We have been wondering for many months if it would be a three way race in the USA for the top two coveted all around finals spots at the World Championships, or if Marta would put up two all-arounders and give two others the opportunity to qualify for event finals. She had said after US Nationals that she would be happy to go with the three all-arounder scenario and then take an alternate, but time would tell.
When the selection committee selected Brenna Dowell as the fourth member of the World Championship team, it was a little unclear as to what path they were taking. If Brenna perfectly hit her new bar routine, she might have an opportunity to make it to the bar event finals. But Brenna makes more sense as an all around alternate than as an event specialist. Peyton Ernst seemed to have more potential to make it into the beam finals than Brenna did to make it into the bars finals. So the selection of Brenna gave us our first clue that Marta might still be on the three all-arounders path. However, all official standings showed McKayla Maroney competing vault and floor and Brenna competing bars and beam.
Until yesterday. As podium training began, it became obvious that a shift had been made. International Gymnastics reported it first that McKayla Maroney would be competing the all around and Brenna would be an alternate. Read the full interview here. “All three have looked like All-around medal contenders in the training sessions we’ve observed here in Antwerp, but only two will be able to advance to All-around Finals due to the Worlds rules. So, one of the greatest battles during Prelims could be the battle among the three Americans for the two coveted Finals spots.”
Yes, we went from predictable to high drama. Isn’t it the American way? It must be mentioned how hard it must be for Brenna Dowell. And I agree. To come all the way to Antwerp and end up not competing is heart-breaking. There have been many cries around the gymternet of how unfair it is because she has worked so hard. And I agree, it must be a heartbreaking experience. But I must admit. I think McKayla has worked incredibly hard for this opportunity as well.
Without a doubt, McKayla is the most popular, well spoken, sought out of the Fierce Five. She must have turned down so many opportunities to return to training. She went through three surgeries, an incredible media frenzy and still seemed to return to training better than ever, upgrading on floor and improving astronomically on beam and bars. Here McKayla talks about how very much she loves the sport.
Simone Biles comes in with the most difficulty at a 25.1. That is almost a point ahead of McKayla (24.2) and Kyla (24.0). The real test here will be in consistency and in execution. Simone’s career is short, and not one yet that you can identify a pattern. However, US Nationals day 1 is the only time she has yet put 4 for 4 together. She has looked incredible in podium training, and with the proven results of Marta’s training camps, there is no solid reason to believe that she won’t come out and hit routine after routine. That being said, there is nothing that compares to the Olympic experience of McKayla and Kyla.
If Simone hits all her routines in prelims, McKayla and Kyla, best friends since they were little girls, will be battling it out for the second all around finals spot. McKayla comes in atleast .2 ahead in difficulty, but will most likely lose out more on beam and bars. On the other hand, Kyla cannot compete with McKayla on vault and floor. In the end, it will come down to stuck landings, legs together, and pointed toes. This will be a competition where every tenth counts.
All in all, I do believe it will be a race for the two all around spots (which I STILL disagree with as much as I EVER have!). Simone is looking AMAZING and if she hits, she will claim one of the two American spots. McKayla and Kyla will come down to sticks, form and a little bit of luck to see who makes it into the finals. They come into this competition with the lowest start values of all of the all around competitors, but the highest consistency and execution of all of the competitors
It is ironic, because often the controversy about difficulty vs execution is often about American vs European. But this year, the best execution but lowest difficulty will come from one, if not two of the American’s. The drama has begun to see who will make the top two..