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Thursday, April 25, 2024

When Was the Final Time a Reigning All-Round Champion Misplaced in All-Round Finals? – An Previous Faculty Gymnastics Weblog


Name it an indication of the occasions we stay in, however there’s at the moment a statistic in ladies’s inventive gymnastics (WAG) that’s so baffling, it makes me surprise how this present period shall be interpreted by followers in future many years. This statistic was made attainable solely by a mix of unprecedent geopolitical occasions that don’t have anything to do with sports activities, coupled with one of the vital surprising moments in Olympic historical past, all whereas occurring alongside a as soon as in a century pandemic.

The statistic in query is that that of the final 4 gymnasts to win the gold medal within the All-Round, in all 4 instances it marked the final time they competed in a serious All-Round Finals. Consequently, all 4 gymnasts can say they’ve but to be overwhelmed and have but to have their crown taken away by a fellow rival. The 4 gymnasts in query are:

Simone Biles of the USA (2019 World Championships)
Sunisa Lee of the USA (2021 Olympics)
Angelina Melnikova of Russia (2021 World Championships)
Rebeca Andrade of Brazil (2022 World Championships)

Simone Biles received the All-Round in conventional style on the 2019 World Championships. However then issues obtained bizarre when the 2020 Olympics had been delayed till 2021. Throughout these Olympics Simone famously withdrew from All-Round finals after experiencing a bout of “the Twisties.” This allowed Sunisa Lee to take the All-Round gold medal and surpass Simone Biles, however solely doing so beneath circumstances the place she wasn’t competing instantly towards Simone.

Subsequent got here the 2021 World Championships which as a result of Covid-19 Pandemic, had been caught up in a scheduling quirk. By no means earlier than had the All-Round been contested twice in a single 12 months, nor held instantly after the Olympics in a time interval the place most of the prime gymnasts usually take a relaxation interval from high-level competitors. This allowed Angelina Melnikova to win the All-Round, however doing so in a contest the place neither Sunisa Lee nor Simone Biles had been in attendance, whereas Rebeca Andrade was current however opted to not compete as an All-Arounder.

However then got here Russia’s conflict towards Ukraine leading to Russian athletes together with Melnikova being banned from competitors as a conflict sanction. This resulted in organizers for the 2022 World Championships awkwardly selling Melnikova because the reigning #1 gymnast on their occasion web site, for a contest the place she was banned from competing or defending her title. This allowed Rebeca Andrade to win the All-Round on the 2022 World Championships in a contest the place Melnikova, Sunisa, and Biles had been all absent.

Thus finishing a 4 12 months interval the place ladies’s gymnastics produced 4 totally different All-Round Champions, with none occasion of the earlier gold medalist instantly shedding to the brand new victor.

As a fan of the game, this can be a quite distinctive time interval as a result of we’ve got 4 consecutive situations the place a extremely adorned gymnast reached a high-point in her profession, with out having any type of closure to their present run of success. 4 gymnasts have concurrently watched their careers rise, with no “fall” in sight or something resembling a climatic finish.

However what makes this present pattern so fascinating is that none of those gymnasts have deliberately prevented one another. All 4 gymnasts have made a real effort to stay on the highest stage of competitors and attend the 2024 Olympics in prime form.

For Sunisa Lee and Simone Biles, it’s completely regular for a high-ranking American gymnast to take a hiatus spanning 1.5 years which is precisely what Aly Raisman and Gabby Douglas did up to now. Within the case of Sunisa Lee, she can be competing through the period of an unprecedented NCAA rule change (NIL) the place present Olympic superstars can now concurrently money in on post-Olympic sponsorships whereas sustaining NCAA eligibility.

This by no means earlier than seen situation made Sunisa Lee the first-ever Olympic All-Round Champion to compete as a school gymnast. Sunisa Lee was the primary of her variety having the ability to make the most of a rule change that had beforehand restricted high-level Olympic gymnasts from competing NCAA as a substitute of elite. Contemplating Sunisa intends to return to elite competitors by the Summer season of 2023 regardless of being hospitalized with a non-gymnastics associated medical situation earlier within the 12 months, she is the final gymnast who might ever be accused of making an attempt to dodge a top-level matchup.

The identical could possibly be stated for Simone Biles whose Tokyo-2021 Olympic expertise was so terrible and got here with such taxing media scrutiny, it’s comprehensible why she would need to wait so long as attainable earlier than returning to competitors within the Paris-2024 Olympic cycle. Simone Biles is just not solely essentially the most adorned gymnast within the historical past of the World Championships, however has already had one of many longest careers amongst any gymnast to have ever received the All-Round. If there’s one gymnast that has earned the proper to skip a contest as a result of she is an getting old veteran who needs to protect her physique, whereas having nothing left to show with any future success being merely a bonus on prime of a storied profession, it’s Simone Biles.

However Simone Biles has all of the indicators of a gymnast who’s coaching exhausting for a future look in high-level competitors together with the current announcement that she is going to compete alongside Sunisa Lee within the U.S. Basic later within the Summer season.

After which there’s Angelina Melnikova who’s with out exaggeration essentially the most aggressive gymnast of the previous decade in relation to attending any and each competitors accessible to her. Beginning along with her senior debut in 2016, Angelina Melnikova has by no means missed a European Championships, World Championships, or Olympics from 2016 to 2021. The lone exception being the 2020 European Championships which she was barred from competing in attributable to Covid-19 restrictions.

Angelina Melnikova solely appeared to be getting higher and higher with every passing competitors. Her success had lastly culminated in successful the celebrated All-Round gold medal in late 2021. However earlier than Melnikova might comply with up on that success, Russia was banned from competitors in early 2022. But Melnikova continues to coach and compete in Russian home competitors, nonetheless making an attempt to be an athlete, even whereas having no high-level competitors to try for.

Lastly, there’s Rebeca Andrade who has solely competed in All-Round Finals on three events within the eight years she has been eligible for high-level competitors on the Olympics and World Championships stage. However Andrade has suffered three ACL tears in her profession which explains her quite a few absences. Many gymnastics followers (myself included) are of the opinion that each one the gold medals Andrade has received in her final three main competitions are proof that Rebeca has all the time been one of the vital gifted gymnasts within the sport, it was a longstanding historical past of accidents that had prevented her from proving her true capabilities till now.

None of those 4 gymnasts have proven something to point their careers are on the decline. Melnikova and Andrade are two long-time veterans who’ve simply begun to hit their stride and enter essentially the most dominant portion of their careers. Sunisa Lee continues to be a comparatively younger star with untapped potential for the long run. And Simone Biles will all the time have the potential to be a gold medal menace. Whereas it must be famous that Simone was at her most dominant kind proper up till the 2021 Olympics.

The final time a reigning All-Round Champion was truly defeated in an All-Round Finals was Morgan Hurd on the 2018 World Championships. If we didn’t have the context of Simone Biles dominating the game within the 2013-2018 period and solely seemed on the sport utilizing outcomes from 2019-2023, followers can be utterly divided over which of those 4 gymnasts was actually the highest menace for the 2024 Olympics.

Sunisa Lee, Angelina Melnikova, Simone Biles, and Rebeca Andrade have by no means appeared collectively in the identical All-Round Finals. It was solely on the 2019 World Championships and 2021 Olympics that 3 of 4 had been in the identical All-Round Finals. In the meantime the World Championships in 2017, 2021 and 2022 featured simply 1 of 4 gymnasts.

The climatic showdown between these 4 gymnasts will doubtless by no means come. Angelina Melnikova is at the moment beneath a conflict ban that not solely has no finish in sight, however even Russian officers have begun to publicly acknowledge that their outlooks for being allowed to take part on the 2024 Olympics in gymnastics are grim. For Melnikova, essentially the most life like situation is the conflict ban received’t be lifted till no less than the Los Angeles-2028 Olympic quad, a time interval the place Biles will probably be retired.

The Covid period of gymnastics shall be remembered for these 4 gymnasts and their All-Round prowess, but paradoxically these gymnasts didn’t have all that many encounters with one another within the All-Round. And positively not through the time interval when all 4 gymnasts had been on the top their success.

Between Sunisa, Melnikova, Andrade, and Biles, none of those gymnasts have instantly competed towards another member of the quartet on greater than two events. Of the 4 gymnasts, Angelina Melnikova has essentially the most All-Round appearances within the 2016-2022 period. However Melnikova has confronted Biles solely two occasions in All-Round Finals, Sunisa Lee two occasions, and Rebeca Andrade on one event. That’s the sum whole of any of those private rivalries.

Which brings me again to the unique query that impressed this text. How will future generations of WAG followers interpret the present period of gymnastics?

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