Great Britain are assured of a place in the women’s gymnastics team competition at the Olympics in Rio next summer after securing a top-eight place in qualifying at the World Championships in Glasgow.
As the competition moved into the latter stages last night, the women were sitting in third place with only four countries left to compete. And with eight places up for grabs in Brazil in 2016, that meant Britain could celebrate early.
It was the US team that dazzled yesterday, though, posting the top overall score to cement their status as heavy favourites.
The defending champions, led by two-time defending all-around champion Simone Biles and reigning Olympic champion Gabrielle Douglas, finished with a total 236.611, well ahead of second-place Russia to secure a spot in Tuesday’s team final.
Biles was nearly flawless on her way to 61.598, easily the best on a team filled with stars. Douglas advanced to the all-around finals with a 57.516. Three-time Olympic medalist Aly Raisman finished fourth in the all-around but will not compete in the finals because of rules limiting countries to two competitors in each event.
The US opened with a dynamic series of floor routines that sent a message it is primed for a repeat of last year’s success.
Earlier the Chinese women’s team eased through qualifying, though they were hardly sharp as they began their quest to track down the US. China posted a team total of 225.127 during a workmanlike performance, good enough to slot in behind Russia and Great Britain.
“We are not satisfied with our performance this morning, but if we should perform at our normal level, we can still get a medal,” said Chinese star Chen Siyi.
The scores will be reset for the eight-team final on Tuesday, giving the Chinese a couple of days to work on things after a surprisingly sloppy set on balance beam and uneven bars, where they are typically known for their elegant yet sophisticated routines.
China’s finish bumped Romania out of the top eight, meaning the Romanians must head to the Olympic test event in Brazil next April if they want to secure a spot in the 2016 Summer Games. It’s a stunning turn for a country that has won medals in the team portion of every Olympics since 1976.