The women’s team final of the 2018 World Championships was held in Doha, Qatar on 30 October.
The United States won by miles (almost nine to be precise) with an outstanding 171.629. The U.S. had small hiccups here and there, but they put up an overall super solid performance, which shows that despite the shameful current state of USA Gymnastics, young gymnasts around the country keep training hard, and hard work pays off. After two solid DTYs by Grace McCallum and Morgan Hurd, Simone Biles performed her ‘easy’ vault, a superb Cheng, for a 15.500. On bars, Simone placed the highest score of the competition, a 14.866, but for me it was Riley McCusker who, for her lines and poise, really shined (14.500). Riley redeemed herself from a shaky qualification also on beam, with an outstanding routine (13.733). Kara Eaker shined again on beam with the highest score of the competition, a 14.333. On floor, it was Grace McCallum‘s turn to shine, with a very solid performance and a stuck double double, for a 13.633. Simone topped the rotation with a huge 14.766, despite flying out of bounds in her Moors, because… Simone!
Russia (162.863) had a shaky start on vault, with Liliia Akhaimova crashing her Rudi (13.233). The Russians, however, had a very strong competition on bars and – listen carefully – BEAM! On bars, Aliya Mustafina posted a 14.500 for a flawless routine, and went on to score a 13.266 on beam for an equally beautiful routine – the QUEEN. Irina Alexeeva also shined on bars (14.000) and beam 13.500, the highest score for Russia on this apparatus. She has really become an asset for this team, impressive! Liliia redeemed herself on floor with the highest score for Russia on this apparatus, a 13.100.
China suffered a few falls and mistakes, but this is a young team with great potential for the future (162.396). China’s best apparatus, funnily enough, was vault, where Liu Jinru scored a 14.366 and Zhang Jin a 14.433. On bars, the gymnasts showed off beautiful lines, but also a few mistakes, and the best score ended up Luo Huan‘s 14.466. No one talks about this gymnast, but she is a rock! On beam, Liu Tingting redeemed herself from qualifications with a 13.733, and on floor Jin scored a 13.333 for her big routine.
Fourth was Canada (161.644), its best finish ever at a World Championships! The highlight of the competition for them was Alabama freshman Shallon Olsen‘s Cheng, that scored an impressive 14.800. France was fifth, another impressive result for them this year (161.294). The French team recovered from a bad start by Louise Vanhille on floor to have a high-quality competition that is again very promising for the future. Among the highlights, Mélanie De Jesus Dos Santos performed beautifully on floor for an underscored 13.433, and Marine Boyer had one of her best beam routines ever for a 13.966.
Sixth was Japan (160.262). Despite a few mistakes, they will be happy with their competition. Mai Murakami was very solid, I hope it will boost her confidence for the all around tomorrow. Brazil was seventh, not a bad result considering that this is their first team final in eleven years, but I am sure they will be disappointed (159.830). They sat third after the third rotation, but had a disastrous rotation on bars, their final piece. They will need to work on nerves. Germany was eighth with a 159.428. The highlight of their competition came on beam, when Sarah Voss hit a beautiful set for a 13.600. Is she the same gymnast who fell three times at Euros a few months ago?!
It was a great and exciting competition, but my favourite thing about this final went beyond gymnastics. It was to see gymnasts and coaches from different teams interact with, help, cheer on and smile at each other all the way through. This was favoured by the new competition format: gymnasts in each rotation alternated, instead of competing separately by nation. The American and Russian gymnasts, in particular, were incredibly supportive of each other. This was probably partly due to the fact that Irina Alexeeva, who now competes for Russia, used to train at WOGA in Texas. Social media also help – Angelina Melnikova and Morgan Hurd follow each other on Twitter and are genuinely good friends. All gymnasts, moreover, were understandably in awe of the two queens, Simone Biles and Aliya Mustafina. I find it incredibly touching that twelve young women, the oldest being only twenty-four, do more for internationally diplomacy than international diplomacy. Respect!