Tokyo Olympics Gymnastics: Women's Preview: Pranati Nayak, Simone Biles and more!
Take a quick look at the most notable gymnasts to look out for during Women's Artistic Gymnastics Qualifications in Tokyo tomrrow!
Female gymnasts bring their 'A' game to the Games with the very first competition starting tomorrow, the 25th of July at the Ariake Gymnastics Centre.
Tomorrow is QUALIFICATION DAY in Tokyo for the women! This is the only day at for gymnastics where no medals will be awarded. Even though there are no medals this is probably one of the most important days for the gymnasts. The scores gymnasts receive today based on their performance determine which gymnasts qualifies specific events and the all-around and team competition.
The top 8 teams will qualify to the Team Final which takes place on the 27th of July at 16:45 IST. Following this the top 24 gymnasts in the all-around (best score across all four apparatus) qualify to the All-Around final which tales place on the 29th of July at 16:50 IST.
Lastly the top 8 gymnasts on each event qualify to the respective event finals which start on the 1st of August continuing until the 3rd of August (starting at 14:00 IST on each day).
We preview the top contenders on across events for the women going into qualifications tomorrow!
We start with India, because why not?
Pranati Nayak the lone gymnast from India starts her bid for that long-awaited Olympic medal on Sunday morning at 6:30 IST in Subdivision 1.
Pranati like every other individual gymnast is awarded the opportunity to compete in the all-around during the qualification competition. However, her hope to advance into the next stage of competition will come on the vault. As a vault specialist, she will compete two of her most difficult vaults. The judges will score each vault separately. Her final vault score will be an average score of the two vaults she competes.
In terms of her vaults, Pranati will most likely compete the Rudi or the 1.5 twisting Handspring Laid Out vault and the Double Twisting Tsukhara. For more information on Pranati's vaults, check out the article here.
There is absolutely no doubt that all bets are placed on a stellar performance from Team USA. They come in with the strongest team and their goal will be to pick up the maximum number of medals possible. Headlining the team is the one and only GOAT in gymnastics, Simone Biles. She is the undisputed queen in gymnastics, coming to Tokyo as a veteran and defending Olympic and World Champion, with new high-flying high-risk moves on vault, beam and floor. She will aim to help the US team qualify Team Finals.
For her individuals bid, she will aim to qualify to all-around finals, vault finals (where she is also the favourite to win) as well as beam and floor finals. She is also defending Olympic and World Champion on vault and floor and defending World champion on beam. At this point, no amount of hype for Simone is ever enough, she's that far ahead of the field. Here's a video of her vault from Podium Training:
A close second to Simone in the all-around is Sunisa Lee or Suni, who is the 19 year old Bars queen and Simone's biggest all-around challenger. Suni makes up ground for her weakest event, vault with a jam-packed gold medal potential Uneven Bars, which has the highest difficulty in the world. After dealing with numerous ankle issues through the better part of the year, she feels ready and strong with upgrades on her floor routine and a healed ankle! Watch her spectacular bars routine from Podium Training here:
The other major all=around contender from the US who will definitely spice things up for the US team since only two can qualify per event, is Jordan Chiles. A teammate of Simone's, Jordan has comes with a newfound confidence and poise to her gymnastics, an area that always held her back. Consistency is the new normal for Jordan, who has gone 24 for 24 this year, which means she has performed 24 routines in competition and hasn't missed a single one! A rather difficult feat in gymnastics. Jordan executes a steady all-around performance with decent difficulty across the board and will hope to make her mark in qualifications tomorrow!
Lastly, the two individuals competing for the US, Jade Carey and Mykayla Skinner will fight tooth and nail against each other. Both have the same strong events, vault and floor, and will vie for a spot on each. The only worry is, with Simone also excelling on these specific events, the US is only allowed one more spot because of the two per country rule. Grating Simone takes one of those spots for the vault and floor final, the fight is on between Jade and Mykayla for that coveted second spot!
The US has had a decent podium training performance, with some nerves and wobbly performances, but will definitely look to flush that out for qualifications tomorrow!
The Russians are coming to Tokyo as the favourites for that silver medal in the team final, considering the gold goes to USA barring major errors. Spearheading the team is veteran Angelina Melnikova, who is here representing the ROC at her second Olympic Games. The bronze medallist in the all-around from the 2019 World Championships, Melnikova, much like Jordan has often faced consistency issues in her otherwise beautiful gymnastics. however, she looked rock solid in most performances this year, and comes increased mental confidence and impeccable form in her Podium Training session. She also brings an upgraded vault that she will hope to use to enter the vault final!
Giving Melnikova a run for her money, as first year seniors Viktoria Listunova and Vladislava Urazova, both of them beat Melnikova at the Russian Cup earlier last month. Listunova is the reigning Junior World Champion in the all-around and has carried on the streak winning the European Championships in April this year. She is a heavy favourite for the AA medal as well as getting into a couple of event finals, barring any mistakes.
Her teammate Vladislava Urazova is the third all-around competitor within the Russian team which make things complicated for the two spot rule. Urazova brings a beautiful Russian style to her gymnastics, reminiscent of her legendary predecessors! However, similar to the US, the ROC team will have to battle other countries in the qualifications as well as a mini battle within their own teammates to enter the all-around final!
If you have ever wondered where you can find technically perfect gymnastics moves, go no further. Chinese gymnastics brings you exactly that and more. Textbook work with flawless form, the Chinese gymnasts are here to impress! With reigning world silver medallist, Tang Xijing and newly turned senior, and my personal favourite, Ou Yushan, get ready to be mighty impressed. Tang will look to compete in the all-around and most definitely secure a place in the AA finals. Joining her in her quest will be Lu Yufei, who we haven't seen at a major competition, but she has turned many heads with consistent performances at the Chinese places, sealing victory. Ou Yushan is another beautiful AA gymnast, but has unfortunately had some issues with a knee injury, and time will tell whether she tries to compete in the AA tomorrow. Watch Ou Yushan's beautiful beam routine here:
Guan Chenchen, competing as an individual for China, is an absolute package. The little dynamite has a not so little beam routine, with a massive 6.8 difficulty and some brilliant moves. She is definitely one to watch out for! Catch her routine here:
There's a bunch of other gymnasts looking to make their mark tomorrow at Qualifications. The twins from Team GB are definitely worth watching and also one of my personal favourites (at this point, everyone is a personal favourite!) The Gadirovas, Jessica and Jennifer, come with beautiful expressive gymnastics and great difficulty across the board. Both are phenomenal AA gymnasts and worth keeping an eye out for!
Nina Derwael, the Belgian gymnast, is another Bars queen and reigning world champion on bars, looking to give Sunisa Lee a run for her money. It will be interesting to see who edges the other in this close battle!
Lastly, quick notables include: Alexa Moreno (Vault), Lilia Akhimova (Vault) and Melanie De Jesus Dos Santos from France looking for some AA redemption here in Toyko!
Check out all the action at the Ariake Gymnastics Centre tomorrow at starting at 6:30am IST!!