1. Romania’s failure to qualify a full team to the Olympics. The Test Event was marked by Romania’s finish outside the top 4 teams that were to advance to the Rio Olympic Games. And the most surprising part of all was that Romania did not place 5th or barely missed out on the opportunity of qualifying a team, they finished in a shocking 7th place.
Well shocking for some, as many had seen it coming for a long time, the team’s struggles on bars had been reaching scary proportions since 2014 and the result at the Test Event was expected by some. Were you among those in surprise or those that saw it coming?
2. Larisa Iordache’s absence from the Rio Olympics. The privilege of directly qualifying to the Olympics was granted to 2015 World Apparatus Medallists if they came from countries that had not qualified a full team to Rio. The rule benefitted North Korea’s Hong Un Jong who won silver on vault but Larissa Iordache did not have access to this benefit due to the fact that her bronze medal had been won in the all-around final.
Still, Romania had one spot and it could go to Larissa Iordache, sadly for her she was unable to train properly due to injury and the Romanian Federation chose Catalina Ponor as their representative in Rio. In a cruel twist of fate Romania’s only World Medallist in the entire 2013-2016 quadrennium was left at home only because she medalled in the wrong competition at the 2015 Worlds.
3. The absent from Rio. Besides Larisa Iordache’s the most sensible absences at the Games were:
- Marta Pihan-Kulesza “The Pink Panther” who did not even had the chance to attend the Test Event as her Federation did not feel she was fully prepared to fight for an Olympic spot. After learning she would not be attending the Test Event, Marta announced she would fulfill her pending competitions at the Cottbus World Cup and the Italian Series before retiring.
- Roxana Popa. The Spanish star was forced to withdraw from the Test Event due to a recurring knee injury. Roxana tore her ACL in December 2014 and since then she has not been able to make a full recovery.
- Jonna Adlerteg. Who after tearing her ACL in 2015 was pacing her recovery in order to be present at the Test Event, re-injured her knee during her uneven bars dismount at the Doha World Cup in March.
- Viktoria Komova. After struggling with injuries and illnesses for three years Viktoria finally made a comeback in 2015 which was very short-lived. In early 2016 she withdrew from contention for the European Team due to back problems and eventually announced she had fully stopped training and was seeking medical treatment in the hope of making a comeback in the future.
- Ksenia Afanasyeva. After competing only vault at the European Championships and undergoing surgery shortly after her chances of making the team were diminishing fast but in the end it was a kidney illness what forced her to withdraw from the Russian Olympic Team.
4. The Gymnastics Babies. Some of the gymnasts that became mothers this year include 1996 Olympians (both AA bronze medalists) Lavinia Milosivici (son Andrei) and Simona Amanar (son Tudor) while 2008 Olympian Alicia Sacramone welcomed a baby girl, Sloan, the day of the Rio Olympics opening ceremony. The list also includes 2003 World Bars Champion Hollie Vise, daughter Lilah Kate Naddour and 2006 World Beam Bronze Medallist, Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs (today Elyse Null) with daughter Scarlett.
5. The Olympic Flag Bearers. Giulia Steingruber, Ana Sofía Gómez and Catalina Ponor were flag bearers at the Opening Ceremony in Rio while Simone Biles and Sanne Wevers were flag bearers at the closing ceremony.
6. The new “Dutchess” of the beam. The beam gold medallist of the Test Event, Sanne Wevers, went on to become the Rio Olympic Gold medallist with a routine that exudes beauty.
7. Vanessa Ferrari’s 4th place finish on Floor. A new sad record has been established with Vanessa Ferarri finishing fourth on the same event, at two consecutive Olympic Games. In London 2012 a tie breaker did not favor her and in Rio 2016 a less than perfect landing on her last pass left her 0.167 away from the bronze medal.
8. Amy Tinkler’s bronze medal on the Floor Exercise. Great Britain’s team bronze at last year’s World Championships, the precise day Amy Tinkler turned 16, made them strong candidates for several medals at the Olympic Games. However in a team lead by the Downie sisters and Claudia Fragapane, Amy was the least expected to make history for her country as she was the youngest and most inexperienced member.
When the qualification day came the strongest candidates for the medals did not reach the finals, instead, they were named reserves in several of them. Amy Tinkler was the only British gymnast to advance to an event final an unexpectedly became the second British Gymnast in history to earn an Olympic Medal.
9. Siblings at the Olympics.
- Diego and Daniele Hypólito have been competing together at the Olympic Games since Beijing 2008. At home in Rio 2016 Daniele Hypolito watched her brother become Olympic Silver Medalist on Floor.
- Twins Sanne and Lieke Wevers were attending their first Olympics. The sisters who have been seniors since 2007 have rarely competed together but in Rio 2016 Lieke anxiously awaited for her sister’s beam score in the final and became proud to see her other half being named Olympic Beam Champion.
- Rebecca and Elissa Downie were born 8 years apart. Sisters with less age difference have never made to the Olympics together, so it was very special to see them attending Rio together. For a moment Rebecca must have been very scared to see her sister’s scary fall on the Floor Exercise and her decision to not finish her routine during the qualification round. Fortunately Ellie did not sustain a major injury and was back for the all-around final where she finished 12th.
10. The Broken Records at the Olympics.
- Simone Biles was the first World All-Around Champion to become Olympic All-Around Champion since Lilia Podkopayeva had become World Champion in 1995 and Olympic Champion in 1996.
- Gabrielle Douglas became the first Olympic all-around Champion to attend a second Olympic Games since Nadia Comaneci returned for her second Olympics in Moscow 1980.
- Aliya Mustafina was the first gymnast to defend an Olympic Title since Svetlana Khorkina won back to back Olympic Uneven Bars titles in 1996 and 2000.
- Aliya Mustafina was the first gymnast to win two consecutive Olympic all-around medals since Simona Amanar won all-around medals in both Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000
- Aliya Mustafina won the exact same medals than in London 2012 in the team competition (silver), all-around (bronze) and uneven bars (gold). In London she also won a bronze on the Floor Exercise, in 2016 she did not advance to the final.
11. A former gymnast makes Romania proud. 2007 World Team member Daniela Druncea gave Romania a bronze medal in Rowing in Rio 2016.
12. Vera Caslavska’s passing. The Queen of the Mexico 1968 Olympic Games passed away 9 days after the Olympic Closing Ceremony. She had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2015 so sadly her passing was not completely unexpected.
13. The non-retirements. After competing in their 5th and 7th Olympic Games, respectively, it was expected that both Daniele Hypolito and Oksana Chusovitina would retire after Rio however they have both hinted they will continue in the sport.
14. Valeri Liukin succeeding Martha Karolyi as USA Gymnastics National Team Coordinator. Under Karolyi’s 16-year term the United States has enjoyed plenty of success and Marta hands over to Liukin a team that has been nearly invincible in the last 5 years. UPDATE: Valeri Liukin resigned in February of 2018.
15. Aliya Mustafina getting married. Many gymnasts chose the post-Olympic season to get married such as 25 year old Ksenia Afanasyeva and 24 year old Ksenia Semenova however Mustafina’s marriage came as a surprise and many question how much will this decision influence a possible comeback for Tokyo 2020.
16. Lauren Hernández winning season 23 of Dancing With Stars. The youngest member of the USA Team in Rio and the youngest individual medallist of the competition did not follow the footsteps of the two previous youngest members of the USA team, Bridget Sloan and Kyla Ross, who remained amateur in order to keep their NCAA eligibility.
In complete opposite, a month after the Olympics ended Lauren started her very successful participation in Dancing With The Stars that ended on November 22nd, 2016 when Lauren became the youngest champion in the history of Dancing With Stars. In 2009 Shawn Johnson won season 8 and at the time was also the youngest champion of the show, Lauren broke her record.
NEXT: 12 Moments From 2017