With the Tokyo 2020 Olympics fast approaching the qualifying campaign is well underway to secure those precious Olympic places.
In artistic gymnastics the process began at the 2018 World Championships with both our men’s and women’s teams safely progressing through to the next team qualifying event in Stuttgart later this year. For our trampoline gymnasts the race to secure Team GB places begins this weekend with the opening World Cup of the year in Baku.
Olympic qualifying has been overhauled for this cycle with numerous opportunities for both teams and individuals to qualify through a variety or routes from now until next summer. The different options mean that tactics and long-term planning will be crucial.
For artistic gymnasts the 2019 World Championships in Stuttgart in October is the next main opportunities for Olympic hopefuls: at the end of the qualification competition, the nine top nations (excluding the three that qualified from last year’s Worlds) will qualify teams for Tokyo (4 people). Additionally, the three top gymnasts in each apparatus final in Stuttgart, excluding those from qualified teams, will also book their Olympic spot.
Individual apparatus specialists have already begun their qualifying journey through the apparatus World Cup series which began in November 2018 and runs to March 2020. The winners on each apparatus – a ranking decided by taking the best three results of each participant in the series – will be Tokyo-bound (on the condition that these gymnasts have not participated in the qualification of their team).
Further ahead there will be the possibility of gaining extra individual places for the competing countries via the 2020 all-around World Cup series – these will be available to the top three countries in this four-stage series. The final qualifying opportunity will come at the European Championships in spring 2020 when there will be two further individual places at stake.
For trampoline, half of the qualifying places will be up for grabs when Tokyo hosts the World Championships between 28 November and 1 December 2019, with the eight finalists in the individual competition securing a ticket for their country to the Games (with a maximum of one per country).
The 2019-2020 World Cups, the first of which is this weekend, also presents another opportunity for the highest-ranked participants in this six-stage series to earn a place for their country, while the European Championships in May 2020 will decide more places, one for each continent not yet represented.
With so many different Olympic routes and possibilities, the next year promises to be an exciting journey for our Olympic hopefuls. A visit to Japan is also planned for our trampoline, men’s artistic and women’s artistic squads this summer as a simulation camp for Tokyo 2020 and a chance for the three disciplines to familiarise with the holding camp facilities and the city.
Performance Director James Thomas explains more about how the qualifying could unfold: “The new qualification system is very different and fairly complex, but it does give a number of different opportunities for us over the next 18 months.
Primarily in artistic gymnastics, we want to target the team qualification route. The World Championships in Stuttgart this year will be an opportunity for us to do that, where we have to finish in the top nine in the team finals which we’re confident we can do as long as we have all of our gymnasts fit, healthy and ready to go.
After that, we have further opportunities to qualify two extra places. Where we think we’ll get those places will be the all-around World Cup series which starts in 2020 in which our all-around gymnasts will have to compete at four competitions and come top. We know that’ll be tough, as the likes of Russia, China and Japan will be there, but when we think about some of our established seniors and then some of the up and coming gymnasts, it’s going to be very exciting.
Another opportunity is the 2020 European Championships where we will have to have all-around gymnasts, that haven’t qualified already, finish in the top two. Here we may be looking at some of the exciting emerging talent we have – some of our juniors that are moving up to seniors – that could be a great opportunity for us to qualify a fifth or sixth place.
For trampolining, the World Cups this year form a key part of Olympic qualification. The first one is coming up in Baku and we’re taking a strong team there, to hopefully make some finals. There’s four World Cups for trampolining this year, so they’ll be looking to that throughout 2019, with the year finishing at the World Championships in Tokyo. That’ll give the gymnasts a chance to compete in Tokyo, in that environment ahead of next year.”