Romania is coming into this World Championships in a pretty bleak situation, as Larisa Iordache is under pressure to carry the entire team for the entire competition.
She looked fabulous in training, but her teammates didn’t look half bad either, giving hope to the very young and inexperienced girls. Iordache showed a pretty good Tsuk full in addition to her fantastic DTY. Ana Maria Ocolisan also looked rather nice with her DTY; there are three pretty good ones total for the team, so they shouldn’t get left behind there in the final.
Bars is another story, however. This is where they’ll lose the meet, unfortunately, despite not looking too rough elsewhere considering they’re in a weak spot overall. The Romanians only have four girls going up on bars, which has potential to really hurt them in qualifications, especially if they have falls – and they had plenty today, on relatively easy routines.
With the relative strength of other teams this year, you can’t rule out the fact that falls might mean they’re out of team finals. All because of bars! A true shame…it’s a good thing they have some promising juniors coming up next year. Iordache is Raisman-esque in her routine, in which I mean her form’s not great but she’s becoming pretty consistent and they should definitely be able to count on her to hit. Her piked Tkatchev to pak looked especially nice.
Iordache continued her good day to beam, where she has a podium-worthy routine, including a tuck full, layout full, and triple full dismount. Her team also looked good there, especially Andreea Munteanu, who is lovely to watch. Iordache was a bit low on her double double on floor, but her triple full was solid. I’m not sure if she’ll make the podium in what’s shaping up to be a super strong floor final, but it’ll definitely be in event finals, barring mistakes in qualifications.
Great Britain came to Nanning with a very strong team, though didn’t look their best in podium training, especially on vault. No one looked really clean, though they should be able to put up three DTYs in the team final, including from Claudia Fragapane and Kelly Simm.
Bars was also a bit lackluster in the early part of their rotation, though Becky Downie and Ruby Harrold both fought through excellent sets. Downie will have her work cut out for her in bars finals, especially with the Chinese routines looking so crisp and pretty, but she’ll more than hold her own in that event final.
Hannah Whelan remained steady and calm on beam and showed clean execution on floor, where the team looked especially strong. This is also where Fragapane was, naturally, a rockstar. She hit her full-twisting double layout, double layout to wolf jump (!), and tucked double Arabian easily, and is definitely going to fight for a spot in the event final there.
Jessica Lopez of Venezuela looked ready to fight for a strong all-around finish. This seems like her best year yet, based on what we saw at Pan Ams where she nearly won with her skilled performance. She’ll definitely make the top ten here, and possibly get close to top five if she has a great day. She looked great on her DTY, and her bars set was fabulous, as she hit her piked Tkatchev to pak salto, Tkatchev to Gienger, Jaeger, and double front.
On beam, she missed her bhs-bhs-layout series in one attempt, but hit it the second time with zero problems. Her side aerial to sissone to front aerial was very smooth, and she hit a nice 2.5 dismount to finish. On floor, her whip to triple and 2.5 both looked nicely controlled. I’m not sure if she has enough going on in each event to make an event final, though I do see her having a great all-around finish.
For team France, Laura Longueville was forced to withdraw after suffering a knee injury while training bars. While unfortunate, it shouldn’t affect the team too much, as either she or Mira Boumejmajen were back and forth in the alternate spot. Now Boumejmajen, a more experienced gymnast who competed in the Olympic Games two years ago, has the spot automatically.
New Zealand and Australia reportedly both looked very controlled. According to Rick McCharles, they have “lower start [values], but higher quality,” so you can expect to see some very clean, technically proficient routines from both the Aussies and the kiwis.
It would be great if New Zealand could qualify their team as one of the 24 teams that can compete next year; it’s totally possible, as they’re right on the borderline. Australia would love to make team finals, but I’m not sure it’s possible; they’re still pretty much a team of specialists, but if they stay on all events and count on falls from a team like Romania, you never know.
Article by Lauren Hopkins