Saturday 28 July 2012

So Close Saturday


Well, it is finally here! Qualification for the women begins tomorrow and there is everything to play for. With the excitement of finals it can be easy to forget how important the qualification round is, but this is the part of the competition which is make it or break it for the gymnasts. This one day of qualifying determines who makes it through to the team final, the all around final and all four apparatus finals. You simply cannot have a bad day in qualifying otherwise you could end up with absolutely nothing.

There are 12 teams that have qualified to the Olympic Games but only 8 places available for the team final. In the qualification round each team can put up four gymnasts on each piece of apparatus with the top three scores counting towards the team total. All five gymnasts in the team will have to work steadily and cleanly to make sure that they qualify. But not only will team mates be competing together, they will also be competing against each other. Each team is likely to have two or three gymnasts who are hoping to qualify for the all around and apparatus finals. With the rule of two gymnasts per country in each of the individual finals there is inevitably going to be some rivalry as to who qualifies highest and ensures their place in the final. Team USA for example has three excellent all around gymnasts who will all be hoping to make it to the all around final, but only the top two scorers in tomorrow's competition will go through. Similarly, Team Romania has many excellent floor workers but only the top two of the four gymnasts competing on floor tomorrow will be able to make it to the floor final.

All Around
The top 24 all around gymnasts from tomorrow's competition will qualify to the all around final, after the two per country rule has been taken into consideration. For example, the gymnast who finishes 28th should definitely make the all around final as there will almost certainly be more than four gymnasts in the top 24 who cannot qualify because two of her team mates scored higher. Although many of the top gymnasts hoping to qualify to the all around final are likely to be from one of the 12 teams, there will also be many gymnasts who are singularly representing their country who will be hoping to make their mark. There are 98 female gymnasts competing tomorrow and though not all of them will be competing all around (especially in the teams) 98 to 24 is a big drop so there will be some fierce competition to make the final. For those all around gymnasts who do not qualify to the top 24, their all around position will determine their world ranking so there is still everything to go for. 

Apparatus Finals
The top 8 gymnasts on each apparatus will qualify to the apparatus finals, again with the two per country rule. It is highly unlikely that any gymnast will make all four apparatus finals and fairly unlikely that many will even make three. Teams are more and more commonly using specialists these days to help with the team score and trying to take individual apparatus medals. Because these gymnasts specialise in just a couple of pieces of apparatus they have more time to train them and are more likely to post higher scores than the all around gymnasts. With the vault final requiring two completely different vaults many of the top gymnasts do not even attempt to get into this final, making the decision to practise only one vault so they can concentrate more on the other apparatus. What this does mean is that you are likely to see a greater range of countries represented in this final, rather than it just being the top teams on show. It is really nice for some of the less well known gymnasts to get a chance to shine.

It is going to be a long and nerve wracking day tomorrow and I hope that all the gymnasts perform their best and feel proud of their achievements.

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