China is perhaps the most interesting team coming into this competition, if only because they tend to not send athletes out during the year.
Aside from the Asian Games, the Chinese team’s only other competition was their national championships in early May. In addition, national team coaches were quoted as saying the difficulty at Asian Games wasn’t near their full potential.
Vault isn’t a great event for this team, but weak as it may be, at least they have three DTYs they can offer in a team final. Floor is really what they need to worry about, as they’ll be lucky to get a single score above a 14. They’re very inconsistent here, so even when someone does have a good difficulty score to offer – e.g. Shang – it’s not always going to pan out the way they hope. Beam isn’t where it used to be for China, but bars is excellent and could make up for several setbacks.
Yao is coming off of an all-around win at the Asian Games, where she also showed her supreme focus on bars, an event on which she hasn’t earned less than a 15.45 over five separate routines since May. She has a passable DTY, a decent – if not top notch – beam set, and along with Shang, the best the country has to offer on floor, a weak event overall.
In addition to Shang’s floor, she’s also excellent on both bars and beam, and she vaults a nice FTY, though it’s not something we’ll see in a final unless someone with a DTY is injured. She and Yao should make up the bulk of the team final lineups, with the two of them the top two on bars, beam, and floor.
Huang should definitely be used on bars, but I’m not sure if she could make it in the team final anywhere else…possibly on beam or floor depending on how her training is going, but bars is really where she stands out the most.
Tan and Chen both have DTYs, so should definitely go up in the team final, and Chen could possibly hit a nice routine on floor. Tan does have nice bars though I worry a bit about her lack of experience, and I think Bai has an excellent beam routine.
The Gymternet’s Team Final Predictions
I think vault will definitely be Tan, Chen, and Yao. They are the three with DTYs and I can’t imagine putting up an FTY over any of these, as they’re all pretty solid. Shang’s FTY would be my alternate just in case.
On bars, Yao and Shang are the two best, and I think Huang should be next in line with Tan right on her heels. Still, as I said before, I don’t think Tan has the experience which is why I’d give the last spot to Huang, who hit a gorgeous bar routine in qualifications at the Asian Games (though fell in event finals, unfortunately).
Reverse the top two on bars for beam…Shang and Yao are best, in that order. Bai comes third for sure, though like Tan, I’m afraid that her lack of experience will get to her when she’s under pressure in a team final situation…she did perform well in qualifications at the Asian Games, but fell in event finals. Huang would be my alternate here.
On floor, again Shang and Yao are on top, and I’d say Chen and Huang are next in line, though Huang hasn’t performed on floor since nationals. Tan went up on floor in qualifications at the Asian Games, but had a very rough routine…so I’d make her the alternate over Huang, if only because it doesn’t seem she’s been training it fully.
It’s so hard to make choices with the Chinese team since they do compete so rarely outside of their own gym walls, but I think it’s pretty clear Yao and Shang carry this team; it’s just the third spot on bars, beam, and floor that have to be filled.
The High Scores
We took our potential team finals lineups and plugged in each athlete’s high score this year to see what their maximum earning potential looks like. You know, just for fun.
|VT||Tan 14.850||Chen 14.775||Yao 14.550||ALT Shang 13.800|
|UB||Yao 15.650||Shang 15.350||Huang 15.450||ALT Tan 15.150|
|BB||Shang 15.367||Yao 14.250||Bai 14.534||ALT Huang 14.350|
|FX||Shang 14.900||Yao 14.034||Chen 13.775||ALT Tan 11.950|
Top Pick– 177.485
The Low Scores
Same as above, but using each athlete’s lowest score this season.
|VT||Tan 14.850||Chen 14.775||Yao 14.450||ALT Shang 13.650|
|UB||Yao 15.450||Shang 14.150||Huang 14.375||ALT Tan 15.150|
|BB||Shang 14.300||Yao 14.100||Bai 13.366||ALT Huang 13.450|
|FX||Shang 13.050||Yao 13.650||Chen 13.775||ALT Tan 11.950|
Top Pick– 170.291
Their high score is less than Russia’s potential high score, but their low score is MUCH higher than Russia’s low score. I think this shows that they’re a bit more consistent overall, but Russia has also had way more chances to make mistakes, as they’ve competed at about three times the number of meets China has as a whole.
Let’s Be Real
We know not everyone is going to have their best or worst day during team finals, so here, we averaged each athlete’s scores on each event to get a more realistic idea of what will probably happen.
|VT||Tan 14.850||Chen 14.775||Yao 14.500||ALT Shang 13.725|
|UB||Yao 15.540||Shang 14.938||Huang 15.031||ALT Tan 15.150|
|BB||Shang 14.833||Yao 14.200||Bai 14.138||ALT Huang 13.900|
|FX||Shang 13.900||Yao 13.890||Chen 13.775||ALT Tan 11.950|
Top Pick– 174.370
As expected, China’s average slightly edges out Russia’s 172.493 for the top spot. It’s SUPER close, but still pretty accurate. Behind Russia is Great Britain with 170.984, Romania with 169.246, Italy with 166.770, Germany with 166.430, and Japan with 165.909.
Only the USA is left! Stay tuned to see how they measure up to the other teams likely to qualify to team finals!
Article by Lauren Hopkins
Photo from Inside Gymnastics Magazine