Event Finals: Who Will Make History?
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Five gymnasts in event finals have the chance to make history as the first to win an Olympic medal for their respective countries, while a further five could be the first female Olympic gymnastics medalist. Pictured: Harutyun Merdinyan

Five gymnasts in event finals have the chance to make history as the first to win an Olympic medal for their respective countries, while a further five could be the first female Olympic gymnastics medalist.

So far in Rio de Janeiro, the artistic gymnastics medals have gone to China, Great Britain, Japan, Russia, Ukraine and the United States. That should change in the 10 apparatus finals, which will be held Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.

Yet to Win an Olympic Medal in Gymnastics

Armenia

No gymnasts have won an Olympic gymnastics medal for Armenia since its independence in 1991. Albert Azaryan, the first "Lord of the Rings," won back-to-back titles on still rings in 1956 and 1960 for the Soviet Union. His son Eduard Azaryan was a member of the Soviet team that won gold in 1980. Grant Shaginyan won four Olympic medals in the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki: gold medals with the team and on rings, and silver medals in the all-around and on pommel horse.

Harutyun Merdinyan may write his name into Armenia's history books on Monday in the pommel horse final. He qualified to the Olympics after winning the bronze medal at last year's world championships, and this year won the gold medal at the European championships.

Chile

Tomás González is Chile's greatest gymnast in history and the only Chilean to reach a world or Olympic final. Fourth on floor exercise and vault at the 2012 Olympic Games, he qualified for the vault final once again in Rio. His execution is always exceptional, but he will need to increase the difficulty on his second vault for a shot at a medal on Monday.

Cuba

Despite Cuba's tremendous history in gymnastics, no Cuban gymnast has won an Olympic medal. After a 12-year absence from the Olympics, Cuba is back this year with Manrique Larduet, who has two chances with finals on parallel bars and high bar on Tuesday. However, he was forced to withdraw from Wednesday's all-around final with a foot injury, which may affect him on his dismounts.

Two Cuba natives have won medals for the United States: Annia Portuondo Hatch (silver with team and vault in 2004) and Danell Leyva (bronze in the all-around in 2012).

India

No India gymnast had ever made a world or Olympic final before the tremendous Dipa Karmakar. She is the first female Indian gymnast at the Olympics and the first gymnast from India since 1964. Karmakar will try the risky Produnova vault, but she will need her best landing yet if she hopes to medal.

Venezuela

Jessica López, 30, has already brought record results in her third Olympic Games. She became the first Venezuelan female to qualify for an event final (compatriot José Luis Fuentes was eighth on pommel horse in 2008). During Thursday's all-around, she finished seventh, the best performance ever for a South American gymnast in the Olympics. Her uneven bars routine has been unappreciated by the judges for years, keeping her out of a world final, but she will finally go for the podium on Sunday.

Yet to Win an Olympic Medal in Women's Artistic Gymnastics

There were fewer competitive opportunities for women at the Olympics in the early modern era. Many editions either had no women's competition or only a team event, while the men had team, all-around and events. It was not until 1952 that women's gymnastics was fully represented at the Olympic Games.


Flávia Saraiva (Brazil)

More recently, the men's field of medal winners has been more diverse, while the traditional powers have stubbornly continued to win the majority of the medals in women's. Slowly, however, new countries are jumping onto the podium.

Brazil

Arthur Zanetti's gold medal on still rings at the 2012 Olympics shot him to superstardom in Brazil, and was the first Olympic medal ever won by a South American gymnast. Flávia Saraiva is the only Brazilian female to qualify for an event final. Saraiva scratched the all-around to concentrate on Tuesday's final, and can break into the medals if she nails her routine in front of the home crowd.

Canada

Canada's sole Olympic medal in artistic gymnastics is Kyle Shewfelt's gold on floor exercise in 2004. The Canadian women have two shots left for a medal in Rio: Shallon Olsen in Monday's vault final and Isabela Onyshko in Tuesday's balance beam final. Ellie Black already set a record with her fifth-place all-around finish, but a medal would be a huge milestone for Canadian gymnastics.

Switzerland

The Swiss men have a long history of outstanding performances in the Olympics, even as recently as Li Donghua's gold medal on pommel horse at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. Giulia Steingruber, who carried the flag for Switzerland in the Opening Ceremonies on August 5, qualified to finals on vault and floor exercise. On vault, she may risk her new double-twisting layout handspring front, which was given a 6.6-Difficulty score.

Uzbekistan

Surprisingly, seven-time Olympian Oksana Chusovitina has yet to win any Olympic hardware for Uzbekistan. Her two Olympic medals were both under other flags: she won gold in the team competition with the Unified Team at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, and she was a member of the German team when she won the silver medal on vault at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. The 41-year-old Chusovitina is going for a medal in Rio, and the living legend will try to land a Produnova vault to do it.

Anton Fokin took Uzbekistan's only gymnastics medal when he won the bronze on parallel bars in Beijing.

Yet to Win an Individual Olympic Medal

Three nations represented in the apparatus finals have Olympic medals in the team competition from long ago, but no individual medals.

Belgium

Belgium owns two Olympic medals in gymnastics, both in the men's team competition in the 1920 Olympics in Antwerp, where they won silver in the overall team and bronze in the "Swedish" exercises. Dennis Goossens is Belgium's sole male gymnast in Rio, and he will need the routine of his life to break into the medals on rings in Monday's final.

Italy (Women)

Italy has several medals in men's gymnastics dating back to the early 20th century, but no Italian woman has won an individual medal. The Italian women's lone medal was a team silver at the 1928 Olympics in Amsterdam. Vanessa Ferrari should have had a bronze medal on floor exercise in 2012, but was bumped to fourth by a tie break. Ferrari and teammate Erika Fasana are both in the floor exercise final on Tuesday.

Netherlands (Women)

Balance beam finalist Sanne Wevers could be the first female Dutch gymnast to medal since the 1928 Olympics in Amsterdam, where the Netherlands won gold in the team competition. The sad fate of the 1928 Dutch team was brought to light in the 1990s: several members of the team and coaches were Jewish, and nearly all were killed in the Holocaust.

The Dutch women have already had excellent results in Rio, and, with a medal on the line, Wevers plans to upgrade her routine for the final. The Dutch have won the praise of fans and experts alike for their beautiful and creative gymnastics, and Wevers is eager to win a medal to go along with it.

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