After an exciting series of competitions at the Tokyo Olympics, the 2021 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships (Worlds) kickoff next week and will span from Oct. 18 to Oct. 24 in Kitakyushu, Japan.
Worlds is held annually during non-Olympic years (with an exception this time around due to COVID), and gymnasts will only vie for individual event and all-around titles at the 2021 edition since there typically is no team competition for the championship directly following an Olympics. Back in 2019, Team USA won by almost six whole points.
Four women were named on the 2021 team: Tokyo Olympic alternates Kayla DiCello and Leanne Wong, eMjae Frazier, and Konnor McClain. Olivia Greaves was named the "non-traveling" replacement athlete (aka, the alternate). These women represent USA's next generation of elite gymnasts, and it is each of the athletes' first World Championships on the senior level — all of the senior gymnasts from the Olympics, except for Suni Lee, are on Simone Biles's Gold Over America Tour, then many of them will transition to collegiate gymnastics.
Ahead, read up about these gymnasts heading for 2021 Worlds. We can't wait for the competition to begin!
With the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games just a little more than two months past, the 2021 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Kitakyushu, Japan, once again provides a stage for the world’s best in the sport.
In artistic gymnastics, a world championship in the year of the Olympic Games hasn’t happened since 1996. But those championships happened before the Games of Atlanta 1996.
With stars of the sport – and reigning world all-around champions – Simone Biles and Nikita Nagornyy not taking part, new all-around champions will be crowned. Only three athletes – Carlos Yulo, Ibrahim Colak and Arthur Nory – come to Kitakyushu with a chance to defend their world titles from 2019.
But that doesn’t mean there won’t be excitement, as the field includes eight Olympic gold medallists including Japan’s Kohei Uchimura for whom this event may be his finale.
Here’s what to look for, from the schedule to stars to watch, in Kitakyushu.
2021 World Arstic Gymnastics Championships Schedule All times local to Kitakyushu (UTC+9)
Monday, 18 October
9:45am, Women's qualifying, Subdivision 1 featuring athletes from China, Turkey, Israel, Uzbekistan 11:15am, Women's qualifying, Subdivision 2 featuring athletes from Great Britain, Italy, Netherlands, Hungary 1pm, Women's qualifying, Subdivision 3 featuring athletes from USA, Canada, Norway, Croatia 2:30pm, Women's qualifying, Subdivision 4 featuring athletes from Switzerland, Portugal, Colombia, Iceland, Lithuania 4pm, Women's qualifying, Subdivision 5 featuring athletes from Japan, Ukraine, Taiwan, Denmark, Luxembourg 5:45pm, Women's qualifying, Subdivision 6 featuring athletes from Germany, Egypt, Austria, Finland, Ecuador 7:15pm, Women's qualifying, Subdivision 7 featuring athletes from France, Romania, Sweden, India Tuesday, 19 October
9:45am, Women's qualifying, Subdivision 8 featuring athletes from Czech Republic, Azerbaijan, Slovenia, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Latvia 11:15am, Women's qualifying, Subdivision 9 featuring athletes from Brazil, Mexico, Ireland 1pm, Women's qualifying, Subdivision 10 featuring athletes from Russia, South Korea, Slovakia 5pm, Men's qualifying, Subdivision 1 featuring athletes from Germany, Spain, France, Greece, Bulgaria, Portugal 7:10pm, Men's qualifying, Subdivision 2 featuring athletes from Russia, China, Ukraine, Hungary, Belgium, Slovenia, Hong Kong, Latvia Wednesday, 20 October
9:20am, Men's qualifying, Subdivision 3 featuring athletes from Japan, Brazil, Switzerland, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Panama, Bangladesh 11:10am, Men's qualifying, Subdivision 4 featuring athletes from USA, Taiwan, Netherlands, Lithuania, Belarus, Iceland, Syria 1:20pm, Men's qualifying, Subdivision 5 featuring athletes from Egypt, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Colombia, Thailand, Romania 3:10pm, Men's qualifying, Subdivision 6 featuring athletes from Great Britain, Turkey, South Korea, Canada, Vietnam, Ecuador, Ireland, Albania 5:20pm, Men's qualifying, Subdivision 7 featuring athletes from Italy, Croatia, Uzbekistan, Czech Republic, Finland, Denmark, Philippines 7:10pm, Men's qualifying, Subdivision 8 featuring athletes from Israel, Cyprus, Austria, Norway, India Thursday, 21 October
6pm, Women’s all-around final Friday, 22 October
6pm, Men’s all-around final Saturday, 23 October
4:10pm, Apparatus finals, day 1 Sunday, 24 October
4:25pm, Apparatus finals, day 2
Stars to watch Three Olympic champions highlight the field in the women’s competition: Brazil’s Rebeca Andrade and the Russian Gymnastic Federation’s Angelina Melnikova and Vladislava Urazova. After finishing with silver and bronze in the all-around at Tokyo 2020, they’ll be among the favourites to capture gold in the event in Kitakyushu.
Melnikova’s fellow Tokyo Olympic team gold medallist Urazova, who finished fourth in the all-around at this summer’s Olympics, could push for the all-around podium as well, if she decides to compete on all four apparatus. Urazova also finished eighth in the balance beam final in Tokyo and could challenge on the event here.
Other all-around contenders include Murakami Mai of Japan, Kayla DiCello and Leanne Wong of the United States and China’s Li Shija.
In the apparatus finals, Andrade, the Olympic gold medallist on vault, will be the favourite for gold once again. Great Britain’s Becky Downie, a 2008 and 2016 Olympian, enters the event as the reigning world uneven bars silver medallist. The 29-year-old will be looking for redemption after missing out on the Olympic Games earlier this summer.
On balance beam, Wei Xuoyuan and Li could replicate the 1-2 finish on the apparatus China produced earlier this summer at the Olympic Games. American newcomer Konnor McClain has the potential to contend, as well, but will need to handle her nerves under pressure.
The women’s floor final should be a battle Tokyo medallists Andrade, Melnikova and Murakami all in the field.
Kayla DiCello of Boyds, Md./Hill's Gymnastics and Leanne Wong of Overland Park, Kan./Great American Gymnastics Express - both alternates for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games - will lead a group of up-and-coming U.S. gymnasts at the 2021 Artistic Gymnastics World Championships later this month in Kitakyushu, Japan. DiCello and Wong will be joined by eMjae Frazier of Erial, N.J./Parkettes National Gymnastics Center and Konnor McClain of Cross Lanes, W.Va./WOGA Gymnastics.
"This will be the first senior World Championships competition for the members of this team, presenting a unique opportunity for each athlete," said Annie Heffernon, USA Gymnastics' Vice President of Women's Gymnastics. "We are excited that they will be able to gain invaluable experience on the world stage."
DiCello posted the top all-around score (55.350) on the first day of selection to secure an automatic World Championships berth. Frazier, McClain, and Wong were named to the team by the athlete selection committee based on criteria set forth in the event's selection procedures.
DiCello led the field on vault (14.550), uneven bars (13.950) and balance beam (13.250). Wong, who finished third in the all-around with a 53.400, notched the high score on floor exercise with a 13.800, edging Frazier who scored a 13.700. Her 13.100 on balance beam also landed her second behind DiCello in the event standings. Frazier claimed the second spot in the all-around with a 54.050, while McClain finished fourth with a 52.000. McClain's 14.500 on vault was the second-highest score of the day.
Olivia Greaves of Staten Island, N.Y./World Champions Centre was named the non-traveling replacement athlete. Frazier, Greaves and McClain have been added to the U.S. Women's Senior National Team.
The 2021 World Championships will run October 18-24 at the Kitakyushu General Gymnasium. While the event will not feature a team competition, individual titles, including the all-around and apparatus championships, will be up for grabs.