With the 2016 Rio Olympic Games starting this weekend, many people have been presenting their previews and predictions for this competition, which should be the highest point of the gymnastics sport. However, I’ve decided to deviate from reality and wonder around in dreamland to bring you my biggest dreams and wishes for these Games. After all, dreaming is free! (thanks to Cristiano Ronaldo for this super inspirational quote)
1. Team medal for Great Britain
If you’ve watched last year’s World Championships, you know Russia basically melted down during team finals counting four falls and Great Britain managed to sneak in and win the Bronze medal. Realistically, it’s unlikely Russia would have that same scenario two years in a row but Great Britain is still going strong and ready to fight for a place in the podium if the higher contenders make mistakes. Just look at Euros. They were in first place after qualifications so it’s definitely possible. Let’s just see how things will work out for them in Rio. Fingers crossed!
2. Filipa Martins making the All-Around Finals
Okay, this might not make sense for most people but I’m Portuguese and Filipa is Portugal’s best gymnast in like ever. She didn’t make AA Finals last year but she did make it in 2014 so it could happen again. While many fans are rooting for their favorites to medal, sometimes you have to adjust your goals and for Filipa making AA Finals at the Olympics is the ultimate goal. She has posted low 14s on vault, bars and floor and if she puts her best effort together on the same day, she could score in the 55-56 range, which hopefully is enough for All-Around.
3. AA medal for Aly Raisman
I’ve been a fan of Aly since 2010. Everyone complains about her form (which, I admit, is nowhere near perfect) but I always loved her and wanted everything good for her. Then 2012 came along and some people didn’t even wanted her to make the Olympic Team. However, she did make the team and was the most decorated American gymnast at the Games with 3 medals (Gold on floor and team and Bronze on beam). But all-around was in no one’s mind with Gabby Douglas and Jordyn Wieber the clear favorites to represent the USA. And yet at the end of qualifications, Aly managed to score higher than her teammates and made the AA final. I confess, I cried. Then in AA Finals she had the most wobbly beam routine of her career and ended up tied with Aliya Mustafina for bronze. Since the IOC doesn’t like ties, tie-breaker rules came into place and Aly finished fourth. She should have gotten that Bronze four years ago and so I hope she will be able to redeem herself and get that Olympic AA medal this time around.
4. Bars Gold for Becky Downie
Becky has won Gold on bars at Euros in 2014 and 2016 but Worlds haven’t seen the same success. Sometimes she misses in qualifications, sometimes she misses in the final, and the medals just don’t go her way. But she definitely has the difficulty (6.9) and the execution to make it, she just has to put everything together at the same time. She’s planning on doing a simpler routine for qualifications and then go all out in the final. Let’s hope it works out her way because I need those British happy tears.
5. Beam Gold for Sanne Wevers
I’ll be honest: prior to last year Sanne Wevers was just a vague name for me. I didn’t exactly follow Dutch gymnastics and she hadn’t made that many finals for me to know her work. And then I finally paid attention to her beam. After one routine, I was hooked. There was no going back. I love crazy acrobatics but, damn, I love beautiful and fluid dance elements so much more! She went on to win Silver on beam at Worlds and since then has upgraded her beam that now can get as high as 6.9 in D-score if everything is credited. Please just hit everything and win that Gold. I’m sorry Simone, but just this once I’m not rooting for you.
6. Beam medal for Flávia Saraiva
Also on beam, we have Flávia Saraiva (or Flavinha). She’s a tiny little gymnast but she’s great on beam and floor. And while her low difficulty will most likely keep her out of the floor final, beam is a very realistic role. She has to hit, though. And that doesn’t always happen. She has the potential to win a medal, specially if other make mistakes, but she needs to hit in qualifications and in the final, which could be tricky. Nonetheless, Flavinha is competing at home and her Brazilian fans will support her all the way so that could make the difference between not making finals and winning a medal.
7. Seda Tutkhalyan hitting beam (just once, please)
If you follow gymnastics, you know it is an unpredictable sport. Falls and mistakes happen at every corner and no one is safe. However, some people just fall more than others. And Seda is one of those people. Beam is her most difficulty event. She has the potential to win World and Olympic medals but she has terrible consistency. She falls more often than not and putting her up on beam during a team final (which Russia will have to do) is always a huge gamble. I don’t expect beam medals from Seda or anything but I just want her to hit her routine once. It doesn’t even have to be flawless, just please stay on for once.
8. Floor medal for Shang Chunsong
Despite being one of the smallest athletes in this sport, Shang Chunsong is one powerful gymnast. Last year she finished fourth in the Floor final and many people thought she should have medalled so hopefully this year things will be better. She has a 6.7 difficulty and a good enough execution most of the time to make her a contender so it’s all about hitting everything at the right moment. And she definitely deserves an Olympic medal after amazing performances all quad long.
9. AA medal for Oleg Verniaiev
Showing some love to MAG, Oleg Verniaiev is my favorite. Always and forever. But just like Seda, if there is one certainty in this Universe is that Oleg will make mistakes during AA Finals. He has scored several times in the 92s at Euros, European Games, National Championships, etc, but he always has a fall or a big mistake at Worlds. If he puts everything together, he could even challenge Kohei Uchimura for Gold (if he makes mistakes, obviously)! But he must have the best night of his life to finally reach that podium. This would probably be my biggest wish for these Games because it’s so frustrating to know an athlete has the potential to be great but then just finishes fourth all the time because of mistakes. Please let it be different just this once.
10. Pbars Gold for Oleg Verniaiev or Manrique Larduet
Finally, even if Oleg doesn’t win a medal in the AA, parallel bars is his event. He was World Champion is 2014 and won Silver in 2015, along with several Gold, Silver and Bronze medals from Euros and Universiade. He has crazy difficulty and is mostly consistent but everyone else is catching up so he needs to be basically perfect to win the Gold. Besides Oleg, Manrique Larduet is also great on parallel bars. He has recently been training a 7.1-difficulty routine and has won medals at several Pan American Championships so he could definitely be a contender. A medal for each of these two boys and I’ll be happy.
That said, after following gymnastics for several years, I am completely prepared to have most of these dreams crushed by the ruthlessness of this sport. Nevertheless, I’m still holding out hope because this is gymnastics and anything can happen and you just never now. On the other hand, I’m sure there will be surprises none of us anticipated and that will make these Games memorable for years and years. After all, that is the magic of this sport! Feel free to post in comments your dreams for these Games. I would love to read them.