The Individual Participants
Given Brazil is the first South American country to host the Olympics and only the second in Latin America after Mexico in 1968 there was a heavy presence of the neighboring countries supporting their gymnasts.
Particularly from Argentina, a huge Argentinian flag was visible and their support was loud and clear for Ailen Valente, their representative. Ailen was very supportive of Colombia’s representative Catalina Escobar after she fell on her first tumbling pass on Floor and had to withdraw due to injury.
A Mexican flag was also visible, and Mexico’s representative Alexa Moreno achieved her country’s best results in decades by being 2nd reserve into the all-around final. On vault, Moreno’s specialty, she’s fourth reserve.
Ana Sofia Gómez, who represents Guatemala, and had her preparing training camp for Rio, in Tijuana Mexico is friends with Alexa. Ana Sofia finished behind Alexa in the qualification round and sits as third reserve for the all-around final. This might be a little disappointing for Ana Sofia as she was expected to make the final, however she had to compete in the same subdivision as Brazil and the crowd was particularly loud and doing a wave when she was competing beam and sadly she put a hand down during the dismount. Despite the mistakes Ana Sofia finished very high in the standings showing she has the quality necessary for an Olympic Games.
More history was made for Latin American gymnasts with Jessica López entering the bars final, she was in tears after her bars score flashed (15.333). She will also be present in the all-around final. These are the third Olympic Games for the 30-year-old gymnast.
Oksana Chusovitina basically opened the Olympic competition as she participated in the first subdivision doing vault. She did well but did not compete the Produnova that she is most likely saving for the vault finals. Oksana made the final but had to wait the whole day to have her qualification confirmed. As for the other Produnova, Dipa Karmakar did show it in the qualification round and will be the first Indian gymnast to enter an Olympic final in gymnastics history.
Hong Un Jong did a beautiful Amanar. In this past days she was captured training a triple twisting Yurchenko, element she has tried to submit for many years now, but the vault seems far from ready and competing it would most likely mean she would loose the chance of a medal, in exchange the vault could be named after her if she lands it. So the question is will she choose a medal or the fame of having one of the most difficult vaults named after her?
Catalina Ponor scored only a 14.200 on Floor, her first event, and she knew immediately she would not qualify to the final. Then she had to wait until the fourth rotation to compete on beam where she posted a 14.900 the highest score up until that moment but she was subsequently passed by other gymnasts and eventually qualified 5th. This is Romania only chance of a medal and Romania has never walked out empty handed from an Olympic Games; can Catalina keep the record for Romania? It is a very heavy burden for just one gymnast.
One gymnast was enough to make Switzerland very proud. Giulia Steingruber has qualified to three event finals: AA, vault and floor, the same as China’s Wan Yang. The only other gymnast set to be present in more individual finals than the two of them is Simone Biles.
When the last subdivision rolled around, three teams were still in the fight. France, that initiated on their best event: bars, had falls and it would soon become clear they would not enter the team final, yet their sole presence was historic as the team had grabbed the last qualifying team spot for the Olympics. So the French team was a happy team also because they managed to qualify Marine Boyer into the beam final.
Japan was also a very happy team because half way into the competition it became clear they would qualify to the team final and even better Mai Murakami entered the Floor final. The team finished 7th.
The unhappy team was Canada, they started on beam and had falls, they tried to remedy it with an Amanar on vault yet it was not enough after a fall on bars. The team finished 0.168 away from a team final spot. Elsabeth Black will be present in the all-around final and their new senior Shallon Olsen was one of the four qualified gymnasts into the vault final to present an Amanar.
Belgium competed early in the day and while they finished in 12th place they can be very proud of Nina Derwael who is currently third reserve for the uneven bars final.
The other very unhappy team was Italy since the beam dashed any hopes of a team final spot as they had three falls. Unexpectedly Ferlito fell and Ferrari who attempeted a complicated series fell and what was worst didn’t get the element credited, reducing her difficulty score to only 4.900. This nearly dropped Ferrari out of the all-around final as she qualified last. The only happy moment for Vanessa was when she earned a Floor score that would eventually qualify her third to the floor final.
The Netherlands, just like they did in Glasgow 2015, was the last team qualified to the team final showing that their result at last year’s World Championships were not a fluke. The team was particularly strong on beam where they finished second among all the teams. Sanne Wevers, the turn girl, has qualified into the beam final.
Germany had the best day they could have, and finished 6th, with a remarkable third place finish in the uneven bars. They have qualified two gymnasts into the bars final: Elisabeth Seitz and Sophie Scheder.
Brazil shined competing at home, their standouts were Andrade’s Amanar and Saraiva’s beam score. They have both qualified 3rd, Andrade to the all-around and Saraiva to the beam final. If a medal were to happen for Brazil it would be their first in history.
Great Britain had to compete alongside Brazil having to endure the noisy crowd. Noticeably Elissa Downie performed on beam while the crowd was being particular loud however she was a model of mental toughness and now stands as 1st reserve to the beam final.
Elissa Downie had e a very scary fall on Floor that required for her to have medical assistance and questioning whether she would be able to finish the competition. This only gave her big sister more reasons to hold back tears as Rebecca crashed the high bar during a release a move and even though she continued to fight to earn a 15.233 that was not enough to earn a spot in the bars final afterwards Rebecca fell off the beam in an early skill but yet again fought through the routine.
Despite the disappointments Great Britain is still a big threat for the team final however most of their individual chances for medals are gone as Great Britain is basically “the reserve team” only Amy Tinkler qualified to an event final: Floor.
Russia used their uneven bars difficulty to recuperate from disastrous routines on beam and floor where they had two falls out of four gymnasts competing on each apparatus. Maria Paseka landed a beautiful Amanar and an awful Cheng but will have her second chance at the vault final. Mustafina and Spiridinova have advanced to the bars final as well.
As for China they competed in the first subdivision which was a huge mental test for the young team but they passed it as they qualified 2nd into the team final. Noticeably Mao Yi landed out of bounds and had a fall and another out of bounds to score a very low 11.700 that was dropped. While Mao is a Floor prodigy China cannot risk having her perform in the Team Final because a score that low would automatically drop China out of the podium.
As for the United States they had a Perfect-10 day as their lead over their nearest rival China is of 10 points. As expected Simone Biles earned the top scores on all the events but bars; the relatively unexpected was to see Madison Kocian topping the uneven bars qualification round ahead of Russian and Chinese gymnasts. Could it be possible for the United States to win all the available gold medals?