The all-around gold medal is the most coveted individual gymnastics achievement. When people refer to the champion, they mean the all-around champion. This Olympic year has an EXCITING all-around competition in store! Most years in women’s gymnastics there is a battle between two, maybe three gymnasts for the gold medal. This year, that is not the case. This all-around final will have five gymnasts who could win the gold medal.
There are twenty- four gymnasts in all who qualified into the All-Around finals. Here are the top five who will be vying for the podium. Who will end up on top is anyone’s guess. Hold onto your hats ladies and gentlemen, this is going to be a wild ride!
Viktoria Komova (60.632/25.7 Qualification)
After losing the gold to Jordyn Wieber last year by the smallest of margins, Viktoria comes into these Olympics ready to do battle – and win. Her slight form hides the incredible power underneath. She dances like a ballerina, vaults with power and grace, swings bars like she was meant to live life in the trees and tumbles on the beam as if she was light as a feather.
Viktoria debuted her amanar for the first time in her senior career during qualifications. Adding that to her arsenal along with one of the most difficult, perfectly executed bar routines in the world right now gave her the edge she needed to qualify in first. Her beam and floor routines are both exquisite, but not very consistent. She tends to either hit or miss on beam and is often plagued with low landings on floor. She will have to bring her best to keep her place at the top of the podium.
Alexandra Raisman (60.391/25.3 Qualification)
Aly is known to be one of the most calm, consistent competitors there is. Long overshadowed by higher scoring teammates, Aly shocked the world and herself by qualifying in as the top American. She comes in with the highest difficulty and most consistency on vault, beam and floor. However, her lower difficulty on bars, along with her poor form on this even is what keeps her from the top of the podium. She was fourth at last years world championships with a horrible mistake on bars.
Aly did the best vault of her career in qualifications, cleaning up her form issues and landing with just a small hop. She did the best bars routine she has ever done by far during podium training, seemingly to finally overcome her form breaks. She is generally rock solid on beam, and has scored the highest floor scores in both the team and qualifications. Overall, Aly does not have high enough difficulty to win gold without mistakes from both Gabby and Viktoria. But her rock solid, consistent performances make her a gymnast you should not count out. After all, as we have seen, anything can happen in the pressure of the Olympic spotlight.
Gabrielle Douglas, USA (60.265/25.3 Qualification)
Gabrielle, or Gabby, has been a rising star this year. Last year, she was known for her high flying bar routine, but her mental game was just not strong enough for her to be an all-around threat. This all changed when she came roaring out of the gate as an exhibitionist at the AT&T American cup. She unofficially (her scores did not count as an alternate) ran away with the gold. Since then, Gabby has been inching away at Jordyn Wieber’s lead in every meet until she finally overtook her by .1 at the Olympic Trials.
Gabby comes in with one of the highest potential start values of the group. She has the physical ability to blow away the competition. What remains to be seen is if she can continue improving her mental game and hit the routines when they count. She qualified in third because of a large error on floor. However, she hit four for four during team finals, and her All-Around score there would have easily won the title. If everyone brings out their best and they all hit, Gabby most likely wins. She will have to keep control of her nerves to stand on top of the podium.
Aliya Mustafina RUS (59.966/24.7 Qualification)
In 2010, Aliya was a star. In fact, it seemed she was on her way to becoming one of the gymnastics greats. Had we ever seen someone who could vault with the power and amplitude she attained and dance like a prima ballerina on floor? Someone who’s beautiful swing on bars was only outdone by her lightness and sureness on beam. Aliya won the all-around. She led the Russian team to gold. She qualified in EVERY event finals and placed on the podium in all but beam, where she had her only mistake of the entire competition. She looked unstoppable.
Unfortunately, an injury has put a serious roadblock in her path to glory. In 2011, she tore her ACL at the European Championships while performing her famous amanar. Her recovery has been difficult. She has grown and is still not used to her new body. But she has continued to train hard.
Aliya has yet to show the level of gymnastics and performance she attained in 2010 this year. She is not competing with the level of difficulty she formerly attained. But Aliya has a competitive drive, a fierceness and focus on the competition floor like few others. She has that undefinable quality and mental drive that propels her to the front. Her team loss will only drive her more. I would not be surprised at all if she ends up on the podium.
Larisa Iordache (57.8/24 Qualification)
Larisa’s junior showings made her highly anticipated as the Romanian all-around contender at the Olympics. She has a charming floor routine, one of the most difficult beam routines being performed at the Olympics, a solid vault and a very decent bar routine. Her achilles heel at these Olympics has in fact been her heel. She has plantar faciitis in her left heel and has not been able to put in a great deal of training over the past week.
This has definitely shown in bother her qualification and team performances. She has not been on her game. Hopefully the additional days of rest and training will allow her to continue on the trajectory she has been on her entire career – a place on the Olympic All-Around podium.
In addition, Deng Linlin from China qualified into the top group. This group will all compete together, starting on vault. It should be noted that Larissa did not qualify in this group and will start on bars. Once again, we all want these women to go out and have incredible, hit competitions!
UPDATE: The lastest reports say that she will compete in the All-Around in qualifications.
There has been a buzz this week on the gymternet surrounding Larisa Iordache, Romania’s young star. Many sources reported that she was not training much and seemed upset yesterday. Here are excerpts from Gymnastike.
In observing training today in the North Greenwich Academy, Larisa Iordache’s status is in question. The Romanians began their training on floor where Iordache warmed up tumbling passes with her teammates… Then, every Romanian gymnast except for Iordache practiced one full floor routine. She sat on the sidelines opposite of the rest of her team. She did not appear to be injured. She just sat quietly as her the rest of her teammates continued to train floor.
This is shocking because Iordache is one of the team’s best floor workers, could contend for a spot in the floor final, and is one of the favorites for the Olympic all around title. After missing World team medals the past two years, many consider the Romanians strong contenders for a medal here in London with an outside shot at gold. Larisa Iordache is a big factor in that.
The team then went to vault, again without their young star. Iordache instead got ready for bars and tried to stay busy stretching. She had a talk with the assistant coach and teared up. After vault, head coach Octavian Belu talked with Iorache for a few minutes. She looked upset, he appeared frustrated.
Today, The Couch Gymnast confirmed that she has a foot injury and will not be doing the All-Around in qualifications.
As you wrote, it’s [plantar] fasciitis. Now she feels better because the doctors applied an elastic bandage which is more dense and managed to balance the way in which forces are applied in that area. But she will not be able to compete in the all around and we will see on podium training if she will be able to compete on uneven bars and maybe on balance beam for her to qualify for the event finals. – Mariana Bitang
Read the entire interview on The Couch Gymnast
A huge part of the frustration here (at least what I read in between the lines) is that plantar fasciitis is not something that happens overnight. The pain builds. Had Larisa come forward earlier that she was in pain, some therapy and the elastic brace plus a few days of rest probably would have allowed her to compete on Sunday.
At this point, I think they are thinking of the team. Letting her compete in qualifications will allow her to qualify for a few event finals. Not doing floor or vault will allow her recovery time to help the team on Tuesday’s team finals. She could still compete on every event during team finals and help her team to a medal. However, as Larisa had a legitimate shot at the all-around gold, not being able to compete all-around in qualifications – and therefore not qualifying for all-around finals must be devastating.
This is a huge blow for Romania, who desperately needs her to challenge for team gold and who would have loved the all-around medal she could have won. Hopefully the rest time will allow her to come back strong. It is also a huge blow for the gymnastics world, who were really looking forward to seeing this dynamic, spirited gymnast challenge for gold in the all-around. It won’t be the same without her.
Larisa Iordache – Romania
Larisa made her senior debut this year at the AT&T American Cup. Her junior showings made her highly anticipated as the Romanian all-around contender at the Olympics and she has not disappointed. Each meet she goes out and gets better, more consistent and more polished.
Larisa has a charming floor routine, the most difficult beam routine that will be performed at the Olympics, a solid vault and a very decent bar routine. She has been shown doing Amanars in training videos, which would increase her standings. She competes with a delightful childlike air about her and if she continues on the trajectory she has been on her entire career, she will easily be in the mix for the gold.
Aly Raisman (USA) 15.8/6.5
Aly has the most difficult floor routine in the world. This is due to her incredible tumbling. She has an original and creative routine representing her Jewish roots. Aly’s downfall is that she doesn’t have the balletic style and form that the international judges look for. It is unlikely that she will score a 15.8 at the Olympics (though I saw that routine in person, it was AMAZING! She is so, so high in the air, it is unbelievable). Last year she qualified first into the floor finals, but finished third. She comes in with an upgraded routine, and her difficulty and sky high tumbling and leaps will help her challenge for the gold.
Jordyn Wieber (USA) 15.6/6.2 or Gabby Douglas (USA) 15.45/6.2
Jordyn Wieber has, in my opinion, one of the most fun to watch floor routines. She brings energy to the floor, performs with her entire being (including her eyes and her smile) and has incredible musicality. She has a lot of difficult tumbling and leaps with a lot of amplitude. However, like Aly she does not have a balletic style. Her toes are pointed, her fingers graceful, but it is not the style international judges appreciate. She too is unlikely to score this high in the Olympics. However, she will definitely be a challenger for the podium – if she makes the finals.
Why might Jordyn not make the finals? A little problem called the two per country rule. Gabby Douglas has been improving on floor each and every meet. She has the difficulty, the form, the amplitude and the flexibility to score well. However, her nerves often get to her, leading to lots of bounces out of landings. Her groovin’ beats also are not likely to win a lot of points with international judges. But if she scores over Jordyn and makes the finals, she will definitely be in the mix.
Larisa Iordache (ROU) 15.3/6.4
Larisa brings a brand new floor routine to the Olympics that is full of energy and incredible difficulty. She is second only to Aly in that department. She performs with a delightful air of freedom and abandon that brings a smile to your face. She doesn’t have the perfect form or the perfectly stuck landings of her other Romanian teammates, but she will without a doubt challenge for the gold.
Catalina Ponor (ROU) 15.275/6.2 or Sandra Izbasa (ROU) 15.1/6.1
Catalina is a worldwide favorite. She performs with a dynamic and aggressive grace that is all her own. In her new floor routine, she plays to the crowd with a swankiness that only she can pull off. Oh, and did I mention she was the 2004 Floor champion? After taking a number of years off, Catalina has come back with a vengeance and looks better than ever.
Sandra Izbasa is the reigning Olympic floor champion. She also brings a new routine to the Olympics, which I happen to love. She has beautiful form and generally sticks all her landings. It will be interesting to see if she make her way into the finals.
Lauren Mitchell (AUS) 15.25/6.3
Lauren brings a very unique style of dance, music and presentation to the floor. She has a highly difficult routine to boot. Though she does not dance with grace and beauty, the judges and fans alike seem to appreciate her originality. Lauren has a hard time with many of her landing/jump combinations, which can make or break her routine. If she hits, she will be challenging for the gold.
Vanessa Ferrari (ITA) 15.1/6.2
Vanessa won a bronze on floor way back in 2006. All these years later, she continues to bring difficult tumbling and has even upgraded. If Vanessa stays healthy, it is likely you will see her in the event finals.
Ksenia Afanasyeva (RUS) 15.067/
Ksenia comes in as the 2011 World Champion on Floor. Her floor routine was without a doubt, one of the highlights of the entire championships, and remains as one of my all time favorites. The Russian team has been battling injuries this year and have put in lackluster floor performances. However, that is not likely to be the case at the Olympics. Four of the five gymnasts could easily qualify for finals. Which two will come out on top is anyone’s guess.
Anastasiya Grishina (RUS) 14.933
Anastasiya is the most classical of classical gymnastics. She has perfect form, perfect execution and is mesmerizing to watch as she floats through her floor routine. As I said before, her main barrier to event finals will be her other teammates. So make sure and see her routine in qualifications. You won’t want to miss it!
Victoria Moors (CAN) 14.9/6.1
Victoria currently holds the title for beam dreams all time favorite floor routine. She does one of the best double twisting double tucks there is. She PERFORMS her floor routine as if she is on a stage. And she does it all with beautiful form. She brings an energy to her routine that doesn’t translate through the television, but let me assure you, it is captivating.
Beam. The most precarious event in womens gymnastics always makes for an uncertain finals prediction. The top gymnasts could as easily not make the finals with a fall in prelims as win the event. However, there are some delightful beam routines too look forward to and hopefully we will see them all in the finals.
Larisa Iordache (ROU) 15.95/6.8
Larisa has one of the most difficult beam routines in the world, and as such has posted the highest beam score this year. She is a clear favorite and as all is normal on the Romanian front once again, she rarely misses. She will be hard to beat and is very likely to end up on the podium.
Jordyn Wieber (USA) 15.7/6.4 Lauren Mitchell (AUS) 15.7/6,5, Catalina Ponor (ROU) 15.7/6.5
Of the three, Catalina is the most likely to score this high again. Catalina dominates the beam and is unlikely to make a mistake in prelims or the finals. She is one of the most beautiful beam workers, working with an aggressive style that somehow looks like ballet at the same time. She is a definite contender for the gold.
Jordyn Wieber has yet to hit all her connections in her routine. Her execution is phenomenal, however it is likely that her difficulty will be lower at the games. Still, her steady aggressive style is wonderful to watch. She is very steady on the beam, and it is likely that she will make the finals. Whether or not she is able to keep up with others of higher difficulty remains to be seen.
Lauren has a style on beam and floor that is all her own. She stands out for her original elements that make up her very difficult routine. Lauren has been inconsistent in hitting this routine. If she makes the finals, she will definitely challenge for the podium.
Kyla Ross (USA) 15.5/6.2 or Aly Raisman (USA) 15.45/6.4
Kyla has a beautiful, light clean style on beam. Her movement is not balletic, but it is executed perfectly and is beautiful to watch. However, she has only hit this high of a score one time as she doesn’t always hit her combinations. If she doesn’t hit all her connections, Aly Raisman will likely outscore her. Due to the two per country rule, only one of the two can make it in the finals.
Aly Raisman is the USA Rock. She is does a higher difficulty routine with nary a wobble. Aly is likely to hit and to be consistent. However, she may have a hard time beating out some of the others with higher difficulty and execution. But if they fall, Aly will be right there. Waiting to take advantage.
Sui Lu (CHN) Reigning World Champion 15.35 and Ashleigh Brennan (AUS) 15.35
Sui Lui has one of the most elegant, beautiful beam routines with loads of difficulty. She floats through the air as she tumbles across the beam, but sometimes she floats right off. If she hits she will contend for the podium. If she will hit is anyones guess.
Ashleigh Brennan is another strong Australian beam worker. She is unlikely to contend for the podium but just might make the final.
Viktoria Komova (RUS) 15.325
Viktoria gives you a ballet on the beam. Perfect form, exquisitely pointed toes, everything done with a lightness and air of ease. But there have been few major competitions in the last year where she hasn’t fallen on beam at some point. If she makes her connections and stays on the beam, she could easily challenge for gold.
Yao Jinnan (CHN), Aliya Mustafina (RUS), Ana Grishina (RUS) are also ones that you should not count out of making it into beam finals.