UCLA star gymnast Jordan Chiles is an Olympic silver medalist -- but in her three previous tries, she just missed the cut for the U.S. world team. This week, she will compete at worlds for the first time ever when the 2022 artistic gymnastics world championships begin in Liverpool, England, on Saturday.
And she's a contender to win the all-around.
Chiles' Olympic teammate Jade Carey will be alongside her, as the U.S. women vie for a record sixth straight team title.
With the 2024 Olympics fewer than two years away, Paris qualifying is on the line as well. The top three teams here, for both men and women, will secure their Olympic spots.
Not quite up to speed on who to watch this week? Here are the gymnasts, teams and storylines you don't want to miss.
Schedule and how to watch
When: Oct. 29 - Nov. 6
Where to watch: Streaming live on Peacock; highlights airing on NBC Nov. 5 from 12-1:30 pm ET
Schedule of events (all times ET):
Oct. 29-30: Women's qualifying
Oct. 31: Men's qualifying
Nov. 1: Women's team final, 2:15 pm
Nov. 2: Men's team final, 1:25 pm
Nov. 3: Women's all-around final, 2:30 pm
Nov. 4: Men's all-around final, 1:45 pm
Nov. 5: Event finals (women's vault and uneven bars; men's floor, pommel horse and rings), 9:15 am
Nov. 6: Event finals (women's balance beam and floor; men's vault, parallel bars and horizontal bars), 8:15 am
All eyes on the American women
Olympic all-around champions Simone Biles and Suni Lee aren't currently competing in elite gymnastics (though neither has announced a retirement from it), but the U.S. team is still considered the favorite to claim gold in Liverpool.
Led by Chiles and Carey, as well as Shilese Jones, who earned the top all-around spot at worlds selection camp earlier this month, this squad is loaded with talent. All three earned individual gold medals at last month's World Challenge Cup in Paris and look more than ready for the international stage.
Shilese Jones has auto-qualified to the US Women's World Team by putting up the highest All-Around score during the first day of competition at selection camp!— USA Gymnastics (@USAGym) October 22, 2022
Total Score ➡️ 56.700@ShileseJ | @gkelite | @WGC2022 pic.twitter.com/DjEnVjOM7k
Rounding out the five-person American team are 2020 Olympic alternate Leanne Wong, who earned all-around silver at worlds in 2021, and 17-year-old Skye Blakely, who took the all-around bronze at the Pan American Championships in July.
However, the team isn't exactly at full strength. Konnor McClain, the 2022 all-around and beam national champion, had to withdraw ahead of selection camp due to a back injury. It's the latest setback for McClain, who has long been considered one of Team USA's brightest hopes for 2024, but she remained optimistic about the future in an Instagram post, writing she was "ready to come back next year stronger and healthier."
The United States hasn't lost the world team title since 2010 and will try to become the first country to win six straight. At the 2020 Olympics, the last major global team competition, it was the Russian Olympic Committee that took gold. But Russia, along with Belarus, is banned from competing here due to the ongoing invasion of Ukraine.
Even without Russia, winning the team title is hardly a given for the USA. Great Britain was the bronze medalist at the Tokyo Olympics, and will have the support of the home crowd. Perennial contender China will contend for its first world title since 2006. Italy, the newly crowned European champion, will look to continue its hot streak (though without top gymnast Asia D'Amato). And Brazil, who earned team gold at the Pan American Championships over the summer, will look to prove that victory was no fluke.
The women's all-around contenders
As mentioned above, Biles, a five-time world all-around champion, and Lee, the Olympic gold medalist, won't be competing, and neither will 2021 winner (and Olympic bronze medalist) Angelina Melnikova of Russia.
So there will be a first-time world all-around champion come next week.
And with injuries sidelining a number of several could-be contenders, including McClain and reigning European all-around champion D'Amato, the gold medal is truly up for grabs.
The top 24 gymnasts in qualifying will compete for the podium in the all-around final. So which athletes have the best chance to win?
Jones was the runner-up to McClain at nationals over the summer, and the champion on floor and co-champion on bars. The 20-year-old reached the finals in all three events she competed in at the World Challenge Cup, winning the bars title, and finishing second on floor and fifth on beam. She notched the top score at selection camp with a 56.700.
Chiles, 21, earned a trio of bronze medals at nationals over the summer on bars, floor and in the all-around, and earned gold on floor at the Challenge Cup, as well as silver on vault and a fifth-place finish on bars. She was a rock for the US team at the Tokyo Olympics, and that experience could prove invaluable in her first world championships.
Carey, 22, is the 2022 vault national champion and floor runner-up, and she earned gold on vault and silver on beam -- the only two events she competed -- in Paris at the Challenge Cup. Carey finished in third place at selection camp.
As for the non-American contenders, there's no one with a better chance at gold than Rebecca Andrade. The now 23-year-old went from nearly missing out on the 2020 Games altogether to earning all-around silver and vault gold -- becoming the first Brazilian woman to win an Olympic medal in gymnastics.
And she hasn't slowed down since. She won vault gold and bars silver at worlds in 2021, won gold on bars and in the team event at the Pan American Games and finished in second on bars (the only event she competed) at the World Challenge Cup in Paris.
China's Zhang Jin, 21, has been making steady progress since finishing seventh in the all-around competition at last summer's Olympics. She won the all-around title at the Asian Championships in June, and earned the bronze on beam. Her teammate Tang Xijing was the 2019 all-around runner-up, and could also contend for the top spot.
Jessica Gadirova may be a longer shot for the all-around podium, but the two-time European champion on floor is one of the most compelling gymnasts to watch, and is definitely worth keeping an eye on.
Meanwhile, on the men's side ...
The Russian team won the title in 2019, as well as 2020 Olympic gold, so their absence opens the door for other squads, most notably China and Japan. China won 11 of the last 14 titles, so likely has the edge over Japan, the 2015 champion.
And, the United States could also grab a podium spot. The US men haven't earned a team medal at worlds or the Olympics since 2014, but that could change in Liverpool.
Led by three former individual world medalists -- Brody Malone, Donnell Whittenburg and Stephen Nedoroscik -- and two up-and-coming stars in Asher Hong and Colt Walker, the Americans have been working on increasing their difficulty as of late. It could make the difference in landing them on the podium this time around.
Japan's Daiki Hashimoto and China's Zhang Boheng are the Olympic and reigning world all-around champions respectively, and are expected to battle yet again for the top individual honor. Other contenders include European all-around champion Joe Fraser of Great Britain, who also won the title on parallel bars, and Carlos Yulo of the Philippines, who earned all-around silver and three event gold medals at the Asian Championships.
Malone, the two-time U.S. national champion, is the best all-around hope for the Americans. He finished 10th at the Tokyo Olympics. Nedoroscik, who became the first American man to win world gold in a decade last year, will look to defend his pommel horse title.
Liverpool will host a number of returning superstars, who may not be all-around threats but are looking to collect even more hardware for their already decorated mantles:
Nina Derwael: The reigning Olympic gold medalist on bars, as well as a two-time world champion on the event, the 22-year-old Belgian took a break from competition to do the normal Olympic champion things -- yes, including a victory on the Belgian version of "Dancing with the Stars" -- but will making her return to the international stage this week. Even with limited training this season, she remains the favorite to win, yet again, on her signature event.
Artem Dolgopyat: The 25-year-old made history in Tokyo with his gold-medal performance on floor and by becoming the first Israeli gymnast to win an Olympic medal of any color. The recently crowned European champion on the event, as well as a two-time world silver medalist, Dolgopyat will have his eyes on the podium in Liverpool.
Ellie Black: The 2017 world all-around runner-up and Canada's most-decorated female gymnast of all time, the 27-year-old somehow keeps getting better and better. While she has an outside chance of winning an all-around medal, she is very much a contender on balance beam (she finished fourth in Tokyo last summer) and even just had a skill - the first of her career -- named after her on bars after being the first to do it in international competition last month in Paris:
Yeo Seo-jeong: The now-20-year old became South Korea's first female gymnast to win an Olympic medal when she took home event bronze last summer, competing with her eponymous vault that had the highest difficulty score in the final. Since then she's become the Asian champion on the event and will look to battle with Andrade and Carey for the top spot on the vault podium.