Should this Worlds have even happened this way?

I might have a change of heart as the week goes by, but seeing these results, I’m not sure that this event really can be fairly called a “World” Championships.

So many of the athletes are just not up for competition at this point. An enormous number of top athletes on both the men’s and women’s side just didn’t want to come. And the problem is not just at the highest levels. Some federations decided not to send teams and some sent very, very limited teams. (Brazil sent only Andrade, for example.) Women could qualify to the AA final with a 12.2 average across four events. We’ve never seen something like this before.

Speaking of Andrade – I just saw that Andrade didn’t do floor, and I had no idea she was doing 3 events. A little under 13.7 would have put her in the lead in the AA. A little under 12.4 would have kept her in second (ahead of Wong). She could have tumbled a double tuck, chucked a front full, and done her beam routine on the floor and gotten that score. I read somewhere that she said she was listening to her body, so I am wondering if she has a real injury or if she just didn’t value the AA title enough to go for it. (She did a floor at the Brazilian Champs a couple weeks ago.)

If I were into conspiracy theories, I would say that there was a deal between Andrade and Melnikova, because, really, it’s Melnikova’s to walk away with at this point.

What to do? After decades of post-Olympics Worlds have weak AA fields and limited participation, I wonder if FIG should accept things, scrap the AA, focus on apparatus, and maybe add in some kind of specialized team competition – maybe a joint men and women showdown, to make the event unique and interesting during the “post-Olympic recovery” year when results don’t matter as much to almost everyone.

Share your thoughts!

Looking at the top 12 countries only, then no, Worlds should not have happened. If we look beyond that, then yes, holding Worlds was a necessity.

Many federations are highly dependent on funding received for results from bigger competitions with Worlds ranking above World Cups for example. Without this year’s worlds their only good shot at Worlds would have been 2022, with 2023 being down to top 24 teams and individuals (I think?). So not offering this opportunity would just create a bigger gap beween top teams and lower-level teams because they would take a hit with funding.

Beyond that, Worlds is the highest attainable goal for many gymnasts and I’m glad they don’t have to wait another year for this opportunity.

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Occasional years of shallow participation are a normal consequence of annual world championships. So I don’t see any point to cancelling it just because the Olympics were delayed.

Figure skating always has a world championships following the Olympics even if it’s a depleted field.

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@arabiandoublefront Yes, that’s sort of a similar situation, right? And maybe a “Worlds” isn’t the right fit there either. Whenever you look back at the list of World Champions, you always have to say to yourself “Oh, but several athletes took the time off, so that explains how these skaters managed to get medals instead.”

Another consideration is the rule-changing that always happens after the Olympics. That first year is always bumpy – people don’t quite know what is expected or how strictly the deductions will be taken, etc.

How would you put each of the post-Olympics Worlds into the categories below? Here’s my draft, but I am interested in people’s feedback, and I will revise.

Depleted field: 2009, 2017, 2021
Weakened field: 1993, 2005, 2013
Average field: 1981, 1997, 2001
Strong field: 1985 (though that’s following a boycotted Olympics many top athletes did not attend)
Very Strong: 1989 (really, just Shushunova’s absence was notable)

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I’d count 1997 as a “strong” field, with most of the major Olympians in attendance! The US team was depleted for similar reasons as 2021 (a tour, etc) but all other individual medalists from Atlanta returned, albeit some in poor form (Mo) or ultimately too injured to compete (Pod).

I think I put “average” for 1997 because an “average” Worlds is good. You mentioned some of the things that held it back, but I think there are a couple more. Full list:

  1. the absence of Olympic AA champion
  2. Mo, Moceanu, and Marinescu all being well below their best
  3. the absence of most members of the US’s winning team (half of whom would come back later)
  4. Some retirements, including a few starts like Milosovici, Galieva, and Boginskaya.

The retirements were pretty limited, though. So I would say that if any one of items (1) - (3) above had not happened, it would have been a “strong” field.

2013 was not a weakened worlds. You may not have had Douglas but you did have Simone. IMO all the World Championships Nabieva has attended have been “strong fields”.

But are post-Olympics figure skating worlds normally this depleted? Generally speaking, the skaters who win post-Olympics worlds won “lesser” medals at the Olympics or would have been in the running for Olympic medals if not for mistakes.

Gymnastics is all screwed up this year with the olympics and world championships less than 12 weeks apart. Compounding that situation, you pushed the Olympics back a year. Since touring in the States, this was always going to be a lighter Worlds especially from our side of the pond. Add to that the girls can make money and do NCAA, why go to worlds when you can cash in especially if you’re banged up and on the way out?

The tour doesn’t usually attract as many currently competitive international athletes. I wonder if Ellie Black and Melanie De Jesus Dos Santos have any regrets about not trying to pick up some hardware here.

It’s very hard to stay at that peak level for that long or try to peak twice in that short window. Many of these athletes had various breaks/financial opportunities, and I don’t fault any of them for prioritizing one over the other. Though I think this is very much an anomaly for Worlds as far as lightness of the field, but as long as Melnikova and Andrade get some serious hardware out of it, it’ll be far from my least favorite Worlds.

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Depends on the year and the discipline. 2006 was pretty bad for ladies/women, but I liked Kimmie Meissner, so it worked out for me. It should have been Sasha Cohen’s to lose though.

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True. I was remembering 2018 Worlds and thinking about how excited I was by those results.

Isn’t Ellie at least still pretty banged up?

I think that in any sport there will be ups and downs as far as the competition goes. This year in particular with a global pandemic, a delayed Olympics and worlds scheduled so closely to the games, this was bound to happen. That said, I do not consider this to be a “lesser” event. Actually that mindset kind of irritates me. just because the “favorites” of the day are not there for whatever reason (injuries, tours, retirement) it does not diminish the event or achievements of the athletes who participate. With that attitude, this past Olympics was “lesser” because Simone didn’t really compete as expected. And the medals won were not “really” won. Anything can happen on any given day and these athletes at this world championships will be JUST as deserving of their titles as any other. JMHO.

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I may not liiiike the results of past “depleted” fields or the 2000 Olympics, but I have a hard time begrudging the athletes who got medals. Hurd is a world AA champion, and while it just as easily could have been Smith, it wasn’t.

I’m trying hard to course correct my own bias and view this as a legitimate worlds despite my preferences or opinions. I don’t mean that to be what everyone should do, I just am saying that while this may be a very unique and circumstantial world’s, I would hate to detract from any gymnast’s success here. It’s still a competition.

All that to say I wish things had played out very differently this year. But yesterday I basically thought “this is stupid why is this event even happening”

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I’m not sure of Ellie’s injury status, but she might be. She toughed it out for beam final as did Flavia, who we know ended up getting surgery. I don’t know if Ellie’s required surgery or if she’s looking to compete next year and beyond.

Edit to add: And Ellie is an AA medalist in a soft worlds doesn’t negate or devalue the accomplishment. She’s still an AA silver medalist and should be damn proud of that accomplishment. I say that as not her biggest gymnastics fan.

Not a fan of 2005 worlds?

I’d put it in the weakened field category. It was similar to 2021 in that the top contenders are very strong but the back end of each final is relatively weak.

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I think that it could have gone either way.
But at least these Worlds present various opportunities to gymnasts from lower ranked countries.

Filipa Martins qualifying to the top group in the AA and therefore likely to be shown on mainstream coverage and in addition making bars finals is history making and great exposure for Portugal gymnastics, who as a team is generating more depth and ability to field full teams. Martins performing well here at this Worlds will hopefully generate excitement and enthusiasm about gymnastics in Portugal.

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I wasn’t a fan of this score, TBH. Her form on the broadcast I saw was raw. Maybe it looks better on the side.