The historical gymnastics powerhouse of Russia puts up another strong Olympic team with London 2012 all-around bronze medalist Aliya Mustafina and reigning vault world champion Maria Paseka leading the Russian Women's Gymnastics Olympic Team in Rio.
The full five-person team is comprised of London all-around bronze medalist Aliya Mustafina, reigning vault world champion and London 2012 vault bronze medalist Maria Paseka, reigning world uneven bars champion Daria Spiridonova, reigning Russian national champion Angelina Melnikova, and 2015 European Championships vault silver medalist Seda Tutkhalyan.
Projected qualification and team final lineups
With the immense depth of Russian gymnastics even without the injured Viktoria Komova, it will most definitely be a tough decision for the reigning European champions as for who to send up in qualifications and in team finals.
In qualifications, a four up, three routines count scenario, expect the Russians to send up reigning vault world champion Maria Paseka, 2012 all-around bronze medalist Aliya Mustafina, European Championships team gold medal winner Angelina Melnikova, and 2015 European Championships vault silver medalist Seda Tutkhalyan with Tutkhalyan not in the lineup for the team final, a three up, all scores count scenario.
For uneven bars, by far Russia's strongest event, expect reigning Olympic bars gold medalist Mustafina, reigning bars world champion Spiridonova, Paseka, and Melnikova to go, with Melnikova sitting out the team final.
On balance beam, expect Russia to once again go with Mustafina, Spiridonova, Melnikova, and Paseka, with Paseka out of the lineup for team finals. Finally, on floor exercise, expect to see London floor bronze medalist Mustafina, Tutkhalyan, Melnikova, and Paseka with Paseka once again sitting out the team finals.
What to expect from Russia?
With Russia being one of the traditional "Big Four" gymnastics powerhouses along with the US, China, and Romania, expectations are once again high for the defending Olympic silver medalists. In qualifications, expect Russia to easily advance to the team final with Mustafina reaching a second consecutive all-around final, and Melnikova narrowly edging out teammate Maria Paseka for the second all-around spot.
In team finals, a three up, all scores count situation, look for the experience of Mustafina and Paseka to pay dividends, with the older Russian team upsetting China and taking a second consecutive tea silver medal.
In the all-around finals, assuming Mustafina and Melnikova advance to the all-around final, expect the defending all-around bronze medalist Mustafina to challenge for a medal, but to narrowly miss out with either a fourth or fifth place finish. For Melnikova, the younger of the two, the reigning Russian all-around champion should be consistent, but a medal is a long shot for Melnikova.
Team: Silver medal
All-around: Mustafina- fourth place, Melnikova- sixth
Vault: Paseka- silver medal
Uneven bars: Spiridonova- bronze medal
Medal count: Silver- two, Bronze- one