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NANNING Ryan Anderson Womens Jersey , China, Oct. 3 (Xinhua) -- With a record number of gymnasts registered to compete and Olympic team qualification at stake, this week's World Gymnastics Championships in Nanning promises to be something special. In the men's competition, here are 10 gymnasts to look out for:
1. Kohei Uchimura, Japan, 25
Top results in 2014: Uchimura restricts himself to just a few big meets per year, but when he does compete, he has been nothing less than dominant. This year, he won the Tokyo World Cup, the popular NHK Cup and his seventh Japanese Championship in a row, something no gymnast, even the Japanese greats who came before him, has ever done.
Signature skills: Uchimura is less known for having signature skills than he is for throwing every skill in the book -- and doing all of them really, really well. For example, during the past five years he's competed at least four different and very difficult vaults, all requiring different techniques. And he's made all of them look easy. He's also constantly upgrading. Most recently, a training video of him on horizontal bar showed him connecting multiple Kovacs-style release skills with impeccable form.
Why he's on the list: Uchimura has had an incredible run of dominance, and at just 25 years old, he's likely to stay competitive for a long time to come, adding to what is already an extraordinary legacy. In addition to being the only man to have won four consecutive world all-around titles, he is the reigning Olympic all-around champion. Many consider him the best gymnast in history. So far, he has done little to prove them wrong.
2. Sam Mikulak, USA, 21
Top results in 2014: Winner of his second consecutive U.S. national title.
Signature skills: Mikulak is as much fun to watch off the floor as he is on it -- a video of him dancing around the competition podiums at last year's World Championships in Antwerp went viral. Gymnastically, he's got a scissor element named for him in the code of points on pommel horse. But in general, he's a high-flier with very clean execution.
Why he's on the list: Many have tapped the laid-back Mikulak as one of the few gymnasts capable of challenging Uchimura as he goes for his fifth consecutive world all-around title. What makes him so successful is that like Uchimura, he's very well prepared on every event, has high start values and leaves little for the judges to take in terms of execution. After a mistake on horizontal bar in 2013 likely robbed him of an all-around medal, Mikulak looks to strike back in Nanning.
3. Kenzo Shirai, Japan, 18
Top results in 2014: Floor exercise champion at the Doha World Cup.
Signature skills: In 2013, Japan's most talented twister became the first man to compete a quadruple twist on floor exercise in world competition, stunning spectators by showing it as his last pass, done when the gymnast is tired (his earlier passes were no easy feats, either.) He also shows a triple twisting front somersault done in combination on floor, and a triple-twisting Yurchenko on vault (and he's been training a 3.5).
Why he's on the list: The Japanese men are known for their twisting abilities, but Shirai stands out because his skills are so much harder (he does more turns in the air) than everyone else. Although his floor routines have lacked double somersault elements (where the gymnast flips twice in the air), his twisting capacity will certainly keep the high-schooler in the hunt for a second consecutive world title on floor.
4. Denis Ablyazin, Russia, 22
Top results in 2014: Four-time gold medalist at the 2014 European Championships in Sofia.
Signature skills: The talented Ablyazin is "built like a fire hydrant," as one gymnastics sportswriter noted in 2013. Look out for big tumbling runs, such as his double twisting front layout to immediate double front pike, as well as big difficulty on vault (Dragulescu and a Tsukahara double pike).
Why he's on the list: Russia's strongman surprised a deep field of competitors to win gold on floor, rings, vault and with the team at June's European Championships, establishing himself as the de-facto leader of the Russian men's team in the process. Leg problems have plagued him since, though so far in Nanning he seems to be making good use of athletic tape and seems primed to compete.
5. Deng Shudi, China, 23
Top results in 2014: Winner of the Chinese National Championship.
Signature skills: Deng's best events are parallel bars -- where he specializes in crisp double pikes between the rails -- and rings, where he's one of the only gymnasts in the world to throw a double-twisting double layout dismount.
Why he's on the list: On a team that values specialists just as much as it does generalists, as national champion Deng is perhaps the best hope for an individual all-around medal in Nanning. It shouldn't hurt him that the competition is being held in his home country, either.
6. Max Whitlock, Britain, 21
Top results in 2014: Commonwealth Games all-around champion, British men's all-around champion.
Signature skills: Whitlock unveiled a new triple-twisting Yurchenko vault at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in August. He's also known as having one of the hardest pommel horse routines in the world, and for performing it under pressure with remarkable consistency.
Why he's on the list: Whitlock, the youngest gymnast on Britain's bronze medal-winning team from London in 2012, has come into his own during the past 18 months or so. Going into this competition, he looks stronger than he ever has, though still with ample room for upgrading and improving. His rise has marked a turn in British gymnastics as well: A decade ago, British gymnasts would be pleased just to qualify for the all-around final. In recent interviews, while remaining humble, Whitlock talks about winning medals and challenging the best. That's new for the Brit
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