ANTWERP, Belgium – The U.S. men delivered an Olympic berth and then some during men’s qualifying at the 2023 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships.
The team – comprised of Asher Hong, Fred Richard, Yul Moldauer, Khoi Young, Paul Juda, and alternate Colt Walker – qualified second to the final behind Japan – 258.228 to 254.628.
Since qualifying results were used as the determining factor for the final nine Olympic team berths, the U.S. easily qualified a five-man team to the 2024 Paris Games. Now, they turn their focus to making the world podium for the first time since 2014, when the nation won bronze.
It wasn’t a perfect day – Richard shockingly fell on high bar, the event he had the best chance of earning an individual medal on – but all five athletes qualified to individual finals, with the U.S. set to compete for medals on every event except still rings.
Richard (83.566) and Hong (83.165) are into the all-around final after qualifying sixth and eight, respectively. They can both contend for the podium on a good day, but Richard’s chances will be bolstered with a hit on high bar. Their toughest competition will be Japan’s two all-arounders – expected to be top qualifer Chiba Kenta (85.799) and reigning Olympic and world champion Hashimoto Daiki (85.432).
Hashimoto actually qualified third behind teammate Kaya Kazuma (85.598), but according to Gymnastics Japan, the team agreed prior to the meet that Hashimoto would sub in and one of his teammates would drop out if he was a victim of the two-per-country rule.
Richard qualified second to the floor final (14.600), only behind reigning Olympic champion Artem Dolgopyat (ISR), who went 15.100.
Young put up a jaw-dropping 15.066 on pommel horse to qualify second behind only back-to-back reigning Olympic champion Max Whitlock (15.266) and ahead of reigning world champion Rhys McClenaghan (14.933). The rest of the pommel horse final is a roster featuring almost all of the top specialists in the world, including 2022 world silver medalist Ahmad Abu Al Soud (JOR), 2020 Olympic silver medalist Lee Chih Kai (TPE), and 2022 world bronze medalist Harutyun Merdinyan (ARM).
Juda, Young, and Hong went fifth, sixth, and seventh, respectively, in vault qualifying, meaning Hong will sit out the final due to the two-per-country rule. The diversity of vaults from the U.S. was a telling sign of emphasis domestically on difficulty: Juda did a Yurchenko double pike (14.866), Young did a front handspring Randi (14.800), and Hong did his signature Ri Se Gwang (14.766). Their second vaults all went 14.466.
Moldauer qualified on his best event – parallel bars – in fourth with a 14.966 despite hitting the bar during his set. Hong will join him after earning a 14.833 (sixth). The podium is within reach, but they’ll face stiff competition in reigning Olympic world and silver medalist Lukas Dauser, who qualified first with a 15.300, as well as second and third place qualifiers Illia Kovtun (UKR) and Sugimoto Kaito (JPN).
Despite Richard’s fall, the U.S. will be represented in the high bar final by Juda, who earned an exceptional 8.766 execution score to go 14.166 and qualify sixth. Anything can happen in a high bar final, but Hashimoto Daiki (JPN), Milad Karimi (KAZ), Chiba Kenta (JPN), Tin Srbic (CRO), and Arthur Mariano (BRA) will be gunning for the podium, setting up a competitive final.
The rings final will see a rematch between the 2020 Olympic medalists: then-gold medalist Liu Yang (CHN) qualified first with a 15.200, followed by bronze medalist Eleftherios Petrounias (GRE) with a 14.900, and silver medalist You Hao (CHN) with a 14.800.
Canada, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Spain, Turkey, The Netherlands, and Ukraine will join the U.S. in Paris, as well. China, Japan, and Great Britain already qualified teams as the medalists at last year’s worlds in Liverpool.
Canada and Turkey’s performances were particularly inspired.
Canada came in just hoping to qualify a team to Paris, and now they’ve shown, even with a less than perfect day, they can contend for a world medal, especially with a struggling Chinese team barely qualifying to the final in eighth.
“We actually [made] a little picture of Canada vs. China yesterday, so we [wanted to] just beat them… We wanted to go after them, and that’s exactly what we did,” William Emard said after the meet.
In a shocking moment, Emard balked his vault in the third rotation, but the team didn’t say anything about it after. They just put their heads down and trusted their teammate to deliver on the final three events.
Teammate Felix Dolci sacrificed his chances at an Olympic berth via the all-around to maximize the team score, sitting out pommel horse. Now, not only will he likely go to Paris with his teammates, he’ll also be in the mix in the floor final as the fifth place qualifier (14.500) – just a tenth back from the top three.
“I’m personally more of an individual guy, in general, when it comes to sport, when it comes to performing in gymnastics,” Dolci said after qualifying. “And I had to really work on myself to leave my spot and just put as much chances on to the team for us to qualify, and just to see this today happening is absolutely wonderful. So really glad of my decision.”
China sent most of its top athletes to the Asian Games since they already qualified a team to Paris last year, and the team in Antwerp struggled during qualifying. An injured Shi Cong will be replaced in the final by Lin Chaopan, who flew from Asian Games to replace the original alternate Yang Jiaxin (illness).
Turkey had multiple falls during its subdivision, but they persevered to qualify a team to the Olympics for the first time. Oklahoma gymnast Emre Dodanli was key to the effort, hitting five-for-five on all events except pommel horse and highlighted by a 14.166 on floor. Just 20 years old, Dodanli was the stronghold for the Turkish team while his more experienced teammates struggled at times.
“That plays a part in the NCAA – competitions and the way we train in America,” Dodanli said. “It’s always consistency. It’s always the hit ratio and focusing on all that stuff. So when I do my routine, it’s like another day just training. Just raise your hand and do another.”
Brazil, South Korea, and Belgium – teams 13-15 in the team standings – have been awarded one individual quota spot for the NOC to award at a later date, likely right before the Games begin next summer.
Eight individual all-arounders have qualified to the Games by name thanks to their qualifying performances. Excluding ineligible athletes, from teams that have already qualified, the top eight booking their tickets to Paris are: Milad Karimi (KAZ), Artem Dolgopyat (ISR), Artur Davtyan (ARM), Krisztofer Meszaros (HUN), Junho Lee (KOR), Andrei Vasile Muntean (ROU), Diogo Soares (BRA), and Luka Van Den Keybus (BEL).
During apparatus finals, one Olympic berth will be awarded for each event (10 total), but a few athletes are set to receive their quota spots via that route automatically.
Carlos Yulo (PHI) and Kevin Penev (BUL) are currently the only eligible gymnasts in the floor and vault finals, respectively, and because there are no eligible athletes in the parallel bars final, the quota spot goes to the first eligible gymnast in qualifying, which is Noah Kuavita (BEL) in 23rd.
All athletes who earn berths via apparatus finals are eligible to compete in the all-around in Paris, which is particularly important for Yulo, who struggled in qualifying and landed his front handspring double pike on his back to earn a zero and not advance to the final. On a good day, Yulo is a medal contender in the all-around and on floor, vault, and parallel bars.
See the full list of men’s qualifiers below.
Men’s qualifiers at the 2023 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships
- Japan – 258.228
- United States – 254.628
- Great Britain – 254.193
- Canada – 249.260
- Germany – 248.862
- Italy – 248.796
- Switzerland – 248.192
- China – 248.163
- Chiba Kenta (JPN) – 85.799
- Kaya Kazuma (JPN) – 85.598*
- *Expected to be replaced by Hashimoto Daiki (JPN) – 85.432
- Jake Jarman (GBR) – 84.031
- James Hall (GBR) – 83.631
- Fred Richard (USA) – 83.566
- Milad Karimi (KAZ) – 83.232**
- Asher Hong (USA) – 83.165
- Artem Dolgopyat (ISR) – 82.999**
- Adem Asil (TUR) – 82.630
- Yumin Abbadini (ITA) – 82.532
- Noe Seifert (SUI) – 82.464
- Lukas Dauser (GER) – 82.364
- Sun Wei (CHN) – 82.098
- Lorenzo Minh Casali (ITA) – 82.065
- Artur Davtyan (ARM) – 82.032**
- Rene Cournoyer (CAN) – 81.998
- Krisztofer Meszaros (HUN) – 81.933**
- Illia Kovtun (UKR) – 81.931
- Florian Langenegger (SUI) – 81.864
- Casimir Schmidt (NED) – 81.831
- Junho Lee (KOR) – 81.665**
- Ilia Liubimov (ISR) – 81.398
- Ahmet Onder (TUR) – 81.164
- Diogo Soares (BRA) – 81.064**
- R1 – Nestor Abad (ESP) – 80.899
- R2 – Thierno Diallo (ESP) – 80.799
- R3 – Luka Van Den Keybus (BEL) – 80.798**
- R4 – Andrei Vasile Muntean (ROU) – 80.665**
**Signifies individual Olympic qualifier.
- Artem Dolgopyat (ISR) – 15.100
- Fred Richard (USA) – 14.600
- Carlos Yulo (PHI) – 14.600
- Minami Kazuki (JPN) – 14.566
- Felix Dolci (CAN) – 14.500
- Hashimoto Daiki (JPN) – 14.500
- Milad Karimi (KAZ) – 14.500
- Harry Hepworth (GBR) – 14.500
- R1 – Rayderley Zapata (ESP) – 14.466
- R2 – Nicola Bartolini (ITA) – 14.400
- R3 – Jake Jarman (GBR) – 14.366
- Max Whitlock (GBR) – 15.266
- Khoi Young (USA) – 15.066
- Rhys McClenaghan (IRL) – 14.933
- Ahmad Abu Al Soud (JOR) – 14.900
- Lee Chih Kai (TPE) – 14.800
- Chiba Kenta (JPN) – 14.700
- Harutyun Merdinyan (ARM) – 14.600
- Nils Dunkel (GER) – 14.600
- R1 – Gagik Khachikyan (ARM) – 14.600
- R2 – Loran De Munck (NED) – 14.466
- R3 – Vedant Sawant (AUS) – 14.400
- Liu Yang (CHN) – 15.200
- Eleftherios Petrounias (GRE) – 14.900
- You Hao (CHN) – 14.800
- Nikita Simonov (AZE) – 14.666
- Vinzenz Hoeck (AUT) – 14.600
- Artur Avetisyan (ARM) – 14.433
- Vahagn Davtyan (ARM) – 14.433
- Harry Hepworth (GBR) – 14.366
- R1 – Courtney Tulloch (GBR) – 14.300
- R2 – Kaya Kazuma (JPN) – 14.200
- R3 – Lin Guan-Yi (TPE) – 14.166
- Artur Davtyan (ARM) – 15.033 average
- Igor Radivilov (UKR) – 14.766
- Nazar Chepurnyi (UKR) – 14.733
- Harry Hepworth (GBR) – 14.716
- Paul Juda (USA) – 14.666
- Khoi Young (USA) – 14.583
- Jake Jarman (GBR) – 14.466
- Kevin Penev (BUL) – 14.449
- R1 – Audrys Nin Reyes (DOM) – 14.416
- R2 – Abdulaziz Mirvaliev (UZB) – 14.383
- R3 – Minami Kazuki (JPN) – 14.366
- Lukas Dauser (GER) – 15.300
- Illia Kovtun (UKR) – 15.233
- Sugimoto Kaito (JPN) – 15.166
- Yul Moldauer (USA) – 14.966
- Shi Cong (CHN) – 14.900
- Asher Hong (USA) – 14.833
- Matteo Levantesi (ITA) – 14.833
- Kaya Kazuma (JPN) – 14.800
- R1 – Oleg Verniaiev (UKR) – 14.800
- R2 – Carlos Yulo (PHI) – 14.566
- R3 – Jake Jarman (GBR) – 14.566
- Hashimoto Daiki (JPN) – 15.000
- Milad Karimi (KAZ) – 14.600
- Chiba Kenta (JPN) 14.500
- Tin Srbic (CRO) – 14.433
- Su Weide (CHN) – 14.300
- Paul Juda (USA) – 14.166
- Felix Dolci (CAN) – 14.133
- Arthur Mariano (BRA) – 14.133
- R1 – Bart Deurloo (NED) – 14.100
- R2 – Yumin Abbadini (ITA) – 14.033
- R3 – Jake Jarman (GBR) – 13.966
Full men’s qualifying results from the 2023 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships