Thirty-two years after the 1985 edition, the Artistic Gymnastics World Championships are making their big return to Montreal. From Monday, October 2 to Sunday, October 8, more than 450 gymnasts representing 72 nations will compete for best-in-the-world status in the emblematic Montreal Olympic stadium. Here’s what this competition will bring about:
In the post-Olympic year, only individual competition, and not team competition, is on the programme at Worlds. That means 12 titles are in play: five in women’s (All-around, Vault, Uneven Bars, Balance Beam and Floor Exercise) and seven in men’s (All-around, Floor Exercise, Pommel Horse, Still Rings, Vault, Parallel Bars and Horizontal Bar). A maximum of four women and six men per nation can participate in the qualifying rounds. Three gymnasts per country may compete on any given apparatus, but no more than two per country can qualify for the All-around and apparatus finals.
"King Kohei's" record
Since his first World title in 2009, Kohei Uchimura has taken up residence on the top step of the individual All-around podium during all the World Championships and Olympic Games that followed. His winning streak of eight major consecutive All-around titles is unprecedented in Artistic Gymnastics, which is why the Japanese master is already considered by many to be the greatest gymnast of all time. But his competition has been edging ever closer, as Ukraine’s Oleg Verniaiev demonstrated at the Rio Olympics when he took silver, trailing “King Kohei” by less than a tenth of a point.
A new women's champion
On the women’s side, a brand new World champion is sure to be crowned in Montreal. One reason is because Simone Biles, who dominated women’s competition from 2013 to 2016, claiming 10 World and four Olympic titles, decided to take a break after the Rio Games. The other is because the only World All-around champion scheduled to compete in Montreal is Italy’s Vanessa Ferrari, who won the All-around in 2006 but is set to do only her best events, Beam and Floor, this year.
In defense of gold
Kohei Uchimura comes to Canada as the reigning World champion in the All-around champion, but also on Horizontal Bar. He’s not the only gold medallist from the 2015 Glasgow Worlds expected in Montreal: Kenzo Shirai (JPN/ Men’s Floor), Max Whitlock (GBR/ Pommel Horse), Eleftherios Petrounias (GRE/ Still Rings) and also Maria Paseka (RUS/ Women’s Vault) and Fan Yilin (CHN/ Uneven Bars) will be trying to conserve their crowns. Uchimura (All-around), Whitlock (Floor and Pommel Horse) and Petrounias (Rings) are also the reigning Olympic champions, as are Verniaiev (Parallel Bars) and Sanne Wevers (NED/ Balance Beam) who will also be present.
Tie- breaking rules
At the 2015 World Championships, the Uneven Bars final resulted in the coronation of four different World champions. This scenario is unlikely to repeat itself, as new rules allow ties to be broken at Worlds, just as they are at the Olympic Games. If two or more gymnasts obtain the same total score in an event final, the one with the highest execution score will prevail. If there is still a tie, the higher difficulty score becomes the determining factor. In the All-around competition, the sum of the best three (for women) or five (for men) scores will establish the final ranking.