Vanessa Ferrari and Lara Mori
It seems like only yesterday we were trying to figure out how the FIG’s complicated new qualification system would work for the 2020 Olympic Games, and now here we are, a million years, a government coup, and an entire pandemic later.
Due to COVID-19, not everything has worked out as the FIG expected, especially now that the all-around world cup qualifying series has been canceled. But the apparatus world cup qualifying series, which began at the Cottbus World Cup in late 2018 and was supposed to be spread out across eight competitions over the next 18 months, has been more or less unscathed.
The Baku World Cup, held the week the world shut down last March, was cut short and athletes sent home as soon as qualifications were over, and the FIG made an executive decision to count the prelim rankings toward the Olympic qualifying rankings, mostly so the athletes didn’t compete for no reason and wouldn’t have to repeat the competition again. Some athletes were upset by the news, as many choose to compete lower difficulty routines in qualifications and then go all-out in finals, but for what it’s worth, one meet’s rankings weren’t going to determine the outcome of an entire series on pretty much any event, and the grumbling was pretty minimal.
Despite the all-around world cups in Europe getting canceled due to strict lockdowns in Germany and Great Britain, Doha is still on for March 10-13, and with the nominative roster including 143 names from countries on nearly every continent, it seems most gymnasts are dying for a chance to get back out there. Some of these will be fighting to secure berths to the Olympic Games, with a few events still up in the air between a handful of athletes, but the majority just want to compete, either to prepare for Tokyo or just to do gymnastics again.
So which events are still up for grabs? For the women, Jade Carey of the United States has unofficially locked down the vault spot, Fan Yilin of China is mathematically unbeatable on the uneven bars, and Ashikawa Urara of Japan is all set for beam, and we won’t see any of these ladies compete in Doha.
Carey is also technically the series winner on floor, but since she’ll qualify on vault, she’s not eligible to also take the title – and the Olympic berth – here, leaving Italy’s Lara Mori and Vanessa Ferrari to fight it out. The two are tied in terms of points, as both have 80 total right now, so if one wins in Doha and gets 30 points, she’ll also win the Olympic spot…but if neither wins and they remain tied, Mori will win the tiebreaker based on her actual scores in her three counting exercises at the moment.
Ferrari’s only other way in if she doesn’t win outright would be if she takes silver, adds another 25 to drop her 25 points and her corresponding 12.966 from Baku 2020, and scores at least a 13.266, which could then put her ahead of Mori’s 40.565 total. So basically, Ferrari either needs gold or silver with a 13.266+ performance, while Mori can finish anywhere as long as Ferrari doesn’t do either of those things. Mori is then essentially showing up to play defense, to hold Ferrari back from overtaking her as the current leader, and she’ll want to beat Ferrari here – or hope that someone else beats her – just so she can be sure that Ferrari can’t sneak in at the last second to get the spot.
For the men, right now we should have Rayderley Zapata of Spain secure on floor and Epke Zonderland of the Netherlands all set on high bar, but the other four apparatuses could all see some really tight races.
As it stands, China has a hold on three events, with Weng Hao topping the pommel horse rankings, Liu Yang ahead on rings, and You Hao holding onto p-bars. But since the rule allows for only one quota place per NOC, we’ll have to see a points value tie-breaker between the three Chinese gymnasts, and I believe it’s Liu that has a slight edge on rings, opening up pommels to Kameyama Kohei of Japan and p-bars to Vladislav Poliashov of Russia.
On vault, meanwhile, things are looking most likely for Shin Jea-hwan of South Korea, though he also has Yonekura Hidenobu of Japan and Jorge Vega Lopez of Guatemala close behind. And yes, all of the MAG athletes I’ve talked about are on the nominative roster and ready to fight to the death.
The full nominative roster is below. We’ll do a full preview once it gets closer to the meet, but as it looks based on this list, the Doha World Cup is shaping up to be the biggest, most “back-to-normal” competition since before the pandemic took hold.
Ali Kader Haque
|Jorge Vega Lopez|
|Ng Kiu Chung
Shek Wai Hung
|Mahdi Ahmad Kohani
|Ahmad Abu Al Soud|
|Sara van Disseldorp
|Carlos Edriel Yulo|
|Ahmed Al Dyani
Abdulla Al Harith
|Duha Al Habshi|
|Vladislav Poliashov||Anastasia Iliankova|
|Rok Klavora||Lucija Hribar|
Göksu Üctas Sanli
Article by Lauren Hopkins