Liu Tingting entered today’s all-around final as the leader from qualification (final standings are based on the two-day total), and it was largely that impressive day 1 performance that allowed her to hang on for a repeat all-around title—and to weather the national beam nightmare that was today’s competition.
Like a number of her countrywomen, Liu had a rough beam routine, coming off on her front handspring front tuck series (she also found her Yurchenko full a struggle), which meant that despite excellent routines on bars and floor, Liu placed 3rd among the athletes on day 2, just a smidgen behind Wei Xiaoyuan and Qi Qi. That 56.000 she scored on day 1, however, allowed her more than a smidgen of wiggle room (Smidgen of Wiggle Room is also the name of every floor routine Adi Pop ever choreographed for China). The title wasn’t really in doubt heading to Liu’s final routine on floor, where she just needed to be undisastrous in order to win. She was far better than undisastrous.
Despite being the defending champion, Liu Tingting was not the favorite heading into this competition. The last time we had seen her was worlds, when she had that disastrous time on bars and beam in the team final, and she definitely did not seem like she’d be the winner in the lead-up training. But while it wasn’t a perfect competition for Liu, her 8-routine performance was far more composed than most of her greener compatriots, which made the difference.
Gymnastics is back. In a charitable effort to save us all from the ongoing apocalypse, Japan contested the All-Japan senior championships yesterday—the first live gymnastics competition I’ve watched in over six months. And not a moment too soon.
Perhaps you, like me, decided to pretend that this was worlds and live-tweet quick hits of the competition from bed in the middle of the night, but if you’re not an extremely rad, cool person like me and my friend Nobody…here’s what happened.
In the women’s competition, Mai Murakami was like, “Remember that time you didn’t take me to worlds because of a technicality in the selection procedures even though I’m the best, and then you ended up barely qualifying a team to your home Olympics as a result, and honestly you would have deserved to miss out because you actively didn’t take your best team? Because I do remember that.”
Or something to that effect. That’s the Google Translate version of her performance.
Qualification is now complete at Cottbus, and finals will begin tomorrow. (8am ET/5am PT.) Here’s what went down on day 2 of the Olympic qualifier.
I’d classify men’s vault as the most wide-open of all 10 events in the race for the Olympic spot, and with every single one of the likely qualification suspects in the Cottbus field advancing to the final, we…still don’t know a ton.
The top qualifier and favorite for the title, Igor Radivilov, is ineligible for the Olympic spot by virtue of qualifying with a team at worlds, so his points should be redistributed to the rest of the group regardless of how he does. Tying for second with an average of 14.549 were Yahor Sharamkou and Colin Van Wicklen. Heading into this competition, both athletes were sort of pecking around the outside of the group of likely Olympic contenders but could bring themselves into the top tier with 30 points at this meet.
The first day of qualification is complete in Cottbus, and here’s what you need to know.
The big pre-competition news coming out of men’s floor was the withdrawal of Emil Soravuo of Finland, who is currently second (among eligible athletes) in the Olympic qualification race and appeared to be the most likely challenger to Rayderley Zapata. Soravuo’s departure cleared the way for Zapata to feel more comfortable with his position, but being Zapata he still had to keep things interesting and just barely make the final with an E score in the 7s. But the important thing is that he’s in the final with a chance to right things on Saturday and get the necessary points to retain the position of Olympic qualification favorite.
With a 6.4 D score and superior execution, Kazuki Minami of Japan advanced to the final in first place, two tenths clear of Kirill Prokopev, followed by Milad Karimi (already qualified to Olympics), then Hayden Skinner, Nikita Ignatyev, and Colin Van Wicklen.
The challenge for all of these athletes is an absence of previous results. Van Wicklen is the only one among them currently with any ranking points (and not thaaaat many himself), so showing up at this point and finishing 3rd or 4th at some meets isn’t really going to do anything in the Olympic race. These other athletes have to consistently win because Zapata has such a head start.
But if Minami keeps doing floor routines with that kind of score, he has a chance to move up the standings very very (very) quickly. This floor thing isn’t over.
In sad news, Donnell Whittenburg got a 3 for a short routine on floor and withdrew from rings.