More than a year later, some of us gymnastics fans still haven’t gotten over Olympics fever. It’s a little ridiculous and extremely embarrassing how many times I’ve re-watched watched the Team Final in which McKayla Maroney stuck that spectacular vault and the All-Around competition where Gabby Douglas took the gold.
Even though the 2016 Olympics are three long years away, this year’s Gymnastics World Championships could be the first introduction to what we might see in Rio. Two members of the Fierce Five – Maroney and Kyla Ross – and up-and-coming American Simone Biles competed in Antwerp in the biggest international gymnastics competition since the London Olympics. Even though the action went down last week, NBC broadcast the competition for the first time in States today. For those of us who wish we could just perform a side cartwheel without falling over, here are five highlights from the 2013 World Championships.
McKayla Maroney gets redemption on Vault
When the most charismatic Fierce Fiver said she wanted to be an actress last year, I thought her days of serious gymnastics were over. But it’s amazing how her disappointing (and shocking) silver medal at the vault finals in London has driven her back into competitive form. If anything, her Amanar Vault, which she performs better than any gymnast male or female, has gotten even better. Even though she rocked her 2.5-twisting Yurchenko when it actually counted, her best, almost perfect vault happened during podium training. Check it out:
Simone Biles’ ridiculous tumbling
Even though Maroney, Ross, and Russia’s Aliya Mustafina were the biggest names going into Worlds, Simone Biles pretty much dominated. She won the main All-Around title – she’s the first black woman to do so – by a big margin, won gold on floor, silver on vault, and bronze on beam.
Okay, so her dancing isn’t great, but look at that crazy height on that opening double-twisting double tuck. Her half-twisting double layout is so fast in the air it’s hard to see what she’s doing.
Kyla Ross’ cyborg-like consistency
I find Ross’ gymnastics pretty but sleepy. She has the lightness and long lines that the NBC commentators keep calling the “International Look,” but I wish she’d combine her less powerful yet elegant style with some more creative, sophisticated routines, like one of my all-time faves Nastia Liukin managed to do. Still, it’s like she physically can’t fall off bars or beam, which is hugely impressive.
Aliya Mustafina wins beam gold
None of the performances at the beam finals were particularly notable, but I was happy to see one of my favorites from London – unfairly dubbed a “diva” by U.S. commentators – win a gold medal, especially on an apparatus that’s given her trouble in the past.
An Italian gymnast starts controversy
So this is more of a lowlight than a highlight, but after Italian gymnasts Vanessa Ferrari and Carlotta Ferlito finished fourth and fifth behind Biles in the beam finals, Ferlito said in an interview, “I told [Vanessa] that next time we’ll have our skin black so we can win, too.” Wow. Stunning racism aside, this is coming from a gymnast whose 2.5 twist is basically piked. It also doesn’t help Ferlito that Biles is one of the most gracious competitors on the podium. Ferlito apologized for her comments on Twitter, but she needs to take a seat.
Who were your standouts from Worlds? Who do you expect to see in Rio?
(Yes, I realize the men competed, too).