With the completion of the team and all-around events at the sadly unaired Asian Championships – a competition that may have happened or may have been just a feverish vision of 1974 bleeding into this reality (we’ll never know) – we can now add a bunch of countries and people to the World Championship qualifying tables.
|Aida Bauyrzhanova (KAZ)
Rifda Irfanaluthfi (INA)
Milka Gehani (SRI)
Dildora Aripova (UZB)
Nadine Joy Nathan (SGP)
Ominakhon Khalilova (UZB)
Korkem Yerbossynkyzy (KAZ)
Sasiwimon Mueangphuan (THA)
|Oceania||Australia||Keira Rolston-Larking (NZL)
Reece Cobb (NZL)
In the end, China clinched the tag team title with little drama. The team chose to ignore my advice and go with Luo Rui instead as an act of aggression against me personally, although it ultimately made no difference in the final results with China winning the gold by 10 points over South Korea in second.
This South Korean team which edged out the new Japanese team for the silver was the only surprise in the women’s team competition and could raise real concerns for Japan this year. The Korean big three of Lee Yunseo (who won AA bronze behind Zhang and Tang), Yeo Seojeong and Shin Solyi all performed well and proved to be comfortably stronger than Japan’s three automatic qualifiers for the World Team: Miyata Shoko, Yamada Chiharu and Kasahara Arisa. . This begs the question: would we expect the worlds to be different, probably with most of the same athletes? And does that mean South Korea is dropping out of their usual teenage spot to become a tag team finals contender, or is Japan tumbling? Or both?
For Japan, it wasn’t necessarily the best possible team, and eyes will be on this weekend’s Event Championships to see who could best round out this automatically qualified group – like, for example, perhaps, choose a name at random, world champion on beam Ashikawa Urara. Also keep in mind Sakaguchi Ayaka’s jump scores, which would be of great interest to me given the jump downgrades and ground misses we’ve seen from the Japanese team here. It’s not exactly a new development when Japanese gymnasts leave national competitions and have to compete on rocks of other brands of equipment, but also the world championships this year are on Gymnova and flashbacks to 2017 are still raw , then…
As expected, Taiwan took the last available team spot, only around six points behind Japan, which should be gratifying for a team that finished 21 points behind Japan at the 2018 Worlds. ahead of Kazakhstan, so there was no real drama about the team’s qualification in the end.
For the all-around spots at the World Championships, we saw a mix of the expected and the surprising. Bauyrzhanova (KAZ) and Aripova (UZB) showed through their apparatus world cup scores that they had it in them, and Irfanaluthfi (INA) and Nathan (SGP) proved with their SEA Games performances that they should be able to qualify here, especially with countries like Vietnam and the Philippines not sending any WAG athletes. Sri Lanka’s Milka Gehani followed her Olympic appearance with a good number here who improved her results at the 2019 Olympics and World Championships, while it was Thailand’s Mueangphuan who surprised for last place with bigger scores on vault and floor that put him a mere tenth ahead of Indonesia’s Hariadi, who narrowly missed. (Mueangphuan was also tied with Jumabekova of Uzbekistan, but Jumabekova would have been eliminated 2 per country anyway.)
Hong Kong’s Hiu Ying Angel Wong also missed out on an all-around spot but is expected to head to the world championships to shine some light on her world cup results once all the dust settles. Illinois gymnast Ruthuja Nataraj was the all-around top performer for India but also narrowly missed out on a spot at the world championships.
Next up is the African Championship in early July, where South Africa and Egypt are looking to battle it out for a team spot and a few of those versatile spots should be up for grabs.
|Carlos Yulo (PHI)
Mahdi Ahmad Kohani (IRI)
Abdulla Azimov (UZB)
Khabibullo Ergashev (UZB)
Yogeshewar Singh (IND)
Gaurav Kumar (IND)
|Oceania||Australia||Mikhail Kudinov (NZL)
William Fu-Allen (NZL)
The men had five spots in Team Asia compared to the four women, and the favorites all managed to get the spots they were supposed to get. China again comfortably won the team title against a less proven Japanese team, who narrowly edged out Taiwan and Korea for 2nd place. Kazakhstan finished further back in 5th place but still comfortably in the world places ahead of Uzbekistan thanks in large part to Milad Karimi Power.
While more team places were available for men, fewer all-around places were, with only six available. (There are fewer all-around places for men because they have more apparatus places in the Apparatus World Cups, due to the greater number of events.) The All-Around Silver Medal of Carlos Yulo, finishing within a tenth of China’s Shi Cong, of course earned him a place at the world championships, and India secured full representation in the men’s competition with two qualifiers.
Hong Kong did not seek a full place here, but with Shek Wai Hung at the world championships to jump, and while Vietnam will have to endure not knowing it was the world qualifier [facepalm]Nguyen Van Khanh Phong should end up going to worlds for the rings.