2014 World Championships: Predictions vs Reality

8:02 PM Arabian Punch Front 0 Comments

Photo Credit: Getty Images (via gymnasticsmedals)

Glad to finally get back to blogging after a tough few months. Thank you all for being so patient. I thought the best way to recap Worlds would be through my predictions - moderately accurate, somewhat hilarious.

These predictions are from September 27, so after Asian Games but before World Championships.

Team Finals
Predictions: USA, China, Russia
Reality: USA, China, Russia

I will say, the battle for 2-4 was closer than I expected.

First off, going to team qualifications, I had 7 of the 8 teams correct but I had Germany in for Australia. I'm thrilled for Australia after a disappointing finish at London and missing most of the international 2013 season. They've come back fighting and have shown that even without one of their best, Lauren Mitchell, they are still a team to be reckoned with. On the other end, Germany missing out was a bit disappointing. As a nation that has become extremely strong on uneven bars, 4 of the 5 routines had falls in them. Of 4 girls with event final worthy routines, only 1 made it. That has to be a tough pill to swallow but I'm sure they'll come back stronger next year.

For teams 5-8, I can't say I'm too surprised about the team final placement after you consider who qualified. Italy was massively boosted after having 3 very serviceable double twisting Yurchenkos in Fasana, Ferrari, and Rizzelli. They've also improved on uneven bars, while still not perfect, they are showing advances. Also, in general, Ferrari is no longer alone in pulling the weight of the country. Fasana joins her as a strong all arounder, Campana has Olympic experience, and the new ladies all held their own, even on balance beam.

Now, for teams 1-4, I did have the correct order but it did end up a lot closer than expected... Oh, for teams 2-4! I knew the US would win but I did not, by any stretch of the imagination, predict the margin would be nearly 7 points. Not only were the other 3 nations struggling with injuries and depth, they all had to count at least one fall in the final 3 up, 3 count format. I put China in second because of everyone's belief that they would "bring it" for a home championship but also after seeing their performance at the Asian Games. Yes they would be tired, but the difficulty was undoubtedly there. Russia and Romania being as close as they were was also shocking. While we often acknowledge Aliya as the one who carries Russia, she does get a bit more help than Iordache does. Aliya has her best friend since 2010 by her side, also a World Champion. She's joined by European event finalists and medalists and another Olympian. Iordache was joined by Stefania Stanila, the one who joined Larisa at Worlds last year. The one we thought was just there for experience and never thought we'd see her again. Here she is now, crying after the team final believing her errors are the errors that most hurt the team.

I'm side tracking a bit because I think this is the first time I've really had to process that the "babies" of London are now the team leaders. The way we saw Catalina Ponor help nurture Larisa Iordache, we now see Iordache doing that with her teammates. The way Ponor was so excited when Larisa won floor exercise gold at the 2012 European Championships, we now see Aliya Mustafina reacting in the same way to Daria Spiridonova. Our previous rebels off in the corner in Mustafina and Nabieva, are now team mothers, comforting the younger gymnasts.

Overall, the team final wasn't too exciting other than the unfortunate falls that made it closer than expected. If anything, I hope this motivates the young Romanians seeing how close they were. Perhaps they counted themselves out and didn't need to. Every routine mattered and they were just 0.5 away from a medal. That says a lot of this young team.

All Around Final
Predictions: Simone Biles, Aliya Mustafina, Larisa Iordache
Reality: Simone Biles, Larisa Iordache, Kyla Ross

The all around final was phenomenal. I was clapping. I was jumping. I was screaming. My jaw was dropping. Intense!

If my memory serves me right, things were going fine for the top 5 girls (the 4 mentioned above plus Yao) until balance beam.  Aliya "I Make Up My Beam Routine As I Go" Mustafina made up a routine with not the greatest difficulty and had a few form breaks.

Then, we go to floor exercise and all hell breaks loose.

Yao Jinnan fell on her dismount and I was in complete and shock. Word was that Larisa warmed up her piked full in. This made me so happy to see that she would really push for an AA and event finals medal. Her reaction to going into first with just two gymnasts to go was priceless. Then, Aliya falls on her double arabian. There are just some things people should never fall on because of how beautifully the skill is performed. This is one of them. Again, with the jaw dropping and the screaming. That's when it also became clear that Kyla would be on the podium. Consistency matters. I didn't have Kyla on the podium because she had three people in her way for the silver medal. Clearly, that didn't matter.

And Simone hit her floor exercise. One of her best and dramatic finishes (in terms of performance, not result obviously).

Overall, I really enjoyed the all around. I'm still upset about the falls in the team final that I don't anticipate rewatching that any time soon. While the all around was heartbreaking, I did like the fact that it came down to the last event and the podium was largely undecided.

Event finals predictions vs reality will be coming soon :) What were your podium guesses and how did they end up?