Twenty year old Ruby Harrold trains at The Academy of Gymnastics under coach Liz Kincaid. Rio will be her last elite competition, as after a very successful senior career, she starts at Louisiana State University after the games to compete in NCAA gymnastics. Making the Olympic team is a fitting end for Ruby as an elite, it being the one major championships missing from her gymnastics CV, having been a multiple World and European British team member, as well as competing at the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
Now in her fifth year as a senior, Ruby was first selected for a major international in 2012 when she competed at the European championships helping the team to fourth place, and making the bars final finishing seventh. It was here that she debuted her Bhardwaj skill, at the time almost unique, and still very rare.
In 2013 Ruby was again selected for the European Championships, she finished eighth AA, at the time the highest AA finish by a British gymnast, she also qualified for the beam final finishing in 6th, and the bars final finishing in eighth. Ruby was also selected for the world championships, and qualified for the bars final where she finished seventh. It was in 2013 that Ruby added the Zuchold-Schleudern to her routine, a skill she is the only international gymnast in the world to have been competing for many many years, made all the harder by the fact it originated when the bars were set far closer together.
In 2014 Ruby took silver with the British team at the European Championships, and would have qualified for the bars final were it not for the two per country rule. Ruby then took gold with the team at the Commonwealth Games, as well as finishing second AA, and taking the bronze on bars. In the autumn Ruby was again selected for the world championships, finishing eleventh AA, and making her second world bars final finishing in eighth place.
In 2015 Ruby was part of the bronze medal winning world championship team. Competing AA in qualification, and on bars in the team final where she did her job brilliantly. Ruby qualified for her third bars final, finishing in seventh place with her highest score yet of 14.766.
Ruby was part of the European championship team this year that took the silver medal. She missed the bars final having upgraded her routine for 2016, and having an error in qualification. More on her upgraded routine later. Ruby would also have competed in the floor final as she finished in the top eight, only prevented from doing so by two of her team mates finishing ahead of her.
On vault Ruby has done what she often does, got stronger as the year has progressed toward her major championships. I think perhaps hampered by injury earlier in the year, having vaulted a full twisting Yurchenko at British teams and the English, Ruby brought back the double twisting Yurchenko for the British championships, although not back to her best at that point. By Europeans it was much stronger, and scored well, she will likely be used in first up spot in Rio qualifications round, to bring a good solid score in.
14.800 Europeans TF (5.8 D, 9.00 E)
Ruby’s biggest job of course in Rio, is to hit a big scoring bar routine in team finals for Great Britain. At worlds she did exactly that, can she do it again? Likely to go up second in between Ellie and Becky, what will be interesting is what she competes. Ruby has a new upgraded routine for 2016, she competed the old routine at British teams, then came out with the Upgrade from then on. Adding a Tkatchev straight the opening Maloney, then immediately into the Bhardwaj, she upped her D score to 6.6 from 6.3.
Consistency is key for the team, can Ruby do this routine? Absolutely otherwise she won’t have been competing it. However she has been struggling to hit it in competition so far, so we shall see whether she goes with it, aiming to get into the 15’s, or whether we see the old routine for around a solid 14.70, and still a great score for the team total. If she goes for the harder routine, it will be because she has been hitting it consistently, and it’s ready. Either way no doubt her unique skills will draw gasps from the crowd in the Olympic arena, as they do whenever she competes.
This video isn’t Ruby’s highest scoring routine of the year, that was the 14.400 at the Osijek World Cup in qualification (6.5 D, 7.9 E). Unfortunately video isn’t available, so here is her routine from the British championships, so that you can see the new routine.
Whether Ruby competes on beam or not will decide whether she gets to try for the AA final. Should she get the opportunity, Ruby has upgraded on this piece this year, adding an illusion turn, and an E difficulty gainer full dismount to up her start value to a maximum of 5.8 D should she be awarded everything.
BB British AA 13.80 (5.5 D, 8.3 E)
Ruby will compete on floor in Rio, likely first up in qualifications for the team. As with vault, she didn’t compete on this piece initially this year, then competed at the British championships, with four tumbles, but with less difficulty. By Europeans the double arabian opening tumble was back, the one and a half to full twisting straight front to stag jump middle tumble was too, and she finished with a double twisting straight front. Three tumbles, more difficulty, and very well executed. This is a really strong opening routine for the team.
FX Euros QF 14.200 QF (5.7 D, 8.5 E)
Huge good luck to Ruby, such a strong gymnast for GB over the years, only second to Beth in the number of bars world finals she has contested, a great team player and motivator, and the most unique bar routine in elite gymnastics.