The 43nd World Gymnastics Championships officially opens Friday morning in Tokyo, where the first gymnasts will march in toward their goal of Olympic qualification.
Mexican favorite fan Elsa Garcia
The first subdivision contains only one full team and several mixed groups of individuals. However, one of the big storylines this worlds is the rising number of strong Latin and Hispanic gymnasts contending for success. Fittingly, two of the biggest stars in this area compete in this very first session.
Unlucky at the 2007 Worlds, Mexican star Elsa Garcia is still dreaming of the Olympic Games. The popular and elegant Garcia leads a rising Mexican squad, which includes potential vault finalist Alexa Moreno. Garcia is gunning for the all-around final for herself and a top-16 finish for Mexico.
Mixed Group 1: Uneven Bars
Mixed Group includes three gymnasts each from Iceland and Guatemala. Tiny Iceland has never been a hot power in gymnastics, though they do have a Hungarian gymnast on their squad, Dominiqua Belányi.
But this rotation also includes the Romanian-coached Guatemala squad. Ana Sofia Gomez, who impressed with a fifth-place finish at the 2010 Youth Olympic Games, is making her world debut. Teammate Monica Yool is very clean and particularly strong on uneven bars.
Mixed Group 5: Balance Beam
Mixed Group 5 contains three gymnasts from the Ukrainian-coached Egypt, but only one from Puerto Rico. 2008 Olympian Sherine El-Zeiny, who lives and trains in the Netherlands, is still going strong for Egypt.
Mixed Group 2: Floor Exercise
Three nations make up Mixed Group 2. Veterans Kristyna Palesova and Jana Sikulova remain fixtures for the Czech Republic.
Israel's Valeria Maksyuta is the big star of this group and will be aiming for a place in the vault final with her strong double-twisting Yurchenko and layout front full. The Ukrainain-born Maksyuta also submitted a new dismount off uneven bars: double front with a full twist!
This group also includes Thelma Williams, the first gymnast from the tiny Caribbean nation of Trinidad & Tobago to compete at the world gymnastics championships.
Next Up in Subdivision 2:: Teams from Romania and Venezuela, and individuals from Croatia, Portugal, Finland and Denmark!
Beginning at 11:30 a.m. local time, be sure to follow IG Publisher Paul Ziert's live commentary from Yoyogi Stadium, broadcast simultaneously on IG's official Facebook Page and Twitter account.