International Gymnast Fans Vote On Favorites For 2012

Nations participating in the 2012 London Olympic Games may claim that their main priority is to earn a team medal, but every seasoned gymnastics fan knows that there is no more prestigious award in the sport than the Olympic individual all around gold medal. Recently, International Gymnast, the most popular and respectable gymnastics magazine in the world, conducted a poll via its online forum titled “Who Would You Like To See Win AA.” The following gymnasts took the top three spots:

(1) Aliya Mustafina, Russia

Photo via Sports Club

Mustafina, 2010 world all around champion, has become a fan favorite over the past four years due to her confidence, great sportsmanship, outstanding difficulty, and beautiful presentation. Unfortunately, last April, Mustafina tore her ACL while vaulting at the European Championships. Whether she will be in top shape come the Olympics is still up in the air.

(2) Viktoria Komova, Russia

Photo by Mark Dadswell

The 2010 Youth Olympic Games all around champion, Komova has so far failed to live up to her expectations among the senior ranks, perhaps due to a foot injury that just does not seem to want to heal. Many fans think that Komova, only 16, is too young to handle the pressure and is not yet capable of dealing with loss with maturity and grace. However, if Komova returns to her top 2010 shape, she will be the gymnast to beat in London.

Finally, also tied in second place, is Jordyn Wieber, from the USA.

Photo via Bettor.com 

What Wieber lacks in artistry and grace, she makes up for with tremendous power and consistency. Wieber is the 2011 world all around champion, where she beat Komova by a tiny margin. Although Wieber’s form is not as stellar as Mustafina’s and Komova’s, she is the only gymnast in the world that can challenge those two in difficulty.

The Olympic Journey Begins

The countdown begins: in just 186 days, the 2012 London Olympic Games will be in full swing. For gymnasts and gymnastics fans alike, this is exciting news. What is even more exciting is that, to many, the competitive field for the 2012 Games is deeper than it has ever been since the introduction of the open ended Code of Points in 2006. And according to numerous other fans around various online forums, the pool of competitors has not been this good since the 2000 Olympic Games.

Because of the nature of the sport, many top teams are already dealing with a few unpleasant surprises, which could significantly impact the outcome of the competition. For instance, Russia, which many consider to be the top team at the moment, both in terms of difficulty and artistry, is dealing with injuries from its two top athletes. Aliya Mustafina, the 2010 world all around champion, tore her ACL this past spring. Without her and her fierce competitiveness, Russia could be facing major trouble at the Olympic Games. And even though Viktoria Komova is only 16 years old, she is often considered the top gymnast in the world right now. Unfortunately, she has dealt with a foot injury for over a year, which cost her the 2011 World Championship title.

Viktoria Komova. Photo by Bernard 

It is not only Russia that is dealing with unforeseen obstacles. Romania, always a top team, recently received the news that its top gymnast and 2010 World Championship balance beam champion Ana Pogras decided to retire from the sport for personal reasons. This could very well affect Romania’s performance in London.

The United States is also dealing with its fair share of injuries. Most notably, Rebecca Bross, a bronze medalist at the 2010 World Championships, dislocated her knee in the summer of 2011.

Another unexpected factor has come into play for the United States: Nastia Liukin, the 2008 Olympic all around champion, recently decided to fight for a spot on the 2012 Olympic team. If she is able to prepare in time, Liukin could help the United States win its first Olympic team gold medal since the 1996 Olympic Games.