Olympic Preview: Women's Qualification, Session 1
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The women's qualification competition begins Sunday morning at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio with the Chinese women in the first of five subdivisions. Pictured: Uzbekistan's Oksana Chusovitina, who will compete in her seventh consecutive Olympic Games

The women's qualification competition begins Sunday morning at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio with the Chinese women in the first of five subdivisions. The first session also features Oksana Chusovitina of Uzbekistan, one of the most celebrated athletes at these Olympic Games, in her record seventh Olympic appearance.

Vault: Mixed Group 7

Chusovitina drew the unlucky first session, and she'll begin right away on her best event. The incredible 41-year-old legend has been making improvements on her handspring double front (7.0 D score), but she may not risk it in qualification and choose instead to go with a layout Rudi. Her second vault is either a Tsukahara 1 1/2 or double full, although she played around with a Tsuk 2 1/2 earlier this year. She also plans to do balance beam in Rio, where she is sure to be a crowd favorite.

This group also includes elegant Aussie Larrissa Miller in her second Olympic appearance. Also returning the Olympics is Chile's Simona Castro, part of the very strong representation from South America. Another gymnast in this group, Turkey's Tutya Yilmaz, is extremely impressive on beam.


Fan Yilin (China)


Uneven Bars: Belgium

Belgium sent a full women's gymnastics team to the Olympics for the first time since 1948. The team has made massive improvements over the past several years, most notably on uneven bars. This is no surprise as the team is coached by Frenchman Yves Kieffer, coach of 2004 Olympic uneven bars champion Émilie Le Pennec. First-year senior Nina Derwael is aiming for the final on uneven bars, where she has a world-class routine. Belgium unfortunately lost Axelle Klinckaert to a knee injury last month, and bad luck again struck Julie Croket, who suffered a foot injury after helping Belgium qualify to Rio in April. Gaelle Mys, who replaced Croket at the 2012 Olympics after she tore her ACL, is back for her third consecutive Olympics and first with a team.

Balance Beam: China

China, the 2008 Olympic champions, finished out of the medals at the 2012 Olympics, but claimed silver behind the United States at the 2014 and 2015 World Championships. The team may amass more difficulty than the favored Americans, but inconsistency plagued the squad in training. Team captain Shang Chungsong, who has been reportedly struggling with a virus, did not practice any full routines during podium training. Shockingly, China is only putting up three gymnasts on balance beam in the first rotation, as neither of their other two gymnasts compete the event particularly well. Co-world uneven bars champion Fan Yilin is China's top medal hope with her ultra-difficult bar routine, and Wang Yan will try to vault into the finals.

Floor Exercise: Mixed Group 1

Mixed Group 1 contains three gymnasts making history with their presence in Rio. Isabella Amada (Panama) and Toni-Ann Williams (Jamaican) are the first ever Olympic gymnasts from their respective nations, while Ellis O'Reilly is the first Irish female gymnast at the Games. Korea's Lee Eunju was a late replacement for a teammate injured in Rio. The happy photo of Lee posing with North Korean Hong Un Jong during podium training went viral in Rio as a positive reminder of the Olympic spirit of friendship, demonstrated by two athletes whose countries are at political odds.

Up Next: Full teams from Italy and Russia, plus flag bearers Catalina Ponor and Giulia Steingruber!

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