And the award for least controversial selection process of 2016 goes to China.
As the Chinese Championships draw to a close, it would seem to be way too clear who the five members of the Olympic team should be (hard as Wang Yan may try to bequeath her spot to someone…anyone else), a devastating blow to those of us whose second-favorite sport is playing around with team permutations.
But then China comes through in the clutch! Yesss!
[I’m amending this post to reflect the chatter coming through after nationals that China’s nominative Rio group is Shang, Fan, Mao, Wang, and LIU TINGTING, with Tan Jiaxin as an alternate.]
In my best impression of Tim and Elfi standing in front of a piece of black construction paper and flinging people’s magnet-names anywhere, here’s how I saw the team setting up after nationals.
Because China’s top gymnasts are all (essentially) specialists, the team is somewhat handcuffed as to which gymnasts can be chosen. Shang Chunsong is just SO much better than everyone else and an absolute lock, and Fan Yilin continues to be the best bars worker and a top-3 beam worker, two scores that are far too valuable to leave behind. It’s a testament to Fan’s lock status that she can fall on bars in TF and fall on beam in EF and still remain largely a sure thing because…who is taking that spot from her? Her bars routine can score a legitimate half-point better than the second-best Chinese bars worker, and one fall on beam is basically peak consistency in this group.
Already, even with just two people set, the selection gets extremely tight because neither Shang nor Fan can vault in TF, meaning that all three other team members must have a usable DTY or more. Anyone else without a reliable 14.8 vault is already eliminated from the process. This removes early-quad gem Huang Huidan (“She looks like JULLLLIA, who is ELEEEEVVVVVVEN”) from consideration in spite of her returning with a pretty TF-worthy bars routine. Because of Huang’s lack of vault, she can’t be on the same team as both Shang and Fan, and since she’s the least necessary of the three, she’s out. Continue reading The China Five