The World Gymnastics Championships are always a huge event, and not just because of the number of gymnasts participating. This year’s edition promises to be no different. Here are a few superlatives to help quantify what was seen today:
Skill of the day: Tie between Aliya Mustafina’s toe Shaposh full to mixed grip and Yao Jinnan’s Mo salto on bars. This one wins basically for it’s novelty value — like her two whips to double Arabian on floor, nobody really saw it coming. (Seriously, her Olympic routine was hard enough.) As for the Mo salto, it hasn’t been seen at a Worlds or Olympics since 1996. (To put that in perspective, consider that Yao herself was born in ’95).
Shock of the day: You gotta hand it to the Russians — they look prepared and focused, even if they tend to jump off bars and/or beam if a toe is out of place. Mustafina’s upgrades are original and refreshing, partly so because nobody saw them coming, whereas video of Yao’s Mo or Victoria Moors’s double double layout were already all over the place.
Gymnast of the day: Aliya Mustafina, Russia. (Boy, this post is beginning to seem like a broken record.) Mustafina just has a way about her that commands attention, but today she was giving people lots to talk about, on a pure gymnastics level.
Consistency of the day: Shang Chunsong, China. That’s right, consistency from a Chinese gymnast. Shang looks to be in the thick of the medal hunt on bars and beam. She did all her difficulty over and over and over, and I never saw her miss anything once.
Hardest workers of the day: Tie between team China and team USA. They never let up, training their hearts out, even during the evening session when other teams seemed to relax or didn’t even show up (cough, Russia, cough.) Honorable mention: Brenna Dowell of the U.S. It’s hard to tell what Martha Karolyi is thinking when it comes to who will do what events, and it can’t be easy training and knowing that McKayla Maroney could very well take your place in competition. Dowell is working her bum off every turn she takes, and deserves the right to walk on a Worlds floor.
Darkhorse of the day: After a difficult 2012, Russia’s Tatiana Nabieva is back and ready to wreak havoc on your podium predictions. Don’t count her out — on bars or in the all-around.
Leotard of the day: Emerald green from the Irish during the morning session was like sunlight in the windowless training gym.
Makes-it-look-too easy of the day: The Netherlands’s Sanne Wevers’s turns on beam. Talk about working beam like it’s a floor mat! And what’s so striking is how natural she makes it look, even connecting leaps out of those turns! Most gymnasts go into turns with a look or stance of terror. Most look like they’d rather be doing some crazy backflipping element. Not Wevers.
Stunning new floor routine of the day: Vasiliki Millousi, Greece. Giving a clinic on class to all the younger gymnasts. Honorable mention to Italy’s Vanessa Ferrari and Carlotta Ferlito, both of whom have wonderful new pieces this year as well.
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