Things are getting exciting with the 2016 Olympic Games just around the corner! Most countries are in the process of selecting their representatives. The Japanese men always seem to be the first squad announced, and their team is stacked: Kohei Uchimura, Ryohei Kato, Yusuke Tanaka, Koji Yamamuro and Kenzo Shirai. Wow. I would love to see this team stand atop the team medal podium as they did 12 years ago.
Five gymnasts on a team is certainly not enough, especially for the men who have 6 events to cover. It will be interesting to see if there is room on teams for specialists such as Louis Smith (GBR) and Ashton Locklear (USA). Both gymnasts could win medals on their respective events, pommel horse and uneven bars, but if they are to be selected then only 4 spots remain to cover the rest of the events. Some teams, such as the U.S. men, stack their weakest event (pommel horse) the best they can. On the other hand, the Belgians chose a women’s team which bolsters their strength: the uneven bars.
Louis Smith (GBR), 2016 British Championships, PH AA
Ashton Locklear (USA), 2016 Pacific Rim Championships, UB TF/AA
I was happy to see Chris Brooks (USA) named to the Olympic team. Going 24-for-24 across nationals and trials is no mean feat, and his consistency deserved to be rewarded. I feel bad for Danell Leyva and Donnell Whittenburg, who didn’t quite show the best versions of themselves. It’s interesting that the selection committee chose to leave behind the only two guys who won medals at last year’s Worlds!
Chris Brooks (USA), 2016 P&G Championships, HB Day 2
The FIG really dropped the ball (…or should I say missed their hands on the vault?!) by not giving a nominative spot to Larisa Iordache when she won bronze AA at the 2015 Worlds. Why should apparatus medalists receive a spot but not AA medalists? Even if you don’t expect such a scenario to play out where an AA medalist comes from a team that is not in the top 12, couldn’t that provision still be part of the rules? And it wasn’t totally far-fetched anyway. It could have happened to Guilia Steingruber (SUI) and very nearly did happen to Manrique Larduet (CUB)….
Iordache and Catalina Ponor (ROM) both deserve to be in Rio and it’s heartbreaking that there is only room for one. My sentimental favourite is Iordache. She carried a declining team the entire quad, and did so with awesome gymnastics and a delightful personality. Ill-timed injuries have forced her into this predicament. I do think that at this very moment, though, Ponor is the most deserving of this spot and the most likely to win a beam and/or floor medal. And we all know how rock-solid she is in competition!
Catalina Ponor (ROU), 2016 European Championships, BB TF
I was thrilled when the Canadian ladies exceeded expectations and finished in 5th place at the London Olympics. I think they can do it again! Ellie Black and Brittany Rogers are on the team again, and they will be joined by Isabela Onyshko, Shallon Olsen and Rose-Kaying Woo this time around. Scott Morgan will represent Canada on the men’s side.
I love the way Belgium announced its Olympic team!