Rio 2016: Better never Stops.

 

 

Just six days from today, the British team of Becky and Ellie Downie, Claudia Fragapane, Ruby Harrold, and Amy Tinker will take to the floor of the Rio Olympic Arena. When they do so, be assured that this 2016 team is simply the strongest Great Britain has ever fielded in an Olympic games.

This is to take nothing at all from the incredible gymnasts that have come before them, this is what is meant to happen. It is simply to note that the system is working, that British Women’s Gymnastics is following the path forged by the men, that the programme grows stronger with each quad as we aim to become one of the strongest gymnastics nations in the world.

America of course remain the gold standard, they are ahead in both difficulty and consistency. China too bring huge difficulty, then Russia, then Great Britain. Russia may well not be at full difficulty, as they have two gymnasts carrying injuries. Of course D scores are just one part, and also can only be calculated from what has been shown, not what is coming. To have climbed this high though, to be this competitive in one quad is remarkable, and to be celebrated.

The potential of this team is simply the highest we have ever fielded, and we can only talk potential, as the competing and executing of clean routines from all competitors of all nations, is something we cannot accurately predict. Should the team hit as they are capable, there is genuine potential for a team medal, for a bars medal, there is the possibility of an AA medal should Ellie be at her absolute strongest and cleanest, and hit the 60 points she is capable of. There could be a floor medal, and with beam completely unpredictable, the possibility of one there too for anyone that can hit a mid to high 14+ which our gymnasts can. We could have team finalists, two AA finalists, a vault finalist, one maybe even two bars finalists,  one or even two beam finalists, one or again perhaps two floor finalists.

It is the possibility that excites me about this team, is it likely that every single one of these things will happen, ten finals and five medals?  I would say more likely no, as dream scenarios are rare,  but heading into an Olympic Games even thinking about such possibilities shows how far British WAG has come in the space of a quad, and that is the point of this post. No matter what the outcome, no matter how many finals are or are not made, whether there are medals or not, the progress has been phenomenal.

In Beijing 2008, the team qualified in 9th place just missing the team final, Becky Downie qualified for the AA final finishing 12th, and Beth Tweddle qualified for the bars finals just missing out on the bronze by 0.025 finishing 4th. The one individual final, Beth on bars, was really the realistic aim for the team as a whole.

The 2009-2012 quad was of course dominated by Beth Tweddle, she took gold on floor and bars at the 2009 Europeans, and the world title on floor in the same year. She then took gold again on bars and floor at the 2010 European championships, and the world bars title later in the year. In 2011 again she took the European bars title. Beth was of course the exception rather than the rule for British gymnasts, and remains for now the most successful gymnast the country has ever produced.

Beth aside, as it is the level of the British team I’m looking at here, rather than one exceptional individual, the progress of the British team in this quad was shown with a first European medal, silver at the 2010 championships.

Individually Beth aside, there was one world final with Imogen Carins 8th on vault in 2010, the team also made two team finals, finishing in 7th in 2010, and 5th in 2011.

At European level again Beth aside, there were the following results:

Vault

Becky Downie 6th 2009
Nicole Hibbert 8th 2010

Bars

Becky Downie 6th 2009, 4th 2010
Ruby Harrold 7th 2012

Beam

Hannah Whelan BRONZE 2012

Floor

Niamh Rippin 6th 2010
Hannah Whelan 8th 2011
Hannah Whelan BRONZE 2012

Things were progressing, as there were a range of gymnasts making finals, and a gymnast other than Beth to medal internationally, with two bronzes for Hannah.

At the Commonwealth Games in 2010, the English team took silver in the team, 4th, 5th, and 6th AA, plus vault and floor gold via Imogen Cairns.

Heading into the London Games, the potential was for a team final, which they did achieve, then of course Beth for bars and perhaps floor finals. Beth made the bars final, and got her Olympic medal taking the bronze. For all the great progress the team had made throughout the quad though, GB were still int the position of heading into the Olympics fielding one gymnast only with a reasonable shot at individual finals.

With London being Beth’s last competitive outing, how would the British team, with scores and results boosted by her performances for so long fare?
The motto for Team GB in London was ‘Better never stops’ what better way to describe the British WAG team as they have made their way from 2012 through the quad to Rio.

World Level:

At word level there has been a huge jump, a team medal, and ten individual finals from four different gymnasts over the quad, on three pieces of apparatus.

Team final 2014 6th
Team Final 2015 BRONZE

Vault

Claudia Fragapane 5th 2014
Ellie Downie 4th 2015

Bars

Ruby Harrold 7th 2013
Becky Downie 8th 2013
Becky Downie 5th 2014
Ruby Harrold 8th 2014
Ruby Harrold 7th 2015

Floor

Claudia Fragapane 8th 2014
Ellie Downie 6th 2015
Claudia Fragapane 7th 2015

European Level:

At European level the team have again never been more successful, 23 finals between six different gymnasts, two team, and eight individual medals.

Team SILVER 2014
Team SILVER 2016

AA BRONZE Ellie Downie 2015

Vault

Claudia Fragapane 6th 2014
Ellie Downie 5th 2015
Claudia Fragapane 6th 2015
Ellie Downie SILVER 2016
Claudia Fragapane 5th 2016

Bars

Becky Downie 7th 2013
Ruby Harrold 8th 2013
Becky Downie GOLD 2014
Becky Tunney 4th 2014
Becky Downie SILVER 2015
Ellie Downie 4th 2015
Becky Downie GOLD 2016
Gabby Jupp 7th 2016

Beam

Ruby Harrold 6th 2013
Becky Downie 4th 2014
Becky Downie SILVER 2015
Claudia Fragapane 4th 2015
Becky Downie 6th 2016

Floor

Claudia Fragapane 8th 2014
Claudia Fragapane SILVER 2015
Amy Tinkler 6th 2015
Ellie Downie SILVER 2016
Claudia Fragapane 4th 2016

At the Commonwealth Games the English team from which the British teams have drawn their gymnasts over this quad completely dominated with five gold, a silver and a bronze.

So whatever the results in Rio, whether the British team are making finals, and winning medals, or whether they do not, the progress is there. The potential they go in with is unprecedented, multiple gymnasts could realistically make multiple finals, such a huge step up in such a short time. It will make for nerve-wracking viewing as we will them on to perform at their very best, to show the world that for team GB after London, far from peaking for the games, better really has never stopped.

 

 

 

 

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