Euros being six weeks away now, Stoi! will be profiling as many of the leading and/or interesting teams as we can fit in before we inevitably run out of time. Starting with the Brits, if I can be forgiven a touch of chauvinism.
Following the recent British Championships, it’s looking very much like the team will consist of Becky Downie, Hannah Whelan, Rebecca Tunney, Ruby Harrold and Claudia Fragapane.
As the British programme has come on in leaps and bounds lately, there was more depth than one might expect and plenty of other contenders. Although it did not bode well that Lisa Mason (47) came perilously close to winning the vault title looking like something straight out of 1994. Stoi! will always respect the shit out of her, and indeed anyone who apparently banged their way through the Spanish MAG team in Sydney, but she’s not there just yet. Neither is poor Gabby Jupp, who would have been a fantastic addition to the team but still hasn’t 100% recovered from the injury she sustained this time last year.
So we think it’s the five aforementioned. As follows:
VAULT: DOWNIE, TUNNEY, FRAGAPANE
Becky D recently reintroduced her DTY and it’s as powerful as ever. Should go over 15 easily. The other two are serviceable enough. There’ll be no Amanars. Not til the current crop of juniors turn senior.
BARS: DOWNIE, TUNNEY, HARROLD
A feast of innovation. Even in the absence of Tweddle, the British are the most innovative and interesting bars team in the world, by a long way. Sure, Tunney’s allergic to pointing her toes, but whevs. They have E panels for that.
Downie in particular is looking superb. She came second with a fall, to Tunney, at Nationals, but this is what it looks like when she hits:
The quality of this routine should ensure she has the opportunity to throw away yet another major EF medal. But she can usually do it for the team, like a British Li Ya, so this is an excellent and potentially very highly scoring lineup. The Beckys were both lavishly overscored, but nonetheless each is capable of breaking 15 and as such 44.5-45 is a realistic tally.
BEAM: DOWNIE, WHELAN, HARROLD
No more headcase than any other British beam lineup. Whelan tends to be relatively consistent, relative being the key term when you’re talking about the British on beam. Downie has a potentially very high scoring exercise so the question is, as usual, whether she can hit it. And Harrold’s not that much of a headcase. So it’s alright.
They’ll end up 4th out of the 4 medal contending teams on this event, of course, but the main thing is to make sure they stay in touch. And to not use Tunney.
FLOOR: FRAGAPANE, WHELAN, TUNNEY
The weak event. Nobody even broke 14 during qualifying at Nationals. But Hannah Whelan did water down, so there’s that, and Becky Tunney can do much better if she’s clean. The aforementioned Venerable Mason was in the mix too, but you need more than mid 13s to be a one eventer. Except if you’re a Romanian doing bars. But not a great deal of quality to be seen, even amongst the best. However, these three are likely the silkiest purse that can be made out of the sow’s ear that presents itself.
Also, Fragapane has a DLO full and that’s always worth seeing.
I’m old enough to not quite be able to believe my eyes when one of the Brits does a huge skill- I’ll shit myself when the first one throws an Amanar in major senior competition- so this is massively exciting.
A shame for GB that it isn’t a six person team, as Kelly Simm would fill the last spot nicely and could assist on floor with a few improvements, but there’s always worlds. If it’s a choice between her and Fragapane for the final spot, which it probably is, she’s going to miss out because of the DTY thing.
Anyway, they look strong going into Euros and are clearly going to be contending for a team medal. I’m not sure they’ll bring home too much EF hardware, particularly given the lack of second vaulters amongst them, but that won’t be the priority anyway. I’d highlight Downie in particular as the key player: she’s going to do at least 4 events, and as 2010 proved, if she’s on form the team can bring home a medal. It’s fantastic that she responded to being screwed out of her 2012 Olympic berth by coming back better than ever. Let’s hope she can achieve what she’s capable of.