The Olympics are here! The Olympics are here!
For gymnastics fans, the Olympics is like all the best holidays rolled up in one. It is the culmination of a full quad of watching young gymnasts grow into seasoned senior gymnasts and really the only time that anyone outside of those involved in the sport and the odd ball super fan pays any attention at all. Needless to say, we are all pretty excited.
But, to those who only watch during the olympics, the casual fan and even many gym parents I know, how elite gymnastics works is totally foreign. I am hoping to give everyone a little insight and enough basic knowledge to better understand and enjoy what they are watching. We will break down the event, the scoring, the requirements and what you can look forward to seeing throughout the event.
We will not be discussing men’s gymnastics here as I know probably no more than you do about the men’s side of things. I keep trying as I have such a love of the sport, but really it doesn’t do much for me. Maybe that will change some day. But, until then, if you are looking for all the skinny on men’s gymnastics I would recommend you try the following resources.
And my favorite thing to listen to on my daily commute to the gym and where I have learned what little I know and appreciate about men’s gymnstics – The Gymcastic Podcast
Ok, so let’s get to it.
We must start with the major players. Barring catastrophe Simone Biles will win the Gold in the All around and possibly three of the four events. She is arguably the best gymnast to ever live and has dominated the world stage for the last three years. She has three consecutive world all around titles and it a pure joy to watch. You will want to see her again and again.
The USA is pretty much a shoe in for team gold as well. Romania is out of the team final for the first time, like ever and Russia just isn’t what they used to be, although I am very much looking forward to watching Aliya Mustafina. I just love her, can’t get enough, diva and resting bitch face and all. I am curious to see China, as they are usually a power house, but I haven’t seen much that impressed me at the last couple of times I have seen them. And up and comers Britain, Canada and the Netherlands should be exciting to watch and never count out the home country and the up and coming program that is Brazil.
The state of gymnastics world wide seems a bit weak right now. I love seeing the USA win, but there really isn’t much competition for them and the other world gymnastics powers seem to be getting weaker and weaker as the US gets stronger and stronger. So, although this Olympics isn’t full of suspense and drama, the gymnastics will be impressive and worth watching again and again. And, I hope that this opens up some space for those up and coming programs to come into their own and hopefully eventually give the US a run for their money.
The Meet Format
The meet is broken down into four parts
- Individual All Around
- Team Final
- Event Finals
The first stage is the qualification rounds. Every gymnast and team that qualified will have the opportunity to qualify to team, individual and event finals.
The top eight teams from 2015 world champions plus the four additional top finishers from the test event in Rio earlier this year will vie for eight spots in the team final.
Each team consists of five gymnasts. Four gymnasts for each team will compete on each of the four events in qualification. The gymnasts that compete on each event do not have to be the same gymnasts to compete those events in the team final. Because your AA athletes must compete all four events in qualifications, that means that sometimes it may make more sense for an all around athlete to compete in qualifications even though another gymnast could possibly score higher on a particular event. But then in team finals, only the best on each event compete that event for the team.
In addition to the 12 countries that have qualified teams to the Olympics, there are 38 additional spots available for individuals to represent countries that didn’t qualify for a team spot. Only one athlete can represent each country for these individual spots. The goal is that as many countries as possible and all continents are represented in the Olympic games. Each continent has two spots held for them. For gymnastics, this usually only comes into play for Africa.
Each gymnast who is part of a team or competing for their country as and individual will also use this round to qualify to all-around and event finals.
The top 24 combined scores of those individuals competing in all four events will qualify to all around finals. The top eight finishers on each event will qualify to event finals.
There is a rule that states that only two gymnasts from each country can qualify to the all-around and event finals. This is done to level the playing field and allow all countries a chance at a medal. This often means, as it did in 2012 with Jordan Weber placing 4th in qualifying but placing behind two other americans, that some of the best gymnasts will be left out of the finals. This has caused some contoversy for sure, but the Olympics is about including all countries and providing opportunity for countries to elevate through sport, so it is what it is.
Personally, I would like to see a little more well-rounded competition. The US being so dominant isn’t helping the sport on a global scale. That’s just my opinion though.