- Russians favored to win their first ever world team title: Since the breakup of the Soviet Union into its individual republics after the 1992 Olympics, no former Soviet republic on the women’s side has won a world or Olympic gymnastics team title. “Russia” as we now know it has won multiple silver and bronze medals since it first competed as a team in 1994, but never the gold. Out of the 12 world or Olympic team titles awarded since 1992, Romania has won 7, the U.S. has won 3, and China has won 2. Could this highly touted Russian team restore the tradition of its dominant Soviet predecessors of the 1980’s and early 1990’s and finally stand atop the podium again?
- Bross vs. Mustafina: Arguably the two favorites for the all-around crown, the fact that the American and Russian are so evenly matched provides the perfect setup for an intriguing all-around battle. Rebecca Bross has one world championships and a year of international success under her belt, while Aliya Mustafina will make her world debut here in Rotterdam. Either could easily seize the crown with a four-for-four performance on the big night…when every single tenth will be critical.
- American women attempt to defend world title: Although the Chinese hold the current Olympic team gold, it is the Americans who will actually be defending the title of world team champions, which they earned in Stuttgart in 2007. With three veterans and three rookies, the U.S. has a wonderful mix of talent and will need spotless performances on the uneven bars and balance beam in particular to hold off the powerful Russians and Chinese.
- Spectacular comebacks: Several stars from Beijing have been out of commission for the past two years but are back in world class shape and ready to challenge for medals. American Alicia Sacramone and Germany’s Oksana Chusovitina will be favorites for the vault title, Olympic floor champion Sandra Izbasa of Romania has recovered from a torn Achilles, Jiang Yuyuan and Ksenia Afanasyeva have reemerged as all-around contenders, and Vanessa Ferrari and Jade Barbosa are looking stronger than they have since 2008.
- Romanians rejuvenated: With its newly reinstated legendary coaching staff, the return of its Olympic floor champion Izbasa and world all-around threat Ana Porgras, improved uneven bars routines, and an unforgettable history at this exact same venue in 1987, the Romanians could very well provide some memorable highlights at the Ahoy Arena in Rotterdam.
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