Shifting Teams: The Ongoing Quest for Rio


Article by Anna Rose Johnson.

The World Championships in Nanning were a spectacular finish to the 2014 season. We certainly saw some awe-inspiring routines! I decided to take a look at the top six women’s teams and analyze their situations moving forward.


          The United States’ dominating performance in qualifications and the team final indicates that they will continue to gather gold medals in the lead-up months to Rio. (It’s only 21 months away!) The star of the U.S. team, Simone Biles, became the second-most decorated U.S. gymnast in terms of World medals. I think she has an excellent chance to become the first woman to “sweep the quad”—in other words, win every Worlds and Olympics until 2016. The U.S. should continue to produce top-level teams in the coming years—Bailie Key and Nia Dennis will both be seniors next year, and they will definitely contribute to the team in big ways.


I had expected China to place second at Worlds, and they confirmed my expectations with a solid outing. The Chinese have considerably upped their game since their fourth place finish in London 2012, and I think they will continue to improve. 2014 Youth Olympic Games vault champion Wang Yan will be a senior next year, so she will be a major player for Team China next fall. Overtaking the U.S., however, could be a tall order.


Russia did a good job in Nanning by putting together a talented cast of veterans (Aliya Mustafina, Tatiana Nabieva) and newcomers (Daria Spiridonova, Maria Kharenkova). Still, they’ll need to keep improving to forge ahead of China in 2015. They don’t have a huge number of juniors ready to jump in the senior division yet—one notable name, however, is Seda Tutkhalyan, the 2014 Youth Olympic Games all-around champion. No matter how bleak things may seem for Russia early in the year, they always manage to pull out some awesome performances.


I think the situation in Romania will improve when gymnasts such as Andreea Iridon and Laura Jurca become seniors next year. This team has already proven they can rally despite tough circumstances, which bodes well for Rio. Larisa Iordache is living up to her vast potential and is now the second best all-arounder in the world. Not bad for a gymnast who has been plagued with injuries for two years!


In Nanning, the experienced trio of Vanessa Ferrari, Erika Fasana, and Giorgia Campana put up some great scores for Team Italy, while first-year seniors Lara Mori, Lavinia Marongiu, and Martina Rizzeli put on the finishing touches. Still, I’m not sure if Italy has the depth to continue rising to the top slots.


Great Britain had flashes of brilliance in Nanning—I think they just need more consistency and experience. I believe that they will crack into the medals at Worlds one of these years, and it could be in 2015. Their results this year bode well for the future!


Other teams were full of potential as well—Australia, which finished seventh in the final; the Netherlands, which rose to 10th, and Belgium, which finished 11th in qualifications.

Glasgow 2015 will be an even bigger challenge for these teams, as we get closer and closer to the big culmination in August 2016. Safe to say that the United States will likely remain the frontrunner until the torch is lit in Rio.


Image via USAG on Facebook.

One Comment

  1. Tmoney says:

    I feel Simone can be beaten next year. Lord ache closed the gap considerly. With a better bars she could have won. I think next year will be bailie keys break out year this girls as a jr was nearly unstoppable with huge upgrades and elligance with efficiency. She can and will complete with anyone; including Simone. The international judges like her she has the power of an American with the grace of a Russian. I feel bailie under Kim’s toolage will make noise next year. This girl is the real deal

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