Publication date : 21/10/2018
The road to Tokyo 2020 begins in Doha (QAT) as the Gymnastics World Championships take place in the Middle East for the first time. The Qatari capital will play host to the 48th FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Championships from 25 October to 3 November 2018, when the world’s best gymnasts will fight for medals, glory and Olympic qualification.
Middle East ‘Aspires’ to make history
The sport of Gymnastics will extend its reach into a new era in 2018. The excitement of the World Championships will unfold for the first time in Western Asia, after a century of competitions in Europe, North America, Australia, and East Asia. The city of Doha and its world-class Aspire Dome have become a familiar spot for major Artistic Gymnastics competitions in the 21st century. The Doha World Cup has been held annually since 2008, attracting many of the top stars, and the Aspire Dome also played host to the Gymnastics competition at the 2006 Asian Games.
First Olympic qualification
More than 500 gymnasts from 76 nations will compete for eight sets of medals for men and six for women in Doha. In addition to medals, three Olympic spots each for men and women are at stake in the team competition in Doha, where the medal-winning nations in the Team Final will earn automatic team berths for Tokyo 2020. Other nations will have additional chances to qualify at competitions in 2019 and 2020 (click here for more on the 2020 Olympic qualification process and refer to the applicable rules.)
The return of the team competition — which was not held at the 2017 World Championships in Montreal (CAN) — will see a renewal of rivalries from Rio 2016, leading to an even more thrilling showdown in the finals.
Biles is back — in a big way
The queen of the 2013-16 quadrennium, Olympic champion Simone Biles (USA) returned to competition this summer after a year-long break and shocked the Gymnastics world by sweeping the U.S. championships. Biles has upgraded all her routines to pack in even more difficulty, pushing herself even further from her rivals. The 21-year-old Texan is tied with Svetlana Khorkina (RUS) with the most world All-around titles for women with three, and seems to have a date with destiny in Doha, where she hopes to stand alone in the record books with four crowns to her credit.
Biles, who already has a tumbling skill named after her on Floor Exercise, is also looking to put her name in the Code of Points for a second time by performing an incredibly difficult new vault (Yurchenko half-on, double-twisting layout front off).
Doha’s impressive roster includes more than 20 world and Olympic champions eager to mine more medals. The reigning Olympic All-around champions, Biles and Kohei Uchimura (JPN), will be seeking to regain their world titles from the 2017 world champions, Morgan Hurd (USA) and Xiao Ruoteng (CHN), respectively. The competition for the individual apparatus medals will be even more intense. Superstars Aliia Mustafina (RUS), Max Whitlock (GBR), Sanne Wevers (NED), Kenzo Shirai (JPN) and Oleg Verniaiev (UKR), Mai Murakami (JPN), Epke Zonderland (NED), Ri Se Gwang (PRK), and Zou Jingyuan (CHN) are only some of the world and Olympic champions going for more gold in Doha.
The lineup also includes seven-time Olympian Oksana Chusovitina (UZB), who continues to awe audiences at age 43 as she charges toward an unprecedented eighth Olympic Games.
History in the making
The big names will be battling more than each other in Doha, where they will go up against the latest generation of Gymnastics talent hungry for their chance in the spotlight and to perhaps make history of their own. Several young medal contenders are eyeing record results for their nations. Rhys McClenaghan (IRL) dethroned world and Olympic Pommel Horse champion Max Whitlock at this year’s Commonwealth Games and European Championships and is riding incredible momentum to Doha, where he could become the first Irish gymnast in history to win a World Championships medal. Asian Games Vault champion Yeo Seojeong, the 16-year-old daughter of world and Olympic vault medallist Yeo Hong-chul, could follow in her famous father’s foosteps onto the World podium, as the first female gymnast from the Republic of Korea to do so.