A. Afan Farewell
In spite of Russia’s desperate attempts to make Afanasyeva happen, this week Ksenia announced, “I’m not going to happen.” She explained that her kidneys are falling off and that she’s dying in the hospital and has no way to make it to Rio, forcing Valentina to go, “SIGH, FINE” and settle on Tutkhalyan once and for all.
Simultaneously, a bunch of chatter went around (because of Valentina) that Afan had “retired,” though it remains to be seen what level of Russian retirement this is. We don’t know whether she’s at “actually retired,” “Komova retired” (injured), or “Nabieva retired” (categorically not retired). Obviously, we’re all hoping that she’s Nabieva retired. We need those two clanking around Russian Cup for decades to come.
If the Russian team is allowed to be a team, it is now officially Melnikova, Mustafina, Paseka, Spiridonova, and Tutkhalyan, which is still quite a medal-looking squad. Floor will probably be a nightmarish hellscape, but the rest of the events look relatively viable. The fourth beam and floor routines in qualification should be a unique adventure.
This also means that Valentina officially went 2-for-4 on her 2015 Olympic team announcement of Mustafina, Komova, Afanasyeva, and Paseka. Honestly, it’s better than I thought she would do.
Jekyll and Shelgunova will replace Afansyeva as the alternate, so that would either be fine or disastrous, depending on the day.
B. Peyton Ernst
Interestingly, Florida has released Peyton Ernst. HMMMMMMM.
Jenny Rowland gave Ernst the option of either staying at Florida and doing a medical retirement or taking her beam elsewhere. The fact that Ernst is talking to other schools tells me that she’s not completely broken into shards in spite of her million shoulder injuries and still has some gymnastics in her (perhaps some more hands-free beam routines or something?) but that Florida’s not willing to bet on her to recover enough to be a major or multi-event contributor in the future. Florida has enough elites pounding down the doors to get in there that keeping a broken, perpetually injured elite on scholarship would seem like a waste of one of the 12 spots. Continue reading Things Are Happening – July 22, 2016