Legends Uchimura, Biles hope to sparkle at Aspire Dome
DOHA: The 48th Artistic Gymnastics World Championships is going to be one of the fiercely contested editions in recent years as United States of America’s Simone Biles, who took more than a year’s break, will return to action at Doha’s Aspire Dome from October 25 to November 3.
The tournament will be significant for the participating countries as medals won from the Team finals will earn an entry to the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
The nominative roster released last week includes 265 men and 244 women gymnasts from 78 nations.
Among the stars will be Japan’s 2016 Olympic All-Around champions Kohei Uchimura, who pulled out from last year’s edition in Montreal, Canada, following an injury during training session.
Meanwhile, 48 countries have entered for the men’s while 44 have been registered in the women’s category in the tournament -- first qualification event for the Tokyo Games.
The medal-winning nations in the Team Final competition will earn automatic berths for 2020 Olympics while top 24 nations from team qualification will advance full teams to the 2019 World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany.
Other nations will have additional chances to qualify at competitions in 2019 and 2020.
Countries will earn Olympic qualification spots
Interestingly, this year’s competition marks the first time in 44 years that nations can earn Olympic qualification spots a full two years prior to the Olympic Games. Since 1979, all Olympic gymnastics qualification has taken place in the year immediately preceding the next Olympic Games.
The Japanese men and American men are the reigning champions from both the 2015 World Championships in Glasgow and 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
Can Japan retain team title?
Japan will hope to defend their crown amid strong challenges from China. Kenzo Shirai, who won the men’s All-Around title in Montreal last year, and Yusuke Tanaka, Uchimura’s team-mates in Glasgow and Rio, are back along with 2015 team member Kazuma Kaya and newcomer Wataru Tanigawa. His younger brother Kakeru Tanigawa, who upset Uchimura at Japan’s national championships earlier this year, is the team alternate.
Meanwhile, in the women’s group, Simone Biles, who led USA to team victories at the 2014 Worlds in Nanning, China, Glasgow and Rio, is the only member from those squads back in 2018.
She will be joined by world All-Around champion Morgan Hurd and world championships debutantes Kara Eaker, Grace McCallum and Riley McCusker, with Shilese Jones the alternate.