The men's qualification competition begins with a bang Sunday morning as the host Japanese — led by two-time defending world champion Kohei Uchimura — enter Yoyogi Stadium at the 43nd World Gymnastics Championships in Tokyo.
Two-time defending world champion Kohei Uchimura (Japan)
United States: Floor Exercise
The U.S. men begin their world quest on one of their best events, floor exercise, where Steven Legendre and Jake Dalton will be gunning for the final. Then they must conquer pommel horse, their nemesis over the past few years. But the U.S. team has its best pommel horse lineup in years, and specialist Alex Naddour is a potential finalist. 2008 Olympian Jonathan Horton is still going strong, but 2011 national champion Danell Leyva has emerged as the new team leader. And upstart John Orozco could challenge Horton the all-around finish.
Puerto Rico: Pommel Horse
A thrilled 12th at the 2012, the Puerto Rican men are aiming for another big finish in Tokyo. 2008 Olympian Luis Rivera leads "Los Golden Boys," who need to stay consistent to clinch an invitation to the 2012 pre-Olympic qualifier.
Japan: Still Rings
The Japanese start on still rings, where they are capable of qualifying two gymnasts to the final. Japan has no weak event, though, having improved greatly on vault. Uchimura, suffering from sore calves, is aiming for finals (and could medal) in every event but vault. Japan will easily finish in the top eight, so the only question is if the Japanese will slack a bit in qualifications to save their strength for the team final. Japan hasn't won the world championships since 1978, but that could change in Tokyo.
Manuel Campos leads the Portuguese squad, which grabbed the final qualification spot to Tokyo by finishing 24th in Rotterdam. Portugaly isn't in contention for a top-16 finish, but Campos could qualify to the Olympics as an individual with a great performance at the pre-Olympic test event.
Mixed Group 14: Parallel Bars
Mixed Group 14 includes the rising Vietnamese contingent, which regularly trains in China. Phuoc Hung Pham finished seventh on parallel bars at the 2009 Worlds, and Ha Thanh Nguyen has an awesome Yurchenko double pike vault.
Mixed Group 21: High Bar
Mixed Group 21 features gymnasts from Kuwait and South Africa. The gymnasts won't factor into the top rankings, but made a very long journey to Tokyo nevertheless to show their best.
Next Up in Subdivision 2: Full teams from Romania, Switzerland and Ukraine!
Follow IG Publisher Paul Ziert's live commentary from Yoyogi Stadium, broadcast simultaneously on IG's official Facebook Page and Twitter account.