Men’s Gymnastics Preview
The first medals awarded for gymnastics will come on Monday 8th August when the final of the Men’s Team Event takes place. Predictably, Japan and China are the clear favourites to battle it out for gold, especially with the two nations having hogged the top two spots for the past two Games. Great Britain managed to muscle their way into contention for a medal four years ago, but could the weight of expectation prove too much this time around? The USA also come to Rio with a well-stocked arsenal of gymnastic talent that could barge their way into contention, while the Russian gymnasts who have been allowed to participate are also worth watching out for.
In terms of the singular events, Japan’s Kohei Uchimura is certainly one to watch. The five-time Olympic medalist, who has already hit the headlines after racking up a phone bill of over $4,900 playing Pokemon Go, collected gold in the all-round event in London four years ago and would dearly love to defend that title in Brazil. However, Uchimura may have his work cut out for him, with Cuba’s Manrique Larduet hoping to steal the limelight and collect his nation’s first ever Olympic medal in gymnastics. The 20-year-old proved to be a revelation at the World Championships in Glasgow in 2015, scooping a bronze on the horizontal bars and silver in the all-round event, and is well-priced to steal gold in both events in Rio.
Great Britain are a rising power in the world of male gymnastics and will be hoping to better the three medal haul they acquired in 2012. Two returning athletes from London are Max Whitlock and Louis Smith, who also picked up a bronze medal in Beijing eight years ago. Both Brits are tipped to do well in both the team event and on the pommel horse, while Max is an outsider to claim a place atop the winner's podium in the floor exercises.
- Sports.net’s top tip: - Manrique Larduet to Win Gold in the All-Round Individual Event - 9/2 - Sky Bet
Women’s Gymnastic Preview
The USA head into these Games determined to take home as many gold medals as possible. After 40 years of training some of the most talented gymnasts of all time, legendary team coordinator Marta Karolyi is set to retire after one last swansong in Brazil. Luckily the 73-year-old has a team comprising of some of the most talented gymnasts in the world. One member of the team is Simone Biles, who is hotly-tipped to perform very well on the balance beam, floor and in the all-round individual event. Teammate Gabby Douglas could also be one to watch in terms of the all-round individual event and expect Aly Raisman, Madison Kocian and Laurie Hernandez to contribute to US success in the all-round team event as the nation hopes to build on the gold won in London four years ago.
The US won’t have things all their own way, especially with Russian gymnasts granted clearance to compete in Rio. Whether the recent controversy surrounding the nation’s participation acts as a distraction is yet to be seen, but if all goes to plan, don’t be surprised if the Russians collect a number of medals, particularly in the rhythmic gymnastics, with Yana Kudryavtseva attracting the most attention. One nation who will not be continuing their recent dominance in the sport are Romania, who have claimed an all-round team event medal at every Games since 1976. They failed to qualify this year and will be represented by just one athlete in Rio, 28-year-old Catalina Ponor.
With an air of uncertainty surrounding Russia and Romania in rapid decline, could the women from Great Britain sneak into medal contention? Rebecca and Ellie Downie, Claudia Fragapane, Amy Tinkler and Ruby Harrold will all be hoping to make an impact after the team finished third at the World Championships in 2015. The collective, whose ages range from 16 to 24, could be the surprise package in Rio, with the eldest member of the group, Rebecca ‘Becky’ Downie, considered to be a specialist on the uneven bars and beam. Claudia Fragapane could also prove to be a dark horse, especially after the 18-year-old scooped gold on the floor, vault, all-round and team events at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow two years ago.
- Sports.net’s top tip: - Simone Biles to Win Gold in the All-Round Individual Event - 4/11 - Sky Bet
*Please note that odds may fluctuate.
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