Thursday, 26 July 2012

Thursday's Thoughts

Olympic medallists?

With the start of the Olympic gymnastics competition not far off, many people's thoughts are turning to those who may take the medals in the various finals. I want to take a look at who could win, but also those that I personally would love to see take a medal.

Team Final
Most people are saying that this title is the USA's to lose and I have to say I completely agree. They have one of the most solid teams I have seen from any country in a long time. This team of youngsters (Aly Rasiman is the oldest at 18) is so secure and so thoroughly prepared I do not see how any one can beat them on difficulty, execution or consistency. But of course gymnastics is a competition and anything can happen. Romania, Russia and China will be the other teams battling it out for the medals. Romania have been looking really strong recently and I would love to see this newly rejuvenated team take a medal. However, with rumours that Romania's star gymnast Larisa Iordache is injured and may not compete all around, the rest of the team will have a lot of work to do. Russia is seen by many as the strongest threat to the USA for the team Gold. With Aliya Mustafina back competing again after her knee injury and Viktoria Komova looking on good form it is easy to see why. You also should not count out newcomer Anastasia Grishina who is competing brilliantly at the moment. What the Russian's seem to be struggling most with though is consistency. If they hit all of their routines they will be challenging for the Gold, but that is quite a big if in my opinion. The Chinese also seem to lack consistency, especially on big occasions. Although they are the reigning Olympic Champions I really do not see them fighting for the Gold this year. My ideal podium? USA, Romania, Russia.

All Around Final
With doubts around about Larisa Iordache competing all around, the main contenders for the title will most likely be Jordyn Wieber, Gabby Douglas and Viktoria Komova. All of these girls are more than capable of taking the all around title IF they compete cleanly during the final. I really hope that they do, for their sake because they all deserve to have a good competition and also because it will make for a very exciting final. Personally, I would love to see Aliya Mustafina back on top form and competing for the title as I absolutely adore her style. I would also like to see Jordyn do well as I think she is an exceptional gymnast who is lovely to watch. We also need to remember China's Yao Jinnan who took the Bronze medal all around at the 2011 World Championships. Also bear in mind that Larisa Iordache may still compete, nothing seems to be definite at the moment. My ideal podium? Wieber/Mustafina. Iordache.

Vault Final
I fully expect the standards of this final to be absolutely phenomenal as we are likely to have some amazing gymnasts challenging for the title. The favourite is of course the reigning World Champion on vault, McKayla Maroney. She is an absolutely exceptional vaulter and just seems to float through the air on vaults that others can only dream about. Sandra Izbasa of Romania is another one who makes difficult vaulting look effortless. Giulia Steingruber of Switzerland will be one to watch, as will Germany's Oksana Chusovitina who will be competing in her 6th Olympic Games! Yamilet Pena Abreu will also be hoping to make the vault final as she has been training the hardest vault in women's gymnastics - the handspring double front. If she lands it well she is in with a chance, but her landings often leave a lot to be desired. My ideal podium? Maroney, Izbasa, Steingruber/Chusovitina.

Bars final
This is the final where all British gymnastics fans will be holding their breath as Great Britain's Beth Tweddle is one of the favourites for this title. She is an exceptional bars worker with incredible difficulty and great execution. Gabby Douglas and Kyla Ross of USA will also be hoping to make the final on this event. Gabby in particular has the difficulty and the execution to be a medal contender. Russia and China are also very strong on bars. Both Viktoria Komova and Aliya Mustafina will be hoping to have an impact on the medals and He Kexin of China will be desperately trying to defend her bars title from Beijing 2008. We also have France's Youna Dufournet and Germany's Elisabeth Seitz who have some great skills on the bars. My ideal podium? Tweddle (of course!), Komova/Douglas, Mustafina.

Beam Final
There are many contenders for this final with the Chinese and Romanians being amongst the top ones. For China, Sui Lu in particular is beautiful on beam and is the reigning World Champion on this apparatus, with Yao Jinnin and Deng Linilin also hoping for a place in the final. For Romania, Catalina Ponor will be the one to beat. She was the beam champion when she last competed at the Olympics in 2004 and she seems to have lost none of her magic. Iordache may also be hoping to make this final even if she does not compete all around. Vasiliki Millousi of Greece is also an exceptional beam worker and has a beautiful routine. If she performs it well she is in with a chance of not just a place in the final but also a medal. And we should not forget Britain's Hannah Whelan. This is one of her strongest apparatus and only a few months ago she took her first European medal on the beam. My ideal podium? Lu, Ponor, Millousi/Whelan.

Floor Final
This is the apparatus where I find people's opinions vary the most. Perhaps it is because of that added element - the music. If you really do not like the music that a gymnast is performing to you are much less likely to like the routine in my opinion. With me, it has affected my ability to watch Lauren Mitchell's routine objectively and it took me a long time to get used to both Gabby Douglas and Hannah Whelan's floor music. But what really counts of course is the gymnastics, both the tumbling and the artistry. Tumbling wise, Aly Raisman has one of the most difficult floor exercises you are likely to see this year. She has some incredible tumbling passes and seems sure of her landings on each one of them. The Romanians will definitely be a force to be reckoned with on this apparatus. If not for the two per country rule I believe it would be possible to see most of the team qualifying for the final. Catalina Ponor has an excellent floor routine, as does Larisa Iordache if she is able to compete it. Of course there is also Sandra Izbasa who is the reigning Olympic Champion on floor. Elsewhere we have Britain's Beth Tweddle and Australia's Lauren Mitchell who are both previous World Champions on this apparatus. Brazil's Daiane dos Santos and Canada's Victoria Moors also have fantastic floor routines and Sui Lu and Italy's Vanessa Ferrari will be hoping to do well on this event too. My ideal podium? All of them!

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