China, Japan lead Asian challenge in Artistic World Championships
AGU Media, DOHA (QAT): Asian MAG and WAG gymnasts mainly from China and Japan will have an interesting battle with competitors from Russia and USA when the 48th FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Championships starts here on Thursday with MAG qualification rounds,
The three medal-winning nations in the Team finals for both men and women will earn team berths directly to the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo while the others will have further chances to qualify in 2019 and 2020.
The Japanese men and American women are the reigning Olympic champions from Rio and defending world champions from the 2015 World Championships in Glasgow.
The spotlight will be on Japan’s Kohei Uchimura, who was absent from the men’s All-Around finals at the 2017 Worlds in Montreal, Canada, and will share the spotlight with his successor Xiao Ruoteng (CHN).
However, six-time world champion Uchimura will be competing in four events only.
Olympic vault champion Ri Se Gwang (PRK), who was absent at last year’s edition, will be back in action and aiming for a third world title to go with his 2014 and 2015 titles.
Kenzo Shirai (JPN), reigning champions in floor exercise and vault, is also one of the top stars in the competition.
2013 winner on parallel bars Lin Chaopan (CHN) would also hope to do justice to his talent after winning the All-Around and team gold at the 18th Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia, last August while Zou Jingyuan (CHN) will also be hoping to defend men’s parallel bars title.
Meanwhile, all the Asian Games titlists including China’s Chen Yile, who won the gold in the women’s All-around and balance beam, will hope to bring glory to the Chinese team, coached by Liang Chow.
This year’s competition will provide the first qualification route for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo (JPN).
As many as eight sets of medals will be up for grabs in the men’s category (Team, All-around, Floor Exercise, Pommel Horse, Still Rings, Vault, Parallel Bars, and Horizontal Bar) and six for women (Team, All-around, Vault, Uneven Bars, Balance Beam, and Floor Exercise).
First-year senior Yeo Seojeong of South Korea could vault herself into the spotlight and into the record books as the first female artistic gymnast to win a world medal for her country.
Daughter of the great Yeo Hong-Chul, world and Olympic medallist in men’s vault, Seojeong won the vault crown in Jakarta followed by the FIG World Challenge Cup in Guimaraes, Portugal.
Fan Yilin (CHN), two-time champions on uneven bars, will look for a hat-trick of titles but reigning floor exercise champion Mai Murakami (JPN) may face tough challenges.
Seven-time Olympian Oksana Chusovitina (UZB), who won the vault silver in Jakarta, will be the cynosure of all eyes for her tenacity to compete with the gymnasts half of her age.