Rather than sticking to Olympic order, we’re going to be publishing our predictions as we finalise them. Bars looks to be the most tempting of all the EFs, so we decided to share our excitement with the world.
Medal contenders: Aliya Mustafina, Viktoria Komova, Anastasia Grishina, Youna Dufournet
Other EF prospects: Elizabeth Seitz, Larisa Iordache, Rebecca Tunney, Natalia Kononenko, Vanessa Ferrari
Beth Tweddle, reigning champion for the entire quad, will not be in Brussels. So we’ll have a new champion, as no other past winner will be in attendance either. Without her, Europe’s best bar workers all hail from Mother Russia. Assuming the team lineups look like we think they will and nobody gets injured, they won’t do a single routine that isn’t from a potential champion. They’re all so good, it’s a damn shame one of them has to miss out.
Bars is Europe’s strongest event as a continent, and it’s the one where Europe contains the biggest percentage of leading contenders. This is true even without Tweddle. So this has the potential to be the highest quality final.
Frankly, it’s impossible to truly predict which Russian will sit out the final and which one will be pipped at the post for the gold. All we can do is make wild stabs in the dark. If they don’t go away with a 1-2, it will be a disgrace.
Grishina is less consistent than the other two, and if she reverts to her less difficult, Olympic test event set (as she did at the tri-meet), she doesn’t have quite the scoring potential of her teammates. It would be a 15.2 rather than a 15.6 job. We’d like to see her throw the new set in prelims and in EFs if she gets there, but play safe in the team final if necessary. She is, of course, capable of winning every single one of the gold medals on a good day and in a prevailing wind. But but but, of the three, recent form would suggest she’ll be the one to miss out.
Komova has arguably looked the best of the three recently, aided no doubt by getting a break from competing vault and floor.
And she is of course the reigning World Champion. However, we’re not sure if she has any upgrades competition ready, whereas the other two have done some of theirs already.
Mustafina’s scoring potential is probably highest and she’s extremely consistent on the event. She showed a 7.0 D score at the Moscow competition earlier in the year. She’ll want some individual gold and this is her best chance, so I think she’ll try and throw it here. Hence I’ll tip her to pip Komova to the post.
Regarding the bronze, it’s Dufournet’s for the taking if she can stay on. She isn’t the most consistent gymnast the world’s ever seen, and the removal of the Def makes her routine less exciting (though more likely to stay on, admittedly). She’s due a hit routine, so she’s my choice for bronze.
Her routine in qualifying at the Test Event scored a high 15.166, which would’ve been enough for silver at Worlds.
It would also have meant that the top two bars workers on the planet sported awkward orphan half pirouettes before their dismount, so perhaps it’s a blessing that didn’t happen. If Grishina is in the final and does her Test Event set, it’s not impossible that Dufournet will slightly outscore her. So if there’s an upset, I think this will be it.
Seitz is always a contender. I love Seitz, actually; she brings the spirit of Zonderland to WAG, and for me that’s no bad thing. Alas, few judges agree. Unfortunately, she’s sitting out the competition with a back injury.
Ferrari is always good for a European bars final berth, and it should be an interesting diversion to see Romania sporting one of their periodic reasonable bars workers. Iordache isn’t likely to get near the podium unless others falter, though.
Stoi! readers, do let us know your predictions.