Below the top 4 teams, there’s a Division 2. The prize for them is a TF spot rather than a medal, but the competition will be no less close and intense.
Our good friend Albert has put together a stellar analysis that will be of interest to all gymfans. He’s crunched various numbers, including those from 2011 worlds and the test event.
This is an excellent tool, but obviously there are lots of other factors to consider. Not much information about any of these teams seems to have emerged from training reports so far, and what we have had is relatively obvious- Tweddle is looking good on bars, apparently. So for the moment, most of what we have to go on is based on performances prior to the Games rather than training.
Brazil can be ruled out of the top 8. Even at the Test Event, they looked like the weakest of the 12 teams. By a long way. This was before Tears Barbosa threw her toys out of her pram and had her bluff called, leaving Brazil with the moral high ground but without their best athlete.
We’d like to be more positive about them, as they’re nearly as old as we are. But it isn’t going to happen. They’ll be propping up the standings unless some other team has a disaster. Hopefully, Daiane has brought enough drugs with her to help them all block everything out.
The French are also a pretty long shot, simply because of injuries. It’s a shame, but they just don’t have the personnel.
And so there were six: GB, Australia, Canada, Japan, Italy and Germany. Six into four doesn’t go.
Readers will be aware that Stoi! was not very happy with the British team selection. We don’t understand why either Cairns or Pinches are on there. It should’ve been Downie and Francis instead.
Initially, we thought we might end up getting our wish anyway. There are often shenanigans in the GB camp, and the fact that someone isn’t named to the initial team in no way, shape or form means she won’t compete. Ask Imogen Cairns. But it’s getting a bit late for that now.
On paper, the British should make top 8 easily. They finished top of the ‘best of the rest’ league in Tokyo, with the 5th place in team finals. And of course, there’ll be hometown advantage. There is, however, a rather large turd threatening to drop into the water pipe. It goes by the name of beam.
As luck would have it, that’s the event where GB start. And the prelims rotation is horrifying, since the selectors in their wisdom decided to discard 1 of the only 2 acceptable beam workers available. As Tweddle hasn’t competed the event all quad, they’re going to be running with Tunney-Pinches-Cairns-Whelan. Take some time to think about that.
If they can all stay on, more power to them and they should make the top 8 easily. If they don’t, well, they could be on for another 9th place. They can absorb one or two falls no problem, and even a so-so beam rotation is likely to be enough. But they can’t melt down. So it is going to be brown trousers time.
Germany also seem to have a blind spot on beam. We had them down as potential bronze medallists at Euros, but they served up sub 40 beam rotations in both prelims and finals. We would say it’s a Western European thing, but it’s one of the stronger events for the Italians. As with the British, if they can stay on then there’s no reason they can’t qualify top 8. But there is reason to be sceptical. Either way, their vault and bars are always worth watching.
At the Test Event, Canada were fabulous and we were tremendously excited for them. In the space of a couple of years they went from mostly rather pedestrian and uninteresting to a really sharp crisp team with some beautiful work. Alas, our favourite Peng Peng Lee, she of the flares on beam, was injured a couple of months ago and there was woe and desolation. Still, at least there’s the gorgeous Victoria Moors. A double double, AND she can dance!
If there is any justice (there isn’t) she will medal on floor. Albert’s analysis would seem to suggest that Canada will just miss out on top 8 without Lee, but we think it might be relevant that they have the momentum and buzz at the moment. The Canadians are arguably going in on more of a high than higher ranked teams like Australia and Japan. Don’t underestimate the importance of this. Additionally, they’re probably the team who’ve benefitted most from adding 1996 born athetes to the lineup. Between 2011 worlds and the test event they pretty much transformed.
Vanessa Ferrari once again leads the Italian team, and gives Romania some competition in the ‘Skimpiest Leotard Worn By Veteran’ category, or should we say CATAgory. Preliminary reports suggest they might be more tastefully attired than usual. And of course, this is a lucky venue for them. They won the test event, and Ferrari is the AA and floor champion.
She too has a double double, and we will never cease to be amazed at how she can pull that off with a belly and boobs. Inspirational.
Whether or not they make the top 8, we think they could well have the most finalists of any 5th-12th ranked team. Fasana is in with a shout of making vault, Ferrari can still post quite sizeable scores on bars and floor when she feels like it, and the lovely Elizabeth Preziosa has made a number of major beam finals now. Nobody else outside the top 4 has any real chance of qualifying someone to each final.
This leaves Japan and Australia, both of whom have been TF stalwarts in recent years. The Japanese, though, are on a bit of a downward spiral. They look much, much less impressive than they did in 2008-9. Around this time, they were talked of as possible team medallists. We never bought into that particular claim, but for a while they were in the 5th-6th bracket quite comfortably. They aren’t now, and we haven’t forgiven them for not selecting Mai Murukami. True, she’s not what she was, but she was their best floor worker and usable on vault. But the Japanese selection process really doesn’t reward specialists. They may or may not live to regret this.
We don’t really know that much about this Australian lineup, having been unable to recover from the sense of loss we felt when it was revealed that Joura wouldn’t be on the team after all. But they usually make top 8. As usual, they are quite weak on bars, while beam and floor are strengths. No surprise there, as that’s how their star performer Lauren Mitchell rolls. While they’ve had some decent bars workers in the past, at the moment they’re like an Antipodean Romania.
In most major competition, the race for the final 4 team final spots usually comes down to who hits best. This will probably be what happens here. The fact that only 3 scores will count rather than the previous 4 does leave less room for error. If a team lose 1.0 for a missed routine, that’s a greater percentage of a 3 event total than a 4 event total. So stability has to matter more- although so too will D scores. It remains to be seen whether this changes anything. The favourites would probably be GB, Italy, Canada and Australia. But we’ll see.