Day Two of men’s artistic gymnastics qualifications certainly had its surprises, but now that all the dust has settled, teams, all-arounders, and event finals are decided and the men are preparing for finals on Wednesday.
Here are the top storylines from Monday.
Top eight teams qualify for finals
The World Championships the year before the Olympics is even more important than other years, as it decides which teams will compete at Tokyo 2020. The top eight teams in this competition will go on to compete in the World Finals, and the top 12 get to compete in Tokyo 2020.
That was a brilliant performance by our men’s team!— British Gymnastics (@BritGymnastics) October 7, 2019
There’s 1 subdivision left, but with only 3 teams competing in it, it’s a guaranteed team final as we’re currently placed 5th!
Incredible job by the team 🇬🇧🇬🇧🇬🇧🙌👏#Stuttgart2019 pic.twitter.com/ARyKAUWeIi
The top eight, who will compete on Wednesday for the MAG team final are, in order: Russia (259.928), China (258.354), Japan (258.026), Ukraine (253.528), Great Britain (252.409), Switzerland (251.400), USA (250.359), and Chinese Taipei (250.093).
Joining these eight teams at the 2020 Olympics but not competing for the World Championships title on Wednesday are the Republic of Korea (249.651), Brazil (247.727), Spain (246.727), and Germany (246.508).
Sam Mikulak unexpectedly makes all-around finals
Sam Mikulak, a U.S. favorite and two-time Olympic gymnast, normally would have qualified for the all-around finals easily, but he did not have his best day and landed tied for 24th place. He won the tiebreaker with Loris Franca, a French gymnast, and barely made the all-around final. Both gymnasts scored an 81.596, leaving Franca as the first reserve.
Ironically, as much as USA gymnastics fans hate the two-per-country rule, that very rule is the only reason Mikulak qualified. Ivan Stretovich (RUS), Deng Shudi (CHN), and Yevgen Yudenkov (UKR) were kept out of the final, with each of their countries qualifying two gymnasts ahead of them. Today this rule also helped Ludovico Edalli (ITA) and Milad Karimi (KAZ) qualify for all-around finals.
Mikulak fell four times during qualifications. He reflected on his rough performance, saying, “It took a long time to find ‘normal’ Sam. I don’t let mistakes build up in my mind, I always look for the next event, new opportunity. It just took a long time for me to finally catch my rhythm. I’m glad I finally got it on high bar, because that’s the event I prize the most in my ability as far as all-around finals go.” His performance on high bar today is below.
Pommel horse qualifications gained lots of attention
Great Britain's Max Whitlock competed today, taking first on pommel horse and qualifying to the event finals.
“I have the option to increase start value [in the final],” he said. “To be honest, there was so much pressure on me on that. Pressure keeps ramping up every single championship, so that is why I am so happy I got it today. Today was the first time I felt that much energy for a long, long time, it felt so different on the pommel horse today than it has done for the last two years. That was brilliant and gives me so much confidence.”
Whitlock scored the highest overall, getting a 15.266. He is the 2016 Olympic Champion on pommel horse, is a five-time Olympic medalist, and is a four-time medalist on pommel horse at worlds, two of which were gold and two that were silver.
Rhys Mcclenaghan took second on pommel horse, behind Whitlock by a mere 00.033 points. Mcclenaghan hit his leg on the pommel horse so he competed his easiest routine and plans to upgrade a few different skills for finals, including bringing his double Russian to a triple. His watered-down routine scored a huge 15.200, so he could give Whitlock some steady competition during event finals.
Mcclenaghan is the first Irish gymnast ever to make a worlds final. He tweeted how relieved he was to make the cut both for finals and the Olympics, sharing “I started my Olympic Campaign at 8 years old, this did not come easy. So much relief right now.”
Mcclenaghan competed on the first day of qualifications, but did not find out that he made event finals until today, when everyone finished competing. The men’s pommel horse finals got a lot of attention due to these two being neck and neck, as well as being an event with such high scores.