The fate of 98 men and 98 women were revealed when the starting orders for the Rio 2016 gymnastics qualifications were announced in Bangkok.
The qualifications are both nerve-wracking and complicated. Nail your routine and you’ll be rewarded with a place in an apparatus final and high marks for the team. Fall flat on the mat trying and you’re out of the running. There are team tactics and often team orders at play. Let’s hope the chalk bowls are full as there will be plenty of sweaty palms around.
Here’s how the Brits, our main rivals and some of gymnastics biggest stars fared in the draw.
There are twelve teams battling for eight places in the team final and 38 individual gymnasts joining them to vie for all around and apparatus spots. The good news for world silver medallists Britain is that we are in the second of the three subdivisions alongside one of our biggest rivals the USA plus Germany and France.
We’ll have a benchmark from the Subdivision 1 teams of Japan, Brazil, Korea and the Netherlands to aim for. If they have struggled then team orders may dictate some team members playing safe rather than turning on the flair. But with Uchimura and Shirai, plus world rings champion Zanetti, up first, it’s likely we’ll need all the points available.
In Group Two, we can expect a matchup between the likes of Whitlock and Purvis and Whittenburg and Leyva with whichever team emerges top gaining a rubber stamped place in the final. An on-form German team boasting Hambuechen and Nguyen shouldn’t be too far behind.
The final subdivision offers a fascinating confrontation between the mercurial Chinese and the rock-solid Russians.
What to look out for:
The Brits to be fourth or better by the end of our subdivision and we’re through to the team final. Any lower than that and it will be squeaky bum time!
The best of rest:
Subdivision 1 – Zonderland’s High Bar, Larduet’s all-around ability, Greece’s Petrounias on rings and moustachioed Chilean Gonzalez on Floor.
Subdivision 2 – Armenia’s Merdinyan will vie with Max and Louis for pommel honours. North Korea’s Ri will hope to vault to the final.
Subdivision 3 – Dragulescu bids for a fourth consecutive vault final and Spain’s Zapata tries to build on world floor bronze.
The women’s competition also features twelve teams and 38 individuals but this time in five subdivisions. Following their sensational team bronze in Glasgow last year, the British women are on a high.
And in Rio they’ll likely raise the bar even further as they’re up against hosts Brazil this time in Subdivision 3. The girls are renowned for their coolness under pressure and could thrive in the South American carnival atmosphere.
What to look out for:
If the Brits are third or better by the end of our subdivision we look bound for the team final. If the Brazilians beat us, a few prayers may go up to the Saviour on Sugarloaf Mountain.
Subdivision 1 – China should boss Belgium, North Korea’s Hong goes big in the vault, Chusovitina on the Olympic runway for the seventh time.
Subdivision 2 – Will the Russians reign supreme? Their Italian opponents are world-class while the sole Romanian will hope to recapture national glory.
Subdivision 3 – Alongside the Brits and Brazilians, Dipa Karmakar will aim to somersault her way to becoming India’s first ever Olympic finalist.
Subdivision 4 – USA, USA, USA! Biles and the gang look unstoppable. Will the elegant Dutch, led by the Wevers sisters, also be beaming?
Subdivision 5 – The closest contest team-wise, Japan, Canada and France vie for the remaining final places with Ellie Black and Asuka Teramoto likely starring.
With so much talent on show there’s no doubt Gymnastics will be a big draw in Rio. If you want to see the full draw you can find it here.
What’s your prediction for Britain’s gymnasts in Rio? Let us know in the comments below.
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