After an intriguing, thrilling, and sometimes surprising World Championships in Doha, Qatar, there were plenty of notable results and storylines coming out of the biggest team competition of the new quadrennium so far. With some time to digest all the happenings at the 2018 World Artistic Gymnastics, here are some final thoughts from Doha:
1. It will take a disaster for someone to beat Simone Biles
In the all-around final at worlds this year, Simone Biles had one of the worst meets of her career, with two falls and an out-of-bounds error on floor. Despite these errors that would have taken virtually any other competitor out of mere medal contention, the 21 year-old American and reigning Rio 2016 Olympic all-around gold medalist still managed to win the competition by over a point. Her difficulty advantage over the rest of the world is virtually insurmountable, and it is hard to foresee anyone catching her.
2. The U.S. is clearly still the best in the world
Even with all the turmoil within USA Gymnastics, the gymnasts are still miles ahead of the rest of the world. Team USA had the most consistent and clean performance but their difficulty barrier was so great that they could have had a fall on every event and likely would have still come out on top. The depth of the program is evident not only in the six athletes sent to worlds- including the alternate Ragan Smith, who would have likely been the star of any other countries’ team- but also in the other incredibly talented athletes that just missed team selection for the U.S.
Going into 2020 and the Tokyo Olympics, the U.S. squad will have a plethora of talented, capable gymnasts to fill the four-person team plus possibly two more individual athletes. Whether it’s established stars like Simone Biles, the next crop of seniors like Riley McCusker, or juniors turning senior before 2020, Team USA’s depth is nearly unstoppable for other nations.
3. There are legitimate challengers to Russia and China on the podium
If one was to just look at the results from the women’s team final, the podium of the U.S., Russia, and China would seem very normal. After watching the competition, however, it is clear that the rest of the world is not far behind these final two traditional powerhouses.
All eight squads in the team final had a shot at a medal in an incredibly close competition, and it will be very interesting to watch teams like Canada, Japan, Brazil, Great Britain, and France the next few years to see if they can take a podium spot away from one of these two. Add in a healthy Germany or the Netherlands and a rising young crop from Romania and Italy and the team final in two years’ time at the Tokyo Olympics may be the most thrilling yet with the incredible depth of contending nations.
4. Powerhouse event specialists from smaller countries are thriving
The typical gymnastics powerhouses are producing incredible gymnasts, but quite a few smaller countries are producing exceptional, medal-worthy athletes as well. The most notable of these is Belgium’s Nina Derwael, who not only won the World title on her signature event, uneven bars, but also seriously challenged for an all-around medal, an incredible feat for this small gymnastics nation.
Alexa Moreno of Mexico also won a medal on vault in historic, emotional fashion to become Mexico’s first World medalist ever and Moreno joined several other vault event specialists from less-traditional gymnastics powerhouse countries in the vault final. Additionally, many smaller countries had gymnasts qualifying to the all-around and individual event finals for the very first time, so earning historic, unprecedented success for their nations.Tags: Alexa Moreno, Belgium, Mexico, Nina Derwael, Riley McCusker, Simone Biles, United States, World Championships