Tuesday, 31 July 2012

EPIC TEAM FINAL!

WOW USA win by five points!! Hit 12 for 12, you'd never know Gabby is shaky on beam or that bars are a weak point. Russia obviously gutted that they came second after a disastrous floor rotation, but I hope they will be proud that they came second after having to count not one but two disastrous floors. Not too thrilled they didn't congratulate USA..but it looks like only GB did! (Love that team). But they smiled on the podium apparently (didn't see victory ceremony :( ) good for them to pull themselves together for that.

So what happened to Russia, Romania and China?

Russia: Paseka's amanar had a huge step to the side, brought her down to 15.3 which is obviously high but they would have wanted 15.7 plus. Bars were great, though Grishina's was devalued to 6.3, which didn't help either. Beam looked shaky, Vika rocked her routine only to have a huge lunge on landing (how did I forget that when writing this originally???) and Musty had major wobbles everywhere, which I only found out after as it wasn't shown. Musty did not do an amanar- fantastic DTY but that keeps them 0.7 down on USA's three amanars. Floor is where it all came apart, Musty nailed it, Grishina missed her hand on a roundoff and subsequently could not do her double salto- expensive, and then Afan after a glorious routine, the best we will see at these Olympics (yes it trumps Victoria Moors, though well done to her for nailing hers again) came crashing down on her last pass. It was no suprise to see tears all around, how crushing for them. Could they have won if they hit everything? Quite possibly, but they didn't push out the difficulty boat fully and then had glaring errors so we'll never really know.

Romania: Romania played it safe, and saved their star Larisa. She did not do her amanar, so 0.7 down on Russia and 1.4+ down on USA on vault alone, I'm not sure what vault Sandra did as it wasn't shown but I would have heard if it was a Cheng by now. Larisa was not used on floor either, to save impact- Diana Bulimar stepped in and performed a charming routine instead, though difficulty down on Larisa's routine. Cata missed a connection on beam and didn't go for broke with her dismount, so she was 0.4 down on her full potential there but WHAT a routine anyway. Bars brings them way down, Larisa's were really good but the other two are well below standard. Fantastic floor and beam, but lack of amanars, crappy bars and not using full difficulty potential meant they could not catch the other two.

China: I did not see their bad routines (Here's what I did see: HKX YJN bars DLL YJN vault SL floor HQS beam, but counting Deng Linlin's beam fall and a diastrous floor routine was costly (12.5 I heard, don't know who??- Qiushuang?) Excellent bar routines clearly not enough for them to contend, but well done to He Kexin for nailing her bars! That's twice now when it counted, hope she hits again in what should be a super exciting bars EF. Yao Jinnan didn't crash her vault, but that bad landing was expensive too. All in all, a scrappy team and bad mistakes cost them a medal though they did have absolutely fantastic routines.

Well done to Canada! 5th just behind China, and their first team to qualify for a TF. What an achievement. Hopefully they can up the difficulty and continue being the one to watch. Two gymnasts into vault EF a great story too. Dissapointing for team GB not to contend higher, but Jenni Pinches fall from beam (I'm sure Danusia loved that) and lower difficulty counted them out. Their gymnastics programme should still be able to ride high on Beth Tweddle's bars (fairly certain to medal!) and their amazing MAG bronze.

Highlight of the whole competition
Goes to.........McKayla Maroney's amanar. Girl stuck it when it counted though I'm sure that wasn't easy as her huge height sets her at a disadvantage for a stuck landing AND she has a broken toe. Can't believe she stuck it. Just phenomenal! I hope it will be just as recognised as Gabby's bars and Aly's floor to their amazing victory. We saw lots of fantastic routines today but in my opinion, that vault was so exceptional that it beats them all. Vault EF gold in the bag.

Other highlights
- Gabby's beam. So nervewracking, and it WAS a huge gamble as I have already said but you wouldn't know it, most solid she's ever been, and when it counted most under huge pressure. Well done to her.
- Afan's floor. Devastating right at the very end but this is up there with best floor and best choreo certainly of the last few quads. Magnificent. Hope she kills it in floor EF- they would have given her 15.333 without the fall, that's enough to contend with Aly and the others.
- Cata's beam. (Note, her floor wasn't shown on BBC) It was obvious she had it in her to do a much better beam that she did on Sunday, and off she went and had a faultless beam. Amazing.
- He Kexin's bars. Thrilled to see her nail her release combo (STOP saying it's original Christine!).
- Beth Tweddle's bars. Fantastic, hope she can stick on the extra 0.2 in difficulty she has for bars EF, but she doesn't need it really
- Jordyn on floor, once again HUGE background noise for her, but she totally brought it. Clearly the toughest out there, who else would bounce back from being knocked out of the AA like that? No OOB this time!
- Victoria Moors floor. Enough said, it's amazing.
- Asuka Teramoto floor. LOVE her energy, delighted she was shown
- Aly Raisman's smirk on floor and her emotion as she nailed her last pass and saluted, great moment. I doubt she knew she only needed a 10.3 for USA to win, but just WOW.
- Sui Lu's beam and floor. Girl kept it together for her team, lovely on both pieces

Not so highlights (must get snappier name for this)
- Afan crashing her last pass, gutting
- Grishina messing up her roundoff and unable to do her double salto..though thankfully she didn't try and then crash horribly
- Vika having a dissapointing meet, with bad landings on her amanar and Patterson. Quality bars of course but still dissapointing for her
- Paseka with her really bad landing on her amanar. Sigh of relief they didn't get Musty to amanar it as well, Paseka was only brought to do her amanar and scored only a few tenths higher than Musty's DTY
- Musty wobbling on every skill on beam, she has been great and solid on beam all year so very dissapointing for her
- Ferrari crashed her easiest pass on floor! Didn't see it, but I am shocked. Hopefully she can nail it in EF
- Jenni Pinches fall off beam. It looked scary, and it does confirm the dubious nature of her selection. (I have mixed her up with the excellent Rebecca Tunney in the past, but I know now!) Danusia Francis must be pissed
- Deng Linlin's fall off beam, that was a shocker, I would suspect Yao, Lu or Huang of this before her. Very dissapointing for China
- China on floor, Deng's routine had very low landings and Huang apparently fell apart
- Russia and China in tears at the end. Gut wrenching to see their dreams end like that.  
- Very sad to see that Victoria Moors floor score today would have gotten her into EF if it was her quals score 
- Jordyn nailing her routines brought it home that these would have gotten her into the AA if she did them on Sunday 

Favourite leo
Great Britain! It's amazing in blue too, delighted not to see that pretty crappy flag one they were showing earlier in the year. Canada and Japan are equally second, loved both. Italy next, love the blue and flag colour combination, beautiful. Surprisingly nice leos from them so far, but Ferrari can still show us how horrible they can be in floor EF. USA's and Russia both were decent, the silver rib skeletor USA one is better than it was in that photo, but would have preferred a blue one, or a flag one. Russia's was nice, but they have nicer up their sleeve! Did not like China's or Romania's, I want China to be more original in how they use their national colours, and Romania's was too shiny, with a not nice pattern.

Great victory by USA, what a team this is. Let's hope we can get away from Mag 7 neverending famewhores now.. I'd also like to take this opportunity to say STOP searching 'McKayla Maroney sl**/ McKayla Maroney sl***y' to end up here. Seriously getting out of hand now. McKayla is 16, and an elite gymnast. Do you think she has TIME to be a sl**? Just because she looks down in photos...Christ. Disgusting.

Crushed not to see the victory ceremoney, BBC cut off before it. Understandably there's no Brits on the podium, so why would they show it when they lots of other sports to get through but I REALLY wanted to see it. Considering how much of a big deal America's win is, I am sure some kind soul will stick it up on youtube. Please please please...Edit: Watched it on eurosport's live stream. Not a huge fan of USA's outfit, but great to watch nonetheless.

McKayla stuck her amanar!!!!!!!!

FUCKING YESSSSSS!!!! TH|RILLED!!!! AGHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!

16.2333!!! HIGHEST score so far in WAG these Olympics. Highest vault score since the new code. 9.733 execution GET IN. If you're wondering what they could possibly deduct from the most fabulous amanar we have ever seen, it is her slightly bent knees (very slight..) and her leg seperation right before she blocks, it's also very slight. It really doesn't take away from this. WOW. I hope Simona saw that!

TF- 3 hours to go!

WOW, what an unbelievable men's team final. Very dissapointing for USA, who had a fantastic day in qualifying where they placed first. Absolutely delighted for Britain, who could not really have expected to place. Slipping to bronze after winning silver is unfortunate, though not nearly as much as Ukraine, who were bumped out of their bronze entirely. They are the ones we really should feel for. Judging unfortunately seems to be a bit peculiar these Games, but a mess-up like that is unforgivable. This has shown to expect the unexpected!

Women's TF is not as open though. 8 teams have qualified, but only the top 4 can expect to place- USA, China, Romania and Russia. The others just do not have the difficulty. China would be lucky to place, their star is injured and off form and the team just isn't as good as it was in 2008. Although this could be unpredictable, here are the routines I will be nervous for:

China's third beam worker. Sui Lu and Deng Linlin are relatively safe, but whichever of Yao Jinnan and Huang Qiushuang go up will be nervewracking, both are inconsistent here and Yao is absolutely not able to bring her full potential at the moment.

Musty on vault. Will she bring that amanar? They could well need it to sneak ahead of USA and it has been said she will. Her DTY is good and looks to have the height needed, so we'll see!

Gabby on beam. I would put McKayla on beam ahead of her (Jordyn first choice of course) and even Lauren Tanner, queen of the beam. Gabby has a difficult routine and it does look great when she hits it, but she never hits it perfectly in competition. She is clearly nervous up there, solidity is needed even if it sacrifices a few tenths- Jordyn's connections. A few tenths down is better than the potential for a fall, which unfortunately USA is now risking.

Komova on beam. Managed her routine fine in quals, but shows herself to be very tempermental here in training. It's typically Russian to be a mess in training and then hit when it counts, hopefully we will see that here.

He Kexin on bars. Could be great and a much needed boost for China, or could be a disaster. Her hit rate has been pretty good this year, but still a gamble.

No Romanians? No, not nervous for them. Nervous that they will not bring all of their upgrades and therefore not fully contend with USA and Russia, but not nervous for a fall. Final prediction? Can't call it. Bring it on!

Update: Thrilled Romania will use Diana Bulimar on floor in TF. She wasn't used in prelims, but has a great routine, looking forward. Have just seen Afan's, WOW. Absolutely love it.


Monday, 30 July 2012

Gabby to do beam in TF

Noooo!! She has proved over and over again that she cannot be trusted on this event, it clearly scares her. She did a good routine in prelims and usually nails her beam in training, but her hit record in competition is not enough. When have you last seen Jordyn fall off beam? Grab the beam? Have a huge wobble and bring her foot up? This is far too risky and quite frankly, an insult to USA's steadiest competitor. Jordyn may not get her connections credited but the girl is guaranteed to stay on. Let's hope Gabby is Aly-like steady, and that the likelihood of her posing a 15.266 again is worth it. I suspected this after Gabby's high score on beam yesterday, but thought a solid routine would win out over a gamble. Which is exactly what this is now.

The fuss about Jordyn

As we all know, a top contender for the all-around, Jordyn Wieber, who placed fourth in the all-around won't get to compete in the all-around final.

Why?
Jordyn falls foul of the two per country rule, which means because her two teammates outperformed her, she can't qualify even though her score was ahead of almost everyone else.



Why is the rule in place?
To allow for diversity and to give a chance to gymnasts from countries not in the top 4 the chance to compete.



Does it work?
No. If a gymnast is good enough, then they will qualify regardless. China, Romania, USA and Russia still dominate the top, while gymnasts from countries where gymnastics isn't a big deal flounder around the bottom and don't go near the top. Gymnasts from outside the top 4 have won or been major contenders (Onodi, Podkopayeva) but the rule makes little difference when you're that good- having it in place will not allow or disallow an exceptional gymnast from a lesser country to contend for the title. The issue is, they have lesser difficulty and having the rule won't help that.



Why was it changed from 3 per country to 2?
Much the same reason why the size of the team has been lowered too. The IOC and FIG are eager for countries with less depth to be given the chance to field a team and in general to lower the number of athletes so that other disclipines can be contested.



If the rule has been in place for ages, why is it only a big fuss now?
It has often been the cause for outrage before. The issue here is depth. This year, Anastasia Grishina will not get the chance to compete in the all-around. Yelena Zamolodchikova was denied twice. Zamo was a top contender, but Grishina is not- strong, but not podium material. Jordyn arguably is the best gymnast ever to be denied the chance.



Do other sports use this kind of rule?
Yes, but certainly not all. The IOC are big fans of diversity, but it absolutely is not across the board. The ones that do have it are similar, using the rule either in the qualifying rounds before the Olympics, or the actual heats/Olympic quals.



So why isn't there a fuss about Grishina too?
Anastasia Grishina was never really expected to qualify. She is strong on her events, but not exceptional. Komova and Mustafina were almost a certainty. By contrast, Jordyn WAS a certainty! She is the defending world champion and was if not people's predictions for gold, certainly a given to be a very strong contender and extremely likely to walk away with a medal. Gabby was expected to qualify- she has the highest difficulty and extrmely strong bars. Although Aly qualifed ahead of her, she was not expected to- only if Gabby messed up. That's how certain Jordyn's status was seen to be.



People wouldn't have cared near as much if it was Aly who got screwed over then.
Correct. People would have felt sorry that such a strong AA contender wasn't going to qualify, but Aly has never really been top, and would not have expected to make it especially since Gabby surged so spectacularly.



There wouldn't have been such a big fuss if this was another country that this happened to.
It would have, internally in the country and by gymnastics fans. But not internationally- there are so many people who watch gymnastics only every 4 years and they are mostly fed by NBC and the hype around the American favourites.
 

Will the FIG get rid of the rule?
Highly unlikely. There has been several uproars about it before, and in the meantime they downgraded the team size and the number per country who can qualify from 3 to 2. A modification is not out of the question, but actually abolishing it, not a chance.



Might we see Jordyn in the AA anyway, one of the others might step down?
Gabby and Aly earned their places as Jordyn exhibited some mistakes which were costly. To suggest one of the others should give their place up to her is ridiculous and insulting to their talent. The only way we will see Jordyn in the AA is if Gabby or Aly get injured before then.


But gymnasts have been pulled before?
Yes, famously Roza Galieva was pulled from the 1992 AA with a faked injury in order to get Tatiana Gutsu in- she fell off beam so Galieva surged ahead. Gutsu fulfilled her potential and won the AA but it is a decision that is still controversial twenty years later. Much less famously, Marinescu was pulled from the 1996 AA to make room for Amanar. USAG and co. are extremely unlikely to do this, in this day and age they would not be able to pull it off.


So where will we see Jordyn then?
Jordyn will be a huge contributer to USA in Team Finals, she is expected to compete all four events. Beam is a little in question- Gabby outscored her by a lot but Gabby is prone to costly errors. We will also see her in floor finals.



So who are the top AA contenders now?
Gabby, Vika and Larisa. Aly could well medal, but gold probably out of the question. But you're never safe from being surprised in this sport!



Will this taint the AA as others have been?
Certainly not as dramatically as the 1992 and 2000 ones have been but Jordyn's exclusion makes it less exciting and it will be a question of winning without contending against all of the world's best.


So, the fuss is justified?
Yep, it is absolutely shocking that we will not see the current world champion and 4th-place gymnast contending for the prestigious title she was seen as a certainty for and trained her whole life for. I draw the line at contesting Aly and Gabby's places, Jordyn did make mistakes and both of the others deserve their places. Although Gabby's beam was overscored by comparison and her vault should have incurred more deductions, the fact remains that had Jordyn remained in bounds on floor or not made her bars error or not been off in direction on her amanar, she would have made it and that's the important factor.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Subdiv 5 and an overall look

This subdivision saw Romania and Japan and two mixed groups- amongst which Celine Van Gerner and Thih Phan were the ones to watch. Larisa Iordache competed AA! Which was expected, but only very recently- she was written off a few days ago. It's just fantastic that she did at all. Some uncharacteristic Romanian mistakes, Cata had a few wobbles on beam, and bailed out of her triple full to save herself. Sandra messed up bars, though I'm quite confident she will still make the AA after stellar performances on her three other events. Larisa fell on her triple full which was horrifying as I thought it was due to her injury and that she was out after that- but it turns out she just messed up her take-off. Some wobbles on beam from her and her bars were watered down. Before her injury, she could have won the all-around. She is still in contention if she competes more steadily and brings more of her upgrades. Japan were great, worked so well as a team. It has been reported for a while that Thih Phan has had issues with her vault and has gone through training upheaval. Unfortunately it showed as came off the mat and probably had a hand down, would be lucky to qualify for vault EF after that. Vault has been a shake-up, Berger and Steingruber fell too. Izbasa vaulted her way in however.

Highlights

- Sandra's floor! So fast, clean, and well done
- Larisa's floor (except the fall) was wonderful. Such energy and bounce but she kept her great landings. Gutted she will not make floor finals, which she could easily have won
- Rie Tanaka has a great personality which shines through everything she does. LOVED her expressive floor, and her bars were a total pleasure to watch
- Asuka Teramoto is this quad's short cutiepie. Fascinating to watch, really great floor and beam from her. Her tumbling on floor was just textbook perfect.
- Celine van Gerner's floor was wonderful, very clean and expressive (minus her fall)
- Japan's interaction and attitude, not that the other teams were sulky but Japan just exuded positive energy and support for each other, just lovely to see

Very dissapointed in Romania's leo. I expected the colouring of course but that white was so shiny and horrific, really took away from it. Cata's leo was far too high-cut as usual, sadly.  I LOVE Japan's leo, sure it's busy but it's just awesome and so unique. I don't like the neckline, too high and I hate that kind of collar look, but even that doesn't really affect how much I love it. Celine Van Gerner's leo is a bit undecided for me, I like black and I want to like it...dunno. Sasa Golob had what looked like a nice leo from a distance- I'm a fan of white lace, but wow up close it was so tacky looking, unfortunate.


Russia looked very good, some small errors but nothing terrible. Vika and Musty HUGE AA contenders right now. Almost reached USA's mammoth score, and that was with only one amanar and watered down routines, more could be up their sleeves..

USA were on fire, and look unbeatable. It's not impossible but they are sooo ready for this. I cannot believe how much Aly's form has improved, even since Trials! Her drive is remarkable and she is working so hard- which paid off with an AA place.

Romania showed numerous mistakes, and Larisa was clearly hindered by missing a good bit of training. No Cheng or Amanar, and lots of new upgrades not shown. 4th place, but they have a lot more to show. Should never be written off from gold.

GB had the meet of their life! Beth's bars routine really was fantastic, and solid performances from everyone else too- Rebecca has just improved massively in the last few months. Hannah Whelan's fall will have cost them a few tenths, they may easily score higher in TF.

Italy looked great, but weak difficulty brought them down a bit. Preziosa's beam was a huge dissapointment. Ferrari is totally on floor- wonderful floor and beam from her AND she is a strong AA contender. Fasana stood out as a great contributor too. Will be fighting with Japan and GB in particular, should be able to place 6th

Japan had to count a fall and still placed very high. They're quite weak on vault, a place where Mai Murakami would have helped them out (tear). Anyway, quality floor and beam from them and pretty decent bars. Koko is still going strong but Rie Tanaka and Asuka Teramoto were just brilliant. I see them fighting well with GB- could manage 4th!

Canada Far too little of Canada was broadcast for me to make a judgement on them. I think I got Moors on floor and bars (yay) and Black on vault.

Australia Great performances from Larissa Miller and Ashleigh Brennan in particular but a below-par Mitchell (understandably so, stomach issue) and falls from Banora and Brennan on beam brought them crashing down out of TF. A great pity, as they were doing so well before beam.

China Their star, Yao Jinnan, is absolutely not on top form, struggling with recovery and a fresh injury. Disastrous for her AA chances yet China had enough difficulty in the bag to keep in third place. Sui Lu's beam was just fantastic, a well deserved 15.4 and Lu and Qiushuang on floor were great to watch. He Kexin greatly helped with her HIT bars, though she is of course still a risk. It might be quite tough for them to remain on the podium, especially with a fierce Romania determined to show what they're worth.

Brazil Not surprisingly, Brazil's scrappy team did not qualify. Hypolito was not on top form, and Dos Santos while still great on floor is far from her peak. This team is too old and is suffering from having to use alternates due to their string of bad luck.

Germany Some great routines, but plenty of mistakes kept them out of TF, sadly.

France Did not see enough of them to judge properly.

AA The huge shock is of course, no Jordyn. Vika fulfilled her potential and qualified first. Rie Tanaka qualified last, with a fall. In between there isn't much surprise except Aly. Asuka Teramoto and Vanessa Ferrari have done brilliantly well to qualify so high, 7th and 6th respectively. Jinnan IS there, in 19th, but it would be very doubtful if she can bring her 2011 self to the final. Marta Pihan hangs in there, also with a fall. This won't be AS tight, as the fight for the top is missing Jordyn and Jinnan, but still exciting.

Bars Heartbreaking as both Yuona Dufournet and Nataliya Kononenko fell, ending their extremely high chances of making finals. Their mishaps made room for Koko Tsurumi and Elizabeth Seitz to get in. Gabby really nailed hers, earning that place.

Beam The big shock here is no Larisa, who faltered a good bit, though still scored high. Gabby snuck in ahead of Wieber who didn't have a great beam, and no Musty! Afanasyeva really rocked her beam though, good for her.

Vault No surprise that McKayla sailed into first place. But both Steingruber and Thih Phan had issues and knocked themselves out of contention, though Berger did enough despite her fall to get in. Pena got her feet down first, scoring very high. Paseka got lucky too, standing up hers

Floor Again, no Larisa who is a huge loss here as well. Cata, Sandra and Aly all will contend. Can't find list of qualifiers, but Ferrari obviously placed too! Should be very exciting.

Great comp for Vika, Aly, Gabby, Vanessa, Asuka, He and Beth
Disaster for Nataliya Kononenko, Valeriia Maksiuta, Yuona Dufournet, Ti Phan, Giulia Steingurber and ironically, Jordyn Wieber

Best floor Aly Raisman
Best beam Sui Lu
Best bars Beth Tweddle
Best vault McKayla Maroney
Favourite floor Asuka/Rie
Favourite beam Vassiliki Millousi
Favourite bars Beth Tweddle
Favourite vault McKayla Maroney, but LOVED Jessica Gil Ortiz' too

Favourite leo It's a toss up between Japan, Vasilliki and GB. Hmm.

Bring on team finals, what a day this has been.


Subdiv 4: Aliya rocks her gameface

Ooo, another very interesting subdivision. This one saw Russia square off against China, Germany and a mixed group (and against USA's mammoth team total earlier). Sadly, Yao Jinnan is very much affected by her injury recovery and newly sustained recovery..I didn't see her bars, but everything else had huge errors and falls. Such a shame. Vika brought IT to competition, seems to have had errors on floor (..not broadcast), but nailed everything else. Slightly crossed legs on her amanar, but it was good and clean and high. (Paseka's not seen..). I am impatiently waiting for footage of Afan's floor to emerge, damn you BBC! No amanar from Qiushuang and plenty of missed connections for the Russians on their upgrades, but very exciting nonetheless as they almost reached USA's total.

Highlights

- Sui Lu's beam. BEAUTIFUL. Absolutely solid, and so clean.
- Vika's bars. She has the edge over Musty here, but not by much. So precise and crisp
- He Kexin ROCKED that bars routine. She does have more SV in the bag, competed a 7.1 here. Looks like enough to really challenge for the top so maybe she'll keep it safe and stick to the 7.1. Delighted for her
- Chuso once again throwing a huge vault, for which we must forgive those form errors
- Huang Qiushuang's floor. Yes her tumbling landings weren't great but she got sooo into her choreo, fantastic expression
- Elizabeth Seitz on bars. Did a def and has really cleaned up on her form, great to see
- Grishina's floor. Lovely as always AND she really did an excellent job on the Silivas, even with the OOB

Jessica's Gil Ortiz and Lopez had pretty bad leotards, Gil ortiz gets a bonus point for her fabulous hair though. Russia's was pretty boring, bring out the fabulous elegance! Interesting that they brought a side angle for He Kexin's bars when we've been looking at dead-on angles all day. Hmm. Hope for multiple angles at TF, AA and EF! The hot pink and purple is fine..until an aerial shot when it really starts to hurt the eyes! Enjoying the slow-mo on leaps and vaults that BBC are providing, but wow did not need to see Yao Jinnan crash over and over again.

So Russia and USA are really close, both over the 180 mark. What will Romania bring??? 2 hours to go!

Subdiv 3- Beth is a hero

WOW. This was an insane subdivision. USA, France, Canada and the home team GB all competed. First up was USA on vault hammering out their amanars, which went very well. No very costly errors this time around really, Gabby ran out of bounds on her double arabian pass, Jordyn had an overarched handstand, Kyla had an OOB, Hannah Whelan fell off beam..I didn't see any other mistakes, but then not every routine was broadcast.

Highlights

- Beth Tweddle getting up amidst huge expectation, nailing EVERY part of her impossibly difficult routine and then almost sticking her Fabrichnova dismount! HUGE roar from the crowd, great amount- and a whopper score to match, sending her straight to the top of bars EF- 16.133. Well done Beath!
- Aly Raisman on floor. Same as always, but cleaner form and leaps! Brilliantly done, and another huge score to match
- Victoria Moors on floor. Like, duh. I probably love her a bit too much to really analyse her floor, which isn't going to make floor EF with a 14.1. She's very young though, I want to see her with more difficult third and fourth passes to match her potential.
- McKayla Maroney on vault. Yes, she had a big step and a shuffle on landing. For two reasons: One, her broken toe. Two, THAT HEIGHT! Literally her block just gets better and better, but that makes landing much harder. BBC were dead right, she gets TOO MUCH HEIGHT. It's insane. Beautiful form in the air, she's gotten back to her best there. A 15.9 that you could expect to hit 16.2 if stuck, or even higher given what they were giving the other amanars. Phenomenal. I DIDN'T SEE HER MUSTAFINA- they tried to show it after but it cut out. Can't wait to see.
- Gabby and Kyla on bars. Clean, precise, insane squirrel releases, beautiful double layout dismounts. Just lovely to watch
- Hannah Whelan on floor, she's such a great performer.

There's a big shock which you'll find in the spoilered post below. It has exploded over twitter but if you're relying on tape delay and trying to avoid the internet, don't read it either! And on to subdivision four!

I am in LOVE with the GB leo. I don't like the ones that were publicised a while ago, but this was a great use of red and a lovely bling pattern. Canada's wasn't as nice as expected. USA's was a great colour- love it on a leo, but I do NOT like that star mesh explosion on the front, gross.

Jordyn out of AA

Jordyn Wieber has not qualified to the AA, Gabby and Aly qualified ahead of her. I didn't get why she was crying at the end, until the commentators copped on. This is a tad unbelievable..whatever about the world champion not winning the AA, not even qualifying is an extreme blow for her to take. Now, I am delighted for Aly who has cleaned up bigtime- her floor scored very high and deservedly so. Her amanar wasn't even that scary, she kept her form through her legs more than she has done in ages. Her floor in particular really was spectacular, with very clean leaps and landings.

Where did it go wrong for Jordyn? Her bars had a form break, overarched handstand. Her floor was perfect, amazingly well done considering she performed against the backdrop of Beth Tweddle nailing her impossible bars on home soil. Vault was off direction to the side, she would have scored higher with any of her other amanars this year. Beam was a little slow on those connections, and she was credited with 6.0 difficulty- so clearly the judges thought they were too slow as well. Beam has been judged very harshly all day and unfortunately Jo fell victim to it. Overall, a combination of her small mistakes not being enough to combat Aly hitting everything and Gabby's higher difficulty overcoming her own big floor mistake. Devastated for her. USA have lost a top AAer- and so has the Olympics.

Subdiv 2 Beam curse

This subdivision saw Italy and Australia face off directly, both major contenders for TF. Notable individuals were Marta Pihan-Kulesza POL, Tina Erceg CRO, Valeriia Maksiuta ISR, Giulia Steingruber SUI and Natalia Kononenko UKR. Unfortunately there was more heartbreak and mistakes than highlights in this subdivision.

Highlights

- Marta Pihan- Kulesza on floor, brilliant presentation and great tumbling. 14.33, great for low enough difficulty
- Vanessa Ferrari on floor and beam, absolutely fierce and confident on beam where she nailed everything, floor was typically powerful, her back tuck was fast enough- though not Myzdrikova fast.
- Ashleigh Brennan on floor. Very very precise in everything, all of her landings were stuck or almost stuck and such great form
- Lauren Mitchell who has been struggling with a stomach issue (which really explains her bad PT performance) got through everything decently, great to watch on floor evem though her double arabian is very cowboyed
- Erika Fasana, the new Italian senior was very exciting to watch and performed very well, especially on floor

Not-so highlights...

Natalia Kononenko fell off bars on her release combination, she did actually catch the second jaeger but wasn't able to carry it through and came off. A major contender for bars EF, so it was just awful to watch and she was understandably gutted.

Elisabetta Preziosa fell on her beam dismount. Gutted for her, I really wanted to see her in beam EF. Her beam and Kononenko's bars are a big artistic loss for their various EF's.

Marta Pihan- Kulesza fell off beam. Not a huge disaster but obviously affects her chances of making the AA.

Tina Erceg also fell off beam. It was going so well, she is just beautiful to watch, such a pity.

Valeriia Maksiuta who had an outside chance at beam EF fell off twice and had huge wobbles, and then stumbled back and sat her dismount. She was extremely heavily taped and strapped

Rough beam rotation for Australia, who handed the lead to Italy after Georgia Banora had a scary beam-hug type of fall and Ashleigh Brennan underrotated her double pike and put her hands down. Lauren Mitchell stepped up to the plate and had the best save I have seen in a long time- good for her! She got her dismount around but it was pretty low.

Giulia Steingruber had a bad time on both of her vaults, both had bad form and huge steps on landing and she put her hands down on the second one. Her score does not look high enough for Vault EF- shocker! Plenty of vaulters to go though yet.

Final score saw Italy with a two point lead over Australia, who themselves have a five point lead over Brazil. Brazil kept it together but are just too weak difficulty wise to get anywhere. No horrifying leotards from number one offenders, Italy and Australia! Italy wore the lovely blue one which circulated last week on the gymternet, and Australia wore a very similar one to USA Worlds TF, except in their own colours of course with a cobwebby-type sleeve pattern. Marta's looked very NCAA, but full points for her hair glitter and eyeshadow co-ordination. Ferrari looks totally on and like a top 8 AA finisher. She powered her DTY around, but it looked exactly like Aly Raisman's amanar! Next up is USA, Canada, France and GB- in just less than two hours.

Italy win the leo comp here, lovely combination and such a gorgeous blue. Marta probably had my least favourite.

Subdiv 1 breakdown: Pena doesn't die!

Subdivision 1 is just over. Brazil were the only team. Notable individual gymnasts were Kristina Palesova CZE, Dorina Boczogo HUN, Gomez Porras GUA, Yamilet Pena DOM, Elsa Garcia Rodriguez MEX and Vasilliki Milliusi GRE. E scoring was pretty harsh, especially on beam I thought. I confidently predict that they are going to be harsh with Aly Raisman. Not of course that she is alone, Ponor and Musty are form offenders too. Some absolutely beautiful routines in this subdivision, sure difficulty is low but there is such confidence and maturity in their gymnastics.

Brazil have an incredibly scrappy team, they ran out of alternates after injuries and and Jade Barbosa fiasco. However, they really were focused and 'together' as a team, which was great to see. Unfortunately I missed the first rotation, where they were on floor. Looking forward to Dos Santos who apparently performed well there. Hypolito choked a bit apparently. She looks wrecked and has extremely scary eyeshadow on- all three of her national colours. But she's 27 and competed all-around! Very good beam from her and she kept it together on bars. Very odd to see Dos Santos on bars! Bad enough form, but such energy! Freitas, the last minute stand-in fell off beam and had another huge wobble but the rest of that routine was lovely.

Highlights

- Kristina Palesova's bars! Brilliant form and swing, unfortunately very low difficulty.
- Dorina Boczogo on floor. She stepped OOB, but anything she does looks beautiful. Unfortunately she sat her 1.5 yurchenko.
- Ana Sofia Gomez Porras on beam. It was great, so solid and so elegant. It looks a little low to make finals, but scoring is harsh in general..
- Millousi on beam. Just perfection in her movements
- Pena getting a score for her Prod! She sat it but got her feet down first. Her DTY was AMAZING and she got a bit choked up, as did her coach, lovely to see. She has sooo made vault finals, high enough score in the 14's when averaged.

Unfortunately either I missed Elsa's beam in the first rotation or it wasn't shown. The colouring isn't near as harsh as you'd expect, it looks okay. BBC commentators are just great to hear, nice and objective. Now, subdiv 2 almost starting! I like the Brazil leo, good mixture of their colours. Millousi takes the prize for understated elegance and general great leo- white is always a winner. The rest were pretty boring.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

One day to go!

Opening ceremony was pretty cool, great in the beginning and the end but lagged a bit in the middle I thought. I know it's a great opportunity to show your culture and history, probably the best ever chance really- and they did do a great job. LOVE the flame and the idea behind it, thought it looked a bit crap until it joined together. The soundtrack was absolutely incredible.

Not following MAG quals that much, but I am sooooo gutted for Kieran Behan. If you don't know his story, look it up. Basically, it's amazing that he can even walk, let alone qualify to the Olympics. He stumbled on one pass and fell on another. He's had even more troubles with injuries this year, probably the reason. Also fell on vault, but that was never going to be finals worthy. Obviously he's going to be devastated to not qualify but I hope he is able to concentrate on what an achievement his Olympic experience is as a whole. GB have beaten China in their subdivision! How incredible would it be if they got on the podium? China had several issues, they really are scrappy this year in both of their teams. Just about 20 hours until subdivision 1, woohoo!

Interesting that Japan did a China on it and had to count a lot of mistakes and falls. I doubt either can be counted out of contention- especially not Japan. Not liking how Chen Yibing pretty much blamed Guo, forgetting his own fall and 12.9 PB score! Devastated for Phillip Boy, who had a very rough time on high bar and appears to have screwed his ankle up- wincing on floor after. Not surprised USA were so dominant- it would be nice if it went Japan, USA, GB! LOVE how strong they were, I hope they can repeat and medal. It's so great to see a non 'big 4' country do so well when it doesn't have decades of medals behind it.

And now to bed, to lessen the amount of hours until prelims- less than 12! Warning: I will post a highlights/analysis of all subdivisions as they are happening, but I'll post a warning or spoiler alert in each post title.

Friday, 27 July 2012

Opening ceremoney is hours away! :O

Kind of gutted there will be very few gymnasts in it, but it makes perfect sense. Kieran Behan is competing tomorrow morning in Subdivision 1, Mixed Group 3! Look out for his floor routine if you're watching it, he has killer execution and should be well able to qualify for floor EF. His ability to medal is in question in a much deeper field than he's used to..but he has upgraded, so here's hoping.

Romania are full of surprises. Not only has Cata joined the back tuck brigade (those back tucks better look like Myzdrikova's!) AND is competing a full twisting double layout she also brought back her full twisting double back beam dismount! Wait for it...this brings her beam up to 6.7 (!!!!) and her floor up to 6.5. It looks like Larisa's beam is being watered down slightly, introducing a layout to two feet in her tumbling series instead of the full twist. So the two of them will probably tie difficulty wise- how exciting! On the Larisa front, it now seems more likely than not that she will do the AA. Waiting for Sunday really for confirmation (may compete watered down routines on Sunday). Anyway, HURRAY! if she does. If not, hopefully she can do floor and beam EF as she has a big chance of gold in both.

I have my expat shield ready for every single qualification, as on TV I only have access to Subdivision 3- the one UK is in (and US and Canada and France). Although 3, 4 (Russia) and 5 (Romania) are the exciting ones, I really want to see 1 and 2 as well- Daiane Dos Santos, Dorina Boczogo, Vassiliki Millousi, just great gymnastics.

It's ALMOST HERE!!!

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Feedback time!

Okay so this blog is just about 6 weeks old and it's doing better than I expected. Before readership drops off after the Olympics, I'd like to request some feedback. So, feel free. This is my first ever blog or attempt at one so I don't have great faith in my writing style. Is what I write too samey to what is going on elsewhere? Do I overuse certain words, phrases and punctuation too much? Do I come across as overly critical? Is there too much recap, not enough analysis? Better with more pictures and videos? Writing style quite immature? Is this layout better than the standard template sunsetty one I had? Are you in awe of my picasa skills for the header? Basically, things like that. Note: Not desperate attempt to seek praise as criticism (hopefully constructive rather than just outright harsh!) is more useful so I can develop. Comment away!

Podium Training news

The good

- USA looking ready to go on basically everything
- Maroney nailing her amanars (still with the step but even so..) and her Mustafina
- Musty looking very sharp and clean on all four- sticking DTY's
- Hannah Whelan has a DTY! That will help her out, especially when the new code kicks in
- Pena not dying on vault. Prod still questionable but she's not crashing them completely
- Millousi and Preziosa rocked their awesome beams
- Victoria Moors great on floor
- Vika landed amanars well
- Beth Tweddle looked awesome on floor
- Great bars from Huang Qiushuang, Gabby, Kyla, Vika and Grishina
- Huang Qiushuang in general having a great day
- Russia had a surprisingly good beam rotation
- Aly pointed her toes on bars! Stronger bars than her usual. This will help her out IF she manages to qualify for AA
- Afan was fantastic on floor..so impatient to see this routine!
- Jenni Pinches looked really good on floor, maybe she has found consistency?
- Campana, the last-minute substitute for Deagostini of Italy had a really good comp and confirmed the justice of her selection
- There's not just Vika and Aly's Patterson's- Elsa Garcia of Mexico nailed loads of them!
- Daiane Dos Santos lands a full twisting double layout and a double layout. Now aged 29, it doesn't look like any gymnast can ever top her tumbling power.
- Romania looking great on floor which they really need with the partial loss of their star. Diana Bulimar could really shine now.
- Lovely bars from Rie Tanaka. Will have to look up her difficulty but it would be so great to see her in bars EF
- Cata has a full twisting double layout! Really making her case for floor EF medal now
- Izbasa throws her Cheng and a beautiful Mustafina! Vault silver??
- Chelaru does what appears to be a timer for an amanar. Intriguing!
- Iordache did a full beam and bars, and did some vault and floor work (very light). Such determination when she is clearly in pain. Maybe this fire can help her compete strongly

The bad

- No floor from Maroney, who is being preserved and only doing vault. A beautiful routine which will be missed at these Olympics
- This means using Kyla in prelims, her score can be dropped but it makes it more annoying that it has such a stupidly low SV when she has such potential
- Rebecca Tunney hurt herself on a tumbling pass and cried BUT she did vault after so it doesn't seem serious
- Canada had a really crappy time on vault
- Lauren Mitchell had a really rough time, messing up badly on both floor and beam
- Aly had issues with her first tumbling pass
- Koko Tsurumi after throwing some low and dodgy tumbling on floor landed on her head on one, and was unable to continue on floor. However, she did compete afterwards..
- Paseka crashed her amanar more than once, the only thing she is on the team for- though stood them up all week
- Grishina's Silivas not looking competition ready
- Yao Jinnan had a pretty rough day and does not look on top form. UPDATE: Rumours of a thigh muscle strain :(
- Deng Linlin still wearing a back brace and looks to be in pain
- France who have a pretty scrappy team after being plagued with injuries looked rough and not ready, as they have done all week
- Brazil having issues with vault, Hypolito in particular
- Gabby sat at least one amanar and had problems on beam...not a suprise but both are her weak points if she's going four for four
- USA had an unbelievably gross leotard. Not only was it a disgusting pepto pink shade, it was also way too shiny with tacky looking silver stars AND mesh cut outs and weird stripes in the chest area. If Maroney cannot make it look good, it's an eyesore. 
- Not one but TWO leopard print sleeveless leotards! Rotten Tina Erceg of Croatia and Laura Svilpaite of Lithuania were the offenders.

The injuries

- In heartbreaking news, Bitang has confirmed Larisa Iordache will not do the AA. Terrible news for her and her team and B&B- but also the Olympics as a whole, she has very exciting routines and was a top contender for the AA. Devastating. She will compete on bars and beam but it still means Romania are almost certain not to medal now..Bitang said the same too.UPDATE: Iordache's AA status now said to be 50/50, with the decision up to her. It is possible if she gets through prelims that she will have rest and pain relief enough to do the AA..nerves of steel just as important with a decision like that. Hopefully she can, though not at the expense of her health!
- Adrien Gomes of Brazil is out and will not compete. Brazil has been plagued by bad luck and injuries this year, and are pretty much out of replacements at this point. They are extremely unlikely to qualify for TF
- McKayla Maroney is competing on a broken toe and is in pain. Although it is brilliant and very lucky for her team that she can vault and did so today, her floor is a big loss and she also has a decent beam routine.
- As I mentioned before, Anna Li is unable to train as she will be in a neck brace for the next few weeks. It appears that she landed on her neck on her bars fall..very very scary! USAG seem to have a different meaning for 'fine'- what an absolute disgrace. 


Larisa injured?

It looks like it. Apparently pain in her feet has been coming on for 'several days'. Here is a google translated article:

"She was treated with NSAIDs and ultrasound, but the pain persisted. He had an MRI and doctors at the Olympic Village verdict was "fasciitis".

According to specialists, explained fasciitis is a disease of the membranes that surround the heel, which is likely to Larisa and her be harmed tens of thousands of landings after jumps on the beams.

Alert widened because the pain persisted and, last night, Larisa Iordache reached a clinic in London where he works with a German orthopedic coaches Belu and Bitang have worked at the Olympic Games in Athens.

This second opinion is decisive. "You try to work if the pain lasts, but we are not sure about it" was the advice of doctors at the Olympic Village.

In these cases, who ultimately decide to continue to train and compete with the pain is very athletic."

(She always translates as he)

This is an absolute disaster for Romania if she cannot compete. IF. It doesn't appear that anything is certain about it..we'll have to wait for more conclusive reports tomorrow and see if she competes in PT. If pain is the problem rather than actually not being able to perform, that could probably be controlled with cortisone. Probably not wise to inflict more damage when she has to compete 10 routines in competition alone. If she can't, Romania are off the podium. Hopefully this is too dramatic and she will be able to compete in time.

No real news on this this morning. Just that she MAY be able to compete everything, especially if she a cortisone shot. Her status remains in doubt basically. Romania are in the last session of PT, which is I believe 5:45 GMT.




Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Bits and pieces

Unfortunately not much  news on training, since WAG training doesn't appear to really have been covered today- all bloggers pegged it over to watch MAG podium training in the arena instead. Understandable I suppose!

Anna Li fell off bars and was taken to hospital for testing. All tests came back clear and according to USAG with their favourite phrase, she is or appears to be 'fine'. Is it really 'routine' to be taken to hospital after a bars fall? Clearly it must have been more than just a simple fall on release. Of course this isn't a disaster for USA because she is an alternate, but still newsworthy. I hope Anna is back on her feet very soon and continuing to train. EDIT: Clearly it was serious, she's out for six weeks and is in a neck brace. So she's 'fine' according to USAG...

Larisa Iordache had a meltdown in training, stopped doing tumbling passes, did not vault and only really did bars after that. She got a bit of a talking to and cried. She does not appear to be injured as she was seen jogging normally. Too much injury speculation about this..she's young, known to be hyper and may just be experiencing a crash in energy levels and mood related to jetlag. Hopefully team vets Cata and Sandra can get through to her, and B&B. I'd hazard a guess she'll get over it and be a rock to the team come Sunday, and PT tomorrow. It's worth remembering how much pressure there is on her, not only is she a top AA contender, she will also compete all 4 events in TF AND is expected to medal in 2 EF's. Certainly she is not the only girl doing all of that for her team, but if you take the case of Jordyn- Larisa's scores are more important for her team. Larisa's bars score will be significantly higher than her teammates, her amanar will score higher than Sandra's Cheng and their third vault, and her beam and floor will be the highest scoring too. By contrast, while Jordyn may have the highest beam and floor scores it's not a certainty, and her bars will be the lowest and her vault in between. Vika and Musty will be more of a double act as the strongest contributors, rather than shining by themselves. So it's very tough on Iordache, who isn't as experienced as some others. EDIT: she is injured, see above post. Does not mean she can't compete, but it is in doubt.

Video has emerged of Grishina's Silivas (Priakhina!!). Her coach is helping her, but she does look perfectly capable of getting it around herself. Musty looks very sharp on beam and has ANOTHER upgrade there. Vika's amanar has been described as both very off-direction and beautiful. Interesting! Seeing as Paseka's was reliably described as wonderful, looks like they have improved their amanaring and can eat into USA's vault advantage.

Russia's team total d-score now stands at a phenomenal 78. USA's is 76.8, China's 76.7 and Romania 76.2. Headcasing not counted blah blah disclaimer! Without Musty's amanar it's 77.3, still a decent headstart. How exciting.

No word on McKayla Maroney that I have seen. In her own words in an instagram of the team sunbathing 'after a great practice'. I highly doubt she would say great practice if she spent the majority of it on the sidelines. Probably reading too much into it but I infer from that that she at least trained more fully today. Here's to that pesky toe clearing up, NBC have reported worst scenario is a cortisone shot and she will be able to compete. Sounds good to me that that is the 'worst' scenario. EDIT: Did not train fully yesterday either- no beam or floor.

Here is the best photo I've seen from training so far.





USA have had plenty of high-flyers in the past (Sey, Dawes, Kupets, Tricase) but Gabby looks to be the highest, it's actually incredible how high that is. This photo is ripe for a caption, especially since it looks like they might be telling her to fix that cable..or the air-con! Here in Ireland we normally get Britain's weather first, it moves west from the Atlantic. Plenty of rain since but it's still pretty humid, so I don't see any difference for them in their stifling training gym yet.

I am reading a gymnastics thread on a Romanian sports forum through google translate, www.onlinesport.ro I found it because they linked to here! Anyway, it's very very interesting to get a patriotic view on things that isn't American. Just like the Russian translations, there are some good ones here too. Beam translates as drink and amanar as delay. 'Diana Bulimar killed it on drink!' In sadder news, it looks like I won't be able to access at least some of the Olympics coverage on TV as I'm unsure if I'll receive any of the extra Olympic channels BBC are providing. Although I have all of the BBC terrestial channels, I've no access to their online coverage so will have to use an IP shield. Probably just for prelims, but as a back up for the rest too. Still, whatever works!

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Russia suprise everyone!

WOW. Today in afternoon training, Grishina did a double double on floor, while Vika did a triple full to back tuck and a double tuck to split leap. They are really filling in their floor weakness! This brings Grishina's floor up to 6.1 and Vika's to a 6.3...26.4 total difficulty! Insane. It doesn't seem that Afan and Musty did full routines, lots of dance throughs and random passes instead. Afan's music sounds interesting, can't wait to see her routine. Who knows, they might start pulling out Dos Santos's passes from the bag. Delighted to hear this, it makes TF even more exciting and close. Amanaring seems to have gone okay too, none from Musty as expected at this point but Komova stood two up..very off direction though, but Paseka's was apparently 'wonderful'.

McKayla has injured her toe on her right foot, NOT her ankle- good news. No real need to panic about her.

News from training

Hallelujah, Blythe is watching and liveblogging from the first training session. Hopefully she can get some updates after on the mystery that is McKayla Maroney. McKayla did barely anything yesterday, but today did a huge vault timer. Unfortunately, that was it..no other vaults, and did not train beam. Hard not to worry that she won't be ready in time, but it's very likely she can still vault on her sore right foot, just that she won't do too many of them when she doesn't have to. Floor would be more in question, but as I said before- luckily it isn't essential for the team. BUT we still have 3 days until official podium training, and 5 days until prelims..so who knows! Until I hear that Ebee is on her way to London to replace McKayla and not just cheer her on, I have total faith she will at least vault. It's worth mentioning that she seems to be in great spirits on twitter, and it's unlikely she would be if everything was in jeopardy. Interesting, USAG now has photos up showing McKayla on floor- could just have been a dance-through, but anything that shows her training is good news. IG is down..intriguing, we're not close enough to the Olympics for that, surely? Blythe reports Mckayla not limping, I'll take that as a good sign too.

Moving on, Blythe reports that Jordyn is ON. Nailing her beam connections and her floor and vault. Looks like Geddert really is getting her to peak at the right time! Great news. Kyla, Gabby and Aly all performing well too- Gabby appears to have nailed more than one amanar in training, good for her. Blythe saw He Kexin nailing the second half of her bars, she's been very consistent with the whole routine the last while, very exciting. Russians were typically Russian on beam, beautiful work, jumping off very easily. No need to panic, it doesn't automatically translate to competition. Both Musty and Vika look better than they did at Euros, excellent, Musty nailed a full beam routine. China on floor apparently look great, Quishuang in particular making her skills look light and effortless.

Training will reopen at 3pm (GMT) with Romania. All news reported was good and promising..except for McKayla! Will update with later training sessions..very exciting stuff, was hoping we would hear proper feedback before Friday. Blog layout will stay like this, I got fed up of the pink and purple I stuck on last night very quickly!

New 'look' blog

Does it suck? Feel free to say 'yeah it's too samey like other blogs' if you want. I will probably go for a classier black and white header and a blue-ish background soon, but I feel like keeping the colourful look for the moment. After all, the Olympics are pink and purple themed. Anyway, this is all new to me so I expect it looks very amateur. Yes indeed, switched to my classier plan!

Anyway, in case you're wondering 'Hey! Two of those gymnasts won't even do AA/be a top contender/Where's Gabby???' these are some of my favourites who we WILL see in London, AA or not. Gabby is not one of my favourites but I don't want her to fall or anything. It will probably stay until we have a whole new crop of gymnasts. Or I get bored and make another one, after the Olympics though.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Are you a 4-year fan? A London guide

Unsurprisingly, gymnastics is the most watched spectator sport at the Olympics. This means lots of people don't have much of a clue who to watch and who are the favourites. While I don't enjoy the stream of complaints that Nastia and Shawn stars of Beijing won't be in London, casual fans don't annoy me at all, this title isn't snarky! It's how lots of people get into the sport either as fans or gymnasts- the Olympics coverage. And that's a great thing. So here's an easy to follow guide on who and what teams you should be looking out for.

This year, the team is smaller. Only 5 gymnasts are on each team, last time it was 6. The set-up remains the same though, in the team final, 3 gymnasts compete on each apparatus and all 3 scores count. So falls are disastrous, and other errors like landing out of bounds on floor and major wobbles on beam can be costly. Scores will be lower this time- you won't see any 16.9 on bars, because less skills count towards each score.  Each score is composed of a 10 for execution and a difficulty score added on to make up the total score. A 16.2 is the highest score we can expect to see, which can  happen in the case of one particular vaulter. In general, a score over 15 is good. Floor tends to be the lowest-scoring.

Three main competitions will be judged. Team Finals, or TF is first. As mentioned, 3 up, 3 count. America are the favourites here, but Russia, Romania and China are all right up there. A few months ago, America were the clear favourites as they will have 3 amanar vaults. This is a very difficult vault which carries a high d-score. (difficulty score) Only a handful were seen in 2008, but this time around it will be much more common. However, the other countries have caught up- Russia now have 3 amanars, Romania has 2 maybe 3, and China has one. Russia in particular are a big threat now, because they also have a big advantage over America- much better and much more difficult bars routines. But the other two can't be counted out of the race either. Barring falls or major errors, you can expect the following:

FLOOR
USA- Very strong, good scores. 2nd
Romania- The strongest, high scores. 1st
Russia- A bif of a weak point. 3rd
China- Not their strong point either 4th

VAULT
USA- 3 strong amanars, 1st
Romania- Second if they have all three with 6.5 vaults, otherwise 3rd
Russia- Bad form on 2 of these amanars, but will outscore Romania if Romania only have two. 2nd or 3rd
China- Only have one amanar, 4th

BEAM
USA- Strong solid routines but others have higher difficulty 3rd
Romania- Insane difficulty and solid 1st
Russia- Great routines but tend to be very wobbly 4th
China- Beautiful routines and high difficulty 2nd

BARS
USA- A weak point, but not near as weak as Romania. 3rd
Romania- 1 good routine, 2 weak. 4th
Russia- Their strongest point, 1st
China- They have higher difficulty than Russia, but tend to be a bit inconsistent here.2nd

USA's team consists of Jordyn Wieber, Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas, Kyla Ross and McKayla Maroney. None of these competed in Beijing and the oldest is Aly, who is 18. Fear not, all have lots of experience, and all but Kyla were at worlds last year. Likely team captain is Aly, who was captain at worlds and was very good at it. Jordyn and Gabby are favourites in the individual all-around (where gymnasts compete on all four apparatus). Aly could qualify in her own right, but as it's only two per country and she has lower difficulty than the other two, it's unlikely that you'll see her there. Jordyn will also compete all four events in the TF.  Kyla and McKayla will be used as specialists on the team- McKayla is the best vaulter in the world (and is the owner of the 16.2 score above if she sticks her amanar!) and will take gold in the vault event final. Kyla has a very strong bars and beam which will greatly help the team, but not really the difficulty to get her into event finals. USA will show gymnasts in every event final. You can see a quick breakdown of USA's team here.

Romania have an interesting mix of veterans and newbies. Catalina Ponor competed at the 2004 Olympics! She won beam and floor there, and has retained excellence on both 8 years later. (Injured for Beijing). Sandra Izbasa competed in Beijing and won on floor. Larisa Iordache, Diana Bulimar and Diana Chelaru are all relatively fresh on the scene. Their biggest weakness is bars- only Larisa has a decent routine. This will hinder them bigtime in TF...but they have rock solid consistency, and insanely high beam and floor scores to help them out. Bulimar and Chelaru are going to help in TF, the other 3 will be the ones to watch. Sandra will have to fight with Cata and Iordache to qualify for beam and floor EF, Cata is almost certain to make both, as is Iordache. Iordache will do the AA and is one to watch, the second AA is not yet known, it can't be Cata. Izbasa or Bulimar most likely. Romania will show gymnasts in every event final except bars.

Russia have one veteran, Ksenia Afanasyeva. They also have two favourites, Viktoria Komova and Aliya Mustafina. The team is rounded out by Anastasia Grishina and Maria Paseka. Paseka will only contribute on vault as she has an amanar. Grishina will be used on bars and beam and possibly floor. Vika and Musty could well be used on all four, Afan is there really for floor but can contribute on beam too. They have monster bars and have narrowed the gap with USA now that they also have 3 amanars. Unlike USA and Romania, they can be headcasey on beam. Russia will show gymnasts in every event final, although vault is a bit of a 'maybe'.

China have NO fresh faces! Unfortunately those who were new on the scene showed too much inconsistency. He Kexin of beating-Nastia-on-bars fame returns, solely for bars. She has the highest difficulty of ANY bar routine we will see. Deng Linlin is another returning veteran. Sui Lu and Huang Qiushuang have also been around a long time and were alternates in Beijing while Yao Jinnan exploded onto the scene only last year when she took bronze in worlds AA with a fall, and would have won gold without it. Yao is the best hope for an AA medal, but Huang Qiushuang shows great difficulty too, and has an amanar. Unfortunately she also shows great headcase potential. A strong team, but not near as strong and cohesive as their 2008 team.

Now for the AA, the all-around. The top 24 qualifiers after prelims compete for the most prestigious title, only 2 per country can qualify. There are several contenders but unfortunately nobody outside of the top countries has much of a chance. These top contenders are Jordyn Wieber and Gabby Douglas of USA, Larisa Iordache of Romania, Viktoria Komova and Aliya Mustafina of Russia and Yao Jinnan and Huang Qiushuang of China. ANY of the above have a chance, though the first 4 a greater chance than the others. Still close though. You can see a more indepth look here.

The final event after the AA is event finals or EF. The top eight gymnasts for each apparatus compete, again only two per country. Vault is the most diverse by far, and where we will see several gymnasts from outside the top countries. Bars is the most exciting, but beam and floor are hard to call too. Vault gold is already known! Here is a look at who we can expect to see in EF's.
Catalina Ponor and Larisa Iordache are favourites for beam, Iordache and Aly Raisman for floor, Viktoria Komova and He Kexin for bars, and McKayla Maroney for vault.

Prelims take place this Sunday, where all 98 gymnasts will compete in subdivisions. It differs from team finals slightly in that 4 from each country compete on each apparatus, and 3 scores count. The top 8 teams will qualify to Team Finals. The four mentioned above are a certainty. USA, Russia, Romania and China. Japan, Great Britain, Canada and Australia are likely to take the other four spots but Germany and Italy will contend fiercely too. The top 24 gymnasts who compete all 4 events (several will not do all 4) advance to the all-around final.  Prelims also decide those who qualify for event finals- the eight highest scores. Gymnasts competing outside of a team are placed in mixed groups with other individuals and rotate to all events like that. Individuals to watch out for are Natalia Kononenko of Ukraine on bars, Marta Pihan of Poland, Giulia Steingruber of Switzerland, Yamilet Pena of Dominican Republic and Ti Thanh of Vietnam- the latter three all on vault.

Happy watching!

Questions:

Kyla Ross has great bars and beam, why isn't she in the event finals?

Kyla is unlikely to make either, as she has lower difficulty. Stranger things have happened.

Why isn't Aly Raisman in the AA, she's one of USA top AA'ers?

Aly is unlikely to beat Gabby to become USA's second AA'er. This is because Aly's bars are quite weak, and she has lower difficulty than both Jordyn and Gabby. It's not out of the question, especially if Gabby messes up in prelims. Only two per country can be cruel.

Does McKayla Maroney only do vault? How come she got a place in such a small team?

No. She trains all four events. Her bars are very weak and her beam isn't that helpful, but a good back-up. She's most useful on vault and floor, her floor may be outscored by Gabby in prelims and not seen in TF but you will see that spectacular vault. She got the fifth place because no other gymnast vying for the the same place adds more tenths in a team sitaution than Maroney. Maroney also is pretty much guaranteed a vault gold.

Why isn't Catalina Ponor in the AA? She's awesome!

Cata no longer trains bars, so can't qualify.

Why is 'difficulty' so important?

It's so important that it's possible someone with a big error can win over somebody with a perfect, but less difficult, routine. In Beijing Cheng Fei took bronze on vault over Alicia Sacramone, even though she had a fall and Alicia showed great vaults. All of the top AA'ers have upgraded a lot so they won't get left behind difficulty-wise.

Why is everyone doing the amanar vault? It looks dangerous

Purely so they won't get left behind difficulty-wise. The amanar has a 6.5 difficulty, a huge 0.7 more than another very common vault, the DTY. The difference is the amanar has an extra half twist. You can see all of the amanars currently being competed here and judge for yourself.

How old is Oksana Chusovitina??

Oksana Chusovitina, competing for Germany (formerly Uzbekistan, Unified Team and USSR), is 37! This is her SIXTH Olympics. She will compete all-around in prelims but will only make vault EF. Yes, she began competing several years before most of her competitors were even born.

Beam routines look awful now compared to the old days, why is that?

Beam routines now have a lot of requirements. On top of fulfilling those, the quest for difficulty means that little time remains for artistry and choreography.

Why are all the beam and bar mounts so boring?

Either because they are too risky, or take up too much time.

Why aren't Jordyn Wieber, Larisa Iordache, Viktoria Komova and Gabby Douglas in the vault final?

To qualify each gymnast must compete two vaults from two different vault families. (Yes, there are families!) None of the gymnasts above train a second vault as vault is not their speciality and all of them concentrate on the all-around.

Where are Nastia Liukin and Shawn Johnson?

Both ARE in London, Shawn in a promotional capacity and Nastia for promotions and as the FIG (gymnastics governing body) representative. Shawn retired about two months ago, which was not a huge suprise. She has not been able to train due to an injured knee. Nastia made a comeback but it was far too late and she tanked at every competition this year. Yes, she was okay on beam but it wasn't needed- it was really her bars that were going to get her on the team. Even if both were in peak form, it's arguable that they would still not have made it- that's how deep USA are now. 

Where is the Ukrainian team?

Ukraine showed off their inconsistent streak by having a disastrous competition at Worlds last year, meaning they weren't even able to qualify a team to the Olympics. They were allotted a single spot instead. In a run of further bad luck their top gymnast, Mariya Livchikova, was injured for the Test Event and could not take the spot. Even though Mariya is totally fine now and won the Ukrainian Nationals- the spot goes to Natalia Kononenko instead. Kononenko has a great bars routine but we will miss Livchikova's beautiful floor routine.


TEAM USA


Gabby Douglas, Aly Raisman, Kyla Ross, Jordyn Wieber, McKayla Maroney

TEAM ROMANIA



Catalina Ponor, Larisa Iordache, Diana Bulimar, Diana Chelaru, Sandra Izbasa

TEAM RUSSIA



Anastasia Grishina, Ksenia Afanasyeva, Maria Paseka, Aliya Mustafina, Viktoria Komova

No photos of China as a 5 member team yet, will add when one is shown- they have just landed in London.


UPDATE: This post is still clocking up a lot of views. As is evident by now, it's tough to predict what will happen. Aly qualifying over Jordyn to the AA was not predicted by anyone, nor was McKayla Maroney falling. Top gymnasts Larisa Iordache and Yao Jinnan were injured and consequently underperformed. Though it was pretty much confirmed that Russia would have 3 amanars, they did not risk it. Other upgrades did not materialise, though some which were absent throughout the competition DID appear in event finals. The rest of this post is (or was) accurate at the time of posting and remains pretty accurate.






London rumours and a surprise UPDATE

6 days to go! All top teams except China WAG are now in London. Fear not, China's team have been acclimatising in Northern Ireland, about an hour's flight away, so they will be fine. Shockingly, after weeks of rain here near Dublin and all over Britain- the sun is shining! It's supposed to hold until about Friday. What's funny about that is that the opening ceremony actually requires rain, but they have artificial clouds in case the sun happened. Hilarious.

As expected, the training gym (tent really) is MUCH more overwhelming in its hot-pink-ness than the actual arena. Hopefully this will help them adjust better. The arena is going to have lots of cream mats and red down on the podium, and sponsorship messages on the side (coca cola and mcdonalds number one choice of all athletes!) so all in all, will be quite the combo. Yesterday the USA girls did eh nobody proud by wearing hot pink leos. Russia wore lighter pink ones. Headache inducing. Thankfully today USA at least are wearing purple ones. The Romanian girls, who just arrived yesterday, wore some nice black ones which WORKED with the hot pink surroundings. Cata is going to look great when she wears her trademark black in beam EF next to everyone clashing.



Lots of photos are emerging of the Russian girls having a laugh, great to see.





You can see the leo in this one, not a nice pink.

Currently only one blogger is on the ground, Alexa Ainsworth on NBC. Yesterday she reported on USA's and Russia's training. Vika fell off beam at least four times, but that isn't really a big deal as she ALWAYS tanks on beam during PT and jumps off. Mustafina hit a clean bars set. No vaulting was seen. She only saw half of USA's training but what is concerning is that McKayla was on the sidelines, while everyone else trained floor. As she herself states, McKayla may have trained floor before she arrived. My guess would be when bars were going on, as McKayla hasn't a hope of being used there. It's also possible that to save her back after the gruelling round of Nationals- Trials- camp, she isn't participating in every floor training. Regardless, I still think she will do floor ahead of Kyla. Barring injury, it makes no sense to use Kyla when McKayla's floor may well score higher than Gabby's NCAA-style routine. She deserves the chance to find out. It's also worth remembering that last year at Worlds, even though McKayla messed up floor in prelims, Marta still used her in the TF ahead of Gabby and Sabrina, which worked out for the team. As well as Marta's insistence that she will not take a girl for one event, John Geddert has stated that they are training 3 AA-ers (Jordyn, Aly, Gabby) and 2 2-eventers (Kyla, McKayla). So why is Kyla training floor? She's still a back-up for AA, I don't see any reason why she shouldn't.

There's also hysteria over Jordyn's health. In the photo above she is shown putting all her weight on one foot. OMGZ! In another team photo, ALL of the girls are posing like this. It's quite common. It's not even wrapped, unlike Gabby's heavily taped ankle all year, so if it IS sore it seems more preventative than actually injured. If she was injured enough to hinder her training or AA chances, we would have heard by now. Let's all stay calm until Sunday, or try! Luckily we'll have even more bloggers on the scene for official podium training, can't wait!

Now for the surprise! 



Victoria Moors of Canada. She of the awesome floor routine also has the most original bars dismount we have seen in a long long time. Has anyone seen one of these since the 80's? Brilliant, I was only wondering before this would anyone try one again, so sick of double layouts etc. Of course, the routine isn't difficult enough to see her do spectacularly well with this (and she has made costly mistakes as the first two routines show) but I just love seeing something so surprising and great.

UPDATE: McKayla did not train today either, and iced her right foot throughout training. She did do conditioning on bars and dance moves on floor. Hopefully it's nothing serious. She needs to vault five times in competition- luckily although her floor SHOULD be the first one up in TF, Gabby's floor is worthy too so it's not a huge loss if she can't do floor. Only a loss for artistry!  But her vault IS neccessary, very much hoping that by Friday (official podium training) that she's able to land her vaults and do floor safely. USAG have said she's fine though, so I am sure she will be.

Friday, 20 July 2012

The arena! Dun dun DUN

This picture isn't news, seeing as it's causing heart attacks on the gymternet. (I don't normally adopt phrases like that, but it's quite a handy one..).



Now, I am a little bit torn about this. At first I thought it was just like the Gymnova-red test event arena, and that it just seemed pink from a distance. But there isn't much doubt now that it IS pink and not a particularly good shade of it either. In a way, I kind of like that it's different and that it goes with the purple. But on the other hand, it's too busy, and it's jarring to people who have trained for almost their whole careers in neutral, red and blue backgrounds and mats. Let's all hope that they adapt to it quickly, there would be nothing worse than people who have trained their whole lives for this moment to be put off and make mistakes they would not otherwise have done. Luckily (or not as the case may be) the training hall is the same colour, so at least they have consistency with the colour to make the change easier.

The other issue is, it's going to compete with the gymnasts for attention. The floor should blend into the background. You shouldn't be able to recall offhand without checking youtube the colour of the equipment or floor at a given event, but this will stick in everyone's head and it is going to jump out of the TV screen. Let's not forget also- leotards! There's not many colour combos that would work well with this.


China will probably be the most jarring. Even if USA don't produce the flag 'possible TF' leo that's circulating, any version of it will look even busier than it already is. I don't think there will be many countries able to not clash with it. I want to see amazing routines, and not be distracted by someone's leo clashing with the loud arena. We might look back at these Olympics in 10 years on youtube and laugh at the brashness of it all, but it's very serious if it puts people off their game. Let's all think about how MAG are going to come across too, it's not going to do their image and their sport any good for the biggest showcasing of it to the world to look so girly. Here's hoping that we're all fussing about nothing and it will all be fine!

In other news, Giulia Steingruber plans to throw a tsuk double! This will upset Chuso's podium chances because although she plans to do one as well (and so does Berger!), the other two will have cleaner form.

Favourite low to beam ever




Elena Abrashitova, USSR Nationals, 1990

These days, we see a lot of ungraceful low to beam which looks like it's flung in against the gymnast's will. There are exceptions of course, but it's still an area that needs attention. Instead of being an important link in the flow of a beam routine, it's now seen as an inconvenient break to the upping of d-scores with acro skills. Not of course that that is the fault of individual gymnasts, it's just lamentable that this is the direction beam routines are taking.

Why this particular low to beam? Because it combines three of my favourite beam skills, Korbut flip, Valdez into back hip circle. Also because I see it as a valid low to beam now in this code, it's not particularly time consuming, risky or something that only a few can master. Korbut flips are amazingly still quite common these days, forty years after their inception, but the other two are about as common as an acrobatic bars mount. Just a great combination.

D-score table for Team Final

After seeing a blog post showing some upgrades and not others, I'm going to make a stab at it myself. This table is all known and projected upgrades (ie. Musty has a switch ring on beam from a photo, that's 0.2!). At this point, not giving Romania a second amanar as that is pure speculation. (their other 6.5 is a Cheng).

BARS
China: 21
USA: 19.4
Romania: 18.2
Russia: 20.5
Result: China take an 0.5 difficulty lead, Russia just more than a point ahead of USA who are 1.2 ahead of Romania.

BEAM
China: 19.6
USA: 19.1
Romania: 19.8
Russia: 19.4
Result: Romania's beam lead not as impressive as thought, hmm. Of course, no execution taken into account, but still. 0.2 over China, who lead 0.2 over Russia...last is USA, interesting who are 0.3 behind.
Accumulative total: China: 40.6 USA 38.5 Romania: 38 Russia: 39.9  (China, Russia, USA, Romania)

VAULT
China: 18.1
USA: 19.5
Romania: 18.8
Russia: 19.5
Result: Of course USA and Russia tie here, but full scores would be different. Romania are an amanar behind, and China another 0.7 amanar worth behind that again.
Accumulative total: China 58.7 USA 58 Romania 56.8 Russia 59.4 (Russia, China, USA, Romania)

FLOOR
China: 18 OR 17.7 (Sui Lu's d-score was 5.7, new routine looks more difficult- giving her 6.0 and the 5.7)
USA: 18.8 OR 18.6 (Gabby or McKayla)
Romania: 19.4
Russia: 18.1
Result: Romania take a clear lead with hit connections on their upgrades, 0.6 over USA's highest, followed by a much closer Russia and China

TEAM TOTAL
China: 76.7 OR 76.4
USA: 76.8 OR 76.6
Romania: 76.2
Russia: 77.5

LEADERBOARD (using Sui Lu 6.0 and Gabby's floor)
Russia 77.5
USA -0.7
China -0.8
Romania -1.3

Very interesting though it does of course have to be taken with a pinch of salt because sloppy form and amanars have no bearing on this, nor do wobbles, falls, form breaks and missed connections. This is also showcasing all known upgrades, not just competed routines. The blog in question gave Russia 3 amanars, but Romania none and no Cheng and did not include Russian and Romanian known floor and beam upgrades, so Russia tied with USA and Romania had a huge point deficit. I think it's fairer to give everyone the upgrade benefit of the doubt.

EDIT: Russia and Romania DID showcase upgrades- Catalina's event finals beam dismount, Russian switch rings on beam, Komova's amanar are some. But both played it relatively safe, and Iordache's injury also affected Romania a lot. So the American d-scores are by and large spot on (some missed connections) but the rest are a bit topsy turvy.




Thursday, 19 July 2012

The sliding scale of Amanar

We can expect to see nine of these in London at some stage, eight if Musty retains the DTY for safety reasons. The other two are either highly unlikely or impossible to be seen then, but need to be included.

11. Aly Raisman, USA



This is horrifying, and is placed here for two reasons. First, safety. She is twisting into the ground and her landing is dangerous, a prime stance for tearing an ACL. It is not worth it, especially when it won't get anywhere near a 15.5. A 15.3 in American scoring on this vault means 'please stop'. Although it probably won't be used in TF, she will be vaulting it in all podium training, and in prelims. If Gabby falters and she claims the AA spot, there as well. It scores only marginally higher than what her great DTY does. The second reason it's here is the form. Her legs are almost tucked, another huge deduction.

10. Aliya Mustafina, Russia


This vault is from 2010. Word is she has it back, but will only show it in London. The replays really showcase the problems with it, similar to Aly's issues. Safety, one leg is locked, a nasty premonition of what happened to her in 2011. All of her landings on this were at least slightly dodgy and unsafe. The form is pretty bad, legs wide apart, feet crossed and sloppy twisting. It is not unrealistic to expect that it may now have deteriorated further, but we can hope she is not allowed throw it if it looks worse than this.

9. Huang Qiushuang, China


This one is of course harder to judge, as it's just training. It's fair to expect an improvement in form. It gets bonus points for good twisting form (although, her DTY is usually a bit wonky and form tends to deteriorate from DTY to amanar..impossible to tell here) and for being safer, but it's still not an ideal landing. That leg sep could be pretty costly. Let's hope this is cleaner in London, it shows good potential.

8. Maria Paseka, Russia


This one should of course be last, but I'm giving her the benefit of the doubt because she has stood up amanars this year. No videos of them, so I'll have to take the crashed one. It looks about equal to Qiushuang's (when landed), leg sep, otherwise decent form. It's not pretty, but it sure beats teammate Nabieva's montrosity. That said, Nabs had half decent landings. Hmmm.

7. Gabby Douglas, USA


I know, Gabby has clean twisting form, and actually stuck the landing on Trials day 2. Unfortunately, her technique isn't the best though it looks to have improved, and she always sits a few vaults in podium training. This, along with the missed hand at Pac Rims on vault and being pulled out of vaulting at Classics due to inconsistency there, pulls her ranking down. In the first video, she twists too early. The second video sees her blocking correctly, but in both the block is flat, she doesn't get as much height and amplitude as she should, as well as distance and they are all deductable. So, kudos for the form but the block needs oomph and the instability means she's not in the top 5.

6. Larisa Iordache, Romania


Skip to 0.22. Like Qiushuang, this must be given the credit that it will have improved by London. It's clean, very high, and safe. Not by any means perfect. The reason it beats Gabby is its height and relative stability because of that, Gabby's form is not superior enough to best it that way. I love the fact this appeared on Romanian news and the vast majority who watched it would just have wished them well without really getting what they're seeing...but then it appeared on the internet and the gymteret exploded over the amanr and cheng! Classic

5. Jordyn Wieber, USA


The second best vault on the team, it's clean with good form. Inclined to lock legs a bit when she fights too hard to stick, it's much safer and better when she hops like above. She gets good height and distance but loses marks a bit because her twisting is a bit slow, she's too low completing the last half twist, when can be seen on screencaps. If it was faster it would help her spot her landing more safely.

4. Elizabeth Price, USA


USA have an alternate with a vault like this, on top of the 4 amanars on the team. It's so powerful and dynamic, what a great block. Good form, but when the vault is this good it's easy to nitpick and want it more 'perfect', if she could clean it up and stop doing that dodgy step to the side she could beat the vault queen.

3. Simone Biles, USA (Junior National team)


Simone literally exploded onto the scene this year! She's a Junior and is one to watch, she also has a killer floor. Now she normally hops out of her landing, but couldn't resist choosing her stuck one. She has the edge over Ebee's because although they are extremely similar, Simone's is higher with better landings.

2. Viktoria Komova, Russia


Right at the start (get out of the way you stupid man!). Vika's gets almost the top spot because it's the only one that reminds me OF the one in the top spot. Beautiful straight form, great height. Shuffled her landing but that's not a massive deal. She might be sticking them by now, who knows!

1. McKayla Maroney, USA


What a suprise. First is of course her 2011 TF vault, second is Trials by comparison. She stuck a vault in 2010 also, but this year they all have 0.3 steps. Although it's still far and away the most perfect amanar of all time, if she sticks it in London it would be incredible. As Elfi will bleat again and again, it IS the form. It is amazing. Her block means she has time to fix her hair while she's waiting to land. Just WOW. I'm not so biased as not to notice the tiny flaws though, aside from the step she usually shows a tiny leg sep before the block, it looks like that's improved on this year. The other deduction is for her slightly bent knees, which could well be due to her back problems. Regardless, this is the standard everyone else aspires to.