By Anna Rose Johnson
The uneven bars final at the 2019 World Championships could prove to be one of the most exciting apparatus finals of Stuttgart!
Photo by Grace Chiu
Defending champion Nina Derwael has not slowed down, continuing to win almost every competition in which she competes. Over the past few years, Derwael’s routine has become even more impressive as she’s fine-tuned her near-flawless execution and upgraded with further stunning connections. Despite her inconsistent performance in her signature apparatus at the recent European Games, we think that Derwael—a longtime fan favorite—is also the favorite to win gold at Worlds.
In the USA, there are at least four possible medal challengers. The first is Sunisa Lee, who recently won the bars title at the U.S. Championships and thrilled us all with her delightful combinations and breathtaking execution. Like Derwael last year and Beth Tweddle in years past, Lee maximizes every opportunity to seamlessly connect her releases in eye-catching ways. Her scores at Championships were 14.750 and 15.050, both of which would be very competitive internationally.
Riley McCusker and Morgan Hurd are two more American gymnasts whose beautiful work on bars always has the potential to place them in the medal hunt. And obviously, Simone Biles—the reigning World silver medalist on this apparatus—could be a contender as well! Because of the two-per country rule, only two Americans will be able to compete in the final, so it will be interesting to see who is selected to the team and who qualifies on top. The D-scores of Lee and Biles are higher than those of McCusker or Hurd, so they’ll likely have the edge going into Stuttgart qualifications.
One of the gold medalists in that memorable four-way tie on bars at 2015 Worlds, China’s Fan Yilin has maintained an excellent standard on this event in the years since that final. (She scored a 15.100 at the Chinese Championships in May, close to Derwael’s 15.233 at the Flanders competition in June.)
Since Elisabeth Seitz will be competing in her home country of Germany, she has an even better chance to medal than ever! Finishing fourth in the 2016 Olympic bars final and often hitting awesome releases, Seitz could battle for gold here as well, considering her 14.900 at this month’s German Championships.
The reigning European champion on this event is Russia’s Anastasia Iliankova, who won her continental title this April with a stellar 14.833. We love her classical style on bars!