The women took to the floor in the second day of competition at the Pan American Championships in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil over the weekend, where the host country’s Rebeca Andrade won the all-around title to claim a nominative berth to Tokyo, while Luciana Alvarado earned the second spot, becoming the first Costa Rican gymnast in history to qualify to an Olympic Games.
Andrade had an incredible competition, looking just as clean and polished as she has in recent training videos. She was at her best on vault and bars, which are typically her highest-scoring apparatuses, but she also looked stellar on beam and floor, coming through with a 56.700 all-around total to win gold and easily secure the top qualifying spot to Tokyo.
Having spent the majority of this quad dealing with injuries and setbacks that kept her from competing on the world championships in both 2017 and 2019, it was great to see Andrade finally reach full strength just in time to qualify this last-minute spot. Since Brazil didn’t qualify a full team, it means Andrade’s spot belongs to her and her alone, and she will join her 2016 teammate Flavia Saraiva in Tokyo this August for what will be the pair’s second Games.
The other woman to qualify, Alvarado, has consistently been Costa Rica’s top gymnast since she was a junior. A standout all-around finalist at the Pan American Games in 2019, Alvarado had a fall at worlds later that year that prevented her from qualifying outright, but this weekend she was able to put up the best performance of her international career to earn a 50.833, good enough for the bronze medal in addition to the second available quota spot.
Brazil’s Lorrane Oliveira and Christal Bezerra both finished in the top five with scores of 50.700 and 50.567, but even had they outscored Alvarado, they wouldn’t have been able to qualify their own spots due to the one-per-country limitations.
Martina Dominici of Argentina won the silver medal with a 52.400, showing especially great work on beam and floor. Having already qualified to Tokyo as an individual at worlds in Stuttgart, the nation was hoping to get a second spot from one of two additional all-arounders they had competing, but Abigail Magistrati had misses on vault and bars, finishing 10th with a 48.433, and first-year senior Brisa Carraro also wasn’t at a hundred percent, ending up 12th with a 47.733.
Four gymnasts from Mexico competed in the all-around here, with the hopes that one would be able to qualify a spot alongside Alexa Moreno, but all of the women fell short of making it. Natalia Escalera came closest with a 50.501, finishing in sixth place just over three tenths away from qualifying, while Paulina Campos and Daniela Briceño weren’t far behind, with scores of 50.466 and 50.367, and then Victoria Mata was behind them with a 49.067. The three finished seventh, eighth, and ninth, respectively.
The competition here also included apparatus finals, though Andrade chose to withdraw from those she qualified for. Dominici won vault with a 13.466 average, Oliveira won bars with a 13.867, Alvarado was the beam champion with a 13.033, and first-year senior Ana Luiza Lima of Brazil, who competed only two events here in qualifications, won floor with a 12.967.
The Pan American Championships were the fourth and final continental qualifier for the Olympic Games. Previously qualifying to Tokyo via the continental championships were Larisa Iordache of Romania, Emily Whitehead of Australia, Zeina Ibrahim of Egypt, and Naveen Daries of South Africa, while Russia earned a non-nominative berth. In lieu of Asian Championships taking place, Asia’s two continental berths were awarded to the top two gymnasts from Asian NOCs that had not previously qualified athletes to the Olympic Games based on all-around qualifications at the 2019 world championships, with Milka Gehani of Sri Lanka and Pranati Nayak of India in line to take these spots.
For the men, Adem Asil of Turkey, Mikhail Koudinov of New Zealand, Omar Mohamed of Egypt, and Uche Eke of Nigeria have qualified individually, while Russia qualified a non-nominative berth at Euros, and prior to the women’s competition at Pan Ams, the United States and Brazil qualified non-nominative spots for the men. Based on the world championships qualification results in 2019, Dinh Phuong Thanh of Vietnam and Loo Phay Xing of Malaysia are likely to be awarded nominative places to meet Asia’s quota.
Article by Lauren Hopkins