Tokyo Olympics: IG’s Medal Predictions, Part II – Women’s Competition

IG Staff

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Angelina Melnikova (Russia)

Only a few days away from the beginning of the Tokyo Olympics and the gymnastics events there, IG makes its medal predictions for the women’s competition. For IG’s men’s competition predictions click here.

WOMEN’S TEAM

  • IG’s pick: USA, Russia, China
  • Rio Olympics: USA, Russia, China
  • 2019 World Championships: USA, Russia, Italy

Of course, on the women’s side most of the focus and media attention will be on the four-time Rio gold medalist Simone Biles and her legacy, and with the combination of phenomenal tumbling skills, charismatic personality and global popularity, she deserves every bit of it. With Biles on board, undoubtedly the U.S. women will capture their third consecutive Olympic team gold medal. With a superb four-member team: Biles, Sunisa Lee, Jordan Chiles and Grace McCallum, along with the two individuals Jade Carey and MyKayla Skinner, the qualification round should be very interesting, and, of course, it will determine who gets into the individual event finals with the two-per-country rule.

Simone Biles (USA) won five gold medals at the 2019 World Championships

Although the U.S. is the undisputed favorite for the gold, Russia and China are clearly the main contenders for the silver and bronze. Russia’s Angelina Melnikova, Viktoria Listunova and Vladislava Urazova all have struggled on beam at this year’s major competitions, but with somewhat of a clean rotation on that event, they should have the edge over China. The Chinese team should be a lot stronger on floor and vault, compared to what we are used to seeing from them, but their uneven bars are not overpowering as they once were; in fact, that may be the event that holds them back in Tokyo. 2019 World all-around silver medalist, Tang Xijing, along with Ou Yushan, Zhang Jin and Lu Yufei are all capable of near 15s on balance beam which could be the make-it-or-break-it event for China in the team competition. 

WOMEN’S ALL-AROUND

  • IG’s pick: Biles (USA), Lee (USA), Melnikova (RUS)
  • Rio Olympics: Biles (USA), Raisman (USA), Mustafina (RUS)
  • 2019 World Championships: Biles (USA), Tang (CHN), Melnikova (RUS)              
  • Also in the hunt for a medal: Chiles (USA), Listunova (RUS), Ou (CHN), Zhang (CHN), Tang (CHN), Lu (CHN), Dos Santos (FRA), Murakami (JPN), Black (CAN), Andrade (BRA)

Simone Biles is going to successfully defend her all-around title from Rio, and she will do that having fun. She doesn’t really have to compete her ‘new’ Yurchenko double pike on vault, or dismount with the double twisting double tuck off beam, but she can if she wants to. Thanks to her overpowering level of difficulty, Biles has no pressure in the all-around, she can afford two major mistakes in the final and still walk away with the gold. Sunisa Lee, has been gaining momentum throughout the pre-Olympic competitions, the U.S. Championships and the Olympic Trial, and is the main contender for the silver. Lee has an enormous uneven bars routine that can score into the 15s, her beam is consistent and can compete with the best in the world, and her floor and vault are good enough to not be considered weaknesses. We give Angelina Melnikova the advantage for the bronze over her teammate Viktoria Listunova. Melnikova has lost to Listunova at every competition this year, but she has had major beam

WOMEN’S VAULT

  • IG’s pick: Biles (USA), Skinner (USA), Steingruber (SUI)
  • Rio Olympics: Biles (USA), Paseka (RUS), Steingruber (SUI)
  • 2019 World Championships Biles (USA), Carey (USA), Downie (GBR)
  • Also in the hunt for a medal: Carey (USA), Olsen (CAN), Akhaimova (RUS), Moreno (MEX), Yeo (KOR), Chusovitina (UZB)

Biles should be able to earn her third gold medal in Tokyo on this event (in addition to team and all-around). She is likely to debut her Yurchenko double pike which is sure to receive 6.6-difficulty, but even if she doesn’t (because of the no warm up touch during event finals), her Amanar and Cheng are so superior that she still will be unchallenged for the gold. MyKayla Skinner showed great consistency on her Cheng and Amanar this year; hence, we give her the slight edge over Jade Carey who usually competes the same vaults, although we did not see her compete her Cheng during the U.S. Championships and the Olympic Trials. There is a group of gymnasts who can compete a Rudi, Yurchenko double full or a double twisting Tsukahara. With solid landings on any of these vaults they can contend for the podium. But no one does them with the amplitude that Giulia Steingruber has; hence, we pick her for the bronze. 

Side note: At 46, Oksana Chusovitina has a legitimate shot of making the vault final. Chusovitina will be the oldest gymnast to compete at an Olympic Games, and the only gymnast who has competed at eight Olympics. Her first Olympics was in 1992, where she won team gold with the Unified Team. Chusovitina will also be the flag-bearer for Uzbekistan during the Parade of Nations at the Games opening ceremony. 

UNEVEN BARS

  • IG’s pick: Derwael (BEL), Lee (USA), Fan (CHN)
  • Rio Olympics: Mustafina (RUS), Kocian (USA), Scheder (GER)
  • 2019 World Championships: Derwael (BEL), Downie (GBR), Lee (USA)
  • Also in the hunt for a medal: Urazova (RUS), Melnikova (RUS), Iliankova (RUS), Dos Santos (FRA), Seitz (GER), Lu (CHN), Biles (USA)

Nina Derwael is the two-time defending world champion, while Sunisa Lee has the highest difficulty in the world, if all goes as planned at 6.8. Derwael might have a tad better execution than Lee, but all-in-all it is a toss-up between the two for the gold. Fan Yilin is the 2015 and 2017 world champion and has the most advantageously constructed routine with a minimal number of skills to get to 6.5 in difficulty, which can boost her execution score. If someone can challenge the above duo it is Fan. Dark horse, Vladislava Urazova!

BALANCE BEAM

  • IG’s pick: Biles (USA), Ou (CHN), Guan (CHN)
  • Rio Olympics: Wevers (NED), Hernandez USA, Biles (USA)
  • 2019 World Championships: Biles (USA), Liu (CHN), Li (CHN)
  • Also in the hunt for a medal: Zhang (CHN), Lu (CHN), Tang (CHN), Lee (USA), Dos Santos (FRA), Iordache (ROM), S. Wevers (NED), Saraiva (BRA)

Five Chinese, the four team members along with the individual Guan Chenchen, can legitimately earn an Olympic medal on this event. The qualification round will be a determining factor of who gets that opportunity. Ou Yushan and Guan have posted scores in the 15s this year and perhaps have the best shot at it. But Biles is a three-time world champion on this event and can also surpass the 15+ mark. She generates her difficulty in a less risky manner than the Chinese as she doesn’t have to rely on numerous multiple connections, which should be an advantage. Biles will redeem herself for the minor imperfections she had in the Rio final and capture her fourth gold medal in Tokyo.

WOMEN’S FLOOR

  • IG’s pick: Biles (USA), Murakami (JPN), Melnikova (RUS)
  • Rio Olympics: Biles (USA), Raisman (USA), Tinkler (GBR)
  • 2019 World Championships: Biles (USA), Lee (USA), Melnikova (RUS)
  • Also in the hunt for a medal: Carey (USA), Chiles (USA), Listunova (RUS), Dos Santos (FRA), Andrade (BRA), Ferrari (ITA), McCallum (USA), Lee (USA), Moors (CAN), Iordache (ROM), Saraiva (BRA), Jessica Gadirova (GBR)

With four phenomenal tumbling passes Biles is untouchable on this event. Even with large rebounds and out of bound landings, Biles gets another gold medal, which should be her fifth one of the Games. If so, she would tie the legendary Larisa Latynina for the most gold medals at the Olympics, which is nine. Latynina has 18 Olympic medal overall. Biles already owns the record for the most world championship medals at 25, 19 of them gold. 

For the silver and the bronze, with over ten real medal contenders, this could be the most competitive event final in Tokyo. Even without the support of the home crowd, 2017 world floor champion, Mai Murakami has the difficulty and the consistency and is capable of a podium finish. Angelina Melnikova, 2019 world bronze medalist, has the tumbling and the artistry for a slight advantage over the rest of the field. Some of the most artistic floor routines in Tokyo will be presented by Ou Yushan, Brooklyn Moors, Eythora Thorsdottir and Nina Derwael, and we should not be surprised if they do well here!

Brooklyn Moors (CAN) during the all-around final at 2019 Worlds

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