Monday, September 30, 2013

Men's Qualifications Round-Up: Day 1

As usual, Inside Gym has photo galleries full of guys straddling and grabbing their legs.

What's that? You had to go to be a respectable adult and go to work today? Yeah, me too. Well, here's what we missed, starting with the bad.

Mother Russia falters

The hopes were high for Team Russia. In Valentina Rodionenko's opinion, Emin Garibov, the 2013 European champion on high bar, was the favorite for gold on the event, and Nikolai Kuksenkov, the 2013 Universiades all-around champion, was supposed to challenge him. Well, that's not going to happen…

After 3 subdivisions, Emin Garibov is in 10th place (7.3D/14.866), and Nikolai Kuksenkov is in 40th (6.7D/13.733). Which means that neither gymnast will be in the event finals.

Unfortunately, they're not the only ones who will not compete in the finals. Denis Ablyazin, the 2012 Olympic silver medalist on vault and the 2012 bronze medalist on floor, will not appear in any event finals. According to Blythe's quick hits, the floor just was not big enough for him, as he kept tumbling out of bounds, and he face-planted his first vault: a Kasamatsu double. (His Tsuk double pike was amazing, however. Watch it here.)

The irony here is that Aleksandr Balandin was supposed to be the alternate for the competition. However, of the Russian gymnasts who have competed so far, he's perhaps the most likely to medal at this World Championships. After 3 subdivisions, his 15.600 routine on rings sits in second place.
What is more, Balandin has the chance to up his difficulty in finals. His double layout dismount is only a C.

Also of note: Matvei Petrov is in 4th on pommel horse after 3 subdivisions (6.7D/15.500).

You ain't cool unless you break a finger

First, Nikolai Kuksenkov dislocated his finger. Now, Jake Dalton has a microfracture in his thumb, according to Inside Gymnastics:
As a result, Jake was pulled from parallel bars and high bar.

Sweet, sweet Oleg Verniaiev scored an 11.633 on high bar

I laugh so that I don't cry.

As I said on Twitter, if I fall in love with you as a gymnast, you will most likely turn into a hot mess. I'm not joking. Last year, my secret boyfriend Philipp Boy was a disaster at the Olympics. This year, Oleg Verniaiev is in 98th place on high bar after 3 subdivisions. (If you like the taste of your own tears, you can watch the routine here. It's at the 23-min. mark.)

Yet, despite a rather depressing beginning, Oleg rebounded, and he's in 14th place in the all-around, which means that he could still qualify for the all-around final and redeem himself! So, #PrayForOleg. I'll love you forever if you do.

Even if Oleg doesn't make the all-around final, Oleg certainly will qualify for the vault final, as he is currently in 2nd after 3 subdivisions. This is a bit of a surprise because he struggled on vault in the past. Last year, Oleg's Dragulescu was a cankle-inducer, but this year, he's looking good. (You can see his Dragulescu at the 1:52:00-mark here.)

Seriously, though, #PrayForOleg

Let's hope that the women perform better than the men on vault. Otherwise, #PrayForPe├▒a #PrayForFadwa

Men's vault can be a bit of a splat fest, and this year has been no exception.

  • As I stated above, Denis Ablyazin face-planted his first vault.
  • Igor Radivilov performed a stellar Dragulescu, but he face-planted his Tsuk double pike. Unfortunately, it appears that he hurt his ankle on the landing. (Which is weird because at the Osijek Challenge Cup a few weeks ago, he over-rotated that vault.)
  • While Kenzo Shirai performed an exceptional triple-twisting Yurchenko, he totally Komova-ed his second vault. Don't get me wrong. I'm impressed by this 17 year-old, but… Can someone explain how the heck he got a 9.133 in execution on his second vault?!?!? Do they stop counting your steps once your feet are off the mat?

Heck, even Yang Hak Seon is struggling.
In my post about podium training, I said that Yang's block on his handspring vaults is off, and you can really see it during the slow motion replay. He's not getting a quick, double-handed push off the table. It's slow. It's labored. Sure, he put the handspring randi to his feet, but had he thrown the handspring triple twist, it would have ended up on his back side. It should be interesting to see what happens in finals…

Not only is Sergio Sasaki a sexy dancer; he's a sexy vaulter, as well.

Sergio became a crowd favorite when he danced to Michel Tel├│'s "Ai se eu te pego" at the Mexican Open last year. Well, it turns out that he can do more than point his fingers and thrust his hips. He can also vault, and his Dragulescu is quite sexy.
Unfortunately, his Kasamatsu 2.5 is kind of a mess. Nonetheless, he's in third place on vault after three subdivisions.

'Twas a good day for the old farts

34 year-old Vasileios Tsolakidis of Greece is leading the pack on parallel bars with a 15.866 (6.8 D).
2007 was the last time 30 year-old Anton Fokin of Uzbekistan placed at a World Championships. Right now, he's second on parallel bars.
I love how patient Anton Fokin is on his double saltos. He just kind of floats through the air. The Uzbek gymnasts are like fine wines, aren't they? They just get better with age.

Alberto Busnari, who will turn 35 on Friday, October 4, is currently leading the pack on pommels.

Never underestimate the Chinese men

At 7 of the last 9 World Championships, a Chinese gymnast has medaled on parallel bars. (2001 and 2007 were the exceptions.) And it appears that at least one Chinese man could end up on the medal stand this year. As things stand right now, Lin Chaopan is ranked third after 3 subdivisions with a 15.733 (6.7 D)

And Zhou Shixiong is in fourth on parallel bars with a 15.666 (7.0 D).

In that respect, the qualification rounds weren't a big surprise. The big surprise, however, was the Chinese gymnasts' all-around performances. When China initially released the names of their Worlds selection, they stated that they didn't have any aspirations of winning an all-around medal. However, as of right now, both all-arounders are poised to contend for the podium. Again, Lin Chaopan is in third (89.430), and Zhou Shixiong is in fourth (88.898). So, who knows? Maybe this young generation of Chinese gymnasts has a future Yang Wei amongst them?

Tomorrow will be a big test for China. From what I can gather, the Chinese media has great expectations for Zhang Hongtao, the 2009 World champion on pommel horse. At the age of 27, the Chinese press considers him over the hill, and since Zhang is truly an event specialist, it's unclear whether the Chinese would select him during a team World Championships. (Watch his pommel routine from the National Games here.) Personally, I hope that this isn't the last time we see him compete.

Also of note: Zou Kai is backstage doing TV coverage.

Is Team USA on the rise?

During episode 50 of GymCastic, I said that Sam Mikulak might beat Kohei Uchimura if Kohei had a bad day. Well, Sam is going to need a lot of help from Kohei Uchimura in order for that to happen. Even though Sam is currently ranked second, Kohei's qualifying score was better than Sam's by over 2 points (91.924 vs. 89.532). 

Right now, Sam's on the bubble for several event finals. He's seventh on floor and seventh on parallel bars. It looks like his best shot of making an event final is high bar, where he currently stands in fourth position. But honestly, if you're going to watch one of his routines, watch his parallel bar routine:
Just be careful: Like tequila, Mikulak's p-bars will make your clothes come off.

Personally, I expected Sam Mikulak to do quite well during qualifications, but I wasn't expecting Brandon Wynn to do so well on rings. I thought he'd qualify seventh or eighth to finals. But after 3 subdivisions, he's in first with a 15.700 (6.8 D). Here's his routine:
In terms of his ranking, keep in mind that guys like Arthur Zanetti have not competed, and it's hard to tell how Brandon will fare in finals, especially when guys like van Gelder and Balandin could easily upgrade their routines. Fingers crossed, though!

Two Japanese men were a cut above the rest

To channel my inner Jan Brady, "All day long at the gym I hear how great Kohei is at this, or how wonderful Kohei did that! Kohei, Kohei, Kohei! It's always Kohei!"

Well, not this year! This year, Kohei has to compete for the spotlight. Sure, Kohei Uchimura leads the all-around by over two points, and he's currently leading the high bar standings with a 15.658 (6.9 D). Seriously, do yourself a favor and watch this routine.
Digression: Somehow, only 4 tenths differentiate Kohei's execution from Epke Zonderland's wet noodle execution. Just think about that one for a second. (Admittedly, Kohei's Kolman was kind of a mess, but still…)

That said, Kohei isn't the only Japanese gymnast in the spotlight. Kenzo Shirai has been the talk of the gymternet for quite some time, and today, he lived up to people's expectations. As of right now, he's leading floor by 0.9 (16.233 to Uchimura's 15.333).
5,000 times better than his routine during podium training!

Also of note: Blythe Lawrence's short conversation with Kohei Uchimura

By the way, there are giant moths flying around the arena…

Photo via Grace Chiu

Which, of course, has its own Twitter handle.

Oh, and Team USA is trying to out-tan Daniel Keatings

Standings after 3 subdivisions (with links to routines):


  1. Kohei Uchimura, Japan, 91.924
  2. Sam Mikulak, USA, 89.532
  3. Lin Chaopan, China, 89.430
  4. Zhou Shixiong, China, 88.898
  5. Sergio Sasaki, Brazil, 88.699
  6. Fabian Hambuechen, Germany, 88.064
  7. Daniel Purvis, Great Britain, 87.031
  8. Oliver Hegi, Switzerland, 86.998
  9. Max Whitlock, Great Britain, 86.941
  10. Jossimar Calvo Moreno, Colombia, 86.939

Floor Exercise:

  1. Kenzo Shirai, Japan, 16.233 (7.4 D)
  2. Kohei Uchimura, Japan, 15.333 (6.4 D)
  3. Fabian Hambuechen, Germany, 15.266 (6.3 D)
  4. Daniel Purvis, Great Britain, 15.266 (6.5 D)
  5. Jake Dalton, USA, 15.166 (6.5 D)
  6. Scott Morgan, Canada, 15.100 (6.4 D)
  7. Sam Mikulak, USA, 15.033 (6.2 D)
  8. Sergio Sasaki, Brazil, 15.000 (6.7 D)

Pommel Horse:

  1. Alberto Busnari, Italy, 15.633 (7.1 D)
  2. Daniel Corral, Mexico, 15.600 (6.7 D)
  3. Robert Seligman, Croatia, 15.500 (6.4 D)
  4. Matvei Petrov, Russia, 15.500 (6.7 D)
  5. Max Whitlock, Great Britain, 15.408 (6.6 D)
  6. Kohei Kameyama, Japan, 15.400 (6.6 D)
  7. Harutyum Merdinyan, Armenia, 15.333 (6.8 D)
  8. Kohei Uchimura, Japan, 15.133 (6.2 D)


  1. Brandon Wynn, USA, 15.700 (6.8 D)
  2. Aleksandr Balandin, Russia, 15.600 (6.6 D)
  3. Yuri van Gelder, Netherlands, 15.566 (6.6 D)
  4. Samir Ait Said, France, 15.566 (6.8 D)
  5. Koji Yamamuro, Japan, 15.500 (6.6 D)
  6. Eleftherios Petrounias, Greece, 15.466 (6.9 D)
  7. Matteo Morandi, Italy, 15.400 (6.7 D)
  8. Federico Molinari, Argentina, 15.366 (6.7 D)


  1. Yang Hak Seon, South Korea, 15.299
  2. Oleg Verniaiev, Ukraine, 15.041
  3. Sergio Sasaki, Brazil, 14.987
  4. Kenzo Shirai, Japan, 14.916
  5. Marius Berbecar, Romania, 14.916
  6. Jake Dalton, USA, 14.866
  7. Matthias Fahrig, Germany, 14.841
  8. Shek Wai Hung, Hong Kong, 14.795

Parallel Bars:

  1. Vasileios Tsolakidis, Greece, 15.866 (6.8 D)
  2. Anton Fokin, Uzbekistan, 15.800 (6.9 D)
  3. Lin Chaopan, China, 15.733 (6.7 D)
  4. Zhou Shixiong, China, 15.666 (7.0 D)
  5. Marius Berbecar, Romania, 15.600 (6.7 D)
  6. John Orozco, USA, 15.433 (6.8 D)
  7. Sam Mikulak, USA, 15.400 (6.2 D)
  8. Kohei Uchimura, Japan, 15.400 (6.4 D), Epke Zonderland, Netherlands, 15.400 (6.4 D)

High Bar:

  1. Kohei Uchimura, Japan, 15.658 (6.9 D)
  2. Fabian Hambuechen, Germany, 15.633 (7.1 D)
  3. Epke Zonderland, Netherlands, 15.433 (7.1 D)
  4. Sam Mikulak, USA, 15.366 (6.9 D)
  5. Jossimar Calvo Moreno, Colombia, 15.166 (7.1 D)
  6. Andreas Bretschneider, Germany, 15.133 (6.9 D)
  7. Lin Chaopan, China, 15.066 (6.9 D)
  8. Zhou Shixiong, China, 15.0666 (7.0 D)

Related Links:

Men's Qualifications Round-Up: Day 2
Men's Podium Training Round-Up: Day 1
Men's Podium Training Round-Up: Day 2

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