Yao Jinnan

Zou Kai
Getty Images

China leaves 5-time gold medalist off preliminary Olympic roster

Leave a comment

One member of China’s preliminary Olympic men’s and women’s artistic gymnastics teams for Rio has previous Olympic experience.

China named five-man and five-woman rosters, plus three alternates each, after its National Championships ended over the weekend, according to Chinese media reports.

The Olympic rosters must still be approved by Chinese sports officials, according to Xinhua News Agency.

The preliminary men’s team, seeking a third straight Olympic title, includes 2012 Olympian Zhang Chenglong and four Olympic rookies — Deng Shudi, Lin Chaopan, You Hao and Liu Yang.

All five gymnasts were on China’s 2014 and 2015 World Championships teams. In 2015, Japan snapped China’s World team title-winning streak that had dated to 2003.

Deng is an Olympic all-around contender after taking bronze at Worlds behind Kohei Uchimura and Manrique Larduet.

The most notable omission was Zou Kai, who earned Olympic team and floor exercise gold in 2008 and 2012 and high bar gold in 2008.

Zou competed at none of the 2013, 2014 and 2015 Worlds but did take 2014 Asian Games titles on floor and high bar. He returned for last week’s National Championships but has been struggling with reported injuries.

The preliminary women’s team is entirely new from 2012, when China finished fourth at the Olympics.

Shang Chunsong, Fan Yilin, Mao Yi and Wang Yan were all on the 2015 World Championships team that took silver. They’re slated to be joined in Rio by Liu Tingting, who has no Worlds experience.

Shang could challenge for the Olympic all-around podium, as she finished fourth behind Simone BilesGabby Douglas and Larisa Iordache at Worlds last year. Iordache might not compete at the Olympics due to injury and Romania not qualifying a full team for Rio.

The biggest women’s omission was Olympian Yao Jinnan, the 2014 World uneven bars champion who has dealt with recent injury and missed the 2015 Worlds.

VIDEO: Inside Liang Chow’s gymnastics center

Aliya Mustafina to miss World Gymnastics Championships

Aliya Musatfina
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Aliya Mustafina, a former World all-around champion and challenger to Simone Biles, will miss next month’s World Gymnastics Championships primarily due to a back injury, according to Russian reports quoting Mustafina and the Russian team coach.

Mustafina, 20, won all-around medals at the 2010 World Championships (gold), 2012 Olympics (bronze) and 2013 World Championships (bronze) and was fourth in 2014 while dealing with health problems.

Mustafina has been a stalwart in the Russian program. With her, the Russian team took silver behind the U.S. at the 2012 Olympics and bronze at the 2014 World Championships.

Biles and the U.S. will have clearer paths to gold at Worlds in Glasgow next month not only because Mustafina is out but also because China’s Yao Jinnan has also been sidelined following a reported shoulder surgery.

Yao finished fifth in the all-around at the 2013 and 2014 Worlds, tops among Chinese, and led China to silver behind the U.S. in the team event in 2014.

Then there’s Russian Olympic all-around silver medalist Viktoria Komova, who missed the 2014 Worlds due to health problems and is attempting to come back this year. Komova, though, fell twice on an uneven bars routine at an event in Russia this week.

The biggest threats to Biles becoming the first woman to win three straight World all-around titles next month could be whichever countrywoman joins her in the all-around final (perhaps Olympic champion Gabby Douglas or Aly Raisman) and Romanian Larisa Iordache, who won silver behind Biles at the 2014 World Championships but has dealt with an ankle injury since.

The U.S. team for Worlds is expected to be announced in early October.

MORE GYMNASTICS: Simone Biles routs Douglas, Raisman for third straight U.S. title

*Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly referred to Larisa Iordache as Russian.

Simone Biles wins vault silver medal at World Gymnastics Championships (video)

Simone Biles
1 Comment

Simone Biles won her third medal in as many events at the World Gymnastics Championships on Saturday, silver in the vault final.

Biles, 17, led the U.S. to team gold Wednesday and repeated as World all-around champion Friday, when she ran from the podium frightened by a bee. She also won vault silver at the 2013 World Championships, behind McKayla Maroney. Maroney didn’t compete this year after March knee surgery.

North Korea’s Hong Un Jong bettered Biles on Saturday, adding to her 2008 Olympic title in the event. Hong averaged 15.599 over two vaults to Biles’ 15.554. American MyKayla Skinner won bronze, her first individual World Championships medal.

Also Saturday, China went one-two on uneven bars with Yao Jinnan and Huang Huidan. American Ashton Locklear was fourth in her first World Championships. Russian Olympic champion Aliya Mustafina was sixth.

“I need to increase my difficulty level if I want to be in the medals, and I have to add new elements to my routine,” Mustafina said. “It is just very hard to learn new tricks at my age [20].”

Russian Denis Abliazin won men’s floor exercise, two years after taking Olympic bronze on the event. It marked Russia’s first Olympic or Worlds gold medal in men’s gymnastics since Alexei Nemov won the all-around at Sydney 2000. Abliazin also captured still rings bronze later Saturday.

American Jacob Dalton was fourth, one year after taking Worlds silver on floor. Five-time World all-around champion Kohei Uchimura won a floor medal at the last three World Championships and 2012 Olympics but did not qualify for the final in Nanning.

“Last year, I qualified eighth in the floor final and came came away second,” said Dalton, who also qualified in the eighth and final spot this year. “Anything can happen. It didn’t affect me at all. I knew if I went out and did what I can do, I’d be among the top three. I tried. It was close, but not quite.”

Hungary’s Olympic champion Krisztian Berki won his third World title and fifth World medal on pommel horse. Alex Naddour, attempting to become the first U.S. man to win an Olympic or Worlds pommel horse medal since 2006, finished sixth after being second to Berki in qualifying.

Liu Yang reclaimed Chinese dominance on still rings, relegating Brazil’s reigning Olympic and World champion Arthur Zanetti to silver. China had won five straight World titles on rings before Zanetti broke the streak in 2013.

The World Gymnastics Championships finish with five more apparatus finals Sunday, including Biles on balance beam and floor exercise and Uchimura on high bar.

Women’s Vault
Gold: Hong Un Jong (PRK) — 15.599 — 2008 Olympic champion; 2013 World bronze medalist
Silver: Simone Biles (USA) — 15.554 — 2013 World silver medalist
Bronze: MyKayla Skinner (USA) — 15.366
4. Alla Sosnitskaya (RUS) — 14.966
5. Giulia Steingruber (SUI) — 14.716
5. Claudia Fragapane (GBR) — 14.716
7. Alexa Moreno Medina (MEX) — 14.549
8. Thi Ha Thanh Phan (VIE) — 14.37 — 2011 World bronze medalist

Uneven Bars
Gold: Yao Jinnan (CHN) — 15.633
Silver: Huang Huidan (CHN) — 15.566 — 2013 World champion
Bronze: Daria Spiridonova (RUS) — 15.283
4. Ashton Locklear (USA) — 15.266
5. Becky Downie (GBR) — 15.166
6. Aliya Mustafina (RUS) — 15.1 — 2012 Olympic champion; 2010 World silver medalist; 2013 World bronze medalist
7. Lisa Katherina Hill (GER) — 14.333
8. Ruby Harrold (GBR) — 13.666

Men’s Floor Exercise
Gold: Denis Abliazin (RUS) — 15.75 — 2012 Olympic bronze medalist
Silver: Kenzo Shirai (JPN) — 15.733 — 2013 World champion
Bronze: Diego Hypolito (BRA) — 15.7 — 2005, 2007 World champion; 2006 World silver medalist; 2011 World bronze medalist
4. Jacob Dalton (USA) — 15.6 — 2013 World silver medalist
5. Kim Hansol (KOR) — 15.5
6. Ryohei Kato (JPN) — 15.466
7. Eleftherios Kosmidis (GRE) — 15.05 — 2010 World champion
8. Rayderley Santana (ESP) — 13.9

Pommel Horse
Gold: Krisztian Berki (HUN) — 16.033 — 2012 Olympic champion; 2010, 2011 World champion; 2007, 2009 World silver medalist
Silver: Filip Ude (CRO) — 15.783 — 2008 Olympic silver medalist
Bronze: Cyril Tommasone (FRA) — 15.6 — 2011 World silver medalist
4. Saso Bertoncelj (SLO) — 15.533
5. Robert Seligman (CRO) — 15.4
6. Alex Naddour (USA) — 15.3
7. Andrey Likhovitskiy (BLR) — 15.2
8. Daniel Keatings (GBR) — 15.133

Still Rings
Gold: Liu Yang (CHN) — 15.933
Silver: Arthur Zanetti (BRA) — 15.733 — 2012 Olympic champion; 2013 World champion; 2011 World silver medalist
Bronze: You Hao (CHN) — 15.7
Bronze: Denis Abliazin (RUS) — 15.7
5. Samir Ait Said (FRA) — 15.566
6. Eleftherios Petrounias (GRE) — 15.4
7. Courtney Tulloch (GBR) — 15.4
8. Nikita Ignatyev (RUS) — 15.266

Kohei Uchimura’s coach: ‘He is not a human being’