Everything You Need to Know About Every Individual WAG Competitor at Worlds

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Teja Belak

We are officially one week away from the start of qualifications at world championships, and to kick off our series of previews, I’m bringing you a look at every single individual athlete set to compete in Liverpool.

A total of 49 all-arounders qualified to worlds from continental meets this year, while an additional 17 made it on one or more events through the apparatus world cup series. I’ve organized our overview by country, as there are a few with multiple qualifiers across both the all-around and apparatus pools. Please enjoy, and be sure to be on the lookout for all of these gymnasts in qualifications next weekend!

ALGERIA

Two gymnasts from Algeria qualified to worlds via this summer’s African Championships, including first-year senior Fatma Zohra Boukhatem, who finished fifth all-around in Cairo, and Lahna Salem, who was seventh.

Boukhatem, who also qualified to the all-around final at the Mediterranean Games in June, is pretty new to elite and is still working on her difficulty, though she generally does nice work on floor, while Salem has spent the past decade on the senior international scene, making several apparatus finals at her first African Championships back in 2012 and then making all four this year – a full decade later! – with a fourth-place finish on bars her strongest outing. As with Boukhatem, her difficulty isn’t quite high enough for her to pull in big scores, but I’m glad both end up qualifying together so the newbie and the veteran can make their worlds debuts together.

AZERBAIJAN

Though neither of Azerbaijan’s current seniors were able to make the all-around cut at Euros this year, both Samira Gahramanova and Milana Minakovskaya ended up sneaking in on a couple of events apiece via the world cup series.

Gahramanova will compete on vault, beam, and floor at worlds, while Minakovskaya will compete on bars, beam, and floor, and though you could argue that both ended up getting a bit lucky here due to the very low turnout at this year’s world cup competitions (especially as neither are “specialists” on these events, and several of their entries came due to other qualified athletes withdrawing their spots), it’s great to see that Azerbaijan took advantage of this route and was able to find a way for its athletes to get to Liverpool.

Both gymnasts made their worlds debuts in 2021, though they’re regulars on the world cup circuit and have tons of competitive experience otherwise. While we wont’ see them in any finals here, both have pretty solid levels of difficulty on beam, so that’s likely where we’ll see their best scores barring falls or other struggles.

BARBADOS

Olivia Kelly made history this summer when she became the first elite gymnast representing Barbados at a major international meet alongside a teammate, and though a rough performance on bars at Pan Ams initially caused her to miss out on qualifying to worlds by just one spot, she was able to ultimately land a spot when another gymnast withdrew due to injury, so she’ll get to make history again as Barbados’ first gymnast to compete at world championships.

I’ve been following Kelly for a few years as she attempted elite qualification in the U.S., reaching her personal best of 50.350 at the Parkettes national qualifier as a junior last year, so it was pretty clear she had potential to do big things once she started competing for Barbados. A stunner on beam and floor with a solid Yurchenko full on vault, I have Kelly as one of my top contenders for an individual spot at Paris 2024, and think she also has it in her to eventually make a major all-around final, though getting in at worlds this year could be a little too soon.

CHILE

Two all-arounders qualified to worlds for Chile this year, with both Antonia Marihuan and Franchesca Santi making it after finishing 14th and 17th all-around at Pan Ams.

Marihuan, still relatively new to the international scene after becoming a senior last year, has only competed within South America, including at Pan Ams both last year and this year, and she also won the bronze medal on beam at South American Championships in August. Santi, meanwhile, is very well-known after a long history of standout performances on vault throughout her career. The 30-year-old most recently won bronze on the event at South American Games, she’s collected four world cup medals over the years, and she will be competing at her seventh world championships next week.

Though Santi has pretty big difficulty on vault with a Yurchenko double and tsuk full, the former can be hit or miss and generally doesn’t score high enough for her to come away with a big average score, but even on her best day I think she’d end up a few tenths shy of making the final at worlds.

COLOMBIA

We initially saw two gymnasts from Colombia earn worlds berths, with both Valentina Pardo finishing 12th all-around at Pan Ams while her teammate Ginna Escobar wasn’t far behind in 15th. Unfortunately, Pardo ended up injured on floor in the team final at that competition, forcing her to both withdraw from the rest of the competition and turn down her worlds spot as she recovers.

Escobar is now on her own, but will go into world championships on a high note, as just two weeks ago she won a bronze medal on bars at the South American Games, where she also qualified to the vault final and finished ninth all-around. This recent success comes after a nearly four-year international absence, with worlds in 2018 the last time we saw her until she stepped up as one of her country’s best this summer. I’d love to see her as someone who could bring Colombia back to the Olympics after they missed out in 2020, and hopefully this year’s worlds will be another high point on that path.

COSTA RICA

Franciny Morales is another gymnast we didn’t see for several years on the international scene. As a junior, she made the vault final at Pac Rims and then the floor final at Pan Ams, showing lots of potential for a program not super well-known throughout the world, but then after just one competition as a senior, it was another five years before we’d see her compete again. Morales finished 20th at Pan Ams this summer to earn her spot at worlds, showing solid difficulty on vault and floor, which is where she also had her strongest performances.

CROATIA

Two gymnasts will represent Croatia at worlds this year, and both had a bit of luck getting in! Petra Furac missed out on one of the Euros spots by less than two tenths after finishing 49th all-around, but with one host country berth reallocated back into the continental pool, she was the first eligible gymnast to pick it up and secure her spot in Liverpool. The national all-around champion this year, Furac is pretty well-balanced in a country that typically favors specialists, and it was nice seeing her hard work pay off and earn the chance to make her worlds debut at 24.

Nika Kukuljan Frleta, 52nd all-around at Euros, also got a second chance after initially missing out, taking over one of the spots that Poland turned down. A first-year senior, Kukuljan Frleta made the junior bars final at the “COVID Euros” in 2020, but while she’s a bit inconsistent and often struggles with falls – which held her back at Euros – she has a lot of nice qualities to her gymnastics and could be capable of strong all-around scores in the future.

CYPRUS

There’s a new gymnast on the scene for Cyprus this quad, with Tatiana Bachurina stepping up as the country’s top competitor to make her major international debut at the Mediterranean games in June before also appearing at the Commonwealth Games and then at Euros shortly after. Bachurina made the all-around finals at the first two of those, and then finished 46th at Euros to secure a spot at worlds. Bachurina has really nice dance elements on beam and especially on floor, and her skill level on bars is pretty solid, so be on the lookout for these when watching for her.

CZECH REPUBLIC

The Czech Republic was just one spot and 1.233 points away from qualifying a full team to worlds, but despite the disappointment of missing out, the team ended up still getting three athletes to Liverpool, including all-arounders Aneta Holasova and Klara Peterkova along with beam and floor specialist Lucie Trnkova.

Holasova, who represented the Czech Republic at the Olympics last summer, has slowly been working her way back to top form this year, and despite some consistency struggles on beam – normally one of her strongest events along with floor – she’s looked pretty great, finishing 31st all-around at Euros to secure the country’s first spot. Peterkova, this year’s national all-around and floor champion, finished 34th at Euros in her senior international debut to get a second spot, with beam and floor also generally her standouts (her difficulty on beam is pretty great!).

Like the all-arounders, Trnkova is also excellent on beam and floor, though she’s more of a traditional specialist on these as she only rarely competes vault and doesn’t typically compete bars. Trnkova had great success on the world cup circuit this year, making the finals on both in Cairo and Cottbus, where she won the silver medal on beam, and she ended up being the top worlds qualifier on both events once the series concluded.

DENMARK

Two all-arounders qualified to worlds for this rising program, with one being Camille Rasmussen, who snagged the second available spot at Euros after finishing 20th all-around and then went on to make history with her sixth-place finish in the vault final. Rasmussen, who has won the national all-around title every year since she made her elite debut at 11 (that’s seven total!) has long been a star on the rise, and her recent international success – which also includes silver on vault at the Varna challenge cup in May as well as a haul of four individual medals at Nordic Championships in July – points to a super bright future, with Paris 2024 well within her reach.

Freja Petersen also earned a worlds berth this year after finishing 43rd at Euros. This year’s national vault and beam champion in addition to winning silver in the all-around, Petersen is generally at her best on beam, with floor a close second for me. This will be her second outing at worlds after making her debut last year, where she finished 50th all-around in qualifications.

ECUADOR

Alais Perea turned heads with a phenomenal performance at the South American Junior Championships in her final junior season in 2019, where she won silver in the all-around and then medaled on nearly every event in finals, taking the gold on beam, silver on floor, and bronze on vault. She also took the bronze on vault in her senior debut at Pan Ams last year, which she repeated later in the year at South American Championships, and this year she won silver in the all-around and gold on beam at the Bolivarian Games.

As one of the strongest gymnasts from Ecuador in history, Perea was one of my favorites for getting a worlds spot from the Pan Am region this year, which she made happen after finishing 18th all-around in Rio. Beam and floor are definitely where she stands out, but she’s overall pretty well-balanced both in terms of difficulty and overall performance ability, and while I think she might be a long shot for making the all-around final in Liverpool, I think we’ll definitely see her get to that level someday.

GREECE

Once the biggest up-and-coming gymnast for Greece with appearances at the Youth Olympic Games, Euros, and EYOF as a junior, Elvira Katsali has transitioned pretty well to the senior level, making her worlds debut in 2019 in addition to qualifying into a couple of world and challenge cup finals over the past few years. Katsali was Greece’s top gymnast at Euros, finishing 45th all-around to earn her spot at worlds, where she put up an especially great performance on floor.

Though Greece didn’t get a second all-arounder to Liverpool, Areti Pagoni initially earned a spot on bars and then picked up second-chance spots on beam and floor through the world cup series, while Konstantina Maragkou earned a spot on bars. Neither will be in the finals mix, but Maragkou – the national bars champion in 2021 – has some solid potential on her event, and they’re both young enough that this competition could be an important experience for their futures in the sport.

HONG KONG

We’ve seen a few gymnasts from Hong Kong competing in various world cups this season, but the most exciting was Angel Wong Hiu Ying, the 2012 Olympian who is still going strong as a 35-year-old veteran. Wong mostly competes on beam, and qualified one of the apparatus spots for that event after appearing at all four world cups this season, and winning the bronze medal in Doha. Wong, who has a skill named for herself on beam, isn’t competing at a high enough level to make the final in Liverpool, and she’s been a little inconsistent this year, but when she hits it’s glorious, so I’m hoping she has a great outing in quals.

Charlie Chan Cheuk Lam also earned a beam spot for Hong Kong with just one world cup appearance in Cairo. Chan made her worlds debut last year, and though she doesn’t have a ton of difficulty she often shows off very nice work here.

ICELAND

Two gymnasts got in for Iceland this year, with Thelma Adalsteinsdottir finishing 33rd all-around at Euros, while Hildur Gudmundsdottir snagged the second-to-last Euros spot after ending up 48th.

Adalsteinsdottir is essentially at an all-time best right now. This year’s national all-around champion and Nordic beam champion, Adalsteinsdottir has done some stunning work this season, especially on beam, and she seems to be gearing up for a big shot at an Olympics bid next year. This will be Adalsteinsdottir’s second worlds appearance after making her debut in 2018, and though making the all-around final would be challenging, I’m looking forward to seeing what else she can do.

We actually didn’t see Gudmundsdottir’s best work at Euros, so it was nice to see that she could still manage to qualify to worlds without being at a hundred percent. This year, Gudmundsdottir won the national beam and floor titles in addition to finishing second all-around, and she won the silver medal on floor at Nordic Championships, and she’s headed to her second worlds, with her debut happening last year.

INDIA

Though India had four all-arounders vying for worlds spots at Asian Championships, everyone ended up falling just slightly short of the cutoff. On a happier note, two gymnasts did get in on vault via the world cups, with Protistha Samanta taking the first available spot after making the final in Cairo and Pranati Nayak snagging the third, having made the final in Baku.

Nayak has actually had a pretty successful vault year, winning a bronze medal at Asian Championships and then also qualifying third into the final at Commonwealth Games, though a fall on her second vault resulted in a fifth-place finish. With a tsuk double full as her main vault, Nayak is in the mix of gymnasts with the sixth-highest difficulty combo on this apparatus, but while this is impressive, I think her top potential average score will still fall a few tenths short of what will be needed to reach the final here, and Samanta is also too far back to make it happen.

India also had a third gymnast qualify to worlds with Aruna Budda Reddy getting in on floor, but an injury has unfortunately kept her out of commission for most of this season, so we won’t see her there.

INDONESIA

Fan-favorite Rifda Irfanaluthfi is back for a third quad after missing out on Rio and Tokyo, and qualified to worlds this year after finishing 10th all-around at Asian Championships in June. This year’s Southeast Asian Games all-around and floor champion, Irfanaluthfi is typically excellent on beam and floor, and though she doesn’t have the kind of routine that is difficult enough to make a final, she’s always someone worth paying attention to in qualifications.

IRELAND

Both of Ireland’s top all-arounders – former British junior standout Halle Hilton and history-making Emma Slevin, who became the first Irish gymnast to qualify to both European and world all-around finals in 2021 – are expected to compete at worlds this year after qualifying at Euros this summer, where Hilton finished 30th and Slevin finished 36th.

As one of the most elegant pairs in the competition, both Hilton and Slevin are capable of putting up beautiful performances across the board. Hilton does her best work on beam, but has unfortunately been a bit consistent there this season, while Slevin is super balanced, though bars has caused her some trouble this year, both at nationals – where she won the all-around title regardless! – and at Euros. Both are stunning and could be capable of making the all-around final at full strength, but they’d need to be at their very best in qualifications to make it happen.

ISRAEL

This is another program that was able to qualify two all-arounders via Euros, with 2020 Olympian Lihie Raz – who swept nationals this summer! – taking the first available spot after finishing 16th all-around, while 2021 world vault finalist Ofir Netzer made it in after finishing 41st.

Raz, who also qualified to the vault final at Euros this year and who won bronze on floor at Euros in 2020, is consistently full of surprises, and seems to get better and better with each competition she does. She looked to be at her peak this summer, and I think if she does everything she’s capable of she could be on the bubble for making the all-around final in Liverpool. Netzer has struggled a bit on beam this year, which holds her back as an all-arounder, but she’s generally great on vault and bars, and won a silver medal on vault at the Cottbus world cup early in the season.

KAZAKHSTAN

Veteran Aida Bauryzhanova was the top all-around qualifier at Asian Championships this year, where she finished ninth in addition to qualifying into the beam final, and she’ll be joined in Liverpool by teammate Korkem Yerbossynkyzy, who was 15th at the continental championship meet.

Bauryzhanova has been on the elite scene for a solid decade, and is most notable for the work she’s done on the world and challenge cup circuit, having made a number of finals over the years (including in Doha, Cairo, and Mersin in 2022), and she’s represented Kazakhstan at three Asian Championships and two Asian Games. Beam and floor are her standout events, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see her stick to just these events in Liverpool.

Due to injuries and then the COVID hiatus, Yerbossynkyzy missed nearly four years of competition, but reemerged this past spring with a finals appearance on beam at Doha before earning her worlds berth in June. Beam is where she’s historically had her best results, but she’s not at a high enough level of difficulty to challenge for a final.

Kazakhstan also had two apparatus qualifiers – Darya Yassinskaya on vault and Alexandra Shametko on bars – but ultimately turned down both of these spots.

LUXEMBOURG

Celeste Mordenti was initially three spots away from qualifying to worlds, having finished 51st all-around at Euros in August, but when Poland turned down its all-around spots she was able to pick one up to earn a spot at her third consecutive world championships since making her senior debut in 2019. Mordenti has had some great performances in her career as Luxembourg’s best, and tends to do her best work on floor, but even with a fully hit day at worlds she’ll be a bit too far behind to challenge for the all-around final.

MALTA

I loved seeing both of Malta’s standout elites qualify to worlds this year. First-year senior Tara Vella Clark got in through her 47th-place all-around finish at Euros, and though Ella Borg was too far back to make it there by finishing in 58th, she ultimately picked up spots on bars, beam, and floor via the world cups.

Vella Clark is a beam standout with absolutely beautiful technique and style there. She’s made several international finals, including as a junior at Euros in 2020, and I’m really looking forward to see her qualifications routine (she lacks the difficulty to make the final, sadly!). Borg has consistently outperformed Vella Clark in the all-around at home this year, winning two national-level titles before heading to Euros, so while it was a bit surprising to see her fall short in Munich, I’m glad she still managed to find a way in to make her worlds debut.

MOROCCO

After missing out on an all-around berth by just one position in her ninth-place all-around finish at African Championships, Nisrine Hassanaine found herself getting lucky in snagging worlds spots on both vault and floor, both of which came to her when other qualifiers turned down their spots. These are unsurprisingly her two strongest events, and while she won’t be in the mix for any finals, it was great to see her make it in general, as she’ll be Morocco’s first representative at worlds since 2015, and its fifth worlds competitor in history.

NEW ZEALAND

We’re seeing a bit of an elite refresh from New Zealand this quad. After not sending any gymnasts to worlds last year, the program qualified two first-year seniors – Reece Cobb and Keira Rolston-Larking – through their all-around performances at Oceania Championships back in May, where Cobb won the bronze medal with a 47.699 while Rolston-Larking was fourth with a 44.632.

Both Cobb and Rolston-Larking made their elite debuts as juniors in 2021, winning all-around medals at nationals, and Cobb was this year’s national all-around champion. Neither has an events that are standout enough to get them into the mix for any apparatus finals at worlds, and the all-around final would be a long shot as well, but having both missed nearly the entirety of their junior careers due to COVID restrictions, it was great to see them step out as having promise, and hopefully worlds will give them the experience they need to keep growing in the sport.

NORWAY

What a story for Norway! Though the Norwegian gymnasts fell two places short of getting a full squad at worlds with a 15th-place finish at Euros, Norway will still essentially send a full team by maximizing its qualification through both all-around and apparatus spots.

At Euros, both Maria Tronrud and Juliane Tøssebro qualified in the top half of the all-around pool, with Tronrud – this year’s national bars and beam champion and Nordic all-around bronze medalist and beam silver medalist – finishing 24th in Munich while Tøssebro – the national vault and floor champion for 2022 – was 35th. Tronrud has been truly killing it this year, with her beam looking especially strong, and while Tøssebro isn’t generally one of Norway’s strongest all-arounders, she looked great at Euros to upset the national champion and earn a surprise bid.

Additionally, Selma Halvorsen qualified via the world cups on vault, bars, and floor, while Mari Kanter got in on beam, and Norway added a third qualifier recently as Mali Neurauter came in as the alternate for vault when another athlete withdrew due to injury. The Norwegian program put as many resources as possible into its athletes by ensuring that tons of athletes get high-level international experience has really paid off this year, and though this team of five can’t actually contend for the team competition, I am guessing if we add their scores together, they could possibly upset some of the teams actually there.

PANAMA

The team from Panama has been on the rise in recent years, and though they had the potential to get two all-arounders in here, ultimately we only saw Karla Navas make it happen after finishing 21st all-around at Pan Ams. An excellent all-arounder with great results under her belt, Navas also won gold on vault at this worlds qualifier, and weeks earlier she took silver on vault and bronze on beam at the Bolivarian Games. Two weeks ago, Navas looked to be in excellent form at the South American Games, where she finished fifth all-around and qualified into three finals, finishing fourth on bars and beam, and I’m hoping she’ll look equally strong when she gets to Liverpool.

PERU

Ana Karina Mendez has had some bad luck and bad timing in her career, missing out on competing at worlds in both 2015 and 2019 to not have a chance at qualifying to the Olympics, but she’s looked fantastic this year and it was no surprise to see her land one of the top spots for worlds this year after finishing 13th all-around at Pan Ams. This summer, Mendez picked up the all-around and bars titles at the Bolivarian Games before going on to win all-around and bars bronze as well as beam silver at South American Championships, and then she took bronze on beam at the South American Games two weeks ago, putting her in a great place going into worlds.

PORTUGAL

We saw a great performance from super talented first-year senior Mariana Parente at Euros in August, where her 37th-place all-around finish secured her very first world championships berth. Parente has some great overall balance between all four events, though I think she shows her most potential on bars, and I’m excited to see how she’ll continue to make improvements there and everywhere as she continues in the sport. She’ll be a little too far back to challenge for the all-around final here, but as with many of the young athletes here, it’ll be an important experience.

PUERTO RICO

Nicole Diaz is one of the most recent world championships qualifiers, getting a spot only about a week ago after another athlete withdrew. Diaz, who finished 24th all-around at Pan Ams, has most of her experience concentrated in South and Central America, though after a roughly three-year absence from international meets, she popped up at International GymSport in Portugal this spring, where she looked great and took the gold on vault. I’m happy she was able to take advantage of a second chance at competing in Liverpool!

SINGAPORE

This year’s national all-around champion, Southeast Asian Games bars bronze medalist, and Commonwealth Games all-around finalist Nadine Joy Nathan will be making the third world championships appearance of her career after finishing 13th all-around at Asian Championships. Nathan is a beautiful and super well-balanced gymnast with clean skills on all events, a great swing on bars, and really nice, fluid connections on beam, and it’s always a treat to see her perform even if she won’t be a finals threat.

SLOVENIA

At Euros, Lucija Hribar and Zala Trtnik picked up two of the top qualification spots for worlds, with Hribar finishing 29th all-around while Trtnik wasn’t far behind, in 32nd.

Hribar has had a super busy and pretty great season, making multiple finals at six of the seven world and challenge cups she’s attended, in addition to making the all-around and bars finals at the Mediterranean Games. After missing out on an opportunity to qualify to Tokyo, Hribar is doing everything she can to stay at a high level, and she’s a favorite of mine for making it happen this quad. Trtnik, meanwhile, is a first-year senior with some excellent junior results, and though she’s recently been limited by injury, she’s been doing some great work on bars and has tons of potential to join Slovenia’s excellent seniors going forward.

Also qualifying was Teja Belak via the world cups. Belak qualified on both vault and beam, but turned down her beam spot in favor of focusing on the former, which has been a bit hit-or-miss for her this season, but when she can hit both – a handspring front layout full and Yurchenko 1½ – she could very well be in the mix for making the final at worlds, which would be a first in the 2016 Olympian’s 12-year senior career. Though Belak took a couple of years off due to the birth of her son in 2021, her return this year has been almost better than ever, winning a total of five world and challenge cup medals after competing at six of them this year, with her most recent outing in Mersin resulting in her season-high average and a gold medal. But with her layout full often downgraded to a pike, she’ll need to be at her sharpest to make the worlds final happen.

SOUTH AFRICA

Though South Africa wasn’t able to upset Egypt in the team competition at African Championships, falling just over three points short of qualifying a full team to worlds, both of the country’s 2020 Olympians – Caitlin Rooskrantz and Naveen Daries – got in as individuals, with Rooskrantz taking the continental all-around title while Daries finished just off the podium in fourth place.

Rooskrantz has been a standout for the program since she made her international debut as a junior in 2015, and she’s a stunner especially on bars, where she picked up gold medals at African Championships and the Cairo world cup this year in addition to making history by earning South Africa’s first Commonwealth Games bars medal with her bronze win this summer. Rooskrantz has been a bit inconsistent on beam this summer, but I think with a fully hit day, she has the potential to sneak into the all-around final.

Though Daries doesn’t have the same level of international success as her teammate, she is a massive talent in her own right, and even outscored Rooskrantz in the all-around final at Commonwealth Games, where she finished sixth, ahead of gymnasts from the traditionally much stronger Canada, Wales, and Australia. Daries won bronze medals on vault and bars at African Championships this year, and also qualified into three finals at the world cup in Cairo, and like Rooskrantz, a fully hit day for her could result in her being a bubble gymnast for the final.

SRI LANKA

Milka Gehani made history as Sri Lanka’s first Olympic gymnast in 2020, and returned looking better than ever this year, finishing 11th all-around at Asian Championships to earn her spot at worlds, and then going on to make the all-around final at the Commonwealth Games, though she unfortunately had to withdraw halfway through due to an injury. Gehani, who is on a scholarship that gave her the opportunity to train in Japan, has tons of potential and it would be great to see her put up a fully hit performance as she gears up to qualify for a second Olympics in the coming years.

SWITZERLAND

It was a sad story for the Swiss WAG program at Euros this year, as a massive beam meltdown resulted in the program missing out on sending a full team to worlds, while most of the country’s strongest weren’t competing all four events, so they lost a chance at qualifying individually. One of those who had a rough beam routine, Anina Wildi, did end up narrowly making it after finishing 42nd all-around thanks to hit performances in her other routines, though. Despite being a little inconsistent this year, floor is usually a strength for Wildi, and her beam has some great moment – like a punch front mount and a triple flight series – so I’m hoping she can have it all come together at worlds.

THAILAND

It was very exciting to see Sasiwimon Mueangphuan snag the last all-around spot at Asian Championships, where she finished 16th overall. Mueangphuan is a very strong vaulter also capable of stunning work on floor, though with weak bars and beam, reaching a big all-around score is often a challenge, so she was definitely a happy surprise for worlds this year, and the competition in Liverpool will mark her debut competition outside of the Asian continent! In addition to making both the vault and floor finals at Asian Championships, Mueangphuan won gold on floor at this year’s Southeast Asian Games, and I’m hoping her routine at worlds will at least rank among the top half of competitors even if the final will be out of reach.

TRINIDAD & TOBAGO

New York City-based gymnast Annalise Newman-Achee got her start as a U.S. elite, qualifying to classics in 2019 before switching to Trinidad & Tobago post-COVID. She made her international debut as a first-year senior at Pan Ams in 2021, where she qualified into the bars final, and then returned to Rio again this year, where she finished 19th all-around to secure a berth to worlds. Newman-Achee is capable of lovely work on every event, but she had some struggles at this summer’s Commonwealth Games when the organizers wouldn’t allow her to raise the bars, without which it would have been too dangerous for her to compete release elements. Despite coming in as an athlete with all-around final potential, she ended up being held back to one of the lowest-ranked all-around spots due to the modifications she had to make in her routine, so hopefully the situation at worlds will be more accommodating and she’ll get to compete at the level she’s capable of.

TURKEY

The Turkish WAG team ended up falling short of qualifying to worlds this year, though it’s a tremendously talented group of gymnasts, and it was no surprise to see two qualify as all-arounders, including Sevgi Kayisoglu, who was 39th at Euros, and first-year senior Bengisu Yildiz, who was 44th.

Kayisoglu is this year’s national all-around and beam champion, and she recently won the bronze medal on floor at the challenge cup in Mersin, while Yildiz was the national silver all-around medalist and bronze medalist on bars, and also made the all-around, vault, and floor finals at the Mediterranean Games this summer. Both were members of Turkey’s fabulous junior team at Euros in 2020, and are on my list as gymnasts with potential to qualify as individuals to Paris, so it’ll be great to see them work on some experience this year before starting down that path next year.

The team had also qualified veteran Olympian Göksu Üctas Sanli to worlds on floor through the world cups, but ultimately the 2020 Euros silver medalist on floor did not accept her spot.

UZBEKISTAN

Between continental championships and the world cups, Uzbekistan qualified four gymnasts to worlds, though both specialists – Oksana Chusovitina on vault and Gulnaz Jumabekova on floor – did not accept their spots. We will see all-arounders Dildora Aripova and Ominakhon Khalilova in the mix, though, with Aripova finishing 12th all-around at Asian Championships while Khalilova was 14th.

Aripova had a great start to her season this year, earning the silver medal on floor at the Cairo world cup followed by a bronze on the event in Baku, and she narrowly missed a medal on the event at Asian Championships, where she was fourth with a 13.2. She’s absolutely lovely to watch there, and with her best potential routine she could maybe get close to the final, but I don’t think making it will be possible.

Though Khalilova doesn’t have standout events in the way Aripova does, she’s got years of experience at the senior level, with this her second world championships after making her debut in 2019. She has the potential to be a solid all-arounder, but will likely not make the final.

VENEZUELA

Milca Leon has been one of the top prospects from Venezuela since making her world championships debut back in 2017. After moving to begin training in Japan, she has steadily been improving across all four events, and hit close to her personal best score at Pan Ams this summer to finish 16th all-around, securing a spot for her third worlds. Leon also made the apparatus finals on vault and bars at the Bolivarian Games this summer, and bars is typically hands-down the event where she has the most potential, with a pretty solid skill level, though inconsistency with some of the more difficult elements can sometimes result in lower scores.

VIETNAM

In a real bummer of a story, the Vietnamese federation wasn’t aware that they had to attend qualifiers for worlds, and they didn’t send anyone to the Asian Championships, leaving them unable to qualify any all-around competitors. Thankfully, by chance, he program had sent a few athletes to the Baku world cup, and though no athletes had amassed enough points to qualify outright, a few – Tran Doan Quynh Nam, Pham Nhu Phuong, and Truong Khanh Van – were able to get in as others declined spots.

Unfortunately, Tran – who qualified to the vault final at this year’s Southeast Asian Games – was just injured at the challenge cup in Mersin, forcing her to withdraw from her finals there and then give up her spot at worlds. But we will see Pham – the 2022 Southeast Asian Games bars silver medalist – on bars, while Truong – a floor finalist in Southeast Asia – will compete on vault and floor.

Article by Lauren Hopkins

8 thoughts on “Everything You Need to Know About Every Individual WAG Competitor at Worlds

  1. Great effort. The kind of work you can learn from.
    Are there alternates for individuals ? (at this stage I mean , a week or less before the competition).
    Has Zwicker recently retired ?
    One has to admire Belak. Will she be the only mother competing ?
    Does VietNam know there is a new code of points for this quad ?
    Shame on FIG to decide in advance only one african country could compete as a team when they claim their priority is to develop the sport

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    • They’re still considered a “team” since they qualified one. They’re listed as “team” on the nominative roster…so I’ll include them on the “team” list for that reason, but yeah… :-/

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