Six demanding events—the floor, pommel horse, rings, vault, parallel bars and high bars—will lead to one gymnast being crowned champion at the 2013 World Artistic Gymnastic Championships in Antwerp.
But the question is: Can anyone beat Kohei Uchimura?
Let’s meet the Japanese favourite and those with an outside shot of causing an upset.
Kohei Uchimura (Japan)
Don’t be surprised if Uchimura wins gold by a huge margin. The Olympic champion topped qualifying after three of the four sessions with an outstanding 91.924 points—nearly 2.5 points clear of his closest rival.
Since winning silver at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Uchimura has powered to three straight world titles and moved one step higher on the podium at the London Olympics to claim gold and assert himself as the best all-around gymnast on the planet.
What makes Uchimura practically invincible is his versatility. He topped the qualifying charts in an incredible four out of six events. A similar performance in the final and yet another world gold medal beckons.
Sam Mikulak (USA)
The gymnastics world’s hopes of crowning a new champion largely rest on American champion Mikulak.
The 20-year-old has progressed well in the past year, after a sprained ankle ruled him out of all-around contention at the London Games, and qualified comfortably for this year’s final. His task now is to usurp the near-faultless Uchimura.
He impressed in his favoured events, the parallel bars and the high bars, but to snatch an unlikely gold medal Mikulak will have to score big across the board.
Given it’s his first individual final on the world stage, America will be watching nervously to see whether he thrives or crumbles under the intense pressure.
Max Whitlock (Great Britain)
Britain isn’t renowned for producing all-around gymnasts. In Whitlock, however, they have a rising star who burst onto the scene on home turf at the London Olympics when he secured a surprise bronze in the pommel horse.
He is now expected to challenge in the all-around format, starting in Antwerp. He has already started impressively, excelling on the pommel horse with an event best of 15.408, and if it wasn’t for an iffy display on the rings he would be far higher than his current qualification position of ninth.
A world title is probably beyond the 20-year-old on this occasion, but if he can creep toward the 15-point barrier in a couple more events then he may be rewarded with an unlikely medal.