Death-defying elements like the triple-back tucked (Liukin), triple-back piked (Nagornyy), and triple-twisting double layout (Shirai III) give you a taste of what kind of incredible elements we’ll see for the upcoming Olympic Games. The Tokyo Men’s floor final will be a culmination of the hardest elements in gymnastics all combined into one competition loaded with suspense and drama.
Before we go into more depth about what we’ll see in Tokyo, let’s review some of the men’s gymnastics floor basics:
First of all, let’s talk about the basic floor composition requirements every gymnast must have. By fulfilling each of the four requirements, the gymnast should have an automatic +2.0 under their belt for their difficulty score.
Requirement 1: Non-Acrobatic elements (+0.5)
Usually the afterthought in 99% of men’s floor routines, non-acrobatic elements are awkwardly wedged in the middle of the floor routine to serve as a breather and a time for the gymnast to show the judges they can do more than just tumble. The most common non-acrobatic elements are the Fedorchenko and the wide arm press-handstand. Sometimes gymnasts will opt to do a cooler element like flairs (a crowd favorite).
Requirement 2: Forward Elements (+0.5)
This one is pretty self-explanatory: forward elements are those that begin facing forwards upon takeoff. Elements like a basic front-tuck fulfill this requirement. One thing to note is unlike women’s gymnastics, the men do not consider Arabian elements (like a double-Arabian) a forward element. The most common forward element will be the double front in both the tuck and pike position. Front twisting direct combinations are also popular thanks to the precious opportunity to earn connection value.
Requirement 3: Backwards Elements (+0.5)
Also pretty self-explanatory, elements that takeoff backward fulfills this requirement. Elements can be as easy as a back layout, to as difficult as a triple-back.
Requirement 4: D+ Dismount (+0.5)
In contrast to the women’s code, the men are still required to finish with a minimum of a D-dismount. The most common D-elements on men’s floor are the 2.5 twist, the full-in, double Arabian, double-layout, and of course the triple-twist. Like if you don’t dismount with a triple twist who even are you?
Now that we’ve got some of the foundations out of the way, let’s talk about who to keep our eyes on for a spot in the floor finals:
Right now I would say there isn’t a clear favorite for the gold medal, but there is a top tier of gymnasts who are capable of challenging for gold, one being Artem Dolgopyat. Dolgopyat, a two-time World floor medalist, will certainly be eyeing the Olympic title. He recently debuted a triple-double as his third pass(!!!) so with difficulty like that, and the clean execution he’s known for, Dolgopyat solidifies himself as one of the top contenders for Olympic gold.
Casually debuting a triple-pike at the 2021 European Championships, Nikita Nagornyy is also a gold medal threat. A streak of errors in the last two major floor finals (2018 and 2019 World Championships) is something he will be looking to break in Tokyo with a clutch performance. If the rumors are true that he may attempt a full-twisting triple back, I would say he’s as close you can get for a gold medal favorite.
And how could I go on any farther without mentioning reigning floor World Champion Carlos Yulo? We haven’t seen any floor work from Yulo in 2021, but we did see a few upgrades at 2020 All Japan Championships (some worked out better than others) but the big question is will he still be at his level in 2019?
Also make sure to keep an eye on Rayderley Zapata from Spain, who recently debuted his brand new front full-twisting double layout in Doha a few weeks ago.
Another standout is Yahor Sharamkou from Belarus. Sharamkou is another member of the triple-back club. He has one of the most difficult floor routines in the world, and if he can hit as he did at the 2020 European Championships qualification round he could be a threat for a podium finish. Sharamkou’s weak point is consistency, as he only averaged a 14.05 so far this year. But if he can peak for the Olympics, don’t be surprised to see him near the podium.
Hovering under the shadows of the Nagornyys and the Dolgopyats of the world, I’m counting on Ryu Sunghyun to be a dark horse for a medal. The 2020 first year senior first caught my attention at 2019 Junior Worlds, where he won the floor title with impeccable twisting form. In 2020 he went on to win the 2020 Melbourne World Cup floor title with a 6.5 D-score where he stuck the crap out of his unusual 3.5 twist dismount.
I’m going to throw Hashimoto Daiki into this mix too. He’s not necessarily known as a floor specialist per se (especially in Japan with your Minami Kazukis and Shirai Kenzos and some guy you’ve never heard of before that threw a 7.2 D) but his performance at 2021 All-Japan Championships made him stand out as the top floor worker on the Japanese men’s team. His new upgrades, including a triple-double, make him stand out as an event-final contender.
I’m also going to add Xiao Ruoteng to the list of event final contenders. Xiao can be great on floor, but consistency is his weakness. He is the reigning floor World bronze medalist, and he did go 15.2 at the Chinese Olympic Trials. In order to get near the podium again, he’ll need a repeat of that performance.
What would a floor final be without Milad Karimi? Boasting one of the highest D-scores in the world (6.4) Karimi is in the mix for a final, however, for what he makes up in difficulty he lacks in execution. Sometimes his twisting form and landings can get a little haywire, but he has proven to still score well, most recently a 14.866 at the Osijek World Cup where he took the title.
Last but not least I’m going to talk about Yul Moldauer. Moldauer doesn’t have the difficulty to challenge the top floor contenders, but his E-score puts him in the mix for a spot in the final. At U.S. Olympic Trials he went 14.8 with a 9.0 E-score giving him the highest floor score of the entire trials. His strategy to hold back on difficulty and milk his E-score allowed him to take the bronze at 2017 Worlds and fourth in 2018. If any of the top tier floor workers falter, Moldauer could make an upset.
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