The 5 Most Talked About Things at the Doha World Championships (So Far)

We’re right in the middle of the 48th FIG Artistic World Championships, which are being held in Doha, Qatar all this week until Saturday 3rd November. So far we’ve seen the qualifications and the team finals.

Maybe you’ve been following along on Twitter and livestreams, or maybe you’ve missed the action so far due to work or school? Either way there’s still plenty left to see!

Read on to find out what’s got the gymnastics community talking so far, plus how to catch the rest of the week’s competitions…

  1. Simone Biles’ Pearly Comeback

Reigning Olympic champion Simone Biles is back in business after a year’s downtime from competition. But for a moment, we thought she might not be. Simone was rushed to hospital less than 24 hours before the start of this World Championships, with a concern she might have appendicitis! After being diagnosed with a kidney stone she decided to name it the “Doha pearl” and carry on as normal, despite the pain. She later commented “I heard roller coasters might help kidney stones, and I’m like my own roller coaster out there.”

Simone and her pearl went on to place first on every event with the exception of Bars (where she placed a shocking 2nd) in the qualification competition. Just in case that wasn’t incredible enough, she even competed her own unique new skill on Vault, before also helping the team win gold in the team finals, by the biggest marginever. Speaking of which, that gold must have been especially sweet for US team member Grace McCallum, as it was won on the day of her 15th birthday.

On a more serious note: A lot has changed in recent months for USAG, following a horrific abuse scandal that has rocked the entire gymnastics community, so it’s encouraging to see the girls on the US team looking so happy and continuing to shine on the competition floor, despite the awful circumstances surrounding the country’s leadership and the gymnasts’ experiences.

  1. “Theatrical” makeup has been BANNED

Earlier this year Celine Van Gerner (NED) performed a Cats inspired floor routine in the European Championships finals, to much controversy.

Many fans praised her bold use of makeup to accentuate the character of her routine, and express herself artistically alongside the dance and music- after all, this is artistic gymnastics. Others thought her use of costume went too far and gymnastics should focus on technical elements like tumbling and spins.

It seems the governing body FIG sat on the less adventurous side of the argument. In response they have now introduced the following rule into the code of points: “Face painting is not allowed. Any make-up must be modest and not portray a theatrical character (animal or human).”

Celine saw the positive side, tweeting “I’m honored to be the FIRST, LAST and ONLY ONE in history who went out on stage in full character!” but was the introduction of this rule necessary, after only a single instance of this happening, and in an attention-grabbing high-scoring routine?

  1. GB Women missed out on the team final (by a whisker)

Unfortunately Britain’s women didn’t quite make it to the team final this time around- but only by the smallest margin of all. The girls finished just a tenth behind Germany. This is the first time our British women haven’t qualified for a team final event in a World Championships or Olympics in ten years.

Becky Downie told BBC Sport afterwards “It was a tough competition. It’s not been the easiest of years for us with injuries to some of our key players (but) we’ve given it all we’ve got and we can’t really ask for more than that.” Claudia Fragapane and Amy Tinkler are both nursing injuries at the moment.

It’s not all bad news though- Kelly Simm and Ellie Downie qualified individually to the all around final on Thursday, and you can catch Becky Downie in the Bars final on Friday. Plus, we can’t forget about our Men’s team: Max Whitlock is in position to defend his Pommel Horse title, Dom Cunningham is in the Vault final, and Brinn Bevan and James Hall will be competing in in the men’s individual all-around competition. Not to mention that the Men’s team already qualified and competed in their team final and finished in 5th position. Not bad at all!

  1. Olympic Qualification

This World Championships is the first opportunity for Tokyo 2020 Olympic qualification. Do the 2020 Olympics seem a bit distant to you right now? Well, this Olympic qualification cycle has started earlier than ever before. There are also more rules than ever before in order to understand how you qualify a team, or individual, to the Olympics. Let’s not get into that.
What you need to know right now is that in the Women’s competition the US, Russia and China have now qualified their countries a spot at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, and in the Men’s field China, Russia and Japan are in.

  1. Welcome Team Jamaica!

Jamaica posted their first ever team score at this World Championships, lead by a familiar face- former Team GB competitor Danusia Francis. While it may not have been a perfect competition, Danusia pointed out it was a great “stepping stone” for the country, which had one representative, Toni-Ann Williams, at the Rio Olympics.

Bonus tidbits:

Russian star and new mum Aliya Mustafina also returned to competition. Just 16 months after the birth of her daughter Alisa, Aliya is back on the world stage, and she hasn’t skipped a beat. “When you become a mother, your life doesn’t end,” Mustafina said in interview. “If there’s a thing you can do that gives you pleasure, you do it.” While her own mum is helping out with childcare, Aliya will be competing in the Bars final later this week. Watch this space.


Team USA make a stand for the LGBT community. Doha isn’t exactly known for its liberalism. The US brought their rainbow design training leotards with them.


43-year old Oksana Chusovitina qualified to the Vault final (again). Age really is just a number to Oksana, who is a definite medal threat in this upcoming Vault final. Finals or no finals, she will become the oldest (read: most experienced) Olympic gymnast ever if she competes in Tokyo 2020. She is already the oldest female Olympic gymnast ever, and the only female gymnast ever to compete in seven Olympic Games. In other words, a living legend.

So what’s next?

As mentioned above the following British gymnasts will be competing in the all around and event finals:

  • Men’s AA: Brinn Bevan and James Hall- Wednesday 31st October
  • Women’s AA: Ellie Downie and Kelly Simm- Thursday 1st November
  • Women’s Bars Final: Becky Downie – Friday 2nd November
  • Men’s Pommel Horse Final: Max Whitlock- Friday 2nd November
  • Men’s Vault Final: Dom Cunningham- Saturday 3rd November


Here’s the schedule or there’s also a timetable here.

Scores and results can be found here.


Keep up to date on twitter by following @britgymnastics and @gymnastics as well as @zonegymnastics of course! See you there!





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