Worlds Preview: Men's Qualification, Session 3
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Japan's Kohei Uchimura begins his quest for an unprecedented seventh consecutive world all-around title.

The final qualification session of the day will be the most exciting yet, with host Canada competing alongside the three team medalists from Rio: Japan, Russia and China.

In a star-studded lineup, Japan's Kohei Uchimura still rules as the biggest name as he begins his quest for an unprecedented seventh consecutive world all-around title.

Floor Exercise: China, Canada and Mongolia

The host Canadian team shares the spotlight with China in this group. British Columbia's Zachary Clay is the only gymnast competing all-around. After tearing his ACL after the 2015 Worlds, he made his comeback at this year's Canadian championships, where he captured the all-around title. Olympian Scott Morgan is competing floor exercise and still rings. The Canadian team also includes two gymnasts from Quebec, René Cournoyer (competing four events) and Thierry Pellerin (pommel horse).

With no team title to worry about, China sent its top specialists and will be out for revenge after a dismal performance in Rio, where the team bronze was the only medal. China's lineup includes two-time Olympian Zhang Chenglong (2010 world champion on high bar), and 2016 Olympians Liu Yang (2014 world champion on still rings) and Lin Chaopan (2013 world champion on parallel bars). Xiao Ruoteng, 9th at the 2015 Worlds, and Lin will be competing all-around.

Both born in 1998, Weng Hao and Zou Jingyuan are making their world debuts, but could make big impacts. Pommel horse specialist Weng scored 15.400 at the 2017 World Cup in Baku, and Zou is incredible on parallel bars, scoring 16.166 at the World Cup in Doha.

Pommel Horse: Russia, Hungary and Latvia

Two-time Olympians Denis Ablyazin and David Belyavsky and 2016 Olympian Nikita Nagornyy headline a strong squad from Russia, which includes newcomers Arthur Dalaloyan and Sergei Yeltsov and veteran Nikita Ignatyev. At the Russian Cup in August, Ablyazin made a strong comeback after a break caused by chronic injuries to his feet, but they must have returned as in Montreal he's only in the lineup for still rings. Belyavsky, current European champion on pommel horse, barely lost to Nagornyy at the Russian Cup and is still searching for a major all-around medal. Dalaloyan had an outstanding European championships, finishing second all-around to Ukrainian Oleg Vernyayev and winning vault, but a disappointing performance at the Russian Cup (fourth) resulted in him being bumped from the all-around in Montreal in favor of Nagornyy. Nagornyy has potential for several finals, especially floor exercise, where his triple back is the best in the world.

Ignatyev was pulled from Russia's Olympic lineup in Rio at the last minute in favor of Ivan Stretovich (recoving from elbow surgery). He is in the lineup for high bar only, giving him just one chance to finally impress Russia's coaches at the world championships.

Hungary is without the services of world and Olympic pommel horse champion Krisztián Berki, who finished second to Belyavsky at Europeans (thanks to a .1 neutral deduction). Berki withdrew from worlds a few weeks ago because of a lingering shoulder injury that has not been responding to conservative treatment. With his ultimate goal being 2020, Berki saw no point in postponing surgery and decided to start recovery as soon as possible.

Still Rings: Australia and Japan

Undefeated since his silver medal at the 2008 Olympic Games, Kohei Uchimura is still going strong at 28. He originally planned to become an event specialist after last year's Olympics, where he won his second consecutive all-around title, but changed his mind and is gunning for a seventh consecutive world all-around title in Montreal. He captured this year's NHK Trophy with a two-day score of 172.900 (86.550 and 86.350), but was pushed by Olympic teammate Kenzo Shirai, who has made huge improvement in the all-around (scoring 86.450 and 86.100). Shirai, the two-time world champion on floor exercise and Olympic vault bronze medalist, is not just a specialist anymore.

Japan's lineup includes 2013 world pommel horse champion Kohei Kameyama, and world championships newcomers Keisuke Asato, Hidetaka Miyachi and Wataru Tanigawa.

Christopher Remkes is Australia's best shot at a final. So far this year Remkes won vault in Baku and took the silver medal at the World Cup in Melbourne.

Vault: Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Georgia

Former Soviet republics Azerbaijan, Georgia and Kazakhstan compete in the same group. Azerbaijan fired coach Pavel Netreba last fall, and he returned to Ukraine along with his gymnasts Pavel Pakhnyuk and Oleg Stepko, who both competed at the 2016 Olympics. Pakhnyuk is already back on the Ukrainian team while Stepko, who won the bronze medal on parallel bars at the 2015 Worlds, is taking time off while he considers his future. Azerbaijan sent two gymnasts to Montreal: Hungarian native Bence Tálas and Murad Agharzayev.

Georgia is going in the direction of Azerbaijan and has acquired several Russians. Dmitry Govorov and Konstantin Kuzovkov are competing in Montreal. (Alla Sotsnitskaya is also considering joining the Georgian women's team.) Kazakhstan sent three gymnasts and its best hope is 18-year-old Milad Karimi, a finalist on floor exercise in Baku.

Parallel Bars: Portugal, France and Slovenia

The French should have tremendous support in Montreal, and Samir Aït Saïd will no doubt be an audience favorite. Aït Saïd is back, 14 months after his horrifying leg injury in Rio, and is better than ever on still rings. Two-time pommel horse world medalist Cyril Tommasone is another potential finalist.

Sašo Bertoncelj is continuing the tradition of great pommel horse specialists from Slovenia, and the three-time world championships finalist is aiming for his first medal.

High Bar: Spain, Romania and Dominican Republic

Spain is without 2015 world floor exercise bronze medalist Rayderley Zapata, who tore his Achilles' tendon two weeks ago at the Paris World Cup. Veteran Marian Drăgulescu is still Romania's best medal shot, but is competing vault only.

Dominican Audrys Nin Reyes, who won vault at this year's World Cup events in Paris and Osijek and the University Games, has a real shot at becoming his country's first world medalist. Nin is outstanding on vault, where he risks the Ri (full-twisting Tsukahara double back).

Up next: The fourth and final qualification session for the men will be held Tuesday morning, featuring Brazil, Italy, Korea and the Netherlands. Follow IG on Facebook for live quick hits of the action in Montreal.

 

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