Men’s Floor Highlights
Kohei Uchimura’s unveiling of the extremely rare triple twisting double back – a skill competed by only a very small handful of gymnasts EVER – appeared so effortless that the judges somehow completely missed it! Flavius Kozci’s 3 ½ twist to punch front full is an unprecedented pass that he’s been nailing throughout this meet, though it seemed somewhat unappreciated by the judges in this final. I felt his 8.633 execution score was too low and cost him a rightful spot on the podium. Israel’s Alexander Shatilov secured an individual ticket to the Olympics in London with his world bronze medal here in Tokyo. Shatilov’s opening pass – also done by Russia’s David Belyavskiy – is a unique, difficult, and almost “elegant” appearing skill that is refreshing to see. He perhaps deserved to outscore Zou Kai, whose sloppy presentation hasn’t improved one bit over the last four years. Finally, having two Americans in this final – who also happen to be teammates at the University of Oklahoma – was quite special for this team. If Steven Legendre could have stuck a few more landings (tends to land with arms down rather than actively trying to stick), and if Jake Dalton had landed his first pass as well as he typically does, both could have easily ended up on the podium.
Women’s Vault Highlights
Kayla Williams became America’s first world vault champion two years ago, and remarkably, the Americans haven’t been defeated in the world vault finals since. McKayla Maroney’s gold medal here was absolutely indisputable, and not only cements her as the world’s best vaulter, but firmly establishes her value to Team USA for next summer’s Olympics. After appearing to be at the end of her career with another torn Achilles in 2008, the legendary 36-year-old Oksana Chusovitina has defied reality once again. She’ll probably need to dust off her twenty-year-old trophy case and make room for yet another well-deserved world vault medal, which she earned with her trademark handspring Rudi and Tsukahara 1 ½ twist. And Vietnam’s Thi Ha Thanh Phan’s bronze medal was quite an emotional moment, not only because it was her country’s first ever world championship medal, but because it also earned her a surprising ticket to next year’s Olympic Games.
Men’s Pommel Horse Highlights
Krisztian Berki’s world title here also cements his first ever trip to the Olympic Games. Perhaps seeing even Kohei Uchimura bucked off the pommel horse was a bit unsettling for some of the gymnasts, as half the gymnasts fell off during this final. This allowed for Great Britain’s Louis Smith – who had some form breaks and nearly collapsed on his dismount himself – to still end up with a medal. His incredibly gutsy triple Russian on one pommel was a big reason why.
Women’s Uneven Bars Highlights
Several notable absences certainly detracted from the excitement of this final – such as world and Olympic bars champion He Kexin, defending world bars champion Beth Tweddle, and Germany’s Elizabeth Seitz. And watching the self-destruction of France’s Youna Dufournet – who has finally returned to top form after being injured last year and has looked fantastic here in Tokyo – was heartbreaking. But it was perhaps some revenge for the Russians, whose gold and silver from Viktoria Komova and Tatiana Nabieva were well deserved. And after falling in team finals and putting her Olympic hopes in jeopardy, Huang Qiushuang earned some redemption here herself with the bronze medal. What an experience for the “flying squirrel,” Gabrielle Douglas, whose Olympic chances have done nothing but skyrocket after her performance here in Tokyo.
Men’s Rings Highlights
Chen Yibing is well on his way to establishing himself as the greatest ringsman of all time. While some might argue he’s already earned this distinction, his results haven’t quite matched Italian beast Yuri Chechi, who won five world rings titles from 1993-1997 and an Olympic gold in 1996 (also won Olympic bronze during a comeback in 2004). Chen Yibing now has four world titles and one Olympic title on the same event. If he wins a second Olympic title in London next year, perhaps we can finally grant him this honor.