Who’s Who in 2012: Bar Hopefuls

2008 Olympic Uneven Bars Medalists (Photo Credit: Clive Brunskill / Getty Images)

Here’s who to look out for on the medal podium in London.

Aliya Mustafina (RUS) 16.2/7.0 and Viktoria Komova (RUS) 16.2/7.0

Watching the Russians do bars is like watching art in motion. There is a lightness to their work that makes it appear as if they are effortlessly floating from bar to bar. Every movement is exquisite with the toe point of a ballerina and the amplitude of a trapeze artist. Their routines are so mesmerizing, it is easy to forget that they are doing some of the most difficult routines in the world. One thing is for certain, the training time lost to knee and ankle injuries was put to incredible use on the bars, taking their bar work to a level above everyone else.

Beth Tweddle (GBR) 15.95/7.0

Beth is widely considered the most successful British gymnast of all time, most especially for her two World Championship titles on bars. She brings a different style to bars, earning her difficulty with lots of high flying, difficult and connected release moves. It is a routine that pleases the crowds. However the risks that she takes are often her undoing. If she hits, she will most likely medal. I think most everyone in the world is rooting for her to do so- to win an Olympic medal on her home soil at the age of 27 would be an incredible Olympic moment.

Gabby Douglas (USA) 15.9/6.5

Dubbed the Flying Squirrel because of her high flying release moves, Gabby is breathtaking to watch on bars. She literally takes your breath away because you aren’t sure that she can come back down and catch the bar. But she always does. Gabby has excellent execution, dynamic amplitude and beautiful form earning her high scores even with lower difficulty than others in the field.

He Kexin (CHN) 15.85/7.1

He Kexin is the defending Olympic Champion. Widely regarded as having the most difficult bar routine in the world for the last many years, He makes people gasp and shake their heads when she does her infamous release combination. She has bars in the old style of China – delightful to behold while doing release moves like no one else. However, He has been very inconsistent ever since 2009. She could easily take the gold or not even qualify for the finals.

Others you will likely see in the finals but who probably won’t end up on the medal podium:

Yao Jinnan (CHN) 15.85/6.8

Kyla Ross (USA) 15.65

Youna Dufournet (FRA) 15.5/6.9