The first day of men's qualification concludes with session four at the 46th Artistic Gymnastics World Championships at the SSE Hydro Arena in Glasgow, Scotland. Pictured: Oleg Stepko (Azerbaijan)
The first day of men's qualification concludes with session four at the 46th Artistic Gymnastics World Championships at the SSE Hydro Arena in Glasgow, Scotland.
The competition is the first of two qualifications for next year's Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Only the top eight countries will clinch berths to send teams to the Olympics. Teams finishing ninth to 16th will advance to the second Olympic qualification next April in Rio, where four more teams will earn tickets to the Olympics. Also at stake are spots in the all-around final (top 24) and apparatus finals (top eight on each event). Individual gymnasts competing without teams can earn automatic berths to Rio by winning a medal in Glasgow.
Mixed Group 22: Floor Exercise
Mixed Group 22 features the former Soviet republics of Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan. Azerbaijan is represented by former Ukrainian team members Oleg Stepko and Petro Pakhnyuk. Stepko is finally healthy after a long period of injury in 2013 and 2014, and in 2015 won World Cup titles on parallel bars in Doha and Varna. He also took second all-around and another gold on parallel bars at the European Games this summer in Baku. Pakhnyuk was 15th all-around at last year's world championships, but suffered a partially torn biceps in Baku. 2008 Olympic p-bars bronze medalist Anton Fokin (Uzbekistan) is seeking another ticket to the Olympics after an untimely injury prevented him from competing at the 2012 qualification event.
Jossimar Calvo (Colombia)
Mixed Group 8: Pommel Horse
The Dominican Republic, Israel and Jamaica compete in Mixed Group 8. Jamaica has only recently developed a top-level team, coached by Japanese Shin Nishida, who moved to the Island in 2004. Nicholas Tai is coached by Nishida in Kingston, while former British team member Reiss Beckford and Jamaican-American Caleb Faul (University of Iowa) train abroad. Beckford, whose grandparents were Jamaican, switched nationalities earlier this year. He trains alongside British Olympian Max Whitlock at South Essex Gymnastics Club. Israel's biggest star remains two-time Olympian Alexander Shatilov. His bronze medal on floor at the 2011 Worlds clinched his Olympic berth to London, and he is looking for a repeat performance in Glasgow.
Mixed Group 15: Still Rings
With three gymnasts each, Austria and Slovakia make up Mixed Group 8. 2012 Olympian Fabian Leimlehner helped Austria place 27th at the 2014 Worlds. Slovakian Olympian Samuel Piasecky, eighth on parallel bars at the 2010 Worlds, has a shot at the finals again.
Korea is competing without its top star, world and Olympic vault champion Yang Hak-Seon, who was unable to compete with a leg injury. The team was 10th in 2014 and is most likely hoping for a top 16 finish in Glasgow. Korea has medal hopes in Kim Han-Sol, who was fifth on floor in 2014 and is a potential finalist on vault as well, where he is the co-creator of the triple-twisting Yurchenko, now named the "Kim-Shirai." Another medal contender is veteran Yoo Won-Chul, the 2008 Olympic silver medalist on high bar.
Greece: Parallel Bars
Perennial still rings finalist Eleftherios Petrounias finally took gold this year at the European Championships in Montpellier, where he scored a rare 16.000, and followed it with another gold at the European Games in Baku. Former world champion Vlasios Maras, 32, is hoping for a medal on high bar to clinch another Olympic berth.
Colombia: High Bar
Colombia was a best-ever 17th at the 2014 Worlds, and a top-16 finish in Glasgow is not out of the question. Jossimar Calvo, Colombia's greatest gymnast yet, is a potential medalist on pommel horse, parallel bars and high bar. He's most impressive on parallel bars, where he scored 15.950 at this year's World Cup in Anadia. He's also capable of being in the top group in the all-around, having placed 10th in 2014. The 2011 Pan American Games champion, Calvo missed out on a trip to the Olympics after a poor showing at the London test event (37th), and he would no doubt breathe a sigh of relief with a medal in Glasgow.
Next Up: Competition resumes Monday morning with full teams from France and Ukraine!
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