We are nearly a month away from the 2015 World Gymnastics Championships, and the first rosters have been released.
While the final, official rosters will not be announced until right before the event starts, the International Gymnastics Federation released a schedule that included "nominative" rosters. These rosters are not official, but it is very rare when the final rosters do not reflect the nominative rosters that the IGF publish. For example, the last time a woman was named on the United States nominative roster and did not make the team despite being healthy was in 2010. Back in 2011, Mackenzie Caquatto was listed on the nominative roster, but suffered an injury in camp. She would be replaced by future Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglas.
For Team USA, the nominative roster released by the IGF is as follows:
What is noteworthy about this roster is that only one member, Maggie Nichols, has no prior World Championship experience (though Breanna Dowell traveled with the team in 2013 but did not compete). Nichols, however, was set to make the World Championship team last year, but an injury ended her season. Generally speaking, the World Championship prior to an Olympic Games is the opportunity that a team has to get some of their younger athletes some experience on the biggest stage. If the bulk of this roster remains intact heading into Rio, it will be the most experienced US gymnastics team in recent memory.
What is also noteworthy from this roster are the names that are not included. The biggest of those names is Kyla Ross. Ross was a member of the "Fierce Five" in London that brought home the Olympic gold medal, and was the only member from that team not to take a hiatus after the Games. She competed in the 2013 and 2014 World Championships, but her struggled all season culminated in a tenth place finish at last month's P&G Championship. With two members of the 2012 Olympic Team already on the roster, Kyla Ross' absence from the roster would not be a surprise.
The other big name missing is Bailie Key. She has had a solid season, finishing second in the all-around in Jesolo and fourth at the Secret Classic and the P&G Championship. Key, however, is in her first year as a senior, and will have plenty of opportunities to play her way onto the Olympic roster next year.
While Team USA's roster is a nominative roster that is not yet official, Russia has announced their official seven person roster for Glasgow. Six of those ladies will make the official team, while one will be the alternate. For Team Russia, the theme appears to be "recovering from injury", as four members of the 2012 Olympic team all all made the team, but all are returning from injury.
The most notable name on the list was Aliya Mustafina, who announced last week that she would not compete in Scotland before changing her mind a few days later. Mustafina claimed that her appearance in Scotland would depend on how healthy she was, but by being added to the official roster, it would appear as if Mustafina will be competing.
Also making the team, to no one's surprise, was Viktoria Komova. Komova was the best gymnast in Russia during the 2011-2012 gymnastics season, and walked out of both the 2011 World Championship and 2012 Olympics with the all-around silver medal. Health problems, however, made her sit out most of 2013 and 2014, and she has struggled this season in her return to competition. Komova will likely be using the World Championships as a way to get healthy and fit for an opportunity to challenge Biles for the gold in Rio.
Also making the team were Maria Paseka and Ksenia Afanasyeva, members of the 2012 Olympic team that missed the past two seasons with injuries and illness. Paseka has been great on the vault in her comeback season, winning the gold medal in that discipline at the European Championships after making the team as an alternate.
Afanasyeva is one of the oldest and most experienced members of the Russian team. She competed for Russia at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and won a gold medal in the floor exercise at the 2011 World Championships. She has since undergone three ankle surgeries that has seen her miss considerable time, but she was able to get back to form, winning the gold medal in the floor exercise at the 2015 European Championships. She will be a favorite to win that discipline, and could make her third Olympic team next year.
While all the experienced women make the team, there is also a youngster that gives Russia a lot of hope - Daria Spiridonova. Spiridonova is only 17 years old but has a World Championship medal to her name - a bronze in the uneven bars from last year. Spiridonova is mainly an uneven bars specialist, but she won the all-around gold at the Russian Cup earlier this year. If Mustafina and Komova can not bounce back from their injuries, Spiridonova may be called upon to lead Team Russia into Rio. Team Russia will be trying to catch Team USA at the World Championships. Russia walked away with the bronze last year when the United States cruised to a gold medal.
Team China are the defending silver medalists, and they will be bringing an almost identical team as they did in 2014. One of the few changes is the addition Yi Mao, who supposedly has one of the hardest floor exercises in the world. On paper, however, China comes with a much weaker team this year - uneven bars gold medalist Yao Jinnan will be missing from the competition due to a shoulder injury, and balance beam specialist Bai Yawen, who took home the silver in that discipline last year, did not make the team.
Oksana Chusovitina is currently listed on Uzbekistan's nominative roster. At 40, Chusovitina would be the oldest person to ever compete at the World Championships. She has been competing in the World Olympic Games since 1991, and looks to represent Uzekistan in the 2016 Olympic Games. She won a silver medal on the vault at the 2008 Games.
The 2015 World Gymnastics Championship will take place from October 23rd to November 1st in Glasgow, Scotland.