’s NBC, so…

The Saturday session of junior women and the first men’s session (which will include the national team men and also the juniors) will be on CNBC as well, while the first session of the junior women and the second session of senior men (which will include some of the wildcards like Donnell Whittenburg and Colin Van Wicklen) will be on FlipNow.

Commonwealth Games Women’s Preview

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

Asian Championship Women’s Preview

The Asian Championships—the next step in the world championship qualification pathway—begin this week in Doha. On offer for the women will be 4 team spots at worlds, as well as an additional 8 all-around spots for those who are not part of a qualifying country (the men have 5 team spots and 6 AA spots).

The team/AA competition will span two days for some reason, with vault and bars on June 15th followed by beam and floor on June 16th. That two-day competition will determine all the qualifiers for worlds, with event finals on the 17th and 18th to crown continental champions.

In the team department, China and Japan are the major favorites and should have no problem at all getting two of the four team spots available (though based on scores so far this year we could have a tightly matched race between the two).

While the Chinese women have not featured in an official competition so far this year (the national championship was canceled), they did hold an internal trial for the Asian Championship team, and subsequently named a traveling squad of Zhang Jin, Tang Xijing, Wu Ran, Wei Xiaoyuan, Luo Rui, and Sun Xinyi, with the alternate among that group of 6 still TBD. Since Tang, Wei, and Luo are necessary for bars, Zhang is looking very necessary for vault and floor, and Wu got 13.866 on floor at the trial, I’d venture to assume that the alternate will be Sun Xinyi, who is a phenomenal beamer on an already deep beam team, but we shall see.

Not making China’s team were Ou Yushan, who did not compete floor at the trial and did only a Yfull on vault, and Qi Qi, who may have been able to add some vaultishness to the group but didn’t show another competitive apparatus.

With several veterans in the selected team, China is bringing a much more experienced squad than Japan, which is in rebirth mode following the post-Olympic international retirements of Murakami, Teramoto, Hatakeda, and Sugihara (who is still planning to compete at the national event championships). Rather, Japan’s Asian Championship team is the brand new quintet of Kasahara Arisa, Miyata Shoko, Yamada Chiharu, Watanabe Hazuki, and Matsuda Touwa, who despite their lack of footprint on the global gymnastic scene, have recorded scores at nationals and NHK that should at least keep China on its toes.

The complication here for Japan is the national event championships also taking place on the 18th and 19th—precluding gymnasts from competing at both meets—which are a critical part of Japan’s world championship selection process. Based on the results of nationals and NHK, Kasahara, Miyata, and Yamada have already clinched their spots on this year’s worlds team with their top-3 AA finishes. The 4th and 5th spots on the worlds team, meanwhile, will be determined by whose best-two-scores averages on each event add the most to a potential team score following the event championships, with the 4th spot limited to those who finished 4th-10th at NHK and the 5th spot without AA placement or meet participation limitations (which is a big step for Japan’s selection process and I’m so proud of you).

The 5th spot having no ties to AA finishes is critical for world beam champion Urara Ashikawa’s hopes of making it back to worlds since she has not recorded the necessary all-around results so far this year. She’s going to need to get that 5th spot with her beam scores, and given how close the race for the final worlds spots looks right now, results at the event championship will influence the picture tremendously. For those still aiming at a spot on the worlds team, the event championships are a far more important competition than the Asian championship, which means that Japan isn’t sending its top-scoring team or all its available top-placing gymnasts to Doha this week.

The pre-competition team bronze favorite will be South Korea. South Korea is not quite as spoiled for top routines as China, or as spoiled for depth as Japan, but given the Olympic performances from Lee Yunseo and Yeo Seojeong and that surprise 11th-place worlds finish from Shin Solyi, South Korea should have the routines on this year’s Asian Champs team to excel. At April’s national championship, Yeo Seojeong won the general division and Shin Solyi won the high school division (Lee Yunseo did not compete then but is back now) with scores that should put South Korea behind China and Japan but with a realistic buffer over everyone else.

Typically, we see Taiwan rank 4th in the continent among the teams present, so consider the Taiwanese team the most likely to snatch the final team spot given what we know so far. This team doesn’t always have the full contingent of scores, but the results from the internal Asian Championships selection competition at the beginning of May were encouraging, with Ting Hua-Tien dominating the all-around on the first day of competition, supported by individual standout results like Huang Tzu-Hsing’s 13.300 on beam on day 2.

Those scores, depending on realism as always, would outpace what we saw most recently from the next group of contending squads at the Southeast Asian Games, where a Philippines team with Aleah Finnegan defeated Vietnam and Singapore but with quite a bit of parity among those teams overall. At the most recent Asian Championship in 2019, it was Malaysia that finished 5th as a team—not far behind Taiwan—but Farah Ann Abdul Hadi has since retired and Malaysia sent just two athletes to the SEA Games.

As for the individuals, the apparatus world cup qualifiers early in the year were a boon for many of the other gymnasts in Asia hoping to qualify themselves. Because those events were so poorly attended, we’ll end up going pretty far down the women’s ranking lists to find enough qualifiers for worlds, and most people who got any points at some juncture (especially on bars, beam, and floor) will be in contention for an apparatus spot at worlds.

On the Oksana Chusovitina front, she has already qualified to worlds to compete vault alone via those apparatus world cups, but she would need to compete the AA at the Asian Championship if she wants to qualify to compete all four events at worlds.

Also on vault, Protistha Samanta of India has already secured herself a worlds spot, and her Indian teammate Pranati Nayak is highly likely to get a vault spot for herself once the dust settles. Angel Wong of Hong Kong will also get a beam spot, and Korkem Yerbossynkyzy of Kazakhstan should end up with spots on a couple events.

On floor, Dildora Aripova of Uzbekistan and Aida Bauyrzhanova of Kazakhstan have clinched event spots, but I imagine both will be aiming for the all-around here and do seem like realistic candidates for the 8 available positions (max 2 per country), along with many of the others who figured at the SEA Games, like all-around champion Rifda Irfanaluthfi of Indonesia, and Rachel Yeoh Li Wen of Malaysia and Nadine Joy Nathan of Singapore who both finished well.

As for anything helpful like entry lists, or start lists, or scores, or streaming, well…TBD? Gymnastics gonna gymnastics.