Race for Team Finals

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.

2012 Olympics WAG Team Predictions.

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.


13 responses to “Race for Team Finals

  • Stoi!

    Thanks Alison! I’m due on Tuesday, right in the middle of TFs. Hopefully she carries on long enough for me to at least see team and AA- I am resigned to missing EFs!

    Heard about that Poths, which would now seem to suggest that Cairns is there for beam only. GB now have 3 DTYs so they don’t need her on vault. Which makes it even odder that Danusia isn’t there- she is the obvious choice for a beam specialist role.

  • Alison Clements

    I just wanted to express my appreciation to Bronwyn and Clara for their wonderful blogging, especially when (by the sound of it) Clara is about 9 and 1/2 months pregnant. Good luck Clara, hope the baby either comes early or late so you can enjoy the gym competition uninterrupted.

  • Poths

    Hannah Whelan doing nice DTYs in Podium training.

  • Stoi!

    Thanks for that well written comment Catherine. Got to disagree that Pinches has shown herself to be fairly useful this year, though. She fell off beam at Euros and had a lot of mistakes in the various selection competitions- it’s really only the final trials she actually hit. And it isn’t like she’s not had plenty of chances already. We did a post about this called ‘Open Secrets’ earlier this month, if you’re interested.

    • Catherine

      For some reason I always mix up Pinches and Tunney’s various performances in my head. I should be more up to speed with GB since they’re the nearest thing to my country and we don’t field any WAG gymnasts. Anyway, yes I’d have to agree she’s pretty shaky. Are they just taking her because Francis and Harrold are pretty much specialists I wonder. Other dodgy decisions with UK’s selection this year, they’re coming under fire in other sports too.

  • Catherine

    Rie Tanaka is a beautiful gymnast. It looks like they’ll be strong enough on floor and bars, decent on beam and pretty crap on vault. I am so dissapointed Mai Murakami isn’t on the team, it does make sense with the inconsistency she showed..but they picked the team so early when she was recovering from injury! Hoping she stays on track to be a force to be reckoned with next year.

    My impression is that they went with Cairns over Downie because Downie is still not on top form with her recovery. They did the same with Keating’s, though he arguably was much more on top form this year. Pinches has showed herself to be fairly useful this year. If Francis had a better Nationals with beam and had a more difficult floor (yes it is fabulous!!) I’d say they would have stuck her in somehow. Very excited to see her and Peng Peng in UCLA.

    I recently discovered Victoria Moors bars dismount, it’s either Nadia’s dismount or just one in the same style but it’s fabulous. Pity the rest of the routine is pretty weak but it makes me root for her more in floor finals all the same.

  • Stoi!

    Christiane, we love Daiane!

    Agreed about Japan being quite an unknown quantity. They chose their team a long time before anyone else, which makes a difference.

    • Christiane

      I like Daiane too. Even though sometimes I think she suffers from hyperactivity… Her floor can be wild sometimes. Too much energy.

  • Julia

    I’m predicting the UK, Canada, Italy and Australia too. They’ve all got their weaknesses, but they’ve got fewer than the other squads, especially poor France, whose injury decimation in both WAG and MAG boggles the mind.

    The only one that’s a big question mark for me is Japan, simply because no one’s seen hide nor hair of the women since the Japanese Nationals which were ages ago.

  • Christiane

    Okay, I didn’t have time to read the whole article yet as I am try to work. My part-time job as a gym fan has been keeping me busy lately… 🙂

    But as a native Brazilian I have to make a comment about “Tears Barbosa” throwing her toys out of her pram. Too funny!! And the bit about Daiane bringing drugs, Ha! You guys are mean, mean people (which I adore, of course). 😉

  • M

    Hmm, not sure about who will make it, although the 4 you’ve mentioned does seem like the favourites. However, I feel Japan might do well.

    I’ve heard Japan has some good gymnasts coming up in youth. So at least they have something to look forward to.

    Nice post.

  • gingercrush

    First time posting to your blog. I’ve been enjoying reading it these past two weeks. Japan also have the amazing beam worker Natsumi Sasada as an alternate. Still I really hope they, Great Britain and Italy make Team Final.

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