While looming concerns over the Olympics exist right now in terms of security, risks and the completely inconceivable notion that Russia may be prohibited from sending a gymnastics team, there is some solace in trying to anticipate what the podium may look like in a few weeks time. So, as with the last by-the-numbers, I’ve taken an aggregate of scores from Gymnter.net and seen what could be.
Teams qualifying to Rio:
|COUNTRY||GYMNASTS||WORLD/TE FINAL SCORE||RANK|
Lorrane Dos Santos
Celine Van Gerner
Vera van Pol
*Test Event Scores had the second lowest and lowest scores on each event discarded for consistent scoring evaluation.
Potential Scores Methodology: Scores are highest obtained at an international competition that was not a World Cup Challenge. If a gymnast had no international competition scores, then their domestic competition scores from 2016 were averaged to compensate for domestic score inflation.
|C. Fragapane||14.866||13.800||15.000||VT, BB, FX|
|Amy Tinkler||15.083||13.700||13.633||14.433||FX, VT|
|L. Oliveira||15.166||14.066||13.933||14.066||VT, UB|
|S. Miyakawa||15.166||14.900||VT, FX|
|I. Onyshko||14.233||14.400||14.433||13.966||UB, BB|
|Erika Fasana||15.058||13.766||14.500||VT, FX|
|Loan His||14.250||14.633||13.800||13.800||VT, UB|
|L. Vanhille||13.966||14.266||12.966||13.600||UB, BB|
|R. Hermans||14.033||13.566||13.866||13.966||VT, BB|
|N. Derwael||13.300||13.933||UB, BB|
|S. Wevers||14.233||14.800||BB, UB|
|Vera van Pol||11.200||12.550||13.000||VT, UB|
So this rough analysis leaves us with the following preliminary scores:
1 USA 184.799
2 Russia 178.380
3 China 178.131
4 GBR 177.269
5 Brazil 174.413
6 Canada 174.324
7 Germany 172.445
8 Japan 172.178
9 Italy 171.397
10 France 171.305
11 Netherlands 168.947
12 Belgium 167.297
It seems to go without saying that early indications point to the USA having a comfortable lead at the top of the podium. However, a lot can happen between now and Rio, and between the TQ and TF, so don’t assume the USA will be cruising through this Olympics. For starters, there’s the untested Laurie Hernandez. She’s been on the international stage, but not at Worlds or Olympics. If you watched the Trials coverage you have all the proof you need that the pressure to deliver can derail anyone- even former AA champion.
On to what will be far more exciting is the race for silver and bronze (again, assuming the USA avoids a meltdown). Originally, when writing this analysis, Liu Tingting and her massive scores at Chinese Nationals had been factored in to the TF. Now, with Liu injured and Tan Jiaxin substituted in, China and Russia have switched places in the rankings. Part of this is due to including Tan in the FX. China is notoriously tight-lipped about their line-up, so it’s possible they have stability built in that the available scores don’t show. Wang has had difficult staying on the balance beam as of late, although both she and Mao have great difficulty on floor- which is sure to help the Chinese team overall.
Russia is barely ahead of China in this numbers analysis. Spiridinova has scored as high as a 15.650 on UB in competition since Worlds, and Seda averages a 14.0 on BB in international meets. Melnikova could post higher FX scores while Seda is averaging around a 13.1, the true cliffhanger right now is Mustafina. While I have no doubt that Mustafina will compete in TQ on all four to qualify for the AA, the question remains as to whether she will be used in TF- much like Komova in 2012. Although, the Komova decision ended up in disaster for the Russian team in 2012 so we may well see the Russian coaches decide to run her ragged in every event in both quals and finals.
Just behind the Russia/China battle are the teams from Great Britain, Brazil and Canada. If the hypothetical 7.5 points separate the USA from China in this analysis, about half that amount separates China and the next 3 teams. Great Britain has put together an incredibly strong team this year. Becky Downie’s beam score has scored up to 14.333 in international meets; Tinkler and Ellie Downie can put up vault scores in the 15s when they are on point, and at the last Worlds they capitalized on Russia’s falls to grab the bronze. Don’t count them out under any circumstances!
Brazil has a chance to edge out GBR if they can hit at their full strength during qualifications. Andrade provided a significant boost on UB and VT, but let’s remember that one competition is just that- one competition. Brazil has quite the Olympic veteran in Hypolito, and Jade Barbosa’s inclusion after the 2012 scandal is sure to quiet some fears over Olympic performances. I would say that Brazil is in with a chance at the podium as long as they can conquer the team qualifications round, which seems to be their nemesis. However, home field advantage can be powerful and I would bank on the Brazilians to be able to significantly up their scores with the support of the crowd.
Canada will look to Ellie Black, Rogers and Olsen to lead their team into the finals. While I don’t see the chances of a team medal, they could usurp Brazil or even GBR to improve on their 5th place finish in 2012.
The next “grouping” so to speak includes Germany, France, Italy, and Japan. While the Team Qualifications will be exciting for this group, unfortunately at least 2 of these teams will be left out of the Team Finals. Germany boasts the 4th highest combined bars total, thanks in no small part to veterans Kim Bui, Sophie Scheder and Elisabeth Seitz. Italy’s veterans Carlotta Ferlito and Vanessa Ferrari will lead a strong Italian team into this Olympics and I know I’m eagerly anticipating watching Meneghini and Rizzelli throw their best routines. As far as the numbers analysis, I would say that Germany and Italy have the best chance of qualifying to the Finals. France’s team could place in the top 8 if they capitalize on any mistakes made by the German or Italian team and if they can produce solid floor routines. Their UB and BB scores will keep them competitive for the last spot. The Japanese team can put up some solid numbers on vault and floor and I think that will help them stay in the mix, but as I said, Germany and Italy are loaded with difficulty and I think in the end Japan will be edged out by one of them.
Which leaves us with Belgium and the Netherlands. The loss of Axelle Klinckaert to the Belgian team is huge in terms of potential scores. While neither is truly podium competitive, the qualifications will be wonderful to watch as both are fielding full teams for the first time in over 40 years. Sanne Wevers’ turn-filled beam routine and Eythora Thorsdottir on beam and floor will be some of the best from the Dutch team.
As always, the math simply points to a “might be”. The beauty and sorrow of gymnastics is that it can be very hard to predict who will be the champion from one quad to the next, or even from one competition day to the next. Quite honestly I could see a podium where the USA, GBR and Brazil are all represented. Russia and China are not infallible, and teams who have never won a medal are hungry for their place. I agree with most of the gymternet on this point though- the battle for silver and bronze is going to be much more exciting and epic than the race for gold. I just hope, as an American and a gymnastics fan, that NBC finally gets it right and shows both a wider selection of the team’s routines and more of the sport itself. Less of the sappy fluff with soap opera music would be great. I’d even say something nice about Tim Daggett if they did.
Article: Kimberly Wooster
Photo Cover: Nadia Boyce