The hearts of gymnastics fans around the world simultaneously shattered the second news of Asuka Teramoto’s Achilles injury was released. Teramoto was supposed to have a fairy tale ending to her gymnastics career by wrapping things up in the same city she made her international debut in at the Tokyo 2011 World Championships. With Teramoto out, selection for the 2020 Japanese Olympic team has become more of a toss-up for the Japanese Gymnastics Federation.
Teramoto was a crucial asset to the team, despite her short stature she competes a powerful handspring Rudi on vault. She’s also a very steady competitor on bars and beam, usually able to score in the mid to high thirteen range. Without the experience and contributions she offers, this is a big hit to the Japanese team. With a healthy Asuka Teramoto, I was predicting that the Japanese Olympic team would look something like
Mai Murakami (AA)
Asuka Teramoto (AA)
Hitomi Hatakeda (UB, FX)
Aiko Sugihara (VT, BB)
Using each member’s best international scores from the 2019 season, the scoring potential would look like this:
Using the top three scores on each event, this team would score a 164.4 which would have qualified in fifth place during qualifications at the 2019 World Championships. However, when we take Teramoto out and replace her with Nagi Kajita , the team situation would look something like this:
Using the top three scores for each event, this team would score a 162.8, which is 1.6 lower than the team with Teramoto.
Without the help of Teramoto, Japan could potentially miss the team final which would be devastating considering it’s their home Olympics. But I don’t think Japan needs to panic yet. They do have some new talented seniors like Chiaki Hatakeda who is age-eligible for Tokyo. You may remember her from several years ago when she competed a quadruple twist when she was 13. If she can clean up her execution a little bit, she has a very strong shot at making the team.
You may also be wondering about the current status of Sae Miyakawa. Unfortunately I haven’t seen any recent competition videos from Miyakawa, making it very difficult to pinpoint where she stands for possible team selection. She did compete at the 2019 All-Japan Championships, but she didn’t make a strong case for herself scoring only a 10.266 on floor. If she can regain her 2016 form, I think the best option for her would be to grab one of Japan’s specialist spots for vault and floor since a position on the four member team seems increasingly unlikely from her.
There is hope for Japan to send a strong team to Tokyo, but I think we know all too well about the Japanese Gymnastics Federation and their unpredictable selection policies.
Photo Credits: Zimbio