2018 Worlds are over. As always, it was filled with ups and downs. But I’d say there were more ups than downs overall this year. Here are some notes and observations from the six days of finals. (At least, what I can remember. I forgot to write a lot of stuff down in real time.)
The New Format
Prior to this year, the two teams paired together for the final would compete in blocks with the three team members from each country competing back-to-back-to-back. For example:
team A, member 1
team A, member 2
team A, member 3
After they went, the first team to perform on the apparatus would be followed by a brief warm-up, then:
team B, member 1
team B, member 2
team B, member 3
Starting at these Worlds, the teams alternated competitors with no 2nd warm-up during the rotation:
team A member 1
team B member 1
team A member 2
team B member 2
team A member 3
team B member 3
There was a little concern about how it would work for certain events, particularly men’s parallel bars and women’s uneven bars, because of the individual preferences gymnasts have for the preparation of these apparatus. From what I can tell, it didn’t cause any major problems during the competition. I noticed that different countries to have to collaborate with each other quite a bit more than normal to make it work, though. For example, I noticed Laurent Landi of the US helping the Russian team set up the bars for their next competitor after a US gymnast had gone.
Men’s Team Final
The medalists for the men’s team final were expected to be (in alpha order): China, Japan and Russia. It ended up that way, but it surely wasn’t straightforward.
At the halfway point Japan appeared to have a decent chance at gold. But a botched parallel bars routine left them concentrating on preserving bronze instead of going for gold.
That left China and Russia battling for the top of the podium. Punctuated by a brilliant vault rotation for both teams, they stayed close through the rest of the meet. Ending on high bar, things were going smoothly until Xiao Routeng, the last Chinese competitor, fell leaving the door open for Russia.
Nikita Nagornyy basically needed the score he received in prelims, but a slight error left him with score 0.049 short of the score needed to win.
But despite coming up short of gold, the Russians had reason to celebrate. The result is Russia’s first worlds medal in 12 years for the guys.
Women’s Team Final
The women’s team final podium ended up in an expected order with the podium being the US, Russia and China, but we had some drama getting there. Four or five teams had a chance at the podium during the last rotation, most notably Brazil and France, but in the end the three usual suspects ended on the podium.
What does the record setting margin of victory by the US say? That despite not being able to trust the organization at present moment, the team members can still trust each other.
A Bit Strange But True: The highest score of the women’s team final was on bars, not vault or floor. And it was by Simone.
Per the new Olympic qualifying procedures, the medalists from both team finals (China, Russia and Japan for the men; the US, Russia and China for the women) are now the first three men’s teams qualified for Tokyo. Continue reading “2018 Doha Worlds: Finals Notebook”