Hold Your Breath: 2021 World Championships Men’s Qualifications Recap

What would men’s qualification at a World Championships be without major drama? This time around, a gymnast from one of the earlier subdivisions tested positive for COVID-19, causing the event staff to pause subdivision 6 for a cleanup with such deep thoroughness you would have though they were cleaning up after a nuclear fallout. The delay caused by the cleanup protocols had some adverse affects on some of the athletes, one being Rhys McClenaghan who attributed his pommel mistakes to the slippery, chalkless pommel horse.

On another note, Hashimoto Daiki and Zhang Boheng currently top the all-around standings after qualifications. Hashimoto, the defending Olympic all-around champion, and Zhang, the new hope of Chinese gymnastics, will battle for the gold medal after just 0.134 separates them in the all-around. Both have qualified to several event finals with Hashimoto qualifying to floor, pommel horse, parallel bars, and high bar, while Zhang qualifying to rings and parallel bars, unfortunately missing the floor final after some deep landings.

Qualifying in third to the all-around final is Adem Asil from Turkey, one of the athletes contributing to Turkey’s recent meteoric rise in gymnastics. Although he didn’t qualify for any event finals, he will be in the hunt for an all-around bronze medal. That is unless Shi Cong, the 2018 Junior Asian Champion, comes to make an upset. Shi Cong had a great day, qualifying third into the parallel bars final with a 15.233 and showed beautiful releases on high bar such as a Liukin.

One of the highlights of the day was seeing Carlos Yulo’s floor redemption after struggling in Tokyo. Yulo’s impeccable execution adds another layer of stylishness that differentiates him from the other competitors. In addition to the 15.166 he earned on floor, he unexpectedly took the highest parallel bar score of the day with a 15.566.

Another floor highlight was watching the Italian men show us the artistry is not dead in men’s floor. Specifically Nicola Bartolini and Thomas Grasso showed beautiful routines that transported me back to an earlier era of men’s floor with fluidity, originality, rhythm, and everything else you ever hoped and dreamed for. Bartolini was rewarded with a 14.966, qualifying to the floor final in second.

On pommel horse, Weng Hao gloriously took the top spot with a 15.600, showing off impressive difficulty and stretched, open hips. Unless Stephen Nedoroscik ups his difficulty to his max (he’s gone 6.7 before), overtaking Weng could be a steep challenge. Right behind Nedoroscik is teammate Alec Yoder, a 2020 Olympic pommel horse finalist. The American men opted to take two pommel horse specialists, sacrificing an all-around slot, and based on the way both Yoder and Nedoroscik looked, Brett McClure is probably jumping for joy.

Baby Ukrainian Nazar Chepurnyi currently leads qualifications on vault after drilling his Dragalescu averaging a 14.833. Also averaging a 14.833 is casually Yang Hakseon, just the 2012 Olympic vault champion. After being riddled with injuries, Yang will be looking to reclaim his World Championships vault title, something he hasn’t done since 2013. Unfortunately event final prospect, Donnell Whittenburg missed the vault final, even after successfully competing his Ri Se Gwang, earning him one of the single highest vault scores of the competition.

Beyond the greatness of Carlos Yulo, I was really excited about seeing Yul Moldauer qualify for the parallel bars final. His upgraded routine with the addition of the Fokin (Layout half turn to arms) brings his D-score up to 6.4. Impressively four of the gymnasts entering the parallel bars final finished with an E-score at a 9.0 or higher. With E-scores being tight, it may come down to difficulty to see who will win.

Defending Olympic high bar champion, Hashimoto Daiki qualified first into high bar finals with a 14.633, showing this routine has become like clockwork for him. However high bar specialist, 3X Olympic Champion, 10X World Champion, hometown hero: Uchimura Kohei could upset for the title. Uchimura played it safe and caught several of his release close, including his Brettschneider which he missed several times in warm-ups.

Full results can be found here

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