Stoi! is working on a new approach for our Olympic team previews.
We’re inspired by the closeness and unpredictability of the top 4, as well as the gulf between them and the rest: there is pretty much no combination that would surprise us in TFs. They really could finish in any order, especially as the two teams that are stronger on paper, Russia and the US, also boast the coaches least capable of keeping them healthy. So we’ve decided to consider the top 4 teams event by event.
Predictions to follow after we’ve heard a bit more, assuming I’ve managed not to give birth by then. We’ll update as we get more information too. As of now, the Chinese have arrived at their training base but the rest haven’t, and we are low on training footage and reports.
Vault surely must be US territory. Having jinxed their prelims lineup in Tokyo by a prematurely gushing post, we should probably be more careful this time. Although so should everyone on that team throwing an Amanar whose name isn’t McKayla Maroney, actually. The other four can all do them, and have each produced at least one excellent effort this year. They’ve also all done their share of cringeworthy ones, too.
I’m really not sure that one would score much better than her DTY internationally.
It remains to be seen who will get the nod and how good they’ll be, but the US will surely show 3 Amanars. If the first two stand them up they should manage 15.5 each, then a 16 for Maroney. More if she sticks. This will leave them way out in front.
For all that some of the US Amanars remain a bit risky, they’ve all been competing them all year. That’s more than can be said for the other top teams. We have recent footage of Huang Qiushuang, Larisa Iordache, Sandra Izbasa and Viktoria Komova training their 6.5 vaults. But the only athlete from a top 4 team to have successfully competed hers this year is Maria Paseka, who landed 1 in 3 attempts at the Russian Cup. She apparently landed hers at the Russian test event two weeks ago, as did Komova, but none of the others have the competition hit record that Raisman, Wieber and Douglas do.
Additionally, some of these vaults look much more stable and likely to be competed than others. Izbasa’s Cheng seems to need the most work.
So we think:
Amanars from Paseka and Komova. The latter will be quite pretty, the former disgusting but landed successfully (which is all anyone can reasonably expect from her). Grishina has worked on the Amanar this year, but alas we think her leg injury is going to prevent it. As her DTY won’t score as well as Aliya’s, there’s no reason for her to go anywhere near the event in TFs.
Valentina Rodionenko was interviewed in a trashy Russian tabloid recently.
We are assured that she described Komova and Paseka’s recent Amanars at the test event as ‘perfect’. We find that a tad optimistic, but nonetheless it seems very clear that each intends to compete the vault in London.
More worryingly, she said that Aliya will try an Amanar in London despite the fact that she isn’t doing them now. No, Aliya, no! We fondly hope she’ll stick to the DTY instead. It would be realistic to hope for 15.1+ for it, which along with weak but landed Amanars from the other two would take Russia above 46.
Amanar from Iordache, big DTY’s from Ponor and Izbasa. They shouldn’t lose more than a couple of tenths to Russia despite the D-score deficit, because Ponor and particularly Izbasa’s DTY’s are very well rewarded. Obviously this assumes they don’t get slapped with the leotard deduction after months of what can only be described as intolerable, sustained provocation from our girl Cata.
Chelaru’s DTY is fine, but unless she actually has the Amanar she was training last year, the best thing she can do for her team on vault is to help move the springboard. This is not Bulimar’s event.
If Izbasa has her Cheng, we think she ought to save it for EFs. If she’s only sticking to the Mustafina, we’re not certain it’ll outscore the DTY. It didn’t at Euros despite the 0.3 D score advantage.
She’s another one with a DTY that won’t be far behind a relatively weak 6.5 vault, score wise. So it makes sense, sad as we are to see nothing but Yurchenko vaults in TF’s from the top 4 teams.
This looks to be their least interesting event – a shame as it’s probably the one they’ll finish on. An Amanar from Huang Qiushuang, and I can’t be the only one marveling at the prospect of that total headcase closing out the competition for them with a medal on the line.
Hopefully no Amanar from Yao Jinnan, given what happened to her last time she attempted the vault. And a relatively weak DTY from Deng Linlin, the weakest vault of any top team athlete. Unless of course He Kexin recovers hers.
1. US, comfortably
Despite all the chuckings and sittings down we’ve been treated to by virtually everyone except Maroney, there’s no reason why vault has to feature any splats at all. Every one of the athletes training a 6.5 vault has a perfectly usable DTY to fall back on if necessary. We hope, though don’t necessarily expect, coaches to be sensible if athletes aren’t hitting in podium training and prelims.
- Clara & Bronwyn