1. Alicia Sacramone, United States
For the past two years, the former world floor champion and multiple world vault medalist has unfortunately been most associated with her disastrous performance in the team finals in Beijing. This year the popular Sacramone launched one of the most successful comebacks in gymnastics history, winning her first world vault title and finishing fifth in her first balance beam world final.
2. Aliya Mustafina, Russia
We all anticipated great things from this junior star as she transitioned to a senior athlete this year, but few of us foresaw the dominating performance that Mustafina delivered at her first world championships in Rotterdam. Her well-rounded difficulty, balletic style, poise, and confidence transported many fans back to her Russian predecessors of the 1980’s.
3. Tatiana Nabieva, Russia
Though still not a consistent all-arounder, Nabieva has some of the biggest tricks in the world – and an attitude to match. In 2010 she put together one of the most exciting bar routines of all time, featuring a spectacular toe-on laid out Tcatchev that’s never been done by a woman before.
4. Lauren Mitchell, Australia
After a very successful 2009 worlds, Lauren Mitchell’s confidence exploded this year as she again hit all four events in the world all-around final and won her first world title on floor exercise. She continued to sizzle in the post-worlds period, winning multiple international titles on beam, floor, and even on bars, her weakest event.
5. Rebecca Bross, United States
After a disappointing loss at the 2009 world championships, Bross charged through 2010 with all-around titles at the American Cup, Pacific Rim Championships, and USA National Championships. A fall on beam in the world all-around final kept her from challenging Mustafina for the title, but she still racked up an all-around bronze, a bronze on bars, and a silver on beam.
6. Ksenia Afanasyeva, Russia
Considered in 2009 to be one of the contenders for the world all-around title before dropping out with an injury, Afanasyeva has become known as much for her inconsistency as she has for her beautiful gymnastics. She showed up at this year’s Japan Cup and Pacific Rim Championships looking better than ever, and her brilliant new floor routine was an integral part of the Russian team’s gold medal in Rotterdam.
7. Ana Porgras, Romania
She made a name for herself in 2009 as a world contender on 3 out of the 4 events, and then returned from a broken foot this spring to win the world beam title and make her second straight world final on bars. Her style and confidence are reminiscent of 2004 Olympic Champion Catalina Ponor, but like Ponor, Porgras is one event shy of being a true all-around contender. If Porgras upgrades on vault, the other top all-arounders better watch out.
8. Mattie Larson, United States
Despite Mattie’s mishaps in Rotterdam, her win at the Covergirl Classic, a 2nd place finish at nationals, and a spot on her first world team still made 2010 the year of Mattie’s life. Her floor routine on Day 2 of the USA Nationals this year will go down as one of the most memorable ever done.
9. Jiang Yuyuan, China
After a mysterious two-year slump, many fans lost faith in the 2008 star who finished 5th all-around in Beijing and helped her team win Olympic gold. This year Jiang got her act together just in time for the world championships, where she put together her best all-around effort ever on the world stage to win the silver medal.
10. Vanessa Zamarripa, United States
A bit of a late bloomer in the sport, “Van Zam’s” transition from college star to world team contender was officially legitimized when she nailed one of the best vaults ever done – a near perfect “Cheng” – on the first day of nationals. Though she dropped out of the world team race and ended the year with a devastating torn Achilles, her charm, personality, and exquisite gymnastics were some of the highlights of both the NCAA and USAG seasons this year.
Jessica Lopez, Venezuela
She may not be from a powerhouse team, but in 2010 the little known Jessica Lopez became one of the most beautiful gymnasts to watch in the world. Her rock solid performance at the American Cup set the stage for the best year of Jessica’s life, which included consistent international showings on all four events and a top ten all-around finish at the world championships.