Worlds absentees

It’s hard to watch a world championships without thinking about who’s not there and how those people could have impacted the results.

Although this year there weren’t as many absentees as in 2006, it seems fitting to pay tribute to those who might have been on the teams were it not for injury or whatnot and wonder what’s in store for them come 2008…

Anna Pavlova: Although she’s never won a major championship, Pavlova has hung with the Russian team since 2003 and proved in Athens that she has what it takes to win during major competitions. Many still think she deserved the bronze — if not silver — in the Olympic all-around. Most recently, Pavlova competed at the 2007 Shanghai World Cup, where she looked in great shape and turned in a most impressive beam routine.

Anna Pavlova, 2007 Shanghai World Cup, Balance Beam:

Jana Bieger:

Jana Bieger

It must have been a terrible disappointment for Jana Bieger not to make the 2007 World team, given that the championships were held in Germany, a country she has strong ties with. A foot injury kept Bieger from giving her best performance at Nationals, and she was not among those Martha Karolyi chose to train for the world championship. Bieger might actually improve her chances of making the Olympic team if she were to compete for Germany, but according to the NBC commentators at the U.S. Championships, she nipped that idea in the bud as soon as it was mentioned.

Jana Bieger, 2006 World Championships All-Around, Floor Exercise:

Justin Spring: Spring, who excels on vault, high bar, parallel bars and…well, everything except pommel horse, tore his ACL on vault at the U.S. Championships two weeks before Worlds. The injury means Spring, who competed for the University of Illinois in college, won’t be at full strength for a good six months. Fortunately, he won’t have to prove himself ready for the Olympics for about nine.

Justin Spring, 2007 U.S. Championships, High Bar:

Ashley Preiss: Priess, who trains at Cincinnati Gymnastics Academy, chose to sit out U.S. Nationals — and consequently the world championship selection process — while she recovers from injury. Preiss made a strong showing at the 2006 Worlds, where she placed tenth in the all-around. Some may be wondering if Preiss can compete with the depth of the U.S. team, but it’s hard to count her out.

Ashley Preiss, 2006 World Championships All-Around, Uneven Bars:

Chellsie Memmel: Memmel has had a rough couple of years after winning the 2005 World All-Around championships. A nagging shoulder problem has made it hard for her to train her best event, the uneven bars, for several months, and at Nationals she went to compete on floor exercise for one night only. Memmel showed true grit during the team competition at the 2006 Worlds where she sustained an injury while competing on uneven bars during team finals. She fought through what must have been a fair amount of pain and finished the competition, helping the U.S. to a silver medal, then withdrawing from the all-around. Given the preliminary results, a healthy Memmel would have been in good shape to defend her championship in Aarhus. It remains to be seen what a healthy Memmel would be able to contribute to in 2008.

Chellsie Memmel, 2006 World Championships Team Finals, Floor Exercise:

Kyle Shewfelt:

Kyle Shewfelt

Shewfelt, the backbone of the Canadian men’s team, fractured both of his knees in training in Stuttgart and watched the competition from a wheelchair on the sidelines. The reigning Olympic floor champion has been noted for his grace and class both on and off the competition floor. Note his reaction, as recorded by the Winnipeg Sun to not being able to compete at the 2007 Worlds:

“I don’t want to come back and come 50th at the Olympics or maybe not make the team,” said an emotional Shewfelt. “I want to be able to have my best performances in Beijing just like I did in Athens. I want to contribute to this team and individually do well there.

“It’s going to be a hard journey back I’m sure. I’m ready for the challenge. I’m so ready for this fight.”

Kyle Shewfelt, 2006 World Championships, Floor Exercise:

Pang Panpan: This young Chinese gymnast came within a hair’s breadth of winning the 2006 World all-around title, only to miss her very difficult double-twisting Yurchenko vault on her last event of the competition. Pang was left off the Chinese team this year due to injury, but I think she could be a major contender in 2008 if she remains healthy.

Pang Panpan, 2006 World Championships All-Around, Floor Exercise:

Ana Maria Tamarjan: This Romanian newcomer fractured her leg during podium training and was unable to compete in what would have been her first world championships. Tamarjan is part of an emerging team of young Romanians whose future is somewhat undefined.

Ana Maria Tamarjan, 2007 Romanian Nationals, Floor Exercise:

Irina Isayeva: Isayeva made a big impression at the 2006 Europeans before succumbing to an injury later in the season. She made an appearance at one competition in 2007 but was left off the Russian team for the Stuttgart worlds. Isayeva is one of the much-talked about Russian juniors who are now infiltrating the senior ranks of competition, but Russia has yet to put together a team of its youngsters for a major competition.

Irina Isayeva, 2006 European Championships Team Finals, Floor Exercise:

Marian Dragulescu: Dragulescu, a veteran of the bronze medal-winning Romanian men’s team in 2004, cracked his lumbar vertebra in training to defend his titles on vault and floor exercise at this year’s worlds, International Gymnast Magazine reported prior to the competition. No matter. If he recovers properly, Dragulescu will almost certainly be a force to be reckoned with come next summer.

Marian Dragulescu, 2006 World Championships Event Finals, Floor Exercise:

Shavahn Church:

Shavahn Church

Church, who was a member of the U.S. junior national team before deciding (rightly, I think) that she would have a better chance of making the Olympic team were she to go compete for England, has had a rough couple of years as well. Injury prevented Church, who trains in California, from competing with her team, which qualified to the Olympics even without her. With Church, Beth Tweddle and newcomer Rebecca Downie, the Brits could be the upset of Beijing. Top five, anyone?

Shavahn Church, 2005 World Championships All-Around, Uneven Bars:

One Response to “Worlds absentees”

  1. Rick McCharles Says:

    Love your blog.

    It is my personal favourite right now.

    No doubt you’ve noticed our many links to your posts.

    Rick McCharles, Canada
    editor GymnasticsCoaching.com

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