By Anna Rose Johnson

Imagine if the World and Olympic apparatus finals in women’s artistic gymnastics suddenly included gymnasts from a wider range of countries, such as Israel, Slovenia, Puerto Rico, and Turkey. Imagine if gymnasts from Mexico or France or Japan consistently made those same finals. Imagine if world participation in high-caliber gymnastics could increase dramatically—without changing the two-per country rule, adjusting the Code of Points, or cutting the Olympic teams to three members each?

What if there were 12 gymnasts in each apparatus final, instead of eight?

If this rule change had been in place just since 2009, then 37 different countries would have been represented in World and Olympic apparatus finals, as opposed to the 24 countries that actually were represented. The London 2012 beam final was a perfect example of this issue: the eight-person final consisted of two Americans, two Romanians, two Chinese, and two Russians. Had 12 gymnasts been allowed, athletes from Japan, Italy, and Greece would have been included as well. And who wouldn’t like to see more unique routines and more celebrated gymnasts on the world’s largest podium?

Many gymnasts have been affected by the eight-person finals. If 12 gymnasts had been allowed in finals over the past eight years, Vasiliki Millousi would have qualified to the 2009, 2011, 2013, and 2014 World beam finals, as well as the 2012 Olympic beam final. Similarly, Poland’s Marta Pihan-Kulesza would have qualified to the 2010 World vault and beam finals, the 2012 Olympic floor final, and the 2014 World floor final. Under this system, Japan’s Asuka Teramoto would have graced the Olympic stage in the London floor and beam finals, not to mention the 2011 World beam final. Australia’s Larrissa Miller would have qualified to four World uneven bars finals, and the Downie sisters from Great Britain would have competed in six additional finals between them!

For decades, the FIG has been striving to increase global participation in gymnastics, especially in Olympic finals, and it seems as though this simple solution would be hugely effective. We just saw some fan favorites miss finals in Rio by the slimmest of margins (Belgium’s Nina Derwael comes to mind). If 12 gymnasts had been permitted to qualify to each apparatus, many accomplished athletes would have had the opportunity to perform in additional Olympic finals. We would have seen hometown star Rebeca Andrade in the bars final, not to mention 2004 Olympic floor champ Catalina Ponor in the floor final.

What are your thoughts? Would you like to see this change? Share this article on social media and let’s spark a conversation!

Additional Gymnasts Who Would Have Qualified

Below is a complete list of the additional gymnasts who would have qualified to World and Olympic finals if 12 had been allowed in apparatus finals in 2009 through 2016.

 

2009 WORLD VAULT FINAL:
Becky Downie (GBR), Marissa King (GBR), Jana Komrskova (CZE), Valeria Maksiuta (ISR)

2009 WORLD UNEVEN BARS FINAL:
Ekaterina Kurbatova (RUS), Ksenia Semenova (RUS), Gabriela Dragoi (ROU), Pauline Morel (FRA)

2009 WORLD BALANCE BEAM FINAL:
Rebecca Bross (USA), Ksenia Semenova (RUS), Ana Maria Izurieta (ESP), Vasiliki Millousi (GRE)

2009 WORLD FLOOR EXERCISE FINAL:
Kayla Williams (USA), Youna Dufournet (FRA), Ana Maria Izurieta (ESP), Ekaterina Kurbatova (RUS)

2010 WORLD VAULT FINAL:
Huang Qiushuang (CHN), Yessenia Estrada (MEX), Nicole Hibbert (GBR), Marta Pihan-Kulesza (POL)

2010 WORLD UNEVEN BARS FINAL:
Tatiana Nabieva (RUS), Becky Downie (GBR), Larrissa Miller (AUS), Celine van Gerner (NED)

2010 WORLD BALANCE BEAM FINAL:
Elisabetta Preziosa (ITA), Huang Qiushuang (CHN), Marta Pihan-Kulesza (POL), Sandra Izbasa (ROU)

2010 WORLD FLOOR EXERCISE FINAL:
Celine van Gerner (NED), Hannah Whelan (GBR), Rebecca Bross (USA), Daniele Hypolito (BRA)

2011 WORLD VAULT FINAL:
Jo Hyunjoo (KOR) Valeria Maksiuta (ISR), Austin Sheppard (HUN), Jessica Gil Ortiz (COL)

2011 WORLD UNEVEN BARS FINAL:
Yao Jinnan (CHN), Elisabeth Seitz (GER), Beth Tweddle (GBR), Larrissa Miller (AUS)

2011 WORLD BALANCE BEAM FINAL:
Vasiliki Millousi (GRE), Hannah Whelan (GBR), Asuka Teramoto (JPN), Celine van Gerner (NED)

2011 WORLD FLOOR EXERCISE FINAL:
Catalina Ponor (ROU), Nadine Jarosch (GER), Elsa Garcia (MEX), Hannah Whelan (GBR)

2012 OLYMPIC VAULT FINAL:
Guilia Steingruber (SUI), Nastassia Marachkouskaya (BLR), Phan Thi Ha Thanh (VIE), Wong Hiu Ying Angel (HKG)

2012 OLYMPIC UNEVEN BARS FINAL:
Celine van Gerner (NED), Kyla Ross (USA), Rebecca Tunney (GBR), Rie Tanaka (JPN)

2012 OLYMPIC BALANCE BEAM FINAL:
Asuka Teramoto (JPN), Vanessa Ferrari (ITA), Carlotta Ferlito (ITA), Vasiliki Millousi (GRE)

2012 OLYMPIC FLOOR EXERCISE FINAL:
Beth Tweddle (GBR), Marta Pihan-Kulesza (POL), Asuka Teramoto (JPN), Sui Lu (CHN)

2013 WORLD VAULT FINAL:
Ellie Black (CAN), Aliya Mustafina (RUS), Teja Belak (SLO), Mai Murakami (JPN)

2013 WORLD UNEVEN BARS FINAL:
Tatiana Nabieva (RUS), Elisabeth Seitz (GER), Natsumi Sasada (JPN), Sung Ji Hye (KOR)

2013 WORLD BALANCE BEAM FINAL:
Yao Jinnan (CHN), Krystyna Sankova (UKR), Daniele Hypolito (BRA), Vasiliki Millousi (GRE)

2013 WORLD FLOOR EXERCISE FINAL:
Noemi Makra (HUN), Noel van Klaveren (NED), Jessica Lopez (VEN), Shang Chunsong (CHN)

2014 WORLD VAULT FINAL:
Larisa Iordache (ROU), Dipa Karmakar (IND), Ellie Black (CAN), Ri Un Ha (PRK)

2014 WORLD UNEVEN BARS FINAL:
Larrissa Miller (AUS), Kyla Ross (USA), Jessica Lopez (VEN), Youna Dufournet (FRA)

2014 WORLD BALANCE BEAM FINAL:
Emma Nedov (AUS), Becky Downie (GBR), Vasiliki Millousi (GRE), Vanessa Ferrari (ITA)

2014 WORLD FLOOR EXERCISE FINAL:
Roxana Popa (ESP), Shang Chunsong (CHN), Marta Pihan-Kulesza (POL), Julie Croket (BEL)

2015 WORLD VAULT FINAL:
Seda Tutkhalyan (RUS), Brittany Rogers (CAN), Paula Mejias (PUR), Ellie Black (CAN)

2015 WORLD UNEVEN BARS FINAL:
Loan His (FRA), Lieke Wevers (NED), Noemi Makra (HUN), Larrissa Miller (AUS)

2015 WORLD BALANCE BEAM FINAL:
Carlotta Ferlito (ITA), Jade Barbosa (BRA), Maggie Nichols (USA), Flavia Saraiva (BRA)

2015 WORLD FLOOR EXERCISE FINAL:
Shang Chunsong (CHN), Lieke Wevers (NED), Wang Yan (CHN), Flavia Saraiva (BRA)

2016 OLYMPIC VAULT FINAL:
Brittany Rogers (CAN), Seda Tutkhalyan (RUS), Elissa Downie (GBR), Alexa Moreno (MEX)

2016 OLYMPIC BARS FINAL:
Fan Yilin (CHN), Becky Downie (GBR), Nina Derwael (BEL), Rebeca Andrade (BRA)

2016 OLYMPIC BEAM FINAL:
Elissa Downie (GBR), Amy Tinkler (GBR), Tutya Yilmaz (TUR), Seda Tutkhalyan (RUS)

2016 OLYMPIC FLOOR FINAL:
Claudia Fragapane (GBR), Pauline Schäfer (GER), Catalina Ponor (ROU), Ellie Black (CAN)

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Anna Rose Johnson writes about women’s artistic and rhythmic gymnastics. She loves Whippets, brownies, and full-twisting double layouts. Her writing portfolio can be viewed at: https://annarosejohnson.contently.com