An Individual Qualification Case Study


The legendary Oksana Chusovitina brought back her all-around program in her attempt to qualify for her eighth Olympic Games in Stuttgart next weekend, but based on last year’s results, she could also qualify as an apparatus finalist.

Right now, if you were to take a look at the Olympic qualification charts for both the women and the men, only three teams are filled in.

The United States, China, and Russia qualified to the 2020 Olympic Games at last year’s world championships, while China, Russia, and Japan qualified for the men. But at this year’s worlds, both programs will see an additional nine teams named, as well as 33 individual women and 31 individual men based on their all-around and apparatus results, awarded nominatively to the gymnasts who earned the spots.

Because the qualifications are a bit tricky for a lot of people (thanks FIG!), I decided to use last year’s world championships results as a case study for both the men and women to kind of show how it’s going to work this year. It’s also helpful to see roughly what the individual score cutoff would be, and just how far down the rankings we’ll go to find our qualifiers, and it also irons out some technicalities related to how federations could qualify multiple individual gymnasts.

The Women

According to the rules, the top 12 teams earn full team berths for the 2020 Olympic Games, with the first three named in 2018 and the next nine named in 2019. Since we already have the first three named, we’ll keep these as-is.

Already Qualified

United States Russia China

Now, the next nine teams based on qualification results will qualify. Pretending the 2018 results are this year’s, this is who we’d see.

The Next Nine

Canada Brazil Japan
France Germany Great Britain
Netherlands Belgium Italy

It’s worth noting that these are the same teams that earned berths for the 2016 Olympics, and based on how teams scored last year and have been looking this year, it’s not super likely to change. That said, we’ll have a full team preview highlighting all of these teams as well as those on the bubble that could rise up and take advantage of mistakes from the top squads later this week, so keep an eye out!

The Individuals

Technically, there are 32 spots available to the women, but since Japan qualified a full team in this case study and is likely to qualify a team next week, the guaranteed host country invitation gets thrown back into this pool, making it a total of 33 women who will qualify this way.

Let’s first look at the apparatus qualifiers to get them out of the way. The rule is that the top three gymnasts in an apparatus final not already part of a qualified team will get an apparatus spot. Even though these will technically be named based on finals results, we’ll know after qualifications exactly how many spots will go to apparatus finalists and how many will go to all-arounders.

In 2018, a total of five gymnasts who weren’t on top 12 teams qualified to event finals, including four on vault (with three apparatus spots allocated per event) and one on uneven bars. However, the all-around qualification comes first, and one of those who made the apparatus finals would’ve already qualified as an all-arounder (Yeo Seo-jeong of South Korea), so she wouldn’t be eligible for an apparatus spot, leaving vault spots open for the remaining three gymnasts who did not qualify through the all-around, as well as one spot allocated to bars.

This means that four of the total 33 individual spots would’ve gone to apparatus finalists, leaving a remaining 29 spots for all-arounders. With the apparatus qualifiers figured out based on their finish in the finals, we can then go down the list of all-arounders based on their qualification results, cutting out anyone from a team that has already qualified and then also skipping over any two-per-country results. You can see below how this will work out.

Alexa Moreno, Mexico (3rd VT) Oksana Chusovitina, Uzbekistan (4th VT)
Pyon Rye Yong, North Korea (8th VT) Jonna Adlerteg, Sweden (8th UB)
Denisa Golgota, Romania (19th AA) Zsofia Kovacs, Hungary (24th AA)
Ana Perez, Spain (26th AA) Yeo Seo-jeong, South Korea (28th AA)
Frida Esparza, Mexico (32nd AA) Erin Modaro, Australia (35th AA)
Martina Dominici, Argentina (36th AA) Diana Varinska, Ukraine (37th AA)
Filipa Martins, Portugal (38th AA) Aneta Holasova, Czech Republic (42nd AA)
Kim Su Jong, North Korea (45th AA) Gabriela Janik, Poland (46th AA)
Jessica Castles, Sweden (47th AA) Simona Castro, Chile (55th AA)
Rifda Irfanaluthfi, Indonesia (57th AA) Ilaria Käslin, Switzerland (58th AA)
Caitlin Rooskrantz, South Africa (59th AA) Tutya Yilmaz, Turkey (60th AA)
Mandy Mohamed, Egypt (63rd AA) Ting Hua-Tien, Chinese Taipei (66th AA)
Hanna Traukova, Belarus (69th AA) Marina Nekrasova, Azerbaijan (70th AA)
Danusia Francis, Jamaica (71st AA) Julie Erichsen, Norway (73rd AA)
Elina Vihrova, Latvia (74th AA) Jasmin Mader, Austria (76th AA)
Dayana Ardila, Colombia (78th AA) Tienna Nguyen, Vietnam (79th AA)
Maija Leinonen, Finland (80th AA)

The first thing to note is that you see a few countries — Mexico, Sweden, and North Korea — qualifying gymnasts both through the apparatus final and all-around qualifications, which is allowed! Even though a country can only qualify one all-arounder, a federation is eligible to qualify as many as three apparatus finalists in addition to that all-arounder.

However, because all-around qualifications happen first, a gymnast who qualifies through the all-around would then be ineligible to qualify through the apparatus final, which is why South Korea did not get two spots.

Yeo Seo-jeong finished 28th all-around, making her the top-ranked South Korean gymnast ahead of Yun Na-rae in 53rd. Yeo also made the vault final, where she finished in the top three among those eligible to earn an apparatus spot, but because her all-around qualification happened first, she snagged South Korea’s all-around spot, leaving Yun ineligible.

Compare that to Mexico, where Frida Esparza outranked Alexa Moreno in the all-around. Esparza earning Mexico’s all-around spot left Moreno eligible to earn a vault spot, and so unlike South Korea, Mexico would’ve walked away in 2018 with two spots whereas South Korea would’ve had only one despite these two countries being essentially in the same situation going in.

So, federations hoping to earn multiple individual spots at worlds this year will pretty much have to hope that their apparatus final hopeful has a weaker all-around performance than another all-arounder. Crazy, but true.

Now I’ll point out that once we sifted through the all-arounders who were part of qualifying teams, we had to go all the way down to 80th place in qualifications to get to 29 names. The cutoff score ended up being a 47.365, and I’d imagine we’ll see a similar cutoff score this year based on how individual gymnasts have looked in 2019.

The Men

As with the women, the top 12 teams earn full team berths for the 2020 Olympic Games, with the first three named in 2018 and the next nine named in 2019. Since we already have the first three named, we’ll keep these as-is.

Already Qualified

China Russia Japan

Now, the next nine teams based on qualification results will qualify. Pretending the 2018 results are this year’s, this is who we’d see.

The Next Nine

United States Great Britain Brazil
Netherlands Switzerland Ukraine
Germany Spain France

Again, this is based on 2018, and there are several teams that could upset the balance of this universe, but we’ll have a full team preview highlighting all of the team situations for the men later this week.

The Individuals

The men have a total of 31 spots available. They have fewer individual world championships spots than the women because they had to allocate six spots for the apparatus world cups, whereas the women only have four apparatus world cup spots. Also included in the 31 spots is the spot allocated to the host country, which got thrown back into the individual qualifying pool when Japan qualified a full team last year.

As with the women, the first rule to look at is apparatus qualifiers to get them out of the way. I’ll repeat myself here in case you didn’t pay attention to the women’s case study above, but the rule is that the top three gymnasts in an apparatus final not already part of a qualified team will get an apparatus spot. Even though these will technically be named based on finals results, we’ll know after qualifications exactly how many spots will go to apparatus finalists and how many will go to all-arounders.

If you were overwhelmed by the women, get ready for a wild ride. A total of 15 men from countries that didn’t qualify a full team reached the apparatus finals in 2018, but of these 15, five will have already qualified through the all-around competition first, bringing that total down to 10 with the potential to qualify through the apparatus finals. Then, rings had a total of four apparatus finalists, and since only three spots are available, our number of apparatus contenders decreases to nine.

That means that of the total 31 individual spots available in Stuttgart, nine will go to apparatus finalists, and the remaining 22 will go to all-arounders.

Lee Chih Kai, Chinese Taipei (3rd PH) Nariman Kurbanov, Kazakhstan (5th PH)
Eleftherios Petrounias, Greece (1st SR) Artur Tovmasyan, Armenia (4th SR)
Vahagn Davtyan, Armenia (6th SR) Ri Se Gwang, North Korea (1st VT)
Shek Wai Hung, Hong Kong (6th VT) Tin Srbic, Croatia (4th HB)
Tang Chia-Hung, Chinese Taipei (5th HB) Carlos Yulo, Philippines (14th AA)*
Ahmet Önder, Turkey (15th AA)* Andrei Muntean, Romania (21st AA)
Park Min-soo, South Korea (22nd AA) Rene Cournoyer, Canada (23rd AA)
Marios Georgiou, Cyprus (26th AA) Artur Davtyan, Armenia (27th AA)*
Andrey Likhovitskiy, Belarus (30th AA) Jossimar Calvo, Colombia (31st AA)*
Jonathan Vrolix, Belgium (32nd AA) Ilyas Azizov, Kazakhstan (34th AA)
Stian Skjerahaug, Norway (35th AA) Oskar Kirmes, Finland (37th AA)
Ivan Tikhonov, Azerbaijan (43rd AA) Artem Dolgopyat, Israel (47th AA)*
Tomas Kuzmickas, Lithuania (50th AA) Ryan Sheppard, Hungary (51st AA)
Nikolaos Iliopoulos, Greece (52nd AA) Ri Yong Min, North Korea (53rd AA)
Adam Steele, Ireland (55th AA) Shiao Yu-Jan, Chinese Taipei (58th AA)
Slavomir Michnak, Slovakia (59th AA)

*One of the five who could have been eligible for an apparatus spot had they not first qualified through the all-around

With so many men qualifying through the apparatus finals, it opened the doors for a greater number of countries to qualify multiple gymnasts through worlds compared to the women.

Two countries — Chinese Taipei and Armenia — qualified three men each (one all-arounder and two through apparatus finals), but I do have something that isn’t answered in the qualification documents. Both of the Armenian apparatus finalists would technically qualify on rings, but while the documents say that up to three apparatus spots are available to each federation, it doesn’t specify if all three could qualify on the same apparatus, or if those three spots have to be spread across multiple apparatuses.

In the case that multiple athletes from the same country can qualify on the same event, then Armenia would have qualified two through the rings final, but in the case that this isn’t allowed, Vahagn Davtyan’s spot would go to Nikita Simonov of Azerbaijan, who finished seventh on that event.

To then reach the top 22 all-arounders who weren’t on qualifying teams, we had to go down to 59th place in the all-around qualifications, where the score was a 76.332. Relative to the women, the men’s all-around cutoff score is a bit higher than the women’s (12.722 event average compared to 11.841 for the women), but this is largely due to a greater number of apparatus spots allocated to the men, leaving a fewer number of all-around spots available, as well as the fact that the men tend to score higher than the women per event on average.

Questions? Concerns? Want to correct my midnight math? Leave a comment below! We hope this helped explain some of the confusion of Olympic qualifications through a real world example, and we are so excited to find out next week who the next class of Olympians will be!

Article by Lauren Hopkins

15 thoughts on “An Individual Qualification Case Study

  1. If Oksana Chusovitina qualifies to the AA, couldn’t she just give up her AA spot after qualifications? She’s going to drop her other events at the Olympics anyways, no use risking injury. Please let me know, I’m super curious.


    • No, all-around qualification comes first and she wouldn’t then be eligible to qualify through vault. You can’t just “give up” your first spot to earn a second. But it wouldn’t matter because no matter how you qualify, you can do whatever you want at the Olympics, so someone who qualifies as an all-arounder can get to Tokyo and compete just one event, and someone who qualifies as a specialist can get to Tokyo and compete all four.


      • Thanks for getting back so quickly! Sorry, to clarify, my basic question is: Do the gymnasts who qualify to the AA final earn their berth to Tokyo after qualifications, or after the AA final? My thought process is, if Oksana ends up qualifying to the AA final, and she’s already earned her berth to Tokyo through AA qualifications, why would she risk injury in the AA final if she already knows she’s going to Tokyo. She won’t medal in the AA. I know she’ll still compete in the vault final because she’s medal-contending there. Hope this makes sense.


        • Oh, sorry! They earn their berth after AA qualifications. Oksana likely will not make the AA final this year, but if she somehow made it and was worried about injury, she could absolutely withdraw.


        • This is a misunderstanding: It’s not about Oksana qualifying to Worlds AA finals. She’s doing AA because by doing so she hopes (and the whole gymternet hopes for the same!) to get a 2020 Olympic spot based on her Worlds AA qualification (!) results. These Olympic spots are assigned based on AA qualification results and apparatus finals results.


    • Highly unlikely. This law is bound to get stuck on the court systems for years. Besides Biles is already 22, there’s only so many years NCAA will allow an athlete to participate in DI after they’ve completed high school.


    • No.

      *The law doesn’t kick in until 2023.
      *It only applies to California schools and is not in compliance with NCAA regulations. Therefore, unless other states adopt it to apply pressure for NCAA to change their rules, it is unclear if even CA will go through with it (since if NCAA doesn’t change it means no championships for any CA school.)
      *As it stands, the law is written to apply to student athletes who earn money off of their image and/or skill while they are in college- not before. Yes, this might open a doorway in the future for female gymnasts who have to make the choice to go pro early, but not before the other hurdles mentioned above are cleared.


  2. Pingback: Around the Gymternet: A very stable genius | The Gymternet

  3. There is no one spot per event restriction. However, there is a built in two spots per event restriction, because there can’t even be more than two from the same country in an event final.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks, Lauren! This is SO helpful as I’m trying to wrap my head around the individual qualifications to Tokyo. With more events on the men’s side (and more apparatus specialists) it seems like a tougher road for the true all-arounders.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s