Results: 2007 Olympic Test Event-2nd place, 2007 Worlds-2nd place, 2006 Worlds-7th place
Pros: Hong Su Jong has competed both the Amanar and Cheng successfully in a major international competition. On call, Su Jong has very steady landings, going as far as to almost stick her Cheng vault at the 2007 Worlds event finals. Su Jong's competitive nature changed dramatically at Worlds between 2006 where she missed both vaults in finals and in 2007 where she nearly won.
Cons: Su Jong has relatively sloppy form and regressed terribly at the 2007 Olympic Test Event, winning the silver medal in a weak field. She has yet to compete this year and lacks favortism from the judges because of the political dismay of her country. Su Jong also lacks some of the height that Cheng and Sacramone are known to get.
Outlook: Hong Su Jong should be at top form in Beijing barring injury. The PRK coaches know that Su Jong is their strongest, and perhaps only gold medal threat in any gymnastics event and thus should get her to compete at top form due to the immense pressure from the communist state. Su Jong is unlikely to win gold due to lack of political favor, but winning silver or bronze is something very possible for her.
Hong Un Jong (PRK)
Results: 2008 Maribor World Cup Vault Champion, 2007 Worlds-4th place
Pros: Su Jong's supposed twin sister, (though with PRK you never really know) Hong Un Jong has competed a DTY and a Cheng and just missed the podium at last year's worlds. If Hong Un Jong gets an Amanar by Beijing, she could be in contention for the gold too. Un Jong is also a very confident gymnast out on the floor who generally hits when pressure is on.
Cons: Read my Slovenian World Cup analysis post for why I don't think Un Jong will be getting an Amanar, and how it is skeptical that we will even see the Cheng again. Without an Amanar, Un Jong is only .2 ahead of Sacramone (w/o upgrade) and A-Sac can easily make up those tenths with form, as can Chusovitina or Barbosa. Un Jong's weak form and VERY piked body position on her Cheng provide the judges a perfect opportunity to get political and keep her off the podium.
Outlook: Un Jong can contend for a medal, but it looks like she will need both an Amanar and a Cheng to do so, or mistakes from other competitors. Un Jong's confidence look to make her perform well in vault finals, but that might not be enough for a podium finish.
The Reserve Athletes
Francesca Benolli (Italy)- Competes a 5.8 and a 5.2 start value vaults, has good power but will be lucky to make vault finals.
Marissa King (GBR) Has competed a 5.7 and a 5.4 start values, clean landings and a rough performance from another top vaulter could get King into vault finals.
Daria Joura (Australia) Don't know if she plans to compete two different vaults or not. Her 2nd vault is weak, only worth a 5.0. But with a possible Amanar and the fact that Daria is unlikely to medal on any individual event (except maybe the AA) could make Daria want to experience competing in another event final.
Predicted Medal Podium
Gold: Cheng Fei (China)
Silver: Hong Su Jong (PRK)
Bronze: Alicia Sacramone (USA)
With an Amanar Sacramone could steal silver, but as of now details of an upgrade are sketchy at best. Barbosa probably won't have the best showing because of all the routines she will have competed in prelims, team finals, and AA finals. Chusovitina could steal the bronze if Sacramone makes a sizable mistake, but since Sacramone has .1 A-score advantage (assuming neither upgrades) and superior form I would give the medal to her over Chusovitina. I find it hard to believe Un Jong will medal, as I have said I don't expect to see a clean Amanar and /or Cheng come Beijing. Cheng Fei has all the ingredients to win gold, and I expect her to hit cleanly just like she has at the last three worlds to win the gold. Though this is the same podium prediction as the actual podium of the 2007 Worlds, for me it seems the most realistic.
Next Post: Updates from Karolyi competition and Tianjin World Cup
That is all.