Lee Chih Kai setting new signs I guess
Apologies to the MAG fans who were hoping for live blogs, but I had to fly home from Stuttgart earlier today and missed pretty much all of the first day of qualifications while in the air.
I’m all caught up now, though, and wanted to share some highlights and lowlights with you, as well as current standings as it looks going into the finals as well as Olympic qualifications (and if you’re wondering, I’ll be live blogging all day tomorrow, and will also be live blogging all of the finals throughout the week…but via streams instead of being in the arena).
RUSSIA’S PRETTY GOOD I GUESS
Russia absolutely smashed it today, nearly reaching a 260, which for context is more than a point higher than what they scored in qualifications last year, when they were also freaking amazing. Nikita Nagornyy leads the all-around with an 87.333, which is going to be incredibly difficult for anyone to top, while Artur Dalaloyan stands behind him in second with an 86.531.
The team is currently ranked first on all six events, but China and Japan are still to come tomorrow, and again it’s going to come down to these three teams in the final. Nagornyy is currently in the mix for four individual finals (though sadly no surprise pommels final this year!), while Dalaloyan is likely on floor, vault, and high bar, David Belyavskiy is hoping to hang on for pommels, and Denis Abliazin is going to have to keep his fingers crossed for the chance to stay in on rings.
CHINESE TAIPEI WYD
So, uh…Chinese Taipei is second right now, and will not only qualify to the Olympics, but is also super safe to make the team final. Having finished 17th last year, this is quite the glow-up, thanks to major improvements on all six events.
The team kind of gave us a glimpse of this improvement at Asian Championships, where they finished third behind China and Japan with a 246-range score, but Asian Championships is known for crazy high scores and we never get any video, so it was easy to brush that off as a fluke. But alas, the team even bested that score by four points, so welcome to the top of the pack, boys.
Lee Chih-Kai, who you probably know as the guy who does all of the flairs, is currently third going into the all-around final with an 84.481, and he and teammate Shiao Yu-Jan are second and third on pommels at the moment while high bar king Tang Chia-Hung is currently ranked first on his key event in addition to sixth all-around. Truly just a phenomenal day, and such a major achievement for a program that last sent a full team to the Games in 1964.
BRAZIL FIGHTS BACK
Brazil started out having to count a fall on high bar, typically its best event, but the team came back strong on floor, survived pommels without too much damage done, and did well enough throughout the rest of the meet to finish third today, which is definitely safe for Tokyo, and could also potentially keep them in the team final, though it’ll be close, China, Japan, the United States, and Great Britain all likely to get in ahead of them, which will push Brazil down to seventh…and from there, we’ll have to see if teams like the Netherlands, Switzerland, Ukraine can do enough to knock Brazil out.
Individually, Caio Souza is currently ninth all-around and sixth on p-bars, while Arthur Zanetti is second on rings and Arthur Nory is second on high bar.
Just as the Spanish women killed it to get a full team to the Olympic Games yesterday, the men came back and snuck in ahead of fellow major European contenders Germany, Italy, and France, with all four teams less than two points apart from one another.
Even without Rayderley Zapata, Spain put up huge rotations on floor and vault, with p-bars also looking pretty strong, and Nestor Abad is currently seventh all-around, while Nicolau Mir is currently fourth on floor and eighth on p-bars. This finish should assure them a spot at the Olympic Games, amazing after they missed out last quad, and like Brazil, they’re also hanging on to the hope of making the team final.
Germany did…better than I thought? And also much better than last year. It’s essentially the same team, minus the injured Marcel Nguyen and with the addition of 19-year-old Karim Rida, who had a fantastic nationals but struggled a bit in his performance here. Andreas Toba led the team brilliantly, and he’s currently fifth in the all-around, while Lukas Dauser was flawless on p-bars, where he’s currently ranked first into the final. Even though Germany struggled on pommels and doesn’t have some of the flashy routines others at this level show, I think they ultimately can consider this a success when it could’ve been so much worse.
Italy getting in ahead of France was pretty huge, but they’re still not super safe. Currently in sixth place, there are at least six teams tomorrow that have the potential to finish ahead of them, which would make them 12th and France 13th…and then I’d also worry about South Korea and Canada, which had an incredible performance at Pan Am Games this year that would’ve been stronger than this one. So it’s nail-biting time, really.
The Italian boys were fine today. Pommels were pommels, but they were gorgeous on floor, and put up some solid high bar scores as well. They should get Ludovico Edalli into the all-around final, with Marco Lodadio hoping to hold on for rings. As for France, I think it was really high bar and rings that did them in, in addition to p-bars just not being a high-scoring event for them, though Cyril Tommasone was fab on pommels and Loris Frasca did his thing on floor and vault. It wasn’t a disastrous meet, and they’ve had so many injuries coming into it leaving them with lower-difficulty sets on several events, but they’re definitely in a worrisome position in terms of Tokyo.
WE WERE ALL ROOTING FOR YOU
The Turkish men broke hearts all over the globe today, with weak performances on floor and vault as well as two falls counted on pommels pretty much ending their dreams of sending a full team to Tokyo.
Relying heavily on Ferhat Arican and Ahmet Önder to produce big scores has worked on occasion, and it also helps having one of the best rings guys in the world with Ibrahim Colak, who is currently ranked first on the event. But overall, Turkey’s depth is a bit weak. For WAG fans, it’s like Romania trying to build a team in 2016 with Larisa Iordache and Catalina Ponor at the center, but then no one else really close enough to their level to round them out and ensure a team berth.
Even Arican and Önder weren’t perfect today, so it wasn’t just about depth. But when your key players aren’t delivering at a hundred percent, you want the rest of the team to be able to back them up with numbers that are almost as good, and Turkey just can’t do that right now. It’s a bummer, especially as the team performed so well recently to defeat the Netherlands, France, and Spain at a friendly meet, but let’s remember that the Turkish men first qualified an individual to the Olympics in 2016, and getting this close to a team berth just three years later is insane. They’ll get there someday.
And on a positive note, Ferhat Arican should be the all-arounder to qualify to the Games, but Ahmet Önder is currently third on p-bars and can hopefully hang on to make that final, which could mean an Olympic berth of his own, while Colak will also be hoping to earn a ticket to Tokyo in the rings final. It might not be a full team, but three guys at the Games will still be huge for this up-and-coming program.
Cuba’s Manrique Larduet is currently eighth in the all-around, hitting every event but p-bars to earn an 81.898, a solid score but also capable of room for improvement. Milad Karimi led Kazakhstan to ninth place as a team, but his 11th-place all-around finish should guarantee him an Olympic spot, while Alexander Shatilov and Artem Dolgopyat of Israel are 13th and 18th, respectively.
Dolgopyat leads floor, which is great news for him, because Shatilov outscored him in the all-around, and now they can both have a shot at Tokyo. Karimi is currently fifth, which is a bit precarious, but he won’t need this final to make it to Tokyo. The big miss here was Tomas Gonzalez, who I believe had a fine performance, but just not fine enough to get past 17th place, while Yahor Sharamkou of Belarus and Jorge Vega of Guatemala also struggled.
On pommels, Ireland’s pride and joy Rhys McClenaghan did exactly what he promised he’d do, which is destroy everyone else in the competition with one of the most difficult, yet also the most flawless set. He’s currently first, which should almost absolutely guarantee a spot in Tokyo for him, while Kazakhstan’s Nariman Kurbanov and Akim Mussayev are sixth and seventh, respectively.
Eleftherios Petrounias of Greece proved that he is not superhuman with today’s routine, where he was fine, but not a hundred percent, noticeably swinging a bit out of a double salto to handstand before having a slightly messy dismount, getting just an 8.4 in execution for a 14.700 total. I think he’ll hold on for the final, but hopefully he’ll be able to fix everything the judges didn’t like today between now and then. Argentina’s Federico Molinari ended up eighth here, so he’s likely to get knocked out of the final, but he had a very strong routine. Also going to miss the final are Ali Zahran of Egypt and Vinzenz Höck of Austria, neither of whom had anything go severely wrong, but it’s just a super tight group and they happened to be a bit below the cutoff for qualifying.
Le Thanh Tung of Vietnam snuck between the Russians to currently stand in second place on vault, while Jorge Vega of Guatemala is fifth, Yahor Sharamkou of Belarus is sixth, and Andrey Medvedev of Israel is sadly in seventh, downgrading after breaking his foot last month.
Vietnam’s Dinh Phuong Thanh was the notable individual to finish high on this event, with a 14.466 that’s currently good for seventh, though with the Chinese men coming up tomorrow, that’s not likely to stand.
Finally, on high bar, David Vecsernyes of Hungary seems to have struggled, earning just a 7.7 E score for his 6.0 routine, finishing 14th. He was the most notable miss on this event along with Randy Leru, who had a fall and is just 26th.
The top 9 teams not already qualified will be eligible to send a full team to the 2020 Olympic Games.
Obviously, Russia has already qualified, and I’d say the teams down through Germany are the safest bets for the Olympics, with Italy and France looking at being on the bubble.
China, Japan, the United States, and Great Britain are the most capable of easily getting into the top 12 based on teams left to compete. I also think Switzerland will do fairly well.
The Netherlands should be in the mix, but after a super last-minute injury to Bram Louwije, who will be replaced by alternate Michel Bletterman, things could get rough. On paper, they should be in the top 8, but in practice, they could end up missing out on that. Ukraine is another “good on paper, wtf in practice” kind of team, and Canada is my favorite for a major turnaround compared to last year.
30 individuals on teams that haven’t qualified to the Olympic Games will qualify through either the all-around or via event finals. Only one gymnast per country can qualify through the all-around, and as many as three gymnasts per country can qualify via apparatus finals.
|1||Lee Chih-Kai||Chinese Taipei||84.481|
|15||David Jessen||Czech Republic||79.398|
|17||Le Thanh Tung||Vietnam||78.832|
|25||Andres Perez||Puerto Rico||76.232|
|28||Ahmed Al Dyani||Qatar||75.031|
|36||Fabio Chicas||El Salvador||65.064|
Since the men are way less predictable than the women, I included all teams that haven’t yet qualified to Tokyo, even if they seem likely (e.g. Chinese Taipei). Anyone ranked below 32nd is out for sure, and based on today, we’re looking at about 10 or so guys who could potentially qualify through the apparatus finals, though this is an estimate and that number will absolutely change by tomorrow. This would mean that we’d lose ten all-around spots to specialists, so in this scenario, anyone ranked 21st and lower wouldn’t make it as well.
Given the high number of specialists coupled with the fact that we’ll have more individual all-arounders to add to the list tomorrow, but then also given that some of the all-arounders included on today’s list will be taken off if/when their team qualifies, that adds some more spots to the pool, so I’m going to say roughly the top 12-15 should be relatively safe for qualifying.
Article by Lauren Hopkins