Women's events at Beijing will be comprised of Balance Beam, Floor Exercise, Uneven Bars and Vault with individual and teams all round competitions for good measure (to assure more medals for countries other than Australia). Men's events include Horizontal Bar, Parallel Bars, Pommel Horse, Vault, Rings, and Floor Exercise with individual and teams. Rings are the most boring of these events. Watching Rings is akin to watching a Rugby match that finishes 3-3.
Australia's gymnasts were unable to crack the top 10 at the 2006 World's with Hollie Dykes finishing 12th while our best placed male was Joshua Jefferis in a lowly 24th. Dykes hung up her leotard in January at 17 as she was getting a bit long in the tooth to compete with the younger teenybopper generation. Things were looking grim and still are in the men's who failed to qualify for the teams event. Samuel Simpson is the only male who will represent us at the Games. Here's an excerpt from his blog with details of his "qualification":
"The way qualification works with gymnastics is the top 12 countries send a team selected by the country, the next three send 2 people selected by the country, and the next three send 1 person selected by the country. After this has been played out all the people from these countries are taken off on the list and the top 7 all around scores are given a place. Then there are 6 places given the gold medal on each apparatus. If the gold medallist is from a country that has already qualified a position then their spot is given to the next all arounder.
After this there are 3 wildcards given to regions of the world who are not represented and one more wild card which is decided by the IOC. I was selected as an all around position in the 4 extra places that were available due to gold medallists being from countries already qualified."
Come 2007, our women's team qualified for Beijing by not making the final at the World's, as you do. So it would be a miracle if we were to sneak a team medal but no doubt our Aussie contingent will be studying videos of Steven Bradbury's famous Winter Olympics gold medal performance. Our best hope for an individual medal is Daria (Dasha) Joura. This is because she was born in Russia. Had she been born in Australia, no chance. But we all loved Tatiana Grigorieva and so we will love Daria Joura if she looks even remotely like getting a medal. She was a very commendable 10th at the Worlds.
Who to watch out for:
MEN: The Chinese team spearheaded by hometown hero Wei Yang. Will no doubt be 'roided to the max for this. Also, Diego Hypolito is the only Brazilian who as a boy told his Dad he wanted to be an Olympic gymnast rather than like Pele. The old man was admitted to Sao Paulo Mental Hospital that day. And get behind Sam "How On Earth Did I Qualify!" Simpson. Give 'em hell son!
WOMEN: Shawn Johnson. He appears to have an obvious advantage. Also look out for Jade "Captain" Barbosa, she'll be the one wearing an eye patch. The Chinese team are reported to be "fighting fit" according to team dietician Ana Bolic. And Go Dasha! A realistic medal chance in gymnastics for Australia...you may not see that again in your lifetime!