The announced team is as follows:
Unsurprisingly, this leaves 2011 world team members and medallists Inshina and Nabieva as alternates. It didn’t take a genius to work that last part out, since there were only seven in the training squad anyway after Sidorova’s injury. Despite the rumours, her departure didn’t prompt the return of Dementyeva.
Now, the Russian Olympic federation aren’t quite like USOC. This isn’t a situation where the named team is the named team unless someone goes down with a verifiable injury. Shenanigans can still be pulled, right up to 24 hours before prelims start. So while this is the team now, Paseka (or indeed any of the others) could still be cut.
However, that doesn’t mean we can’t infer things from this decision- both about the lineups and Russian attitudes going into London. Rumours about Grishina’s health are swirling around, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.
There is no reason to take Paseka other than her Amanar. She wouldn’t be picked for her DTY, because hers is no better than any of the four others on the team. Therefore we can be pretty sure that she’s still working on the vault, and landing it at least some of the time.
This can only be a positive thing, given that she is highly inconsistent with the vault, boasting a competed thrice, landed once hit record- see 0.20 for the second best of the three attempts.
Paseka’s selection also tells us that she is vaulting better than Nabieva. If not, Nabieva would get the 5th spot instead. Afanasyeva has apparently facebooked or tweeted or some kind of social media’d that both Paseka and Komova landed Amanars at the Russian internal test last week. So that has to be positive.
As such, the intended lineup appears to be Amanars from Komova and Paseka, and the 3rd vaulter to be whichever of Mustafina and Grishina can score better. I think the most sensible choice would be Aliya with a DTY. Hers is massive, scores well when she can be arsed to straighten her legs, and is less of a deathtrap than her Amanar. I’m far from convinced that it’s worth risking throwing an Amanar that would probably max out at 15.5 or so, when her DTY is only 0.4 behind that.
The lineup is set in stone, as it has been for months. If one of Komova, Grishina or Mustafina is injured to the extent that even bars isn’t a possibility, Nabieva is subbed in. If it’s more than one of them, Russia are fucked anyway.
Bronwyn and I are the only people in the world who think Afanasyeva is a realistic beam choice for TFs. Nobody else does. Paseka is, of course, deeply and profoundly unusable.
So that leaves our three superstars: Mustafina, Grishina and Komova. Russia had the option of using Inshina for a more solid and less potentially spectacular set, but have chosen to decline it. Shit or bust it is, then.
Aliya should stay on and is usually good for a 15ish. The other two are capable of death, glory, or anything inbetween, and have both proven this numerous times already in their short senior careers. Neither a 12 nor a 15.5 would be even slightly surprising. Simply watching this rotation is likely to bring my labour on.
For a bonus point, this is the most recent photo of Grishina.
Wobble or illusion? You decide.
Afanasyeva must be doing floor. There would be no reason for her inclusion otherwise. Paseka clearly can’t. So Mustafina, Komova and Grishina will divvy up the 2 berths between them. At this stage, it isn’t clear who’ll get the nod.
Grishina would be preferable: her routine is lovely and she can clear 14.5 easily when she hits. High 14s are not unrealistic: she got 14.8 earlier in the year and deserved it.
Komova isn’t ideal- it’s her weakest event and she seems to struggle to get out of the low 14s. Her Russian Cup set was ok but not brilliant. Mustafina traditionally was a strong floor worker, but it was very clear at Euros that she wasn’t yet back on the event.
She then got 14.1 and 14.75 at the Russian Cup a few weeks later. The latter routine is below:
A good set, if a bit overscored, but we can’t be the only ones who noticed her wincing on some of the landings.
So this is where we’re up to now. Readers might have noticed a bit of a shit or bust theme here. Russia had the option of selecting ‘safe’ 5th team members, and chose not to take it. The spot was between the inconsistent Amanar, the safe(ish) but unspectacular beam set, and the insurance option.
That they chose number one suggests they’re not trying to shore up a minor medal. They still want gold.