After following podium training and examining the available start lists, here’s the run-down for who to watch in the women’s qualifications over the next couple of days.
The top contender is going to be Olympic all-around bronze medalist Angelina Melnikova of Russia, who looked fantastic in training. I’m also eyeing Wei Xiaoyuan of China and Kayla DiCello of the United States as legitimate medal contenders in the final, and if Vladislava Urazova of Russia competes all four events, she’s on my list as well.
Right now, it’s still unclear whether she or Maria Minaeva will do the all-around, though the start lists should be released shortly. If Urazova’s in and looking strong, I’d consider her a leading contender, though Minaeva, while beautiful on bars, doesn’t have the scores on the other events.
The others I think are most likely to make waves in the final are Leanne Wong of the United States, Carolann Heduit of France, Georgia-Mae Fenton of Great Britain, Rose Woo of Canada, Hatakeda Hitomi of Japan, and Alice and Asia D’Amato of Italy.
I’m also keeping an eye on Lee Yunseo and Shin Solyi of South Korea and Anastasiia Bachynska of Ukraine, and as those I’d like to see in the final in general, there’s Ting Hua-Tien of Taiwan, Maria Ceplinschi of Romania, Camille Rasmussen of Denmark, Filipa Martins of Portugal, Csenge Bacskay and Zoja Szekely of Hungary, Naomi Visser and Vera van Pol of the Netherlands, and Tonya Paulsson and Nathalie Westlund of Sweden.
Olympic champion Rebeca Andrade may not do the full difficulty we saw in Tokyo here, but I still think with hit vaults, she’ll be the biggest threat for gold, especially in a field where most of the world’s top vaulters aren’t here.
Melnikova could be Andrade’s biggest competition with clean sets, but Elisabeth Geurts of the Netherlands and Coline Devillard of France will be bringing their big guns, and there’s also Qi Qi of China, who could be a threat if she is at her best.
This should be one of the deepest events to keep an eye on, despite most of the Olympic finalists missing out. Melnikova is here, though, and should be a hopeful for a medal, and once again, Andrade will be in the mix alongside her here.
But they both will face a massive threat from Wei as well as from Becky Downie of Great Britain, who should have the most difficult routines in the competition if they come in at full strength. The other Russians here, Urazova and Minaeva, should also be on your radar, and China’s additional bar workers, Luo Rui and Li Shijia, are also capable of good scores.
I’m hoping for big qualifications routines from Heduit, Martins, Fenton, Alice D’Amato, Lee Yunseo, and Zsofia Kovacs of Hungary, all of whom should be in the mix, and then my favorite outliers for the final are Szekely, Maisa Kuusikko of Finland, Elisa Iorio of Italy, and Sanna Veerman of the Netherlands.
Always the trickiest to predict, this world championships final will be even more all over the place than usual, but there are a few who should easily make it with hit routines, most notably Olympic finalist Ashikawa Urara of Japan.
China will have Li, Luo, and Wei all in the mix, with the first two the favorites for getting in, and I’m also hoping for a big routine from Konnor McClain of the United States, who could win a medal here with the execution she offers on a hit routine, though she’s been rough here in terms of consistency this year, so she’ll need to be on her game to make it happen.
Her teammates DiCello and Wong also have a chance of reaching the final with hit routines, and Pauline Schäfer of Germany will be another top contender if she can come in clean. The Italians, Iorio most notably, are capable of making it happen with strong work, but they sometimes struggle on this event more than any other, and I think this is another event where Melnikova could be an option for a medal if she can do what she’s capable of. Her teammates Urazova and Yana Vorona are also going for the final, and I think either could make it depending on how qualifications go, and even though this isn’t Andrade’s top event, in this field she’ll still be one to watch.
I’m hoping Ting can get in here with her brilliant routine after missing out at the Olympics. She has what is probably my favorite routine in this entire competition, but as beautiful as it can be, the nerves hit in Tokyo, so that’ll have to be something she needs to work out to make the final and potentially even be in medal contention here.
Otherwise, it’s anyone’s game, though Bachynska is capable of pulling out hits when she needs to, and I also see Hatakeda as being a strong finals contender, and I’m dying to see Sweden’s Jennifer Williams and Canada’s Cassie Lee pull it off. I think we’ll definitely see some surprises here, though, and that’s what I’m most excited to see.
Even though Murakami Mai is dealing with an ankle injury, I’m hoping she can pull out a routine that will get her into the final and potentially medal, especially as this will likely be her last time competing, ever.
Melnikova, who tied Murakami for bronze in Tokyo this summer, will bring a mighty challenge, and I think this is where the U.S. will have its biggest apparatus medal standouts, as Wong and DiCello have both looked really strong here, as has eMjae Frazier. Any of the three have the potential to make it in and medal.
This will be the sole event for Japan’s Hiraiwa Yuna, so it would be great to see her make it in, and Heduit has looked fantastic on this event all year, so I’d love to see her pull it off. As with beam, I think there is the potential for surprise finalists here. China will have both Wei and Qi as those with potential, and I think Canada with Woo and Audrey Rousseau could have a strong chance.
For outliers, I’d love to see Ceplinschi and Göksu Üctas Sanli of Turkey make it simply for their performance quality, though their difficulty might be a little too low, even in this field. The Netherlands could have a shot with Visser, van Pol, and Geurts, and this could be another area where Bachynska and Schäfer have a chance, but these aside, it’s going to come down to whoever hits.
Article by Lauren Hopkins