Thursday 19 July 2012

Thursday's Thoughts

Individual hopes

With most of the medal hopes coming from the countries who have qualified full teams to the Olympic Games it can be very easy to overlook those who are competing as individuals for their country. Here is a look at some of those individuals who will be hoping to make it through to the all around final or one of the events finals.

Giulia Steingruber (Switzerland)
Giulia is currently Switzerland's top female gymnast. She is a good all rounder and should make the all around final in London. In the 2011 World Championships she came 16th, her best result at a major world competition. She is best known for her vaulting and should definitely make it to the vault final. Not only that, but she will be hoping for a medal on vault. She came 5th in the 2011 World Championships vault final and will be looking to improve on that. I certainly believe that she is in with a chance of a medal on this apparatus.

Celine van Gerner (Netherlands)
Celine has had a tough battle to make it to the 2012 Olympic Games. After competing well in the 2011 World Championships, Celine was unable to compete at the 2012 test event due to injury. The Dutch selection committee named Wyomi Masela as the gymnast to represent the Netherlands, but Celine van Gerner fought the decision and eventually won the right to compete at the Olympics. With such a struggle to get to the Games, Celine will be hoping to prove that the selection committee made the right choice. She should make it through to the all around final (she came 17th all around at the 2011 World Championships) but is less likely to make an individual final. Bars is her best chance to make a final, having recently come 5th on this apparatus at the 2012 European Championships.

Vasiliki Millousi (Greece)
At the age of 28, Vasiliki is already an experienced Olympian having competed in the Sydney 2000 Olympics. Recently she has come to people's attention for her excellent beam work. She is starting to feature more and more often in beam finals, and at the London 2012 Test Event at the beginning of the year she took the Gold medal on beam. With so many good gymnasts, she will probably struggle to get through to the all around final, but she will definitely be wanting to make the beam final and she may have a chance at a medal.

Phan Thi Ha Thanh (Vietnam)
Phan Thi Ha Thanh made history for her country when she qualified for the Olympics by becoming the first Vietnamese gymnast to win a world medal. At the 2011 World Championships she took the Bronze medal on vault, earning her an automatic entry to the London 2012 Olympics. Although she is highly unlikely to make it to the all around final, she will be hoping to repeat her success on vault. She should make it to the vault final and it would be lovely if she could take an Olympic medal.

Yamilet Pena Abreu (Dominican Republic)
Although Yamilet Pena has never scored particularly well all around she has recently become noted for her vaulting skills. In the 2011 World Championships she attempted the Produnova, a handspring double front tucked somersault. It is the first time since 1999 that this vault has been seen in the women's competition and she is only the second female gymnast to compete it, the first being Yelena Produnova after whom the vault is named. She executed the vault well in qualifying to make her the third highest qualifier to the vault final. Unfortunately in the final she sat the vault down, earning her 0.000 and putting her in 8th place. I am sure she will be hoping to make the vault final in London and I hope that she performs well if she gets there.

Among the others hoping to make a final in London will be Elsa Garcia (Mexico), Ana Sofia Gomez Porras (Guatemala), Nataliya Kononenko (Ukraine), Marta Pihan-Kulesza (Poland), Jessica Lopez (Venezuela), Valeriia Maksiuta (Israel), Gaelle Mys (Belgium), Jessica Ortiz (Columbia) and Maria Vargas (Spain). Many of these will be hoping to make the all around final, but with only 24 places up for grabs, it will certainly not be easy. Out of these gymnasts, possible apparatus finalists are Nataliya Kononenko and Marta Pihan-Kulesza on bars and Valeriia Maksiuta on vault and beam.

For a more detailed look at individual competitors, Arabian Punch Front Blog has done a brilliant series looking at all 36 of the individual gymnasts.

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