And here are those for whom we could argue it either way:
1. McKayla Maroney
On the one hand, she joins an elite band of reigning Olympic champions to return to top level gymnastics, and another elite band of WAGs to win back to back world vault titles. Those are both immense achievements, never to be undersold, but even more so in the context of her disappointment in London and the injuries she’s had to deal with.
On the other hand, though, she wasn’t particularly brilliant in Antwerp. Of the four routines she did, only her prelims bars set really represented what she’s capable of. And it’s not like that was a particularly important routine for her. Beam is and was irrelevant, but it matters a lot that she didn’t make floor finals. It is undignified indeed to get 2 per’d out by Kyla and her double tuck. That tumbling was too easy when Boginskaya did it 20 years ago. And she didn’t really nail her vaults either. There ought to have been more daylight between her and Biles (who to be fair to her was excellent).
In the end though, it just looks a bit ominous. Maroney finished the competition as the same thing she’s been for the past 3 seasons: a superb one eventer who has yet to make herself essential on any other event. That schtick would be fine on bars and probably even beam, but of course the US have incredible strength and depth on vault even without her. If Biles gets the Cheng, and to be honest it may be more of a when, Maroney’s position becomes precarious. Now I don’t think the US have enough depth for anyone to oust her in 2014. But she can’t go on like this forever…
2. Sandra Izbasa
Ok, she fell on her arse, but nobody gave a tiny fuck. Listen to the crowd reaction if you don’t believe me.
A star is a star is a star. That ovation was richly deserved, and is the suitable way to greet a double Olympic champion. It’s like, when Ryan Giggs finally retires, even if he misses an open net during his final game he’s still going on a lap of honour at the end. This is the same principle.
As with Aliya’s 2011 season ending fall, I think she just cracked under the sheer weight of the makeup. Personally, I’d like to see one or both of them take it to the next level and rock the corpsepaint. Why not?
Still, it takes more than yet another thrown away world title and some extremely poor cosmetics choices to undo legend status. Especially when you can perform like that. Let us just hope she was full of shit when she said it would be her farewell performance.
3. Team GB
As was to be expected, the guys did decently. They still haven’t managed a world title, but it surely can’t be long yet, and they look to be in a strong position to challenge for European and world team medals in 2014. They also weren’t too lucky with the judging: I am far from being the only observer who felt that Kristian Thomas could as easily have got silver as bronze (incidentally, Theo Segar was looking pretty silly after that one…).
For the women, though, it’s harder to say.
There was a famous first, in that they’d never before managed to qualify 2 gymnasts to the same global EF. Plenty at Euros, of course, but not at worlds before this, or the Olympics either. So this was some achievement, without Tweddle there.
But then Downie, with stunning predictability, threw away the team’s only real medal chance. This is a recurring theme with her. With that in mind, it’s rather hard to see where the team’s next medal is going to come from, at least until the Rio lot turn senior. At this point, Italy look to be in a much better position to challenge for the team bronze at Euros. If they’re not busy with some much needed Africana Studies classes, anyway.
4. Mother Russia
A tough one, this. Yet again, it’s the story of badly timed injuries, the rest underperforming and Aliya saving their bacon. A truly ridiculous situation, yet somehow they ended up second in the medal table despite not even getting a full team out in the end.
And of course it was entirely fitting that Nabieva delivered what turned out to be her swansong with a hickey on her head.
We will love her for always.
Meanwhile the Rodionenkos will continue grinding that programme down for the whole quad, pushing out talent, failing to keep stars healthy, and riding Mustafina’s uncanny ability to pull it out of the bag in the most difficult of circumstances, until she single-handedly grinds out a team bronze in Rio and they blame her for it anyway.
Stoi! readers, please do continue giving us your picks. Try and avoid complaining about the swearing, though, it’s getting very fucking old extremely fucking quickly.