The 2013 World Championships is more than a year away and in a sport where injuries, burnout and even a growth spurt can end careers in an eye-blink, it’s impossible to predict who will be there. But that doesn’t make it any less fun to speculate. History tells us that most of the stellar athletes we watched at the Olympics will not come back, but when our favorites fail to live up to Olympic expectations, we can’t help but wish for them to return for the glory they deserve. Add to the mix the rich talent pool moving up from the junior ranks, and there is much to hope for in 2013. In the name of fun, baseless speculation, here is what I would like to see at 2013 Worlds:
Katelyn Ohashi- This talented gymnast from WOGA would certainly have made the US Olympic team had she been just one year older. If she’s healthy, she’ll definitely be one to beat.
Rebecca Tunney- What a year 2012 was for this British fifteen year old! In June she won the British Championships and was the top all-arounder for Team GB at the Olympics, finishing thirteenth. She’s excellent on bars and floor, and is one of the few Brits to throw a solid double twisting Yurchenko. As Britain continues to ride a wave of newfound success in gymnastics, Tunney could be their first real international all-around threat.
Anastasia Grishina- For this gorgeous gymnast, the Olympics may have come just a bit too soon. Earlier this year, the new senior stated that she needed more international competition under her belt to help steady her nerves. It did seem that nerves got the best of her during the Olympics. Not only did she fail to qualify for an individual final (in part because of the two-per-country rule), but she had a disastrous floor routine in team finals, completely missing her third tumbling pass. If Komova and Mustafina take some time off, she could be Russia’s next great all-arounder.
The Big Three- Very arguably the three best all-arounders on the three best teams- USA’s Jordyn Wieber, Russia’s Viktoria Komova and Romania’s Larissa Iordache had a lackluster Olympics. Komova managed to equal her all-around silver from Worlds in 2011, but didn’t win anything else. More unexpectedly, neither Wieber nor Iordache won an individual medal of any color. For first-year senior Iordache, the Olympics was supposed to be her coming out party. Instead it was almost like a false start, with a painful foot injury largely to blame for poor finishes in all around and event finals. All three may feel they have something left to prove in 2013.
The Maroney- Speaking of Olympic underperformers, poor McKayla Maroney lost herself an easy gold medal on vault when she sat down her second vault. This was only the second time in Maroney’s elite career that she missed a vault, the last time being in 2009. Hopefully the silver lining in her disappointing vault performance is that she’ll be motivated to give the world the Maroney, a triple twisting Yurchenko. Maroney is probably the only gymnast in the world right now, male or female, with the goods to stand this vault up, and it would be a fitting legacy for the world’s greatest vaulter.
Another Produnova- Yamilet Pena from the Dominican Republic is only the second woman in the world to attempt a handspring double front. She has yet to stand one up in competition. It would be great to see this vault successfully performed for the first time since 1999, and even better to see another country win its first medal in gymnastics.
More competition- It’s clear watching the four apparatus finals at the Olympics that one of these things is not like the others. Unlike finals for bars, beam and floor where a minor misstep costs you a medal, vault finals are a medley of sloppy form and dicey landings. Of the three medalists, one showed poor control on a landing, one vaulted to her butt, and one landed entirely off the mat. And those were the medalists. I’d like to see the rules changed to encourage more gymnasts to compete two vaults. In previous cycles, rather than requiring that one vault have a forward entry and the other backwards, the expectation was two vaults from two different families, such as a Yurchenko and a Tsukahara. I’m not sure if that’s the solution, but the quality of women’s vaulting needs to be addressed.
The Li- I would love nothing more than to see Anna Li in an international bars final. I love her personal story, and she has one darn exciting bar routine. She is the first woman to compete a 1 ½ hop over the bar, which would become the Li if performed at Worlds. Li has mentioned in interviews that she’d like to learn a Kovacs, which is a back flip over the bar. Besides just being crazy awesome, it could also become the Li II.
A medal for Seitz- Elizabeth Seitz is another gymnast with daring and exciting bar routine. She already has a move named for her, a full twisting Shaposhnikova transition from low to high bar, but she’s missing a World or Olympic medal on this event.
Ruby Harold- This young British gymnast has a packed bar routine. She narrowly missed making the Olympic team this year, but should be in contention for Worlds on this routine alone.
A medal for Jessica Lopez- The twenty-six year old has vowed to stay in the sport until she wins an international medal. She has a genuine shot on bars where her difficulty puts her in contention. If she continues to improve her form and consistency, she could easily make the bars final in 2013.
Read Part Two of What I Want to See in 2013
Article: Whitney Merchant
Photo: Anna Li
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