It’s over.

If she throws an Amanar, Shawn Johnson is likely to win the all-around competition in Beijing.

That’s right. The 2008 Olympic all-around competition is over.

An interview with Chow Liang by International Gymnast Magazine editor Dwight Normile affirmed that Chow’s prodigy, 2007 World Champion Shawn Johnson, will soon be back to full training following treatment for a stress reaction in her right shin.

“World champion gymnast suffers slight injury, gets better, returns to training” isn’t the news. What is, as Normile gently reminds readers, is that Johnson has and may continue working on her Amanar — a Yurchenko vault with 2.5 twists — which she came within a few seconds of performing at the U.S. Championships in August.

Chow couldn’t say what changes, if any, he would make in Johnson’s routines for 2008, but we might see her upgrade to a 2-1/2-twisting Yurchenko on vault. After all, she almost competed it at the Visa Championships last August. “We did it during the warm-up,” Chow said. “I almost had her do it — almost. I probably felt one month short (of preparation) back then. I didn’t want to take any risk.”

Johnson probably doesn’t need to do an Amanar to win the all-around in Beijing. But if she does, it would put everyone else nearly out of contention to catch her.

The 2008 all-around champ -- and this event is why.

At the 2007 Worlds, Johnson won by 1.25 points over Romanian Steliana Nistor and was 1.325 ahead of bronze medalists Jade Barbosa and Vanessa Ferrari, both of whom would have placed above Nistor had Barbosa not fallen on floor and Ferrari on bars.

But even crediting Barbosa and Ferrari with eight tenths by assuming their mistakes were flukes, Johnson is still pacing the field by more than half a point.

Risk of injury aside, Johnson has almost nothing to lose by competing this vault. Whether or not she stands it up, if she can get credit for attempting an Amanar, her start value on vault will balloon by seven-tenths of a point. If does stand it up, even with a huge hop or lunge backward, she’s going to get a score that’s out of this world. They might as well mail the gold to Iowa as soon as her feet hit the ground.

Recall Barbosa’s 15.9 for a decent Yuchenko 2.5 during the all-around final. Johnson got a 15.175 for a nice DTY.

Jade Barbosa, 2007 World Championships All-Around, Vault:

Shawn Johnson, 2007 World Championships All-Around, Vault:

We may see silver and bronze contenders attempting two-and-a-halfs just to get the start value boost. It’s almost surprising we haven’t seen it yet. Of the top 10 in Stuttgart, only Johnson, Barbosa and maybe Ferrari look as though they have what it takes to land that vault on their feet.

Barbosa would be a threat, as her tumbling is equally difficult, but she’s proven less consistent on her better events, and the small form breaks she gives away on bars and beam will likely keep her chasing Johnson. Although this might be selling the 2006 World champ a bit short, it doesn’t seem like Ferrari has quite enough power to do an Amanar.

Vanessa Ferrari, 2007 World Championships Team Finals, Vault:

Why is it that vault, arguably the least exciting event, always seems to decide these things? In 1984, it gave Mary Lou Retton the gold and enduring fame. In 2000, it cost Svetlana Khorkina what was basically presumed to be “her” victory. In 2008, it may well seal Shawn Johnson’s.

It’s almost funny — if either Alicia Sacramone or Cheng Fei threw a triple twisting Yurchenko, their scores would be so high as to put them in contention for the all-around gold, despite the deficiencies both have on bars.

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10 Responses to “It’s over.”

  1. Rick McCharles Says:

    Great post, Blythe.

    Most insightful I’ve seen yet on predicting the winner in Beijing.

    My gut tells me it will be Ferrari. She’s got the “comeback” motivation. Shawn has the IMMENSE pressure of media expectation.

    On the other hand, Shawn seems unflappable.

  2. She is the champion, my friend… « difficulty plus execution Says:

    […] Blythe at the Gymblog seems pretty sure that Shawn Johnson is going to walk away with the 2008 Olympic all-around title, just as Carly Patterson did three years ago. […]

  3. Marcus Says:

    you do realize that Nastia was only tumbling for a month before the competition

    if she can come up with that in a month just imagine what she has in store for 2008 on floor

    and also, her beam set will most likely change, including UPGRADES

    Shawn Johnson is still small, and doesn’t have proper basics, just look at her routine, everything is chucked, she flings herself into her bars dismount, which gets NO height, BTW

    I’m not saying I don’t want Shawn on the team, but that’s all I want. I want her on the team, and to contribute to the TEAM, that’s it…

  4. TCO Says:

    Rick thought Shawn would boink before. But she didn’t. Oh…and Atler was a better vaulter than these kids. She rawked the house on a more difficult horse.

  5. Michelle Says:

    If Nastia is healthy, she will win. I’m hoping the Chinese win for team though.

  6. TCO Says:

    USA! USA! USA!

  7. Cheng Fei best on beam in Beijing « The Gymblog Says:

    […] said before that I think Shawn Johnson has the all-around title sewn up if she throws the Amanar vault. Cheng is one of the few in the world who already seems to have more […]

  8. Pressure’s on, Shawn « The Gymblog Says:

    […] wonder if this negates my thesis that tossing an Amanar, even if one falls on it, is the be all and end all of the Olympic […]

  9. gymconsidered Says:

    Basically, this is how I feel: On that day of competition, it’s not over ’till it’s over.

  10. David Says:

    Dear All,

    I am Chinese, but I support USA. I want USA win.


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