Tokyo 2011. I had a ton of annual leave to take, no money and so I took a week off work to watch every scrap of worlds coverage I could find. Thankfully as it was the Olympic qualifiers for our home Olympics, there was a ton. Everything but qualifiers was shown live through BBC online and on TV. Yippee! One happy gymnastics fan. I was part of the wikipedia team updating the gymanastics entries to help people new to the sport understand who people were and what they were capable of.
There were no Worlds last year because we had the Olympics, but this week Worlds is back. It’s an individual worlds, which is what happens in the first year of the Summer Olympic quadrennium – many gymnasts take a break or retire, and not all a country’s junior gymnasts with Olympic potential will be of age during that first year. For example, this year Russia and Romania are short gymnasts due to injuries and retirements/breaks. Australia have no women at worlds this year at all. Some countries use this year to get specialists the best chance to accumulate medals. Others use it as a chance to give their gymnasts experience on an international level. Others who just missed out at previous Olympics may feel they have something to prove.
Frustratingly, I’m at uni and work this week – I couldn’t take annual leave which is total rubbishy pants. I’m having to rely on YouTube clips and folks with press passes at the event giving the lowdown on twitter.
Today was the first round of qualifiers. Here’s some dudes to look out for this week…
Kenzo Shirai, only 17 years old competing for Japan. This guy does triple twists like no one else. His floor routine is spectacular, and I’ve heard his vault is pretty darn good too!
Epke Zonderland, competing for Netherlands and Olympic High Bar Champion. He’s been favourite for a world title for several years, so can the Current Olympic Champion be world champion too?
Daniel Purvis & Max Whitlock competing for Great Britain. Max had a rough time on Floor today, and Dan had a rough start on High Bar but both look good to make the All-Around final (and hopefully each an individual apparatus final).
Sam Mikulak of the USA is looking on great form after being part of the Olympic Team last year. He’s currently 2nd after the first few rounds of qualification and looks set to aim for some medals in Antwerp. Go Wolverine!
And of course…the King of Gymnastics. Kohei Uchimura did not look his usual self at Olympics last year, yet still the three-time World All-Around champion won that presitgious All-Around title. He is looking fabulous…will he make it a 4th World title? We hope so, but we also know that in gymnastics ‘it ain’t over, til it’s over’! Anything can happen.
There are lots more still to compete in qualifiers – some of our British lads compete in the morning, and there are so many gymnasts competing some incredible routines. The men especially are really raising the bar in breathtaking scary ways! Expect lots of gymnastics tweets on my twitter feed this week – I’ll be doing all I can to keep up to date as I follow my crazy new schedule!
British folks, be sure to check out the articles like this one, written by Ollie Williams on BBC Sport. I really appreciate the time he takes to get himself informed – you don’t find many sports journalists particularly knowledgable about gymnastics. It’s great to have him back in the country and doing his Olympic Sports journalism thing. You can also follow his daily Olympic Links blog – Frontier Sports. Donations to upkeep of his website go in part to Canada’s Frontiers Foundation, who he and his wife volunteered with in 2012/13.