On Sunday, Madison Kocian will look to extend the American dominance in women's Olympic gymnastics, as she competes in the uneven bars final. She'll compete alongside her teammate Gabby Douglas and some of the best competitors in the world. But it may be Kocian who has the upper hand: Kocian is a co-world champion on bars, but not all of her co-champions will be present to settle the event.
In October, Kocian competed on uneven bars at the annual Artistic Gymnastics World Championships in Glasgow, Scotland. She dominated, but she has that ever-important "co-" in front of her title because of a landmark score and world championship rules. She scored a 15.366 — and so did three other gymnasts. In the end, Kocian ended up in a four-way tie with Russia's Daria Spirindonova and Viktoria Komova, and China's Fan Yilin. It was the first time in the history of gymnastics world championships for an even to result in such a tie.
Of the four ladies who currently hold the world championship title for bars, only two will compete in Sunday's event final. Kocian and Spirindova qualified for the competition, as did Russia's Aliya Mustafina, who won the event in the 2012 Olympics in London. Not to mention, Mustafina just placed third in the individual all-around competition on Thursday. All in all, eight gymnasts, representing the U.S., Russia, China, Germany, and Venezuela, will compete for this year's uneven bars title.
That lineup means Kocian will only have to face one of her co-world champions. Uneven bars is inarguably Kocian's best event. It's considered the reason she made it onto this year's Olympic team — and she has already proven her Olympic value in Rio.
Kocian earned the highest individual score on uneven bars in the Olympics' qualifying round last week. With a 15.866, she even beat her own world championship score. During the team final a day later, in which the U.S. team won a historic gold, Kocian topped that score with a 15.933 on bars. As she keeps getting better, it's no wonder that she's favored to win Sunday's individual uneven bars final.
For both Kocian and Douglas, the uneven bars final on Sunday will mark the end of their Rio Olympics. They've already won a team gold medal — and by a wide margin. Then, they watched teammates Simone Biles and Aly Raisman dominate in the individual women's all-around competition, earning gold and silver, respectively. Uneven bars is the only individual event that Biles won't compete in. It is, without a doubt, Kocian's place to shine — but Douglas might not be far behind.