The Record Breakers in Doha

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Alexa Moreno, Mexico’s first world medalist in women’s artistic gymnastics

A total of 19 countries broke or tied records at world championships in Doha this year.

Some of the most exciting moments in competition for me are when athletes are able to push the boundaries for their teams and help move their countries even further along in their international gymnastics journeys.

Some gymnasts, like Alexa Moreno of Mexico, earned their country’s first ever world championships medals in women’s artistic gymnastics, while others, like Simone Biles of the United States, became legends by beating their own records and continually pushing the bar higher and higher.

Here’s a list of every country with history-making performances in Doha.

BELGIUM

4th all-around (Nina Derwael)
1st uneven bars (Nina Derwael)
4th balance beam (Nina Derwael)

Nina Derwael beat some of her own records here in Doha, records she set in 2017 when she placed 8th in the all-around final and won the bronze medal on bars. Additionally, she became the first Belgian woman to make the balance beam final at world championships, where she placed an impressive fourth.

CANADA

4th team
2nd vault (Shallon Olsen)
2nd balance beam (Ana Padurariu)

This was an incredible year for the Canadian program, which is looking strong enough to potentially take down some top teams in the near future. In 2015, the women tied their best team final finish by finishing sixth, a record originally set in 1989. This year, Canada topped that by jumping up two spots in the rankings to finish fourth.

Individually, Shallon Olsen became the first Canadian woman to win a medal on vault, topping Ellie Black‘s fourth-place finish set in 2017, and first-year senior Ana Padurariu set the record for the country on beam with her silver medal. Prior to her effort, the only beam medal to come for the Canadians was Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs’ bronze in 2006.

CAYMAN ISLANDS

136th all-around (Raegan Rutty)

Raegan Rutty’s solid all-around performance this year catapulted a huge 114 spots up from the country’s previous record, which was 250th place, set by Morgan Lloyd in 2015.

CHINA

1st balance beam (Liu Tingting)

Today, China picked up its sixth beam gold in history, with Liu Tingting the first to win the title in seven years. Sui Lu last topped the worlds podium for the country in 2011, and the first Chinese gymnast two win gold on beam was Mo Huilan in 1995.

COSTA RICA

41st team

This is the first year the Costa Rican women registered a full team at world championships.

EGYPT

25th team

The Egyptian women on the 2014 team finished a respectable 36th place, but this year, the ladies jumped up considerably to finish 25th, just missing out on a full team spot for the 2019 World Championships, though they will serve as the first reserves if a qualified team has to withdraw.

GEORGIA

126th all-around (Anna Subbotina)

In 2015, Nato Dzidziguri set the record for Georgia at the country’s second year participating at worlds when she finished 174th. This year, Anna Subbotina is taking over, bringing the country up by nearly 50 spots.

GERMANY

3rd uneven bars (Elisabeth Seitz)

In the years following the unification of East and West Germany with the end of the Cold War, three gymnasts managed to finish fifth on bars, including Marie-Sophie Hindermann in 2007, Sophie Scheder in 2013, and Elisabeth Seitz last year. In Doha, Seitz broke the fifth-place curse with a bronze medal to earn her country’s top result on the event in modern history.

Note that because Germany was split into East and West Germany for the world championships held from 1962 through 1989, the records for Germany only include 1954 through 1958 and 1991 to present. Both East Germany and West Germany existed as separate countries from Germany itself, and their records cannot be broken, as neither country exists any longer.

INDONESIA

57th all-around (Rifda Irfanaluthfi)

After setting the record for Indonesia in 2015 when she finished 126th in the all-around, Rifda Irfanaluthfi went home and began training bigger and better routines. This year, she returned with a fantastic competition in Doha to break her own record when she finished 57th in qualifications last week.

JAMAICA

42nd team

This is the first year the Jamaican women registered a full team at world championships.

JAPAN

2nd all-around (Mai Murakami)

Last year, Mai Murakami broke records for her country when she became the first Japanese woman to win a gold medal on floor. This year, she set the bar even higher when she became the first Japanese woman to win a silver medal in the all-around, besting the bronze medal record set by Keiko Ikeda in 1966, which Koko Tsurumi tied in 2009.

JORDAN

113th all-around (Ruba Al Daoud)

This was Jordan’s second appearance at a world championships, following Yasmeen Khair’s 152nd-place finish in 2003. With her 113th-place finish in Doha, Ruba Al Daoud moves the country further up the rankings.

MALAYSIA

37th team

This is the first year the Malaysian women registered a full team at world championships.

MEXICO

3rd vault (Alexa Moreno)

Alexa Moreno made history in Doha when she became the first Mexican woman to win a world championships medal with her bronze on vault. Prior to Moreno, the country’s best finish on the event was Denisse Lopez in sixth place back in 1999.

SERBIA

121st all-around (Aleksandra Rajcic)

In 2015, Aleksandra Rajcic set the record for Serbia’s top finish when she placed 127th all-around. This year, she moved up six spots in the rankings to break her own record.

SOUTH KOREA

5th vault (Yeo Seo-jeong)

Yeo Seo-jeong‘s fifth-place finish on vault in Doha is not only the country’s best vault ranking, but also the highest ranking any South Korean gymnast has reached on any event in history!

SYRIA

The Syrian gymnast, Areej Al Khayat, competed only one vault in Doha and therefore doesn’t fit into any standings, but in doing so, she made history as the first gymnast from her country to compete on the world stage. This was a monumental step for Syria and for Middle Eastern gymnastics as a whole and we’re thrilled to welcome her and her country to the international community.

TURKEY

30th team

This is the first year the Turkish women registered a full team at world championships.

UNITED STATES

1st team
1st all-around (Simone Biles)
1st vault (Simone Biles)
1st floor exercise (Simone Biles)

The U.S. has already placed first on every event multiple times, so it’s all about continuing the tradition for them. This year was the sixth team gold medal for the U.S. women after they first won it in 2003. Additionally, Simone Biles earned her fourth all-around and floor gold medals here in Doha, and she became the fourth U.S. woman to win a gold medal on vault, her first title on this event at worlds. All six medals Biles picked up in Doha make her the most decorated athlete in women’s artistic gymnastics world championships history.

VIETNAM

79th all-around (Tienna Nguyen)

With her 79th-place finish in qualifications this year, Tienna Nguyen bumps Phan Thi Ha Thanh‘s 80th-place record (set in 2009) by just one spot to become Vietnam’s top all-arounder in history.

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43 thoughts on “The Record Breakers in Doha

  1. Congratulations to all the teams and individuals! It takes so much work to get to this level, and for some countries simply to be able to commit the resources. Thanks for compiling this list, Lauren.

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    • This is female only. I don’t believe Lauren has a record book of male finishes. This takes a lot of time as it’s extensive research (going back 70+ years).

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      • The men are coming! I’m almost done with the Olympic list but it takes a while. I love having a complete record of every finish ever for every country, and eventually plan on adding a database that will have a separate page for each country so you can see their finishes at each worlds and Olympics. I’m hoping to finish this database by the end of the year!

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        • Do you have all these data (countries, athletes, scores, standings, etc…) for the last 60 years on an Excel file with huge and complex pivot tables to have all these statistics? 🤩😮

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        • Yup! I don’t track the scores, since all of the codes are different, so I wouldn’t be like “so and so is ranked first with a 17 on bars” compared to someone who got a perfect 10 on the event in 1984 or something, since it just doesn’t make sense that way, but I track everything else with the rankings what I pay most attention to, and have it all in an Excel file, going back to 1928 for the women and back to 1896 for the men for the Olympics…and then for worlds, it’s back to 1934 for women and 1903 for men!

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    • I haven’t seen the official rules yet but I believe they’ll have to contend at African Championships next year against other teams so it could also go to South Africa. Like, the Australian and New Zealand men didn’t qualify teams so for continental representation, it could go to either one of these based on an Oceanic meet next year.

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  2. Is Mai the most decorated female Japanese gymnast? She has three medals already, and it’s hard to imagine another female gymnast with more in the modern era.

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    • Also correct but I don’t include QFs for events at the moment because I don’t have all data (but am working on getting it). If we include everyone in event qualifications who set records for their countries, this list would be MUCH longer!

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    • This list of broken records is in terms of the rankings for countries, not personal rankings, otherwise there would be a lot of other personal bests to include…I just included Simone’s big 20 medals record because it’s HUGE!

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      • I wasn’t thinking about it from a personal record perspective (although it is), I was thinking more about Event Records (in this case floor exercise). Either way we appreciate the hard work

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    • This list of broken records is in terms of the rankings for countries, not personal rankings, otherwise there would be a lot of other personal bests to include…I just included Simone’s big 20 medals record because it’s HUGE!

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    • Are you talking in the same meet? Milosovici won a medal at least once on every event (yes even bars, I was shocked), but not in the same year. If we include Olympics we’ve got Silivas in the 88 Olympics and Caslavska in 68. Then there is Mostepanova in the 84 Alternate games. These are the ones I can think of off the top of my head.

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      • Elena Sushunova won a medal on every event in 1987, as did Larisa Laynina in 1962. Latynina also won medals on every event in the Olympics in 1964

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  5. This is perhaps pedantic and not directly related to gymnastics, but I’ll fire away anyway. It’s odd to me that West Germany is reckoned separately, because legally speaking, it’s not accurate to say that West Germany existed separately from Germany; the Federal Republic of Germany has existed since 1949, and the states of the former East Germany did not merge with West Germany to form a new state but simply joined the existing Federal Republic of Germany, under the same constitution and the same laws. Germany holds the seat in the United Nations and the membership in the European Union that was granted to West Germany, although it seems like IOC records are inconsistent about predecessor and successor states. I wonder how FIG keeps its records.

    Of course, given the historical dominance in gymnastics of East Germany relative to West Germany, perhaps it doesn’t make sense to posit any sort of continuity between the former West German program and the German program today. I’m not terribly knowledgeable about what happened to the East German gymnastics program specifically after the fall of communism and reunification, although I’d certainly be interested to know.

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    • It’s correct that West Germany is technically the Germany that had existed before and after the Cold War, and that the DDR was the “new” country, but I wasn’t sure if Germany today would count the records from both East and West Germany, from just West Germany, or just East. Like, Russia technically claims the Soviet Union’s victories as their own, but like, Belarus doesn’t even though they were part of the USSR. I personally just keep it all separate based on the country that earned the medals at the time, so it’s clear that East Germany won X amount of medals and West Germany won X in 1976 or whatever, but for purposes like these in looking at rankings, I’m never sure whose medals to include, which is why I include a little footnote stating that this is just in the history of pre- and post-Cold War Germany. I’m not sure how the German Olympic Committee or the FIG/IOC track these records, and my request to the FIG wasn’t replied to back when I first started making my own database, but like I said, I personally do it this way to make it clear for each time period which “version” of each country won medals. To further complicate things, Saarland also existed as a country that competed separately from Germany at worlds in the 50s, so they’re truly trying as hard as possible to make things as messy as possible for me. 🙂

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  6. Loved this article! Thanks Lauren! These 1sts for several athletes/countries was the highlight for me this year! Looking forward to reading all the men’s 1sts, as well. YAY SAM!!!!

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  9. Dear Lauren,

    Due to several complaints about your blog engaging in censorship, which incurs a violation of the First Amendment, as well as discrimination about Russians, we regret to inform you that it will be shut down. You have two days to save any content you may want before it’s forever gone.

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    The Blogbusters

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