2011 Round-up: Gymnastics

Jordyn Wieber of the USA
If it’s true that most sports evolve today at a much faster pace than yesterday,
what can we say about Gymnastics, where the top four in the 2011 Global Cup have not only remained the same as in 2010 (China, Russia, USA, Japan, in the same order!), they also have cornered an astonishing 60,9% of all points, even more than in 2010, when they swept up “only” 49,8% of points?
It won’t come as a surprise that only one team in the top twenty was a new entry: we salute Vietnam, 20th in the 2011 ranking, as well as Brazil, the country who made the biggest leap among the top twenty, from 13th in 2010 to 7th this year. That this leap was managed with only three counts in Artistic Gymnastics, including a silver medal in the Men Rings, says a lot about the “elitism” of the discipline.
Gymnastics in GSN is the aggregate of two disciplines, Artistic Gymnastics and Rhythmic Gymnastics.
The latter is a close affair, with only ten countries earning points in 2011 (eleven last year), only one new country in the top ten, Poland (11th last year) replacing Kazakhstan, and the top four places going to Russia, Belarus, Italy and Bulgaria, the same ranking as last year.
kohei uchimura of japan
Artistic Gymnastics obviously follows the same trend, though it shows  a little more change. The Artistic Gymnastics World Championships 2011 were held in Tokyo: the top four countries remained the same as in 2010, China, USA, Japan (up one place from last year) and Russia, with Brazil and Hungary new to the top ten (Australia and South Korea were out).
The Men ranking saw hosts Japan edge past China, the two countries sweeping up 40,1% of all points between them! Amidst sundry lamentations of unfairness and code cheating in the scoring, another aspect of this sport that sadly remains unchanged, Japan won one less gold than China, who struck gold in the Rings, Team and Horizontal bar (where they also came second) but had more strength in depth.
It was a slightly different story among Women, where the USA narrowly beat Russia and China thanks to two golds and a bronze by Jordyn Wieber, and two golds by McKayla Maroney.
For this fascinating, spectacular and unforgiving discipline the story is then about China’s more consistent placing (they won neither gender) than their close rivals Russia, USA and Japan. The rest of the world has still a long way to go to be able to upset them.