Olympic Preview: Men's Qualification, Session 3
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The men's qualification competition concludes in the third subdivision on Saturday evening at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, where Olympic champion China and European champion Russia take the floor. Pictured: 2012 Chinese Olympian Zhang Chenglong

The men's qualification competition concludes in the third subdivision on Saturday evening at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, where Olympic champion China and European champion Russia takes the floor.

Floor Exercise: Ukraine

Ukraine is led by megastar Oleg Vernyayev, who was a member of the team that took a controversial fourth fourth years ago. Vernyayev, the reigning European champion and former world champion on parallel bars, can snatch the all-around lead away from Kohei Uchimura, and has the potential to make more event finals than any other gymnast in Rio. Teammate Igor Radivilov has potential finals on rings and vault (where he won a bronze medal in 2012) but his attempted frightening handspring triple front in training in Rio has been widely condemned as a poor coaching choice. He is likely to play it safe in qualification in order to reach the finals, where he would be wise to shelf that insanely risky 7.0 new vault.


Oleg Vernyayev (Ukraine)


Pommel Horse: Mixed Group 1

Mixed Group 1 includes several gymnasts with finals potential, including Croatia's Filip Ude (pommel horse), Mexico's Daniel Corral (several events) and Ireland's Kieran Behan (floor exercise). Czech-American David Jessen, the son of Czechoslovakian Olympian Hana Ricna, is set to continue the family's Olympic legacy.

Still Rings: Switzerland

The Swiss men, sixth at the 2015 World Championships in Glasgow, are a solid force in gymnastics and are aiming for the team finals, as well as a few chances in event finals. Pablo Bragger and Christian Baumann both finished in the top 15 in the all-around final in Glasgow.

Vault: China

Defending Olympic champion China fell to third in Glasgow, but will come prepared with an Olympic strategy in hand. This team knows how to win, and if they follow their usual MO, they will underwhelm in qualification and peak in finals. Zhang Chenglong is the only returning Olympian, but his teammates include 2014 world rings champion Liu Yang and parallel bars world champions Lin Chaopan (2013) and You Hao (2015). Deng Shudi, third all-around in Glasgow, is the team's top all-arounder.

Parallel Bars: Mixed Group 2

Mixed Group 2 is headlined by Romania's Marian Dragulescu and Spain's Rayderley Zapata, who will be gunning for finals on floor exercise. Dragulescu is also aiming for the vault final, where he says he may risk a new vault in the hope of winning the one medal he doesn't have: Olympic gold. His training has been hampered by a recent bout with the flu, but the five-time Olympian will rely on sheer guts and experience.

High Bar: Russia

The Russian men haven't won a team medal at the Olympics since 2000, but that could change this year with a very strong squad. Russia had an excellent showing at the European championships, defending their team title and taking individual gold medals from Nikita Nagornyy (floor exercise) and David Belyavsky (parallel bars). Denyis Ablyazin is also a potential medalist on floor, rings and vault. 2012 Ukrainian Nikolai Kuksenkov is the team captain and will need to be at his best, particularly on high bar, Russia's weak event. Ivan Stretovich, a late replacement for Nikita Ignatyev, will add some Nemov-style artistry to the Russian squad on pommel horse, parallel bars and high bar.

Up Next: Women's qualification begins Sunday morning!

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