What To Expect From the First Day of Men’s Qualifications

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Illia Kovtun

In addition to the women’s qualifications wrapping up with the final three subdivisions pretty shortly, we’re also getting the first day of men’s qualifications, which will feature two of the eight total subdivisions and a number of guys who will factor into the podium picture.

SUBDIVISION 1

Spain will start on floor here, Bulgaria on pommels, Greece on rings, Portugal on parallel bars, and Germany on high bar, and then France will jump in for a hot second in the fifth rotation on pommels.

Let’s start with France. The program decided to send only one man to do one event, and that man is Cyril Tommasone, who missed out on making the pommels final in Tokyo this summer. He’ll be back for vengeance and is definitely someone to pay attention to, with his scores for recent hit routines in the mid-14s. Consistency has not been his strong suit this year at all, though, so that’s something he’ll need to bring back because he’s not getting into the final with a mistake.

Germany’s team is an interesting one. There are a lot of guys we’ve been following mostly via the Bundesliga series over the years, but who are still relatively unknown on the big stage internationally.

The one you’ll probably be most familiar with is Andreas Bretschneider, who is here to compete his signature event, high bar. Bretschneider has been slowly climbing with his scores since this fall’s Bundesliga season started, getting a 10.95 at the first event, a 12.85 at the second, and then a 13.0 at the worlds trial. His difficulty has been climbing, too, with his most recent routine out of a 6.3, so if he hits, he’ll be in the group of guys capable of making the final. It’ll be interesting seeing him back after a three-year international break, but he won’t be at the same level he was circa 2017 or earlier.

Carlo Hörr will be Germany’s all-arounder after winning the trial meet, sealing his spot after he initially wasn’t even on the nominative roster. He’s someone capable of getting into the final on a good day, and with a fewer number of guys going for the all-around here than we’re used to, this could work to his benefit, but he’ll need to be at his best to be in the mix. Otherwise, his best events are generally floor and high bar, but I don’t see him as a massive threat for either final.

As for the rest, we’ll see Felix Remuta on floor, vault, and p-bars, Glenn Trebing on pommels, rings, p-bars, and high bar, and Dario Sissakis on floor, pommels, and vault, though he’s listed to do only one vault. Remuta and Sissakis will both have floor as a highlight, while Trebing is a p-bars standout without a ton of difficulty, though he makes up for it with really clean lines.

Spain’s entire 2020 Olympic team is here, minus floor medalist Rayderley Zapata, and plus Adria Vera. In the all-around, we’ll see Nestor Abad and Joel Plata, with Abad likely coming in for revenge after a rough Olympics qualification performance. Both are capable of scores in the 81+ region and should be contenders for the all-around final, and I think Abad should be taken seriously on p-bars, though he’s also great on floor and high bar, while Plata also stands out on these three, with floor probably his strongest bid for an apparatus final.

Thierno Diallo will compete pommels and rings, Nicolau Mir is going up on floor, vault, and p-bars, and Vera is here just for high bar, with Mir on vault the most likely to make a final.

As for the rest, Dimitar Dimitrov of Bulgaria is going to put up a strong effort for the vault final, and he also does some strong work on floor, while Antonios Tantalidis of Greece is fantastic on floor. Portugal has two all-arounders, with Guilherme Campos and Jose Nogueira both in the mix, but I don’t think either will qualify to the final.

SUBDIVISION 2

It’s the “we didn’t get to go to Tokyo but we’re still probably gonna win medals” teams from Russia and China that are the must-watch guys in this session, along with Ukraine’s Illia Kovtun.

China will start on pommels, Russia on p-bars (with Saudia Arabia jumping in on p-bars and later vault), and then there’s Belgium on rings, Ukraine and Latvia on vault, Hungary on high bar, and as with the first subdivision, we’ll get a lone pommels worker with Saso Bertoncelj of Slovenia coming in during the second rotation to work his magic, while the guys from Hong Kong will join for vault in the fourth rotation.

Starting with China, in perhaps the most criminal Olympic team snub of the year, we’ll finally get to see Zhang Boheng – the silver all-around medalist at both nationals and last month’s National Games – on the main stage. Zhang has posted the highest all-around score of the year for the men with his 88.565 at China’s Olympic trials, and I’m so excited to see him finally go head to head with Olympic all-around champion Hashimoto Daiki, who will compete on Wednesday. Like Hashimoto, Zhang is super well-balanced and great on nearly every event, so he’ll likely be a contender for several apparatus finals, but high bar has bitten him in the past, so if anything is his downfall, my money is here.

The other all-arounder for China is Shi Cong, who looked great at the National Games and has it In him to be a medal contender here, though while he’s also pretty well-balanced, he’s not quite as high-difficulty as Zhang, so he’ll need to focus on being clean and consistent. I could see him also making a number of finals, with floor a strong one for him, and I think high bar could also potentially be in the cards.

China also has Weng Hao, who will be a top threat for the gold on pommels, Lan Xingyu, who is one of the top contenders for the rings podium, Huang Mingqi, a terrific vaulter who doesn’t have the most difficulty in this field but will make up for it with his execution, and Hu Xuwei, who is fantastic on both p-bars and high bar, and one of my top choices for a high bar medal in this field.

The Russian men here aren’t quite as strong as the Chinese, and with Nikita Ignatyev the only guy in the all-around, I can’t see them getting a medal here unless something goes awry elsewhere. He’ll make the final and will probably do well compared to many of the others in this field, but he’ll really need to be on his game to make a big score happen. His event work is a mixed bag, so we could see him get into a final or two (maybe pommels or high bar?) but it’ll just come down to how he looks today in qualifications.

The 2018 Youth Olympic Games medalist Sergei Naidin is all grown up and competing pommels, p-bars, and high bar, with pommels generally his best, but making the final will be hit or miss and will likely depend on how the rest of the field competes just as much as it depends on how he competes.

Vladislav Poliashov, the one member of this team who competed in Tokyo this summer, will compete pommels and p-bars, with his p-bars a top candidate for a medal. He posted a 15.133 in qualifications at the Games, but in such a crowded field, this was only good enough for 15th place, two tenths back from sneaking into the final. Here, there is still some depth to the field, but a score like that will go much further.

Rounding out the team are Ivan Stretovich on floor and high bar, Mukhammadzhon Yakubov on floor and vault, and Grigorii Klimentev on rings. Of these, I think Stretovich could make either of the finals he’s attempting, and Klimentev should get in on rings, but Yakubov is a bit inconsistent, and he’s been injured recently, so he’s the one I’m most worried about.

Kovtun will compete in the all-around for Ukraine, and though he wasn’t at his absolute best at the Olympic Games, he was still pretty great there, and he’s already competed about a million times since then, and I think this could be his true coming-out party. He’s like, okay, I got the Olympics out of the way when I was 17, and now I’m a man and this is my quad.

He’s not going to be all the way up there with Zhang or Hashimoto, especially because rings still hold him back quite a bit, but I can see him breaking the top six in qualifications and then potentially becoming a medal threat in the final, where he’s historically had his best performances. I’m also thinking he could make several finals, with floor, pommels, p-bars, and high bar all realistic, though p-bars is where he truly shines.

Olympic finalist Petro Pakhniuk will also be going for a p-bars medal, and I think he has a very good chance to make it happen, and he’s also competing on pommels. Igor Radivilov will be back for revenge after missing Olympic medals on rings and vault this summer, and I think he’ll be a top medal contender on both here, and Ukraine will also put up Roman Vashchenko on floor, rings, and high bar, Nazar Chepurnyi on floor, vault, and p-bars, and Vladyslav Hryko on pommels and high bar, with Chepurnyi on vault the most decent bet for a final.

For Hungary, I’m looking at Krisztofer Meszaros to get into the all-around final, and I’d love to see him do strong enough work on floor and pommels to come in as an underdog for those finals, while David Vecsernyes could be on the periphery of the high bar final. Hong Kong’s Shek Wai Hung will hopefully be a top vault medal contender, I’m holding out big hopes for both Maxime Gentges and Noah Kuavita from Belgium on high bar, with Gentges also a great but inconsistent pommels worker, and then Luka van den Keybus will be a strong all-around option for the program. Finally, Bertoncelj could be hit or miss for the pommels final as well depending on the kind of routine he puts up.

Article by Lauren Hopkins

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