To do truly accurate gymnastics projections, we’d probably need spies in small gyms in China, Romania, Russia and elsewhere. We can’t do that, so we’ll just go with the 2011 World Championships and whatever we had from the previous list.
In women’s gymnastics, that means we’ll have near-total turnover. Few gymnasts last multiple Olympic cycles, and this time, we’ve seen world champions from 2-3 years ago fall far back. The USA had several gymnasts attempt comebacks, but the young guns are just too good.
Men’s gymnasts have a bit more longevity, so we have more competitions from which to choose. We’re a little more confident about those picks. Maybe.
(Update: I’m going to plug this informative gymnastics blog that is tracking each country’s participants through all the nagging injuries and team selection dramas.)
On to the rings, bars, ribbons, trampolines and horses (not the equestrian kind) …
ARTISTIC (no trampolines, no ribbons)
Men’s all-around: Japan’s Kohei Uchimura has won three straight world titles, with Germany’s Philipp Boy playing Alydar to his Affirmed — at least in the last two. Japan’s Koji Yamamuro took third, Britain’s Daniel Purvis fourth, the USA’s Jonathan Horton fifth. U.S. phenom Danell Levya had a nasty crash on the horizontal bar, a hiccup in an otherwise successful run at Worlds. Was JPN-GBR-USA; now Japan, Germany, Britain
Men’s team: China won the world title by a safe margin, with Japan beating the USA by 0.01 points for second. Look back on the previous picks, and you’ll notice a “China-Japan” theme. Germany had bumped the 2008 bronze medalist USA out of third in our original picks, but the USA looks ready to repeat, with four (Leyva, Horton, John Orozco and Jake Dalton) returning from the Worlds squad and all-arounder Sam Mikulak joining the mix. Was CHN-JPN-GER; now China, Japan, USA
Men’s floor exercise: Uchimura rules here, with China’s Zou Kai, Brazil’s Diego Hypolito and Israel’s Alexander Shatilov also on the podium at Worlds. (Yes, ties happen on occasion — this time, it was a tie for third.) Shatilov is a podium regular. USA’s Jake Dalton placed eighth. Was GRE-JPN-ISR; now Japan, China, Israel
Men’s horizontal bar: China’s Zou Kai is the reigning world and Olympic champion. China’s Zhang Chenglong made it 1-2 at Worlds, with Uchimura third. John Orozco made the final, but Horton took silver in 2008. The Netherlands’ Epke Zonderland slipped from second to fifth in 2011. Was CHN-NED-GER; now China, China, Netherlands
Men’s parallel bars: This is where Leyva shines. He won the 2011 world title ahead of Greece’s Vasileios Tsolakidis (who isn’t going to London) and China’s Zhang Chenglong, who shared second. Lurking in fourth: Uchimura. Was CHN-CHN-JPN; now USA, China, Japan
Men’s pommel horse: Not the usual suspects from the usual countries here — the 2011 podium was Hungary’s Krisztian Berki, France’s Cyril Tommasone and Britain’s Louis Smith. Berki and Smith have been consistent challengers in this Olympic cycle. The USA considered adding a horse specialist but did not. Australia’s Prasnanth Sellathurai slipped from the podium in past years to sixth in 2011, (UPDATE) and we’re told he didn’t make the team. Was HUN-GBR-AUS; now Hungary, Britain, France
Men’s rings: China’s Chen Yibing took this one ahead of Brazil’s Arthur Nabarrete Zanetti and Japan’s all-around star Yamamuro. No surprise — China owns this event. Horton was seventh for the USA. Was CHN-CHN-ITA; now China, Brazil, Japan
Men’s vault: 2008 medalists Thomas Bouhail (France) and Anton Golotsutskov (Russia) have been consistent finalists, and yet neither of them made it (UPDATE) for one reason or another. Golotsutskov took second at Worlds behind South Korea’s Hak Seon Yang, while Bouhail just missed the podium behind Japan’s Makoto Okiguchi. Russia had two of the top five, so they may make a run even without Golotsutskov. Was FRA-RUS-ROU; now South Korea, Russia, Japan
Women’s all-around: You might say the USA’s Jordyn Wieber had a breakthrough year in 2011. She won the world title, followed by Russia’s Victoria Komova, China’s Yao Jinnan and fellow American Aly Raisman. The top two were nearly a full point ahead of third place, and Yao was more than a point ahead of Raisman. Each country also had another gymnast in the top seven, so we feel pretty good about this. Was RUS-USA-CHN; now USA, Russia, China
Women’s team: Last year’s projection: Russia, USA, China. Last year’s world final: USA (by more than four points), Russia (by about 2.5 points), China (by 0.408 points over Romania). Four of the six gymnasts from that U.S. team return for the Games — Wieber, Raisman, U.S. trials all-around winner Gabby Douglas and vault champion McKayla Maroney — with 15-year-old Kyla Ross joining them. This will look familiar: Was RUS-USA-CHN; now USA, Russia, China
Women’s balance beam: A 1-2 for China at Worlds — Sui Lu and Yao Jinnan. Then a 3-4 for the USA — Wieber and Raisman. Then two Romanians and two Russians. China, China, Wieber, Raisman. Was ROU-USA-CHN; now China, USA, Romania
Women’s floor exercise: Russia’s Ksenila Afanaseva took the world title ahead of Sui and Raisman. China also took fourth; the USA (Wieber) also took sixth. British hopeful Beth Tweddle was seventh. Was AUS-RUS-ROU; now Russia, China, USA
Women’s uneven bars: Russia’s Victoria Komova and Tatiana Nabieva finished 1-2 at Worlds, followed by China’s Huang Qiushuang. Americans Wieber and Douglas were fourth and fifth. Japan also had two in the final. Nabieva isn’t listed on the Russian squad. Was RUS-GBR-USA; now Russia, China, USA
Women’s vault: Maroney won by a wide margin ahead of Germany’s Oksana Chusovitina and Vietnam’s Thi Ha Thanh Phan. That’s three straight world titles for the Americans, all with different gymnasts. No country had two finalists. Was USA-RUS-SUI; now USA, Germany, Vietnam
Team: Italy, Belarus and Russia had been the top three at the last two World Championships before 2011, when Belarus had a big slip-up and dropped to fourth. Russia moved up to second, and Bulgaria took third. The USA didn’t qualify, and there’s no reason to change the picks: Italy, Belarus, Russia
Individual: Russia, Russia … who? Last year, Azerbaijan’s Aliya Garayeva did the honors of joining Evgeniya Kanaeva and Daria Kondakova on the podium. Garayeva just missed out the year before. The USA will have a representative in Julie Zetlin. Belarus has a deep team with a couple of contenders, so we’ll stick with original picks: Russia, Russia, Belarus
Men’s: Chinese Olympic medalists Lu Chunlong and Dong Dong (no, we’re not making that up) finished 1-2 at Worlds ahead of Japan’s Masaki Ito. (The USA’s London-bound Steven Gluckstein was 28th.) What a coincidence — our original medal projection was China, China, Japan
Women’s: China’s He Wenna has the Olympic and world titles. Canada’s Rosannagh MacLennan, whose name ought to attract interest from any Scottish fans who wander down to London, has joined Karen Cockburn as a legit contender from her country. MacLennan placed second at Worlds ahead of China’s Li Dan and Cockburn. The USA’s Savannah Vinsant was seventh. Was CHN-CAN-GBR; now China, Canada, China