Can Kohei Make History? Kohei Uchimura has won the last two world all-around crowns, and has the unique opportunity in this year’s competition to become the first gymnast in history to win three consecutive world all-around titles. Kohei has shown his mortality here in Tokyo, suffering falls on vault in the qualifications and high bar during the team final, but he’s still been by far the best gymnast at these world championships and led the qualifications by nearly two points. If all goes as expected, watch for this legend-in-the-making to make history during this all-around final.
American Teens Confident Beyond Their Years. Still just 19 years old, Danell Leyva is already a veteran, competing in his third world championships here in Tokyo. While he shined in more of a specialist role at the 2009 and 2010 worlds, Danell has finally emerged this year as the world all-around contender he’s been capable of, making tremendous strides in his form, difficulty, consistency, and competitive confidence. The newly crowned 2011 U.S. national champion placed third all-around in the qualifications here and will be a front runner for an all-around medal if he can simply continue to do what he’s done throughout the team competition. His younger teammate, 18-year-old John Orozco, was perhaps the biggest surprise of the entire team competition, as he performed brilliantly on all six events in preliminaries and placed a remarkable 2nd place all-around behind Kohei Uchimura. After hitting four events again in the team final, could the budding young star make it three days in a row and land an unexpected place on the world all-around podium?
Blasts From The Past. Two medalists from the 2004 Olympic Games have qualified to compete in this year’s all-around final. China’s Teng Haibin, the 2004 Olympic pommel horse champion, returned to competition last year and has shown strong all-around capabilities, placing 11th at last year’s worlds and tying for this year’s Chinese national all-around title. Though he only qualified in 18th here in Tokyo, he could potentially be one to watch if he hits all six events. Romania’s Marian Dragulesu is a three time Olympian, having competed in the all-around finals in 2000 (13th) and 2004 (8th) and having won multiple world floor and vault titles over the last decade. He likely won’t contend for an all-around medal, but he’ll be a sentimental favorite and still has some of the best vaulting and tumbling in the world.
Update: Marian Dragulescu withdrew from the all-around final.
German Redemption. Philip Boy and Marcel Nguyen had much higher hopes for themselves and their German team here in Tokyo. With a somewhat disastrous performance on both days of the team competition, the defending world bronze medalists not only finished 6th as a team, but only qualified two gymnasts to the event finals – Fabian Hambuechen and Philip Boy on high bar. Even with some major mistakes in preliminaries, Boy and Nguyen qualified in 7th and 10th place into the all-around finals and could still contend for spots on the podium if they ‘re able to put their team nightmares behind them and hit six for six.
Style Points. There are several great all-around competitors who have the form and style to potentially challenge for medals in this all-around final. Ukraine’s Mykola Kuksenkov is a clean and elegant gymnast who finished 4th all-around at last year’s worlds and could find himself in the medal mix again here in Tokyo. Great Britain’s Daniel Purvis, 5th all-around in Rotterdam last year, is known for his sharp presentation and technical precision and again comes in as the 5th highest qualifier. The Russian duo of Emin Garibov and David Belyavskiy are both polished and well-balanced all-arounders who are fresh off an inspiring 4th place finish for Russia in the team final.