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Games Guide: Demystifying Pommel Horse

Pommel horse is more than just an event – it’s a symbol, an idea, a concept, a medium of expression, a stand-up comedian, a creator of world peace. Technical pommel horse evaluation can be a common source of frustration and confusion among even the sharpest of MAG gymnerds. In this quick pommel guide we’ll gloss over common pommel horse questions like why do the guys have to travel from one end to the other? Why do some guys go to handstand for their dismount while others just do those tornado-spinny things off the side? and what’s the difference between a flop (a combined sequence of elements on one pommel) and a flop (a horrible catastrophe)?

First of all let’s cover the good old composition requirements:

  1. Single leg swings and scissors (+0.5)

For non-pommel horse fans the single-leg swings and scissors are probably the most easily identifiable components of any pommel routine. It’s the requirement where gymnasts must swing their legs against the sides of the horse and demonstrate amplitude, flexibility, and balance to show versatility.

Berki giving us a tutorial on how to do a Li Ning

2. Circles and flairs (+0.5)

Pretty much the bulk of most pommel routines – they include Russians, spindles, Stocklis, flairs, flops, etc. (we’ll go into more details about what all these are)

Russians: Russians are quite easy to spot because they are the “spinny things” the men do that kind of like a flash ceiling fan reenactment where the gymnast uses their hands to turn their body around while maintaining straight-hollow position in front support. The amount of Russians a gymnast chooses to do will impact what difficulty value they will receive. Gymnasts can opt to do 180° (half), 360° (one full rotation), 720° (two full rotations), or 1080° maximum (3 full rotations). Difficulty also depends upon where the gymnast is doing these Russians- the easiest is on the edge of the pommel (the leather), while difficulty exponentially increases on the handles.

Russians

Spindles: another spinny element, except a little harder to spot. The gymnast must complete a 360° turn in 2 loops maximum.

Alec Yoder’s spindle

Stockli: If you haven’t noticed already, there are lots of spinning elements on pommels! The Stockli is similar to the spindle in that your combining the loops and the rotation, but differs in that one-fourth of the rotation rotation occurs on each hand. Some of the best pommel ninjas will opt to do Stocklis on one pommel in combination called a flop (see below!)

Berki – Stockli

Flops: No, not the kind of flop when your Tweet doesn’t get any likes. Flops are combinations of loops, direct Stockli B’s (DSB – both hands finish on a single pommel) and direct Stockli A’s (DSA – has many variations of hand placement) and/or They can get a little confusing so general rule of thumb is the more elements a gymnast does on a single handle, the harder it gets.

Loop + DSB + Loop

If you want to make things extra spicy you can throw in a Russian to make it a combined sequence. I’m not going to go too much into detail, but just remember more Russians = more difficulty.

Loop + triple Russian = G Flop

3. Travel type elements (+0.5)

In order to prevent the lazy-bums from hanging out in one section of the pommel for the entire routine, the travel requirement tasks gymnasts to move from one end of the pommel to the other.

Key terms:

Magyar: gymnast travels from one end of the pommel to the other traveling forwards

Sivado: gymnast travels from one end of the pommel to the other traveling backwards

Flaired Magyar

4. Dismounts (+0.5)

Dismounts can take different forms: some are handstands, others are Russians, some people even did saltos in the 1980s (bring them back!). As of right now Russian dismounts with at least three full rotations and handstand dismounts are the only two in the code.

Did anybody else get goosebumps?

A VERY IMPORTANT NOTE ABOUT DISMOUNTS

Handstand dismounts off pommel horse are supposed to swing directly to handstand and look effortless. What they’re not supposed to look like is a muscled press to handstand. If the legs of the gymnast waver up and down like a seesaw, judges can take hefty deductions and in severe cases not even give dismount credit.

Sorry hun, this ain’t getting credit

Who should I have on pommel watch in Tokyo?

I don’t think I can go any farther in this guide without talking about Max Whitlock. He’s the defending 2019 World Champion and defending Olympic champion. On a good day he’s capable of scoring 15.5+ with a 7.0 D-score. Occasionally he does receive criticism for his slightly piked hips (a deduction on pommel horse), but with his ginormous D-score he get’s a little leeway. But he certainly can’t make any large errors because not too far behind is Lee Chih-Kai, the defending World silver medalist.

Lee is renowned for his exhilarating routine that almost exclusively consists of flairs. He upgraded his routine by 0.2 at the most recent Taiwanese Olympic trials so he’ll be looking to make history for Taiwan.

I also need to mention viral sensation, open-hip king and lifestyle vlogging socialite, Rhys McClenaghan. The last time we saw Rhys do pommels at European Championships he did have an unfortunate bye forever! moment during event finals, but based off the videos he’s been posting on social media, Rhys has been looking like he’s returned back to his 2019 Worlds form. If he can repeat what he’s showing in training, he is a serious medal threat; one that would be historic for Ireland.

bye!

Zou Jingyuan and Xiao Ruoteng also have beautiful routines and can certainly factor into the medals. Zou Jingyuan is known mostly for his otherworldly parallel bar work, but he is also a fantastic rings and pommel horse worker. He can consistently go 15.0+ on the event which certainly puts him in the mix for a spot in finals, but to medal he needs to boost his D-score to match Whitlock, McClenaghan and Lee. Xiao, the 2018 World Champion, has shown to be capable of doing Olympic medal-worthy pommel routines. However we haven’t seen that same 2018 level since then. Unless he pulls out secret upgrades like he did back in 2018, a medal (or even just the final) may be out of reach.

Let’s also not forget just a little person by the name of Kameyama Kohei who casually became 2013 World Champion on the event and earned the +1 individual spot for Japan by pommeling his way through the World Cup series. Kameyama’s strength is in the leg form department where his beautiful toe-point causes gymnerds and judges alike to swoon.

A pommel horse final staple for more than a decade now, never count Cyril Tommasone out. His reliable consistency and high D-score never fail to let him become part of the mix in the hunt for a medal.

We seriously need to talk about Alec Yoder. Selected as the United State’s pommel horse specialist, Alec Yoder scored a 15+ both nights of U.S. Nationals. With scores like that Yoder easily can qualify to a final, but can he challenge Whitlock, Lee, and McClenaghan? From the most recent podium training footage Yoder did seem to struggle a little, but I’m just assuming he’s getting the kinks out and also it’s just podium training and we know from history not to take men’s podium training too seriously.

But also keep in mind pommel horse is like the beam of men’s gymnastics: you can never be too sure when it might be a splat-fest.

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Featured

Games Guide: Men’s Floor

Death-defying elements like the triple-back tucked (Liukin), triple-back piked (Nagornyy), and triple-twisting double layout (Shirai III) give you a taste of what kind of incredible elements we’ll see for the upcoming Olympic Games. The Tokyo Men’s floor final will be a culmination of the hardest elements in gymnastics all combined into one competition loaded with suspense and drama.

Before we go into more depth about what we’ll see in Tokyo, let’s review some of the men’s gymnastics floor basics:

First of all, let’s talk about the basic floor composition requirements every gymnast must have. By fulfilling each of the four requirements, the gymnast should have an automatic +2.0 under their belt for their difficulty score.

Requirement 1: Non-Acrobatic elements (+0.5)

Usually the afterthought in 99% of men’s floor routines, non-acrobatic elements are awkwardly wedged in the middle of the floor routine to serve as a breather and a time for the gymnast to show the judges they can do more than just tumble. The most common non-acrobatic elements are the Fedorchenko and the wide arm press-handstand. Sometimes gymnasts will opt to do a cooler element like flairs (a crowd favorite).

Sun Wei’s Fedorchenko: one of the most common non-acrobatic elements on men’s floor

Requirement 2: Forward Elements (+0.5)

This one is pretty self-explanatory: forward elements are those that begin facing forwards upon takeoff. Elements like a basic front-tuck fulfill this requirement. One thing to note is unlike women’s gymnastics, the men do not consider Arabian elements (like a double-Arabian) a forward element. The most common forward element will be the double front in both the tuck and pike position. Front twisting direct combinations are also popular thanks to the precious opportunity to earn connection value.

Adem Asil’s front-full directly into double front pike

Requirement 3: Backwards Elements (+0.5)

Also pretty self-explanatory, elements that takeoff backward fulfills this requirement. Elements can be as easy as a back layout, to as difficult as a triple-back.

Uche Eke: full-in

Requirement 4: D+ Dismount (+0.5)

In contrast to the women’s code, the men are still required to finish with a minimum of a D-dismount. The most common D-elements on men’s floor are the 2.5 twist, the full-in, double Arabian, double-layout, and of course the triple-twist. Like if you don’t dismount with a triple twist who even are you?

Yul Moldauer: triple-full

Now that we’ve got some of the foundations out of the way, let’s talk about who to keep our eyes on for a spot in the floor finals:
Right now I would say there isn’t a clear favorite for the gold medal, but there is a top tier of gymnasts who are capable of challenging for gold, one being Artem Dolgopyat. Dolgopyat, a two-time World floor medalist, will certainly be eyeing the Olympic title. He recently debuted a triple-double as his third pass(!!!) so with difficulty like that, and the clean execution he’s known for, Dolgopyat solidifies himself as one of the top contenders for Olympic gold.


Casually debuting a triple-pike at the 2021 European Championships, Nikita Nagornyy is also a gold medal threat. A streak of errors in the last two major floor finals (2018 and 2019 World Championships) is something he will be looking to break in Tokyo with a clutch performance. If the rumors are true that he may attempt a full-twisting triple back, I would say he’s as close you can get for a gold medal favorite.

And how could I go on any farther without mentioning reigning floor World Champion Carlos Yulo? We haven’t seen any floor work from Yulo in 2021, but we did see a few upgrades at 2020 All Japan Championships (some worked out better than others) but the big question is will he still be at his level in 2019?

Also make sure to keep an eye on Rayderley Zapata from Spain, who recently debuted his brand new front full-twisting double layout in Doha a few weeks ago.

Zapata’s eponymous full-twisting double layout

Another standout is Yahor Sharamkou from Belarus. Sharamkou is another member of the triple-back club. He has one of the most difficult floor routines in the world, and if he can hit as he did at the 2020 European Championships qualification round he could be a threat for a podium finish. Sharamkou’s weak point is consistency, as he only averaged a 14.05 so far this year. But if he can peak for the Olympics, don’t be surprised to see him near the podium.

I really don’t understand how it’s physically possible to get this much height

Hovering under the shadows of the Nagornyys and the Dolgopyats of the world, I’m counting on Ryu Sunghyun to be a dark horse for a medal. The 2020 first year senior first caught my attention at 2019 Junior Worlds, where he won the floor title with impeccable twisting form. In 2020 he went on to win the 2020 Melbourne World Cup floor title with a 6.5 D-score where he stuck the crap out of his unusual 3.5 twist dismount.

I’m going to throw Hashimoto Daiki into this mix too. He’s not necessarily known as a floor specialist per se (especially in Japan with your Minami Kazukis and Shirai Kenzos and some guy you’ve never heard of before that threw a 7.2 D) but his performance at 2021 All-Japan Championships made him stand out as the top floor worker on the Japanese men’s team. His new upgrades, including a triple-double, make him stand out as an event-final contender.

I’m also going to add Xiao Ruoteng to the list of event final contenders. Xiao can be great on floor, but consistency is his weakness. He is the reigning floor World bronze medalist, and he did go 15.2 at the Chinese Olympic Trials. In order to get near the podium again, he’ll need a repeat of that performance.

What would a floor final be without Milad Karimi? Boasting one of the highest D-scores in the world (6.4) Karimi is in the mix for a final, however, for what he makes up in difficulty he lacks in execution. Sometimes his twisting form and landings can get a little haywire, but he has proven to still score well, most recently a 14.866 at the Osijek World Cup where he took the title.

Last but not least I’m going to talk about Yul Moldauer. Moldauer doesn’t have the difficulty to challenge the top floor contenders, but his E-score puts him in the mix for a spot in the final. At U.S. Olympic Trials he went 14.8 with a 9.0 E-score giving him the highest floor score of the entire trials. His strategy to hold back on difficulty and milk his E-score allowed him to take the bronze at 2017 Worlds and fourth in 2018. If any of the top tier floor workers falter, Moldauer could make an upset.

Yul’s Randi

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Wang Hongwei: “Zhang Boheng Could be Substituted In”

Despite winning the all around at China’s final Olympic Selection Camp, the controversial decision was announced last week to leave Zhang Boheng off the Olympic team. Wang Hongwei, the head of the men’s program, justified the decision to the press:

“The coaches all agreed the top three athletes of the men’s program (Xiao Ruoteng, Sun Wei, and Zou Jingyuan) were on the team, we all had different opinions on who should be the fourth member.”

The final decision for the fourth member was narrowed down to Zhang Boheng and Lin Chaopan. With Zhang Boheng winning the all around at the most recent Olympic selection camp, his spot on the team seemed like a no-brainer. But in the end, Lin Chaopan was selected despite being outscored by Zhang Boheng on every event at the most recent internal test.

“Lin Chaopan, the captain of the men’s program, can inspire his teammates to put up a fighting spirit and encourage everyone to work hard,” Wang said.

On the other hand, Wang used inexperience to justify leaving Zhang off the four-person squad. “Although he [Zhang Boheng] has not yet competed in a major international competition, we think he is a very well-rounded alternate. If any of the four members selected show any problems before the competition Zhang Boheng can be substituted in.”

The Chinese men have swapped alternates for team members at the Olympic Games before: Zheng Lihui replaced Lu Yufu in Sydney and Guo Weiyang replaced Teng Haibin in London.

One of the main points of emphasis for this team was mental strength and consistency. After mistakes on high bar at 2019 Worlds resulted in China losing the gold medal (and a similar issue at 2018 Worlds almost causing China to lose gold), the Chinese men are determined not to let history repeat itself.


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Featured

Amplifying AAPI Stories: Anna Glenn

During the live broadcast of the 2017 U.S. Classic, Morgan Hurd had just dismounted beam. The NBC commentators were gushing over Hurd’s talent and gymnastics potential when they said one line that made me spit out my water:

“I have a feeling if China could take her [Hurd] back they would take her back in a second.”

NBC continued to use this bit for Hurd throughout the rest of the 2017 season. It stung because rhetoric like this reaffirms the “perpetual foreigner” stereotype. Many Asian Americans can recall a time when they were asked “where are you really from?” as if they aren’t truly American. NBC commentators never would have said “Russia probably wants her back” when referring to Nastia Liukin. The stereotype boxes Asian Americans as outsiders and triangulates them in America’s racial binary.

The past year has been excruciatingly difficult for the AAPI community. Eight people dead in Atlanta, eight people dead in Indianapolis, and a 169% surge in targeted hate crimes all just within the past several months. Unfortunately targeted violence and abuse is nothing new to Asian Americans. I would go as far as saying it’s normalized.

To bring awareness and shed light upon the injustices facing the AAPI community, I wanted to create a small series to amplify the voices of AAPI gymnasts and become a medium for their stories to be heard.


Anna Glenn, member of the UCLA team that won 2018 Nationals, 2018 Regional Vault Champion, and balance beam icon, graciously took some time to share some of her experiences as an Asian American gymnast:

Growing up did you have any AAPI role models (in or outside of gymnastics)?

Growing up in North Carolina and in a white family, I was not exposed to many AAPI influencers, athletes, or other types of role models. Moving out to California for school and post-graduate life, I have been introduced to many AAPI role models and have learned to take great pride in my native heritage. In college, I surrounded myself with predominantly Asian American friends which contributed to my learning of AAPI culture. Additionally, the increased presence of AAPI representation in pop culture and multiple media platforms has allowed me to add to the list of AAPI role models I admire today. 

Do you think there is adequate Asian American representation in gymnastics? Who did you look up to? (Elite, NCAA, JO, etc.)

The majority of Asian American representation that I have seen in gymnastics are Asian adoptees. Most of my Asian American friends that I had during my club gymnastics days and pre-collegiate years were all Asian adoptees. As comforting as this was to be surrounded by others with similar backgrounds as me, there was a lack of traditional culture. One gymnast that I remember looking up to in my younger gymnastics career was Anna Li, who also happened to be a fellow Bruin. She was one of very few gymnasts both in Elite and NCAA that was Asian American with an Asian American family. 

Did going to college change your thinking about what it means to be Asian American?

College became a formative turning point for my personal identity as an Asian American. Coming to UCLA, I became exposed to Asian Americans from all different cultural backgrounds, different states, and different family dynamics. I started to become proud of who I was and where I came from. I became a part of the Asian American community at UCLA and embraced the sense of family that this community had. Having friends who were families of first, second, third-generation immigrants made me realize the difficult journey that those before us had endured to create the “accepting” society we live in today. Additionally, during my time at UCLA I had a lot of Asian American/ Canadian teammates that I created strong bonds with. My sister and I were the only Asian Americans on our club team, so this change was exciting for us. 

How did COVID personally impact you and your family? With the rise in AAPI hate crimes were you ever scared for your safety?

Since Covid started and the AAPI hate crimes were highlighted in media, my family and I sat down and had some difficult conversations. It wasn’t so much a concern for my family’s safety but more so for mine, my sister’s and my friends here in LA. Covid itself was difficult as my sister and I were finishing up our last quarter at UCLA the time everything shut down. We decided to go home during that last quarter and stayed home for several months until returning to LA. It was nice to be home, but given that my home is in the southeast, I was hyperaware of my surroundings and constantly on the lookout for racial discrimination. When the hate crimes hit hard, it was hard since all of my friends were very emotional about it all and so concerned for their family’s safety. The best we could do was rally together, help spread awareness and be a tighter community. Although LA is a big city, I almost felt safer here since I was surrounded by so many people that looked like me. It was easier not to be an obvious target. 

Do you feel people hold misconceptions about interracial adoption or adoption in general?

One particular misconception that rubs me the wrong way about adoption is that people think others adopt as an act of “charity”. Not once did I ever feel like I owed my parents and family something for adopting me. I am very grateful for them and do think my life is better that I am here in the states compared to the alternative. I believe that being adopted was the best thing that could have happened to me. I am proud of my background and feel that there is strength in these stories. Regardless of what types of misconceptions are out there, I have never been confronted about my adoption in a negative light and whenever I tell my story, I am welcomed with support. I think today, adoption has been so much more normalized and that people are much more accepting of it. Especially in the US, we have become such a large melting pot of different ethnicities and cultures, interracial adoption is becoming normalized to the scale of interracial couples and families. 

Many Asian American kids can relate to experiencing anti-Asian racism whether it’s as subtle as being asked “where are you from?” or as blatant as having their physical features mocked or being bullied at school. Did you ever struggle with your identity growing up? What advice do you have for Asian American kids struggling with their identity?

When I was in elementary and middle school I really didn’t think twice about my race or what I looked like compared to everyone else. It was never a conversation that came up and I never really experienced racist comments at this age. Since my sister and I were young, our mom always helped us host an annual Chinese New Year party at our house with our gym friends. All of our friends loved this party and always looked forward to it. This was a great way for us to expose our friends to our culture and keep our identity as Chinese Americans on the surface. In high school, however, things started to get more real and topics about racism became integrated into conversation more. A lot of these conversations about race went hand-in-hand with political conversations. These conversations were a little tougher as I grew up in a predominantly conservative state in a family that shared less conservative views. I did experience some mocking in high school but I didn’t really think much about it at the time and it didn’t really bother me until later when I realized how demeaning and inappropriate those comments were. My advice to kids struggling with identity is to surround themselves with those who will lift them up and accept them as they are. No one should ever be criticized for being something they aren’t or for looking a particular way. Find people you can relate to and who have similar interests, stories, backgrounds. Sometimes, having friends that you can relate to on a different level can be self-validating and help with those feelings of insecurity. 


Thank you so much to Anna for sharing her story, for more resources to combat anti-Asian violence please click here.

Cover art courtesy of Monica Kwon (@umbearable)

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Featured

Zhang Jin Tops All Around at Second Round of Chinese Olympic Trials

In the ongoing process of selecting the athletes who will represent China at the Tokyo Olympic Games, news came out of Shanghai that Zhang Jin, Tang Xijing, and Lu Yufei finished top three in the all around respectively.

Zhang Jin finished in the top spot with a 56.399, Tang Xijing second with a 56.365, and Lu Yufei in third with a 56.332. Liu Tingting, Ou Yushan, and Guan Chenchen didn’t compete all around.

In order to get as close to simulating the Olympic venue as possible, Senoh equipment (the equipment brand that will be used at the Tokyo Games) was brought in to mimic the conditions of the Olympic venue.

Following the competition, head coach Qiao Liang emphasized the team’s attention to overall consistency. The confident and clean beam routines shown at the camp was a clear improvement compared to last months national championships.

“This is our second step in selecting the Olympic team, the overall consistency and hit-rate has improved. This competition opportunity will be of great significance to the kids and be a lot of help. Because of the pandemic not everyone had the opportunity to compete.” Qiao said. 

All around leader Zhang Jin expressed she wasn’t thinking too much about the results. She just wanted to maintain her current form, train hard everyday, and not have any regrets. 

Lu Yufei expressed the difficulty she faced in changing to a new environment that was more similar to the Olympic venue. During the competition, she noted her bars were a little nervy and slightly chaotic, but found it to be a valuable experience in the lead up towards the Games. 

As Fan Yilin has already secured an individual spot for the Olympic Games, this will be her second Olympic appearance. She mentioned one of the most valuable things she has learned was to treat each competition the same, no matter how big. 

The men will host their second round of trials in Shanghai on June 24.  

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The Mai Stans Stay Winning: 2021 Women’s NHK Cup Recap

With Olympic spots on the line and only a few tenths separating who would get an automatic birth to the games, the stakes at this meet were extremely high. In conjunction with the All Japan Championships earlier last month, the standings from the NHK Cup-All Japan Championships saga was used to decide who Japan would send to the Olympics with the top three all-around getting an automatic spot on the team.

The meet got off to a fantastic start with Hiraiwa drilling a glorious NCAA-style Yurchenko 1.5 to give her a 14.3.

Hiraiwa wasn’t really on Japan’s Olympic team radar until last year. Ill-timed injuries have riddled most of her career, preventing her from being sent to major international competitions. But this year is different, she’s peaking in perfect time to vie for a spot on Japan’s Olympic team.

After a solid first rotation on vault, Murakami Mai struggled on bars, giving us a Svetlana Boginskaya 1996 compulsory reenactment.

However Mai was already so far ahead of the pack, she had enough of a lead to cushion her.

After a bringing back her Rudi and hitting a solid bars set, Asuka hit a clean beam set for a 13.633- the highest beam score of the day.

After rupturing her achilles last year, Teramoto’s Olympic hopes her in doubt. However after the Olympics were postponed for a year Teramoto is once again in contention for the team.

Sugihara Aiko also started the meet off nicely with her relatively new Yurchenko double-full. However she did struggle a little on bars, traditionally her weaker event.

She was able to rebound with a confident beam set showing off ambitious new connections and a nice double pike dismount.

Consistency queen Hatakeda Hitomi also had a fantastic beam routine after showing an upgraded bars set that allowed her to maintain her position in second place.

Murakami also showed a solid beam set, recovering from her bars mishap from the earlier rotation to score a 13.533.

On floor, Teramoto showed off clean tumbling but unfortunately landed short and fell on her final double pike- only scoring an 11.833

Coming into the final rotation with only a 0.02 deficit behind Sugihara, Teramoto needed to do everything in order to make her case for the Olympic team.

Sugihara followed up Teramoto with her charming new J-pop floor routine to solidify her fourth place ranking with a 53.698.

Coming into the final rotation, Hiraiwa needed a hit floor set to guarantee her guaranteed spot on the Olympic team.

With a solid tumbling, beautiful dance elements (the oversplits!), and a captivating performance, Hiraiwa scored a 13.466 to earn her guaranteed Olympic team spot.

Following Hiraiwa was Hatakeda who also only needed a hit set in order to guarantee her spot on the Olympic team. With a solid full-in, 2.5 to punch full, and double pike Hatakeda earned a 13.466 to sail into second place.

Finishing the competition on her strongest event was Murakami Mai. The 2017 floor World Champion easily topped the competition by getting the highest floor score of the day (14.2) to position herself as one of the favorites for an all around medal going into the Tokyo Olympics.

With Murakami, Hatakeda, and Hiraiwa guarenteed Olympic spots there was only one more position left to cap off the four person team.

After the seemingly eternal wait, the Japanese selection committee announced Aiko Sugihara would be the fourth person to represent Japan.

With Murakami Mai, Hatakeda Hitomi, Hiraiwa Yuna, and Sugihara Aiko rounding out the team, every person on this team understands what it’s like to overcome obstacles. Ill-timed injuries, poor competition results, or just bizarre team selection procedures, this Japanese team embodies perseverance and resilience. This summer they will compete in what is likely the biggest competition of their life, showcasing their gymnastics on the biggest stage in the world.

Full results can be found here

Featured

Ou Yushan: “It’s Been a Long Time Since I’ve Competed”

Ou Yushan’s highly anticipated return to competition hasn’t followed the linear trajectory many were expecting. Ou made several mistakes during the first day of competition, falling twice on beam and sitting her watered-down vault.

“It’s been a long time since I have competed, I also have been training a little less so my elements weren’t too consistent so I had a few issues. My coach was correcting me but I was still having problems. Since I haven’t been training enough, it’s been a little bit of a mental problem with some elements.”

Ou’s highlight of the day was on floor, where she achieved the top score of the day and qualified first into the floor final.

“Next time I won’t step out of bounds. Even during training I usually don’t step out of bounds, it could be because this is the competition and be an issue with my experience.”

Full schedule can be found here

The competition will be streamed live on CCTV 央视频, but in the case the stream is geoblocked there will be a stream provided by Yufeng during the competition times that can be found here

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Featured

Reigning Chinese National Champion Sun Wei Gears Up for Olympic Year National Championships

After day one of the men’s competition has wrapped up, Sun Wei has found himself in a disappointing seventh place after making several mistakes. During podium training he commented on adjusting to the new setting:

“The temperature and the humidity in the arena is okay. Chengdu [the host city] is pretty humid and it’s causing me to slip a little. Right now I think most of my events are fine, I had a few issues on pommel horse so I still need to get used to the apparatus. On vault, my first vault was not good, but then I was able to improve my other attempts. Then on parallel bars I had a fall because my hand slipped. However this is just podium training, during the competition I should be okay.”

Full schedule can be found here

The competition will be streamed live on CCTV 央视频, but in the case the stream is geoblocked there will be a stream provided by Yufeng during the competition times that can be found here

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I’m Happy to Be One of the Best in The World: Lee Chih Kai Eyes Tokyo Gold Medal

After a disappointing individual finish in Rio nearly five years ago, Lee Chih Kai is looking towards the upcoming Tokyo Olympics not only with a team at his side, but with Olympic gold medal prospects on his specialty, Pommel horse.

Renowned for his crowd-pleasing, flare saturated routine composition, Chih Kai is the first Taiwanese gymnast to ever medal on pommel horse at a World Championships.

“I’m really happy that I can be one of the best in the world, it can help everyone make progress, it’s actually a really good opportunity to make everybody watch me as a model for people to study. Until now I didn’t think about becoming a person like this- it feels really amazing.”

In order to maximize his difficulty, Chih Kai works very closely with his coach, Lin Zexin to construct a routine that maximizes difficulty and execution.

“I’m changing his routine before the Tokyo Olympics,” Zexin said. “I added some new elements, but these are like a weapon. We are working continuously to get his whole set together.”

In a clip from an internal Taiwanese competition last week, Chih Kai showed off new upgrades boosting his already monstrous difficulty score to a 6.7.

Like many athletes, the road to Tokyo hasn’t been easy. The postponement of the Games has been a mental game for everybody involved. The postponement and cancelling of many international competitions has only elevated the stress and uncertainty.

“This more or less has an impact, the process has been really difficult because I don’t know when the Games will happen, or if they could be canceled. I think my mindset is a really important issue,” Chih Kai said.

As of now, the Taiwanese gymnastics federation has opted out of all competitions in February and March, but are expecting to send a team to Hangzhou, China for the Asian Games in May to get back in competition shape before the Olympic Games in July.

The road to the Olympics hasn’t been easy for Chih Kai, but he has shown to persevere even through setbacks and uncertainty.

“On the road from kindergarten to now, we almost broke off from our dreams, however he [Chih Kai] persevered and didn’t give up on his dream,” Coach Zexu said. “On this road we’ve had our ups and downs, but we still got what we wanted. From the establishment of our country fifty years ago, we weren’t even close to touching a team final result and now we have it.”

Whatever happens, Chih Kai is focusing on his training and preparation.

“It’s about returning back to my best form, going to competitions in my best form, exhibiting my best self. Compared to others I feel there is less pressure. Then I can do my best at the meet and the results will follow.”

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Featured

When We All Fall Where Do We Go? Men’s 2021 Winter Cup Day 1 Recap

When I think about Winter Cup one word usually comes to mind: meteorite. Why meteorite?


Because they fall. And well…

We saw that…

But it’s totally understandable. Besides the fact that it’s only February, the athletes competing here have been put through extraordinary circumstances never before seen in gymnastics. The pandemic has thrown the entire Olympic qualification process into the toilet, gyms around the country have been shut down, meets are being cancelled, and Texas is frozen. Many of the athletes who have a shot at making the Olympic team understandably opted out (Sam Mikulak, Akash Modi, Colin Van Wicklen, basically everyone from Stanford just to name a few). Although Winter Cup did have it’s lows, it would be unfair of me to only capitalize on those moments.

Because we also saw beautiful form

and tremendous difficulty

Alex Diab: Highest rings score of the night (14.850)

And don’t forget the opportunities for comedy

Stephen Nedoroscik said BYE

and incredible saves

At the end of the day Cameron Bock (Universtity of Michigan) was able to find the midpoint for both of those. While others made mistakes, Cameron capitalized on his consistency to finish in the top eight on every event. He combined competitive difficulty with clean execution to earn the 2021 Winter Cup all-around title.

Following closely behind was Riley Loos (the lone Stanford representative) who showed us he was NOT playing around during quarantine. Riley showed off huge upgrades, most notably on vault where he showed his new handspring 5/2.

Overall the men’s performance was a true testament to the strength and resilience of these athletes. 2020 has not been easy- the pandemic, the lack of competitions, the general uncertainty of the Olympics even happening that has uncomfortably been circulating in the air for a while. Not to mention the total dumpster fire situation going on with USA Gymnastics and the downfall of NCAA Men’s Gymnastics Programs. But for these athletes to still show up, adapt to the adversities, and compete to the best of their abilities, even when the world seems to be falling apart, shows the true qualities these athletes exemplify to the umpteenth degree.

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Featured

Jiang Yuyuan: My Olympics

Note: this interview took place on November 11, 2008

Jiang Yuyuan’s teammates were yelling at her, “put it in the bucket! Put it in the bucket!” Yuyuan was holding a squid she plucked from the beach. Smiling, she dropped the squid into a small blue bucket and filled it with seawater. The national gymnastics team was taking a beach trip to the seaside town Qingdao for a relaxing trip to recover from the Olympics.

In her training group, Yuyuan wasn’t the biggest kid; she always ended up with the responsibility to run errands or buy things. However, her bubbly personality made her stand out from everyone else and led people to make many nicknames for her.

“Which is more cheerful: little monkey or little rabbit? These are cheerful. Some people call me little rabbit, but some people think I look more like a little monkey,” Yuyuan giggled.

Because of her bright personality, her infectious smile, and her lively character, Yuyuan made a lasting impression upon the audience when she did her floor routine. “Sometimes when I see the people, I like to smile.”

When beginning her gymnastics career, Yuyuan’s strongest events were bars and beam, however, her expressiveness lead her coach to realize her potential on floor.

“There’s a little difference in the difficulty between me and my international competitors. But my expressions are my strength.”

A combination of her talent and hard work helped floor become one of Yuyuan’s stand out events. Because she was already strong across the other three events, Yuyuan became a very strong all-around gymnast. At the National Championships leading up to the Olympics, Yuyuan became the national all-around champion, solidifying her position on the 2008 Olympic team.

Unfortunately, a nagging elbow injury followed Yuyuan up through the 2008 Olympic Games. It severely impacted her ability to block off the vault table to compete her new vault, the Amanar. During the qualifications and all-around final of the Games Yuyuan crashed both of her Amanars. “I messed up and didn’t know what to do. All I could do was move on and do better on the next event. I believe confidence and faith are very important. Even if you don’t feel good about something, you should still try your best to feel good to change your mentality.”

In addition to helping the Chinese team qualify to the team final comfortably into first place, Yuyuan also secured spots in the all-around final and in the floor final.

During the team final, Yuyuan contributed on bars and floor. “As long as my first event went well, then everything would go well. That whole bar routine was my best at the Olympics. I did what I wanted and finished well.”

The final event was floor, all the Chinese team had to do was hit their routines and the gold was theirs. “They [the American team] finished already, we went after them. I told myself we weren’t behind, I told myself to feel that we are definitely better than them, those were my thoughts. I told myself I don’t believe I am not as good as you are.

Yuyuan was the second gymnast to compete in the Chinese floor lineup, where she charmed the crowd for her cheerful routine to “Lift your Veil,” and received a 15.200.

“I didn’t think too much, but I tried to express myself the best. I shouldn’t think too much or else I’ll be too stressed. I just breathed- when I started I just thought if I did an okay routine, it would be enough. Everyone was very supportive of me, I can definitely be successful. I believe in myself.”

The Chinese team finished the competition with a 188.900, finishing more than two points ahead of the silver-winning American team.

“When I was little I asked myself why do I do gymnastics? To become a world champion? To become Olympic Champion? Everybody says this. But you need to check your work ethic. Now that I got it [Olympic gold] I am so happy. I have so much more confidence now and feel like I need to continue working hard.”

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Featured

Guan Chenchen: Cheng Fei Made Me Fall in Love With Gymnastics

Known for her playful character, 2020 Chinese Beam Champion Guan Chenchen took a more serious note in a CCTV Sports interview, sharing her ambitions and inspirations in gymnastics that sparked her desire to be a part of the mix for the upcoming 2021 Olympic Games.

“To me, the Olympics are a dream- when I was young and had not yet started gymnastics I remember watching big sister Cheng Fei compete floor at the Olympics on TV. I thought ‘wow, big sister can do these big skills and make them look so easy, she looks like she’s having fun.’ I want to make it to that level of competition so I can also show off myself.”

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Featured

Sport Over Safety? The Tough Choice for College Gymnastics This Season

As COVID-19 has brushed nearly every spot on the globe, it has caused trillions of dollars in economic turmoil, disrupted global travel, and been the sole cause of more than 1.5 million deaths around the world. The risks and uncertainty caused by the deadly virus has upended normal life as we know it, causing schools to move online, people to work from home, and major events like graduations, weddings, and other important ceremonies to be moved virtually or be canceled entirely. With the cases rising exponentially and the death toll being at the highest point since the beginning of the pandemic, college gymnastics programs around the United States were drawn to one conclusion: “right now seems like a good time to have a gymnastics meet.”

After the complete lack of safety measures taken at the LSU Gym 101 preseason meet, the upcoming 2021 NCAA gymnastics season has been met with a lot of skepticism. How can college programs prove they are capable of safely hosting an intercollegiate competition with teams coming from all parts of the United States if they can’t even safely host their own internal meet? The culprit is not just LSU, teams across the country are hosting practices without social distancing, without face masks, without taking the responsibility to put the safety of the people before the gymnastics.

Unsurprisingly the NCAA is showing as little leadership as possible to control the virus transmission rates. They released the return to sport guidelines for programs that does a really great job “encouraging” NCAA programs to comply with local safety guidelines and rules. Thanks, NCAA! The guidelines released dump most of the responsibility upon state and local government guidelines to curb the spread of the virus. What isn’t being considered is how vastly COVID restrictions and compliance differs from state-to-state. For example, New York announced a mandatory quarantine for travelers coming into the state, capped indoor gatherings, and limited non-essential business operations. Texas on the other hand (and notably is the host for the 2021 Women’s NCAA Gymnastics Championships) is still allowing recreational sports facilities, religious services, and personal care services to operate at full capacity. The stark contrast shown in just these two states already highlights how tricky it’s going to be hosting interstate meets.

Interestingly SEC commissioner Greg Sankey announced conference schools can face a cumulative penalty of $1,000,000 if there is evidence of non-compliance with COVID safety protocols. Several of the big football schools have already been fined for breaking protocols. My biggest question is if this is being applied across the SEC why hasn’t LSU Gymnastics been fined after all of this showed up on the broadcast?

The screenshots above expose an institutional problem. Yes, the athletes do have the responsibility to wear their mask at all times, socially distance, and refrain from attending gatherings, but it’s the responsibility of the coaches, the responsibility of the schools, the responsibility of the NCAA, the responsibility of local/state/national governments to enact clear safety protocols, provide the necessary safety equipment, and to hold people accountable.

To have a remote shot of safely hosting a season, we need to go beyond the minimum to stop the spread. And if collegiate programs continue to operate in the way they are, well we’re going to be in this for the long run.

Featured

Li Shijia “Excited” to Show New Upgrades

Following her success at the 2019 World Championships, Li Shijia quickly added herself to the mix for a shot at making the 2020 Chinese Olympic Team. However, with the postponement of the games by one year, plans have been put on hold. In September the Chinese delegation was able to hold a national championship where Li only competed on bars.


“This year the Olympics were postponed and all the meets were canceled. At home, we practiced for a long time, but finally we can go to a competition [2020 Chinese Nationals]. I’m very excited about it.”
During the intense winter training portion of her training, Li also shared brand new upgrades for 2021:


“During winter training I learned two Ling-pirouettes on bars and changed the routine construction a little. On vault I’m still doing the double twist, but I want to do it better than last year and make it more consistent and more floaty. On beam I added a new switch-leap mount, and on floor I’m doing a triple-full punch front and a new wolf turn.”

Source: YangShiPin

Featured

Training, Planning, and Altitude with Ye Zhennan

With only eight months left until the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, the Chinese Gymnastics team is hard at work entering the winter training phase of their training schedule- a time dedicated to working on intense physical fitness testing, conditioning, and fundamental elements.

“This winter training we need to maintain conditioning results and do the basics to specialized types of conditioning. Specific skills and specific strengths finally are part of the further advancement towards the Olympic gold medal,” Ye Zhennan, director of gymnastics said.


“When the National Gymnastics team coaches do the research plans for the war [the competition], they never forget the past training experiences. The training rhythm, load, and test are planned in extreme detail to guarantee the best competitive, physical, and mental state. At the same time, taking into account the success at the Beijing Olympics, we believe we must find the gold points to help the team make the right technical preparations.”


To boost the physical and psychological aspects of the training, the men and women’s team left the national training center in Beijing to train in alternative locations for two weeks.

“The men went to the Nanjing Sports Institute to train- we chose a relatively closed training environment. The women’s team went to Kunming to try altitude training and improve their cardio training. There they will do physical fitness exercises, mental adjustments, and technical tasks. This training plan sets the foundation for the next stage and to gradually enter the complete set of training.”

Source: 潇湘晨报

Featured

2020 Friendship and Solidarity Competition Preview

As a means to make the flaming dumpster fire that was the year 2020 slightly more bearable, the FIG has decided to organize a last-minute major international gymnastics competition to offer the gymnasts some competition exposure in a year that has essentially been a gymnastics drought.

The Friendship and Solidarity Competition will be the first meet in 2020 for many of the gymnasts competing, so don’t expect things to go too smoothly. Most of the gymnasts will not be at peak form, but they don’t need to be. The entire purpose of the meet is to regain competition exposure and, per the FIG, “make the message clear: Friendship and Solidarity shall triumph above all.” But in actuality, it’s also a huge test for the Olympic Committee to prove that a major international sporting event can be held safely for the Olympic Games next year.

The competition will have a very unique structure- as opposed to a traditional meet where gymnasts compete on teams based on nationality, gymnasts will compete on two teams: team friendship and team solidarity. The two teams will comprise of 15 men and women from Japan, China, Russia, and the United States. The top three scores per event will be counted towards the final team total.

Team Friendship

On the women’s side, team friendship will begin the competition on bars. This is an event where they’ll be looking to capitalize on their scoring potential over team solidarity. Angelina Melnikova will kick-off the meet on bars, an event where she finished in fourth at 2019 Worlds. Following Melnikova will be Zhou Ruiyu who will boast her 6.0 D-score and her gorgeous one-arm pirouettes, a staple element in Chinese uneven bar composition. Rounding out the rotation will be Asuka Teramoto and Hitomi Hatakeda. This is Asuka’s first meet back since her Achilles rupture in March, so I’m excited to see if she’ll debut any new upgrades.

Sophia Butler will kick-off the beam rotation for team friendship. She did beam at the WOGA classic earlier this year showing off a unique side aerial-Onodi acro-series (!!!) and a flic-flic-layout. I’m interested to see if she’ll keep all the difficulty, or play it safe (fingers crossed she does the side-aerial to Onodi!) Yana Vorona will also be hoping to contribute a big number on beam, showing off a nice flic-flic-loso acro series and clean execution throughout.

Starting the floor rotation will be Liu Jieyu who opens with a huge triple-full directly into punch front, a pass that has gained popularity over the past several years among the Chinese. Notably, Asuka Teramoto is also slated to compete on floor, even after just recovering from her Achilles tear. However, the highlight of the rotation will be Angelina Melnikova who could have the highest-scoring floor routine of the entire meet.

Moving over to the men, team friendship will begin the meet on rings where Artur Dalaloyan will begin the rotation. However, the strongest routine will probably come from Yuya Kamoto who does a unique Felge to swallow midway through his routine.

Moving on to vault, the rotation again will begin with Artur Dalaloyan, who is the 2018 World silver medalist on vault, showing a strong Blanik and triple-twisting Yurchenko duo. Notably, the roster only shows five gymnasts from team friendship competing vault, while the start list only shows three: Artur Dalaloyan, Alexey Rostov, and Kazuma Kaya. It would be a shame if Shi Cong (originally listed to do vault) scratched because he could provide a really strong score with his Kaz double.

Team friendship is like the avengers of parallel bars. Yuya Kamoto, Kazuma Kaya, Yul Moldauer, Shane Wiskus, and Artur Dalaloyan are all slated to compete. 2/6 gymnasts on team friendship have a World Championship accolade on parallel bars and every gymnast on team friendship will be expecting to post at minimum a 6.0 D-score, and we’ll potentially see even more upgrades.

High bar should also be a really strong event for team friendship, as long as everything goes as planned. Newcomer Zhang Boheng can potentially bring in a very good score as long as he stays on the bar. Alexey Rostov too struggles a little bit with consistency but can bring in a very big number as long as he hits. Keep an eye out for Artur Dalaloyan who seems to be upgrading his layout Tkatchev to a Liukin (full-twisting layout Tkatchev) based on podium training videos. I’m also interested in seeing where Yul Moldauer is in terms of difficulty. Yul debuted a new 5.4 high bar routine at Winter Cup this year, but missed his Kolman on day one. I’m interested to see if he’ll keep his new upgrades or play it safe.

Moving over to floor, Shane Wiskus will be team friendship’s leadoff. Shane debuted a brand new floor routine during Winter Cup finals earlier this year, debuting a new front 1/1 into Randi and back 2.5 into front 2/1. Zhang Boheng caught my attention during Chinese Nationals last month by showing off a floor routine with execution reminiscent of Li Xiaoshuang. 2018 floor world champion Artur Dalaloyan will also be looking to put up a very high number, combining superior execution with colossal difficulty that can score in the mid to high 14’s.

Team friendship will close out the meet on pommel horse, a particularly stressful event to finish on. Leading off will be Artur Dalaloyan who can swing pommels nicely, but certainly isn’t his strongest event. Kazuma Kaya, on the other hand, will be looking to capitalize on his pommel horse prowess. The 2015 World Championship bronze medalist has scoring potential in the mid to high 14’s and shows off a nice array of Russian and flair work.

Team Solidarity:

For the women’s side, team solidarity has been tasked with the challenge to begin the competition on beam, a tumultuous journey for many. Zhang Jin and Lu Yufei will start off the rotation, and (hopefully) will set the bar high, each doing beautiful dance elements that actually deserve to receive credit, as well as high, floaty layout series. I’m also looking forward to seeing the state of Elena Gerasimova’s beam. After her success from 2019 Junior Worlds, she will be looking to add more difficulty to her already tremendous beam routine that already has a front walkover-front and aerial-LOSO acro series.

On floor, neither eMjae Frazier nor Shilese Jones are slated to compete, which surprises me because of their high scoring potential. Instead, we will see Aleksandra Schekoldina who was a member of the silver-winning Russian team at 2019 Worlds. Floor is by far Schekoldina’s strongest event, so she has the highest possible scoring potential of team solidarity as long as she hits, which can be an issue sometimes. Chiaki Hatakeda, sister of Hitomi Hatakeda, has a lot of tumbling capability (remember her quadruple twist a few years ago?) as well as her compatriot Akari Matsumura who does a floaty triple-full to punch front opening pass.

For vault, Aleksandra Schekoldina will lead off, Aleksandra gets a really good block on her DTY so I’m expecting she’ll probably bring in a big score. Shilese Jones and eMjae Frazier should also bring in impressive scores with their Amanar-ifyable DTYs. Zhang Jin will have the highest D-score of the group with her Tsukahara double-full but tends to struggle with amplitude which gets reflected in her E-score.

As team solidarity concludes their meet on bars, I’m most excited to see potential upgrades from Shilese Jones. Per her Instagram Shilese has been working on several new release elements and combinations to help build her 5.6 D-score. Lu Yufei will have a stand-out routine showing off an impressive Tkatchev-Gienger direct connection to rack up valuable connection bonus, as well as the most PERFECT piked Jaeger ever done on bars.

On the men’s side team solidarity has the advantage of starting on vault, a relatively easy event to get out of the way first. Notably, Kohei Uchimura is listed to compete on vault, which comes as a huge surprise to me since he has stated numerous times he will fight for an Olympic spot as a high bar specialist. Wataru Tanigawa will be showing off a MASSIVE Blanik where he actually maintains straight legs throughout the entirety of the vault. And of course who could forget Nikita Nagornyy- the 2019 World Vault Champion where he will probably stick his Dragalescu again.

For parallel bars, newcomer Yin Dehang combines clean execution with an impressive 6.2 D-score that should score in the mid to high 14’s. Also, keep an eye out for Dimitrii Lankin who has some impressive peach and single bar elements.

Team solidarity hands down wins the high bar E-score award. Kohei Uchimura, looking to grab an individual high bar spot in Tokyo, will show off his new Bretschneider (and hopefully work out better than at All Japan Championships last month). Kohei’s execution is unmatched to the rest of the world, however, and increasing his difficulty and combining it with his flawless execution leads him further down the track to becoming an individual event specialist at next year’s Olympics. Almost on par with Kohei’s cleanliness is Paul Juda. Although Paul lacks the difficulty, he makes up in his squeaky clean execution, where he normally scores around the 8.6-8.8 range.

Contrary to the top-notch execution on high bar, team solidarity will boast big D-scores on floor. Casually opening with triple-backs, Nikita Nagornyy and Dimitri Lankin will be the highlight of the rotation. Just like his wonderful piked-double front on vault, Wataru Tanigawa competes has two double front-pikes on floor (one with and without the half-out).

Although the stakes aren’t high for the gymnasts competing, FIG President, Morinari Watanabe, is putting his heart and soul into making sure this meet runs smoothly. This meet is a huge test for the Tokyo Organizing Committee to prove to the world a major international sports competition is feasible, even with the pandemic looming as a backdrop.

Featured

Liu Tingting on Training and Chickenpox

Weeks leading up to the 2020 Chinese National Championships, Liu Tingting was was forced to isolate for two weeks after contracting the Chickenpox virus.

“I had to isolate in my room for 2 weeks. Because this competition was really close, getting back into shape was kind of difficult. Although it was difficult, I’ve gradually gotten better to get where I am now.”

Full Schedule

9/21Men’s Podium Training
9/22Women’s Podium Training
9/23Men’s Qualifications and Team Final
9/24Women’s Qualifications and Team Final
9/25Men’s All Around Final
9/26Women’s All Around Final
9/27Event Finals Day 1
9/28Event Finals Day 2
Featured

Guan Chenchen Excited to Make Senior Debut

After helping her team win silver at the 2019 Junior World Championships, Guan Chenchen makes her senior debut at the 2020 Chinese National Championships this week.

Chenchen spoke confidently to the reporters, “I have lots of confidence, when I’m competing on the competition floor I feel much more excited. I think if I try hard, I can do better in the competition than I did in practice.”

Featured

3 Simple Things You Can Do Right Now To Save Men’s Gymnastics

If we kept lists of NCAA sports programs the same way we do with endangered animal species, men’s gymnastics would be on the critically endangered list. The number of men’s gymnastics programs has dwindled in the past several years, but this year it’s been clear the threat of total collapse is dangerously close. Men’s gymnastics is almost extinct. In order to raise awareness, I compiled a list of simple things you can do right now to help protect the opportunities future athletes may be robbed of if we don’t do something right now.

  1. CONTACT CONTACT CONTACT

Saving a program as big as an NCAA D1 sport requires direct and immediate action. I wrote a letter that YOU can copy, paste and send directly to the University Board of Directors to make your voice heard.

Please copy, paste, and send this letter (contact information included in the document)

2. Sign petitions

University of Anchorage Alaska (WAG team)

College of William and Mary (MAG and WAG)

3. Spread the word!

Post on your Instagram story, tell your parents, Retweet, spray paint the outside of your house, just tell someone! The more people are aware, the more potential arises for action to happen.

Featured

‘We Achieved Our Goals’: Liang Qiao on Preperation for Upcoming Chinese National Championships

This week the Chinese National Team held an internal test at the National Training Center in Beijing, where gymnasts showed off routines and upgrades they hope to compete at the upcoming Chinese National Championships in Zhaoqing later this month.


National Team head coach, Liang Qiao talked to reporters about upcoming plans:


“It was very very tricky. I went around the world to get here. First I got into Shanghai then I had to quarantine there, afterward I was able to travel to Beijing. When I got here I came to see everyone very happy. Today’s test we achieved our goal. Some athletes were in better condition than others, but the falls and mistakes were expected, these tests can help us prepare for National Championships. Most importantly it is to help the top contenders prepare for next year’s Tokyo Olympic Games.”

Chinese National Championships begin September 21, the full schedule can be found here

9/21Men’s Podium Training
9/22Women’s Podium Training
9/23Men’s Qualifications and Team Final
9/24Women’s Qualifications and Team Final
9/25Men’s All Around Final
9/26Women’s All Around Final
9/27Event Finals Day 1
9/28Event Finals Day 2

Source: 祝福体操小花们_

Featured

Gymnastics Resumes in Taiwan

This week would have been the week of event finals at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, but because of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, all gymnastics has been put on hold: except in Taiwan. Taiwan was able to swiftly control its outbreak back in March and has not reported a single attributed death since May. The timely protocols taken by the Taiwanese government allowed for athletes to continue training with little disturbance. This week the Taiwanese Sports Department held a mock competition for all sports in place of the Tokyo Olympics at the National Sports Training Center in Kaohsiung City.

On the men’s side, 2019 World Championships pommel horse silver medalist, Lee Chih-Kai won the meet with a 78.750, and also took home the floor, pommel horse (with two falls!) and parallel bar titles. After the meet, Chih-Kai laughed off his mistakes, “This is the most I have fallen in the recent year, I didn’t realize this competition would be in front of my fellow countrymen [the competition was live streamed]. I hope in the future to get rid of my mistakes and not fall again.” He added, “I hope today I don’t get rid of my luck so I don’t fail at the most important moments.”

2019 World Championships team member and high bar ace, Tang Chia-Hung clinched the high bar title and showed off some spectacular new upgrades, including a massive triple-back dismount. “This is the first time in a while I performed my routines again, I achieved my goals so I am very happy,” he told a reporter.

On the women’s side, Fang Ko-Ching won the competition by a slim margin over Ting Hua-Tien. Ting Hua-Tien, who is Taiwan’s first female gymnast to qualify for the Olympics since the 1968 Mexico City Games, struggled on her first event bars but had a clean routine on her signature event beam to clinch the title with a 13.450.

The competition can be streamed on YouTube via MOESports

Men Day 1, Men Day 2, Women Day 1, Women Day 2

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Overcoming Adversity, the Story of He Licheng

He Licheng’s mother first put her into gymnastics when she was just three years old, “when she was younger she didn’t eat very much. If you don’t eat enough it’s easy to be dehydrated or get sick. I wanted to send her to do gymnastics so she could make her body stronger.”


Even at a young age, Licheng stood out from the other gymnasts. Her coach, Wang Su Hua told the interviewer, “she had very strong physical abilities, and she showed a lot of talent, during training she never complained about being tired or feeling sore.”
Licheng had positive memories going to the gym when she was young, “I thought to go to the gym was very fun, it was like going to the amusement park,” she recalled.


But disaster struck during the summer of 2009 when Licheng and her mom were walking out of a grocery store, a careless delivery truck driver hit Licheng, who was only five at the time. “I ran over to her and saw she had blood all over her body,” her mom recalled. Licheng was transported to the hospital where she received eighteen stitches. After this incident, Licheng’s mom didn’t want to see her injured again and considered taking Licheng out of gymnastics. “I feel like my kid was suffering so much. I didn’t want her to do gymnastics.”


After Licheng’s recovery, she was adamant about returning to gymnastics. She even hid from her family and walked to the gym to continue her practice. After seeing Licheng so happy doing gymnastics, her mother finally gave in and allowed her to continue. When Licheng was six, she represented her city, Bengbu, at Anhui Provincial Games and won gold on floor and silver on beam. Her stellar results allowed her to be selected for the Anhui Provincial team. She was the youngest and shortest gymnast on her team.


After training on the provincial team for a while, her physical abilities began to slowly deteriorate. Her Coach, Li Chaogang critically told the reporter “she used to be able to do ten cast to handstands, now she only can do three or four; she used to run four hundred meters in a minute and sixteen seconds, now she can only make it in a minute and thirty-five seconds, this is obviously a regression.” He added, “her coordination is not as good as other kids, it takes longer for her to learn skills.”


He Licheng also spoke critically of herself, “I learn elements by observing how others do it, then I’ll repeat it many times, just like a stupid bird trying to learn how to fly.”
During the summer of 2012, Licheng was plagued by injuries. She severely injured her back while training bars and caused her lots of pain during training. Because of the injury, she had a hard time during competition and didn’t place high. In addition to physical pain, Licheng’s psyche was shaken. “During that time I worked so hard but I didn’t get any return. I was a little discouraged, I didn’t want to continue this journey,” Licheng recounted.


During this difficult time, she received lots of encouragement from Olympic Champion, Deng Linlin who took on a big sister role. “There is always a time where you will find yourself in a hole, but you have to keep walking forwards and slowly you will rise, continue to encourage yourself,” she said to Licheng.


Licheng restarted her journey and worked hard to fill the deficit between herself and others. Licheng’s mom told her to take breaks, but Licheng was determined not to stop. “She had blood in the palm of her hands that started dripping down her fingers. I told her that she should take the day off to rest, but instead, she replied ‘if my hands are injured I can still practice using my legs,’ I felt sad watching her walk into the gym.”

Licheng’s hard work began to pay off. At the 2014 Anhui Province Games she finished first on bars and beam and continued her success at the 2014 National Youth Games by finishing fifth all around. Every time Licheng goes away for competitions, she asks her teachers and classmates for help with schoolwork.


“She always wants to do her best,” her teacher said. “She has very strong self-discipline. During math, Chinese, and foreign language midterms she always finishes in the top three.”


Licheng told the reporter her idol was Deng Linlin. “She works really hard and gets good results. I only work a little bit, so I felt like I need to work harder,” she modestly told the reporter. “I hope after I train hard I can represent China on the world stage to make the country proud, and to help add more luster to Chinese gymnastics.”

Source

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1991 World Championships Women’s AA Final Live Blog

Welcome to the live blog! Please refresh your browser every 2-3 minutes to get the latest updates

Here’s the YouTube link if you want to follow along

00:03: This just started and I’m already screaming at this intro piece

4:07: I wish NBC had these helpful informative intro pieces instead of those dumb stoplights

6:02: Kim Z doing the most perfect FTY as always

then Betty Okino UB – great handstands but only a layout half out dismout??

9:00: Bogi BB- can we just talk about how she points her toes as she hurdles ALL THE HEART EYES

10:25: Bontas FX- American medley? This music is sooo patriotic it hurts. Great DLO though, amazing tumbling

12:38: Lysenko UB- stuck double front half wonderfulllll

13:17: Okino BB- I wish more people did this mount, I know it’s not worth like anything but it’s so pretty, Perfect double turn, LOSO LOSO series solid, dismount is a little wonky

15:41: Bontas VT- It looks like she had her landing on her first FTY but then she just slipped or something?? 2nd FTY is much better.

16:32: Fluff piece about Bogi- the only thing that matters ever. She’s serving looks -a fashion iconnnn

17:15: Bogi FX- the only good pike full-in done ever, immaculate choreo, 1.5 thru to double tuck, double pike a little low. This is one of my favorite Bogi floor routines

19:05: Miller FX- whip to full-in nice, full-in 2nd pass is slightly off, double pike solid.

21:23: Lysenko BB: Awesome mount, backspin!!!!!!!!!!, totally misses her foot on the round off and crashes the double tuck 😦

23:38: Zmeskal UB: but first a fluff piece about the ranch YIKES. It looks like they’re making some kind of sad taco salad?? Oh 1991… Great gienger into transition, solid double pike dismount 9.937

28:56: Okino FX: Double pike nice, QUEEN OF TURNS, whip into 2/1, double tuck. Tumbling is a little easy but executed cleanly.

31:18: Bogi VT- FTY perfect in every single way 9.962

The way the media was obsessed with Bela Karolyi…

32:10: Kim Z BB- Iconic mount, loso loso solid, nice double tuck!

34:48: Bogi UB: Tkatchev kinda flat- a trend it seems, cool straddled giant, stuck double pike. 9.912

36:50: Bontas BB, I miss confident Romanian beam work, but those leaps… RO BHS double tuck, amazing

38:30: Miller UB nice gienger, tkatchev into transition, full-in a little untidy but great landing.

39:50: Kim Z FX: Pike full in great, iconic hooked on america floor routine, three whips into double tuck great, oh god they mic’d Bella karolyi up, double tuck final pass great. The crowd is screaming standing ovation, it’s everything.

43:18: Okino VT: Great FTY, I actually prefer her hollow FTY technique than the arched ones everybody seems to be doing. 9.937

Final Standings:

  1. Kim Zmeskal (USA) 39.848
  2. Svetlana Boginskaya (URS) 39.736
  3. Cristina Bontas (ROM) 39.711

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Chinese Women Show Off Major Upgrades in June Training

After intense winter conditioning, the Chinese women have been hard at work upgrading their routine difficulty. Each athlete presented new elements in front of coaches and judges in a recent skill verification at the National Training Center in Beijing.  

Although footage doesn’t show every gymnast, it does highlight upgrades from notable Olympic hopefuls.

2019 Junior World Championship stars, Ou Yushan and Guan Chenchen both showed off their new double-doubles (Silivas) during floor verification.

2019 World Championship team member, Qi Qi, upgraded both of her vaults, presenting an Amanar-Cheng duo reminiscent of former Chinese vaulting star Cheng Fei.

Newcomer Wei Xiaoyuan verified a new triple-full immediate punch front in addition to a full-twisting double layout dismount off bars.

2019 Asian Championships gold medalist, Zhou Ruiyu, showed off a new DTY on vault.

Among those who showed off brand new routines was 2018 World Champion, Liu Tingting

“Basically right now I’m doing better than average. I’m doing full routines, the first time I verified my routine I fell, the second time was good and I was very happy. I also added 0.2 difficulty to my beam routine.” When asked about winter training, she responded routine execution and consistency were her main focus, “Basically I didn’t really increase overall difficulty because I wanted to focus on execution and consistency.”

Unable to attend the verification camp in-person due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, head coach Liang Qiao watched the verification live through his cell phone back in the United States. “Because of the virus, the Olympics have been postponed by one year. This is the first test to show off new, difficult skills for the women’s team. Through testing, we have seen a lot of positive things. We have done a lot of training and practiced basics while also including very difficult skills. In this year’s short time we noticed a lot of improvement, therefore we have lots of hope for next year’s domestic and international competitions.”

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Catching Up With Deng Linlin

Since the Coronavirus outbreak, Deng Linlin has barely left her house. She groaned when the interviewer asked about adjusting to indoor life. “I came here [California] last September, the situation [COVID-19] has been getting worse. I’m at home every day and can’t go out.”  Although stuck inside, she has found ways to stay busy. “Besides studying, I get together with others and do some exercises. Then we cook together, my culinary skills have improved quite a bit.” 

After retiring from gymnastics in 2013, the two-time Olympic champion attended Peking University, one of China’s most prestigious universities, to get her bachelor’s degree in international relations. She admitted transitioning from an elite level athlete to a university student was difficult at first “When I first started at Peking University, I wanted to study really hard but I didn’t know how to begin. There were so many things I needed to do- I was a little lost. Because in fact, we grow up on the sports team from a young age, we have a totally different path than regular students.” In China, athletes usually receive minimal schooling thus the transition to student life can be extremely difficult compared to regular students who are accustomed to the rigorous academics. “For university life and your career afterward, you need to plan for yourself. When I first started University I was confused. There were lots of curvy roads, I didn’t know how to plan, I just wasted a lot of time. Until now I continue to study, take notes. How do you study? In this area, I’m continuing to learn.” 

Linlin is continuing to improve her English skills while staying in California. During her time on the National Team, because of her rigorous training schedule and limited resources Linlin’s English didn’t develop at the pace she had hoped. “When I was an athlete, I feel like another athlete who could speak two languages was really impressive. During my time on the National Team, a sports donation association donated resources for an English class, we took classes frequently. Every time we went abroad for a competition, we saw athletes from non-English speaking countries like Russia who could speak English and thought this was a really cool thing. I thought “why can’t I do it?” so this made me envious. I feel like learning sports and English aren’t too different, it’s a tool, you need to continue to train and study. Memorizing words is like doing a flic-flic-layout, practicing it once is not enough, all you need is to work hard.”

In addition to obtaining her Master’s degree at California Baptist University, Linlin is also working on another graduate degree in Sports Administration from Beijing Sports University. She dreams to put all her credentials to use and work for the FIG one day. 

When asked for advice to current National Team members, Linlin responded “I’m a graduate student at Beijing Sports University and California Baptist University. In other countries, a lot of people in the sports field don’t just concentrate on sports. The knowledge they have is not only limited to sports. If we only train and don’t study, our intelligence can not reach a higher level. Studying for knowledge can be very helpful for training. For gymnasts who plan to retire, my advice is to go to University to study not only for a college degree. I think a regular college student experience is an important component of your life. Because looking back, not having that experience would be disappointing. Athletes can think about what kind of profession you want, plan your future, and your work. This can help you plan ahead for your goal and direction.” 

Source: 体操大咖课第二期完整录像

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Can You Get 10/10 on This Simone Biles Tumbling Pass Quiz?

“File:Simone Biles, Jogos Olímpicos Rio 2016 (cropped).jpg” by Fernando Frazão/Agência Brasil is licensed under CC BY 2.0 

Which tumbling passes has Simone competed before?
Silivas
Dos Santos I
Double Layout
1.5 step-out into full-in
2.5 step-out into double-pike
Double Arabian
Triple twist
Triple-twisting double-tuck
Front-full
Mukhina
Double-front
Back 2.5 twist
Rudi
Cojocar
Moors
Double Layout 1/2
Chusovitina

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Gymnasts Born in 2005 Are Now Eligible for the Tokyo Olympics, but Should They Be?

Controversy exploded on the gymternet yesterday when the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) announced that WAG athletes born in the year 2005 are now eligible to compete at the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games.

The Games were originally scheduled to begin on July 24 and run till August 9, 2020 until global COVID-19 concerns forced the organizing committee to delay the Games by a year, creating a nightmare for the organizers and a plethora of implications: one of those being age specifications for gymnasts who become seniors in 2021.

On one hand, there are many who believe the WAG field at the 2021 Olympics should comprise exclusively of gymnasts born on or prior to December 31, 2004. Considering the Olympic Committee is still marketing these Games as ‘Tokyo 2020’ and not ‘Tokyo 2021’ they’re making it clear this is not a brand new Olympics, but a postponed one.

Because these are still the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, just pushed back a year, it would only be fair to preserve the same rules and standards as if the competition was still being held in 2020. Therefore granting WAG athletes who don’t yet have senior eligibility by December 31, 2004 the ability to compete would be a deviation from the prescribed rules and original competition field. The FIG even made it clear that the rules will remain the same for the Games, stating the 2017-2020 Code of Points will continue to be used until the end of 2021 in order to accommodate for the postponed Olympics. They also announced the judges will remain the same and those who were invited before, will remain invited. Because we’re adhering to the standards of the original 2020 Olympics, shouldn’t we also keep the athlete field consistent and only allow those to compete who were eligible at the time?

Speaking of those who were eligible to compete at the time, allowing athletes born in 2005 to compete at the Olympics creates a huge question pertaining to Olympic qualification, specifically for 2005 athletes from countries who haven’t qualified full teams. For gymnasts who wish to qualify to Tokyo as individuals, they are able to do so via the 2019 World Championships, the Apparatus World Cup series, the 2020 Continental Championships, and 2020 All-Around World Cup series. However, since most of these competitions have already been held or are in progress, it makes it nearly impossible for 2005 seniors to qualify for Tokyo. Let me use Julia Soares from Brazil as an example. Brazil did not qualify a full team to the Olympics since they finished out of the top nine teams who did not already qualify. Soares, a 2005 senior, won’t qualify to Tokyo with a team since Brazil didn’t qualify. She also won’t be able to qualify via the Apparatus World Cup series since there is only one more competition left (Doha World Cup) and she isn’t age eligible to compete in it- not to mention she would also need at least three World Cups to rack up enough points for Olympic qualification. The Continental Championships (Pan-American Championships in this instance) also aren’t possible for Soares. Although they’ve been postponed, it’s possible they may still happen later this year, still making her ineligible to compete and qualify an individual spot.

On the other hand, giving 2005 seniors eligibility to compete at the 2021 Olympic Games gives opportunities to gymnasts who are capable of making the Olympics, but weren’t able due to their age. This ensures the Olympics feature the best of the best which is basically what the Olympics are, right? Talented 2005 seniors like Konnor McClain and Viktoria Listunova have high chances of making their country’s Olympic team and could potentially be medal threats.

The FIG technical regulations state that athletes must be 16 in order to compete at major international meets like the World Championships and Olympic Games. Excluding age eligible athletes from competing would contradict their own rules. Blythe Lawrence also brought up an interesting point mentioning athletes born in 2005 could file lawsuits for being barred from the competition, even though they are age eligible to compete.

These rules also apply to the men, meaning MAG athletes born in or prior to 2003 are now age eligible for the Olympics. However because most MAG athletes don’t hit their peak until they’re in their mid-twenties, the impact upon the competition is much lower for the men than the women who usually have a higher proportion of younger athletes (however the average age for WAG athletes has steadily risen over the past several years). It’s also not impossible for a talented 18 year old MAG athlete to make a major team (take Kenzo Shirai at 2013 Worlds for example who was only 17 at the time) therefore it still creates potential inconsistency in the field as well as unequal Olympic qualification opportunities for younger athletes.

This is a tough call for the FIG- no matter what decision they make there will be controversy. There are legitimate arguments for both sides of the issue, but the one thing we all can agree on: these Olympics will be like nothing we’ve ever had before.

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The Battle for Olympic Qualification Points: 2020 Men’s American Cup Preview Top 7 Prediction

The American Cup has traditionally been a throw-away, garbage meet at the start of the elite season to test the waters with new routines, gain international experience, and try new upgrades. However this year is very different. The American Cup will be an important step for countries looking to qualify additional nominative spots for the Olympics via the all-around world cup route, which starts with the American Cup, then Stuttgart World Cup, followed by Birmingham World Cup, and finishing with the Tokyo World Cup. The top three countries at the end of the circuit will earn a +1 spot for the Olympics. Because of the stakes, the field is much more competitive than years past. The Russians withdrew from the meet citing not the coronavirus as their excuse, but long flights and climate acclimation were reasons to not attend(???) This is significant because the reigning world champion Nikita Nagornyy was on the nominative roster and was the heavy favorite to win the meet. This significantly opens the door for the rest of the field to grab some points and help their federations qualify additional spots to Tokyo. Let’s take a look at the major contenders:

With the absence of Nagornyy, it’s safe to say Sam Mikulak is the favorite to take the title this year. He won Winter Cup with an 86.8, debuting a few new upgrades. He’ll be looking to copy and paste his Winter Cup performance to help the U.S. men gain an additional spot for Tokyo. However this year’s particularly deep field means Mikulak MUST hit all six routines in order to win, and consistency hasn’t always been Mikulak’s strong point.

A potential threat to Mikulak is Oleg Verniaev, the current world all-around bronze medallist. Verniaev is also looking to help Ukraine qualify additional spots for Tokyo. Ukraine’s strategy for this world cup circuit is to send Verniaev to every single competition and pray he comes out alive. Depending on what kind of day Oleg has, he is very capable of taking this title considering he has very similar scoring potential to Sam Mikulak. 

Newcomer Daiki Hashimoto will also be looking to finish among the top three. His breakout performance at the World Championships last year proved his ability to contend with the best in the world. He also won the All-Japan Championships with an 86.031 even placing ahead of Kazuma Kaya. Not only is this meet important for Japan’s chances of qualifying an additional spot for their home Olympics, but for Daiki, this is an important meet to prove why he should be on Japan’s Olympic team.

Also looking to finish among the top five is Lee Chih-Kai and James Hall. Lee is primarily known for his excellent pommel work after placing second at 2019 Worlds, however he’s also an extremely steady all-around gymnast. He qualified in seventh to the all-around final at those World Championships and helped qualify Taiwan grab a spot in the team final. Hall will be making his third consecutive American Cup appearance, finishing in the top three both in 2018 and 2019. He’ll be looking to finish in the top three again as long as he can stay in the 83-84 scoring range, which is very possible for him.

Shane Wiskus and Pablo Braegger are in contention to finish in the top five. Although Wiskus is the wildcard athlete for the United States and is ineligible to win points, he’ll be looking to have a clean, hit competition in order to prove to the Olympic selection committee that he’s ready to be on the four person team to Tokyo this summer. Pablo Braegger could fare very well in this meet barring pommel horse any falls.

Also make sure to watch out for Braegger’s high bar, which should be the highlight of his competition.

Wiskus’s one-armed Cassina

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Upgrade Season in Full Swing for Chinese Gymnastics

Physical fitness and conditioning has been the overarching theme of the winter training session at the Chinese National Gymnastics Training Center. It’s a push to help the gymnasts safely prepare their bodies for upgrades heading towards the Tokyo Olympic Games.

Qiao Liang, the head coach of the women’s team, noted progress in training

“Winter training is still in its primary phase. In recent training, we mainly improved physical fitness, special abilities, and difficulty. This test showed good results. Through the test, we also found that there are problems that we need to improve in the next phase of winter training. In general, the morale of the team has soared to a new height.” 

“Frequent tests not only help us check the training work at all stages, but also better discover athletes’ psychological and technical problems. We are full of confidence in preparing for the Tokyo Olympics, but step by step we still need to watch for the capabilities of everyone.”

“After improving our physical capabilities, everyone learned new and difficult skills, but digesting and understanding requires a process. From preparing for the Olympic Games, our time is tight. What we have to do now is to shorten this process as much as possible and turn the training results into good results in the competition This is a big challenge for the coaching staff.”

“Newcomers grow fast, and the selection competition in this cycle will be very fierce, which is also a good thing. We must advance with difficulty and encourage every team member to work towards the goal of fighting for the Olympic Games.”

Photo via 中国体育图片哦

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Zou Jingyuan: We’re Becoming Physically Stronger

For Chinese gymnasts, winter training is a time of building intense physical fitness, increasing routine start values, improving routine composition, and cleaning up in the execution department. For the past several months, the Chinese have been hard at work gearing up for the upcoming Tokyo Olympic Games. 

Former two-time world champion on parallel bars, Zou Jingyuan, talked to Netease Sports about winter training. 

“I’ve already been doing conditioning for more than half a year, and for more than an hour each day. Conditioning is effective for preventing injuries. Although it is boring to do everyday, building muscle is important for the protection of joints.”

Although Zou is best known for his colossal difficulty and superior execution on parallel bars, he is working to become a stronger all-around gymnast in order to strengthen his chances of being selected as a member of the four person team going to Tokyo. 

During the interview, Zou also mentioned his parallel bars mistake during qualifications at 2019 World Championships that cost him a spot in the event finals. 

“During the world championships qualification I did an easier routine, but still made a mistake. I then felt several cramps- it was pitiable. Besides not being totally focused, I also feel like physical fitness could have been inseparable.”

In other news, the article mentions Xiao Ruoteng has been increasing difficulty in his routines and states Xiao is “adding skills of G and F difficulty” into one of his routines. 2019 world team member, Qi Qi as well as new seniors Ou Yushan and Guan Chenchen also are rapidly increasing difficulty to their floor routines.

Photo via 中国体育图片哦

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The 2020 New Senior Preview

As the 2019 elite gymnastics season draws to a close, a fresh batch of top-notch juniors will become age-eligible to compete at the most prestigious gymnastics meet of the quad, the Olympic Games. Let’s dive in to see who’s who and what’s what

The Canadian women will be very excited with the addition of Zoé Allaire-Bourgie to their senior pool. Zoé is a very strong all-around gymnast with a particular strength on beam, showing off difficult elements like a back handspring-layout-layout triple series. Next year I’m sure we’ll see her joining the ranks of Ellie Black and Brooklyn Moors as one of the top all-arounders in Canada, and a potential Olympic contender. In addition to Zoé, one of Canada’s brightest junior MAG stars, Felix Dolci will also become age-eligible for the upcoming Olympic Games. Felix not only came away with a rings gold at the 2019 Junior World Championships but also finished top-five and earned a silver medal on floor. However, his treck to the Tokyo Olympic Games is exponentially more difficult as the Canadian men did not qualify a team via the 2019 World Championships, thus Felix will need to rely either on the 2020 Pan-American Games or the all-around world cup series to punch his Olympic ticket. 

After a somewhat disappointing World Championships, the Chinese women are setting their expectations high for Tokyo. In 2020, the Chinese will welcome Guan Chenchen and Ou Yushan to their senior squad. Both were members of the silver medal-winning team at the 2019 Junior World Championships. Despite her small size (and quirky personality), Guan Chenchen packs lots of power. Her strengths on vault, beam, and floor are places where she can make important contributions to the team. On beam, Chenchen boasts a massive 6.7 D packed with connections and huge acrobatic elements like a two-foot layout and a handspring-front acro series. Ou Yushan, another Chinese beam goddess, is one of the strongest Chinese junior all-arounders I’ve seen since Wang Yan all the way back in 2014. She has beautiful execution across all four events, making her routines look easily upgradable to put her towards the top of the all-around rankings in the coming year.

Consistently being called “the next Kohei” by Japanese media, Takeru Kitazono is the future of Japanese gymnastics. Takeru first attracted my attention after I saw clips of him holding an iron cross at age eleven. Since then, his gymnastics has progressed at an incredible rate. In 2018, he took the all-around title at the Youth Olympic Games by almost two points. Later in 2019, he won the pommel horse and parallel bars titles at the 2019 Junior World Championships showing off huge upgrades and clean execution. I’m very excited to see how this gymnast factors into the senior scene, especially with the incredible amount of depth Japan already has. 

Upon hearing about the disappointing news of Krisztián Berki missing out on the 2020 Olympics, Krisztian Balazs is looking to become the next star in Hungarian gymnastics. The Youth Olympic Games high bar medalist balances difficult release moves, with impeccable execution throughout his routines. Although the Tokyo Games might be a little too soon for him, the Paris 2024 Games are well within his capabilities, and I’m sure we’ll be very familiar with his name by then.

After taking the world by storm at the 2019 Junior World Championships, Jennifer Gadirova is looking increasingly likely to become a potential contender for the 2020 British Olympic team. At 2019 Elite Massilia, Jennifer debuted a massive DTY to give her the vault gold. She also has a full package floor routine fit with difficult tumbling, great dance elements, captivating choreography, and topped off with a fantastic ability to perform, captivating everyone who watches her.

During her junior career, not only did she throw a quad twist on floor, but Chiaki Hatakeda also competed a layout full on beam and a triple-full dismount. Nonetheless, many people have been keeping a close eye on her for a potential prospect of the Japanese 2020 Olympic squad. Although she hasn’t maintained the same level of difficulty in the past two years, potentially bringing her difficulty back for her senior debut could mean a lot, especially when taking a home Olympics into account.

Looking to join the ranks of Oleg Vernaiev, Igor Radivilov, and Petro Pakhnyuk, Nazar Chepurniy is Ukraine’s next biggest star. Nazar’s greatest contribution to the Ukrainian team is high bar, where he shows off difficult releases like a Kovacs, and finishes with a casual triple-twisting double-layout dismount. His high difficulty and clean execution led him to clench the gold on the event at the 2019 Junior World Championships.

After a period of downfall, the Romanians are looking to new seniors Ioana Stanciulescu and Silviana Sfiringu to restore their former glory. The duo were part of the Romanian team who finished fourth at the 2019 Junior World Championships. Both have shown impressive upgrades in the past year like a DTY on vault, E-level tumbling passes, and strong acrobatic elements on beam. However, the thing that makes their gymnastics really significant is their strength on uneven bars. Being able to have not only one, but two new uneven bar workers on the Romania squad could help Romania factor back in to the 2024 Olympic Games.  

It seems every year there are a few Russian juniors who show up to meets, compete the most incredible beam routine you’ve ever seen, get lower back surgery in Germany, and retire. I’m hoping that won’t be the case for Vladislava Urazova and Elena Gerasimova. They are both incredible all-around gymnasts displaying maturity comparable to their senior counterparts. The promising duo helped the junior Russian team finish first at the 2019 Junior World Championships, as well as rake in a heap of individual medals like bars, beam, and floor gold.  

Last but not least are the new American seniors. Headlining the crop are Kayla DiCello and Olivia Greaves. Kayla won the 2019 U.S. Junior National AA title and took the vault and floor titles as well. Her incredible vaulting, tumbling, and all-around steadiness makes her stand out as a potential threat to make the U.S. Olympic team next year. In a long line of great uneven bar workers from MG Elite, Olivia Greaves is the next bar specialist from MG Elite. She released a training video earlier this year of her doing a sky-high Nabieva. In addition to bars, she also has an impressive floor routine packed with difficult tumbling, nice dance elements, and that fierce MG Elite choreography that separates her from the rest of the field. 

This year has an enormous amount of depth and talent for many countries. As we’ve seen in the past, many countries struggle with transitioning their athletes from the junior to senior levels, and with the pressure of the Olympics looming, I’m excited to see what the future holds for these talented, young gymnasts.

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Mai Murakami Is Planning to Do a Training Camp in America This Spring

After the Japanese Gymnastics Federation made the shocking decision to leave world champion Mai Murakami off the 2019 World Championships team, Mai looks forward to the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games as a strong potential medal threat. According to an article from Sankei Sports, Mai is planning to attend a training camp in the United States this spring. 

 “Mai Murakami, 23, is planning to do a training camp in America this spring”

“Murakami wasn’t selected as one of the national team members for the World Championships in October, due to her current condition of lower back pain. Getting ready for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Murakami and another contender [Kenzo Shirai] from her training base [Nittai University: where Mai graduated and her currently trains] are planning to work on intense training camp in early spring next year.”

Translation by Toshiki Nagamine

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Lin Chaopan: We Must Study Excellent International Competitors

After a few minor mistakes during the high bar finals at the 2019 World Gymnastics Championships, Xinhua News interviewed Lin Chaopan and asked about his performance

“Today I didn’t have the best performance on high bar. On my first release move my body position wasn’t totally laid out and my second release was distorted. The rhythm towards the end of my routine was messed up. This issue wasn’t big, but really terrible; if my mind isn’t clear I can make a bigger mistake on the next element.”

During the team final, the Chinese men finished second behind the Russian men by a margin of 0.997.


“Our results this year were not good, I want to sleep on brushwood and taste gall (Chinese idiom: means you’re looking for a comeback after anger/humiliation/frustration) I hope during the winter training, we all improve our execution, and fight together to prepare, and I hope next year at the Olympics we do enough to get a good result.”

“We must study our excellent international competitors. Russia is our rival, they have very good stability, their abilities are also very strong. We don’t have the same difficulty. They are able to compete good difficulty while executing the routine well, this is key. It’s impossible to have a world championships without pressure, athletes with the ability to medal all have nervous moments. How do people overcome and compete in these tense moments? This is an area we need to study.”

“We need to face and accept the results, denying the results won’t help when trying to find out where the real problem is, and we may not be aware of the importance of our problems. These past few days we were mentally exhausted, but we can’t relax. Next we need to reflect, then start winter training, and prepare for the Olympics.” 

Because of the new format for the 2020 Olympics, countries may select only four gymnasts to a team. Because of this, gymnasts with strong all-around capabilities are heavily favored. Chaopan stated he wants to increase his difficulty on rings and pommel horse to help the team leading up to the Olympics.

“I’m not going to add any more difficulty to parallel bars, floor, and vault, there isn’t enough time before the Olympics, I want to complete my routines well and make it more consistent. My winter training goal is to improve my abilities, and keep perfecting my routines from the team final.”

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Tang Xijing: “I want to thank coach Qiao and big sister Tingting”

Two falls on the balance beam unfortunately cost Tang Xijing a spot for the all-around final at the 2019 World Gymnastics Championships due to her teammates, Liu Tingting and Li Shijia, qualifying ahead of her. However, a disastrous performance for Tingting during the team final caused her to withdraw from the all-around final, allowing Xijing to take Tingting’s spot.

Given the opportunity to compete, Xijing had a fantastic day and finished in second place with a 56.899, claiming the silver medal. In an interview following the competition she stated,

“Today during the competition I told myself to stay calm. Distractions off the competition floor don’t matter, do the best you can do, focus on what you need to do and let go.”

“I treated these world championships the same as a training camp. I Imagined I’m back at the National Training Center, slowly doing each skill. Do it, finish it, forget about it if it’s not good, and don’t think about skills too far ahead.”

“I’m extremely thankful for coach Qiao and big sister Tingting. If not for their decision, I wouldn’t have the opportunity to compete, and achieve the silver medal. Big sister Tingting came to the arena today to cheer me on, encourage me, and allow me to relax my mind to go over the most important parts. I won this precious silver medal today, the meaning it has to me is my distance to Tokyo is a step closer.”

Photo: Xinhua News


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Liu Tingting: “The falls from team finals taught me to become braver, face problems, and overcome myself”

The 2018 World Champion on the balance beam, Liu Tingting, came to the 2019 World Championships prepared to defend her title and compete in a world championships all-around final for the first time ever. Unfortunately several falls in the team final caused her to withdraw from the competition. Tingting came back strong during the bar and beam finals, placing seventh and second respectively.

In an interview after the beam finals Tingting said “my first series was a little crooked, however, I still controlled it. The latter part of my routine was a little tight, so if I relaxed a little more I could do better. Compared to the champion, Biles, there is a gap in my mentality. You need to make adjustments to yourself when the team doesn’t do as well and return things back to normal. I hope we can come back strong again for the Tokyo Olympics. Today I feel better than compared to the last few days. But after today I need to continue to improve my execution and work to my maximum. The falls from team finals taught me to become braver, face problems, and overcome myself.”

Photo from 新华社客户端

Featured

2019 World Championships Women’s Team Final Live Blog

The United States is the obvious gold medal favorite, but I’m excited to see how the other teams rank in comparison, and the battle for the bronze.

Marching in is happening and Melanie did this. GOLD

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McCallum VT: Easy DTY, small hop back. 14.6

Melnikova UB: Misses connections in first half, but makes it through. 14.333

Tang VT: DTY, a little low but hit.

Villa FX: Good landings on all passes but stumbles out of wolf turns a little. 13.3

Carey VT: Cheng. Nearly sticks it!! 15.166

Li VT: DTY, lands a little low and steps out of bounds. 14.166

DJDS Bars: Great releaase combo, beautiful Bhawarwaj. Great. 14.366?? Low IMO

Biles VT: Great Cheng. Even better than quals. 15.4

Spiridonova: Does her usual routine, probably won’t go above 15 like quals, but still really great.

Qi VT: DTY great

Eythora BB: Didn’t show the routine, but 11.4 :(((

Ana Padurairiu BB: Immediately falls on a wolf turn, which IMO was a political statement about wolf turns in general culture. Finishes nicely. 12.133

Wevers BB: Nice BHS mount into wolf full. Hits Wevers turn, but breaks some connections. Hit. 12.866 oof.

Carofiglio: LO+double front BASICALLY STUCK YES QUEEN. Dowell. She didn’t come to play. Steps out on her last pass 😦 Great choreography though, really enjoyable to watch. 13.333

End of first rotation

  1. USA
  2. RUS
  3. CHN
  4. FRA
  5. ITA
  6. CAN
  7. NED
  8. GB

This floor rotation is a dream. We have NED and CAN rotating together

Volleman FX: Full-in steps out (I think) Good turns. Hit routine. 13.566

James VT: 1.5, nice. 13.8

Villa VT: HUUGE DTY. Amanar potential 14.666

McCallum UB: Good releases, falls over on a toe full oops…. 12.966

MDJDS BB: Falls on front pike 😦 Good rest of routine though.

They aren’t showing Moors or Wevers on floor this is a hate crime.

Biles UB: Connects releases, good tkatchev to pak combo. stuck double-double dmt! Best routine she’s ever done! 14.6

Melnikova BB: Solid LOSO, hits connections. No wobbles at all whatsoever. Small hop on double pike get it! 13.7

Tingting UB: Good start, a little messy on release. Falls on Ono UGGH END ME. FALLS AGAIN WE’RE DONE THANKS. 11.9

Lee UB: Nabieva+Pak+Maloney+Bharwaj great routine!

Kinsella VT: Good DTY, small hop

Agafonova BB: Good routine so far, hits aerial LOSO. Falls on front tuck WHY good double back dmt.

End of rotation 2

  1. USA
  2. ITA
  3. CHN
  4. RUS
  5. GB
  6. FRA
  7. CAN
  8. NED

Eaker BB: Questionable rings… very pretty aerial loso loso.

Visser VT: stuck 1.5! Nice!

Villa: Good combos almost gives me a heart attack on full pirouette. stuck dmt 14.266

Chen BB: Chinese LO great, small bobbles, good rings, triple full a lil short. 14.0

Akhaimova FX: Chuso, DLO stuck, double arabian, full-in hop back. Nice!

Olsen VT: Cheng but messy in the air.14.7

Downie UB: Hits all connections and connects ezhova to maloney! Queen! Hits routine A QUEEN 14.9!!!

Lee BB: Good start NO SUNI FALL ON LAYOUT UHHHH, wobbly a little hit rest of routine

Iorio UB: Ricna to pak, love her ezhova, double front is good.

Tingting BB: Falls and the world is over

Biles BB: Lots of pressure, nice loso loso, only full-in dmt. Great!

Li BB: Great fhs front flip, good splits, great double pike!

End of 3rd:

Tang FX: Triple full puch front, 2.5 pike, double pike clean overall and good triple spin. 13.5

MDJDS VT: Huuuuge DTY! She’s improved so much on this vault.

Lee FX: Great silivas and double lo, 1.5 1.5, hitting all her dance elements beautifully, double tuck clean. 14.2

Qi FX: half in half out, double tuck, very hoppy, triple full nice, 2.5 front pike. Good. 13.433

Akhaimova VT: Good Rudi! Step back, but hit nicely!

Carey FX: OOB on moors, ftdlo, double double, doubel tuck. nice 14.333

DaAmato BB: HIT BEAM OMG ITALY COMING FOR A SILVER MEDAL FNAIURGHAIREUGA!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tingting FX: Nice triple full small hop, hitting these turns really nicely. Front full to finish.

Biles FX: TRIPLE DOUBLE THE BEST SHE’S EVER DONE IT. Biles small hop forwards. Finishes with Silivas sooo good. Thats sealed the deal for the United States.

FINAL STANDINGS:

  1. USA
  2. RUS
  3. ITA
  4. CHN
  5. FRA
  6. GB
  7. CAN
  8. NED
Featured

2019 World Championships Preview

Before the World Championships have even begun, we’ve already had some interesting developments- mainly concerning team selection (don’t even get me started). Barring from anymore surprises, here are some I’ll be looking for

Let’s get the obvious out of the way first, the American women have won the team title at every single World Championships and Olympic Games since 2011 and are looking to do the same here. The team consists of Simone Biles, Sunisa Lee, Kara Eaker, Jade Carey, MyKayla Skinner, and Grace McCallum (with the alternate yet to be decided). As of right now, I think Skinner is likely to be the alternate, but that could change after podium training. Although Skinner’s Cheng on vault can contribute a very strong score, it would require Kara Eaker to do bars in the team final which isn’t ideal. Not only that, but the only other event Skinner would contribute to the team would be floor. Skinner is very good at floor, but her scores haven’t reflected it considering she had the fourth highest score behind Biles, Lee, Eaker (!!!), and Carey at the latest selection camp. Here’s the ideal team final lineup I’m thinking for the United States. 

VaultBarsBeam Floor
Grace McCallumGrace McCallumSimone BilesSunisa Lee
Jade CareySimone BilesSunisa LeeJade Carey
Simone BilesSunisa LeeKara EakerSimone Biles

(Also something to note: If Simone wins all the medals she’s capable of, she could break her tie with Khorkina and become the most decorated gymnast in world (excluding Olympic) medallist history #Simonethings. Because of the vast conspiracy theory of the universe constantly trying to sabotage Khorkina’s gymnastics, I’m excited to hear what Khorkina will say about Simone potentially beating her record. She’s also pregnant so that will be fun)

The silver medal favorite for the women are the Chinese. The team consists of Liu Tingting, Li Shijia, Tang Xijing, Qi Qi, Chen Yile, and Zhang Jin. Since Qiao Liang became the head coach of the womens team, the Chinese have looked exceptionally stronger on power events like vault and floor. This year they are expecting four DTYs from Liu, Li, Tang, and Qi. However beam is the event that separates them from the rest of the world. Based of podium training clips, the team final beam lineup is composed exclusively of routines with 6.5+ D, higher than any other country right now. The question that remains is, can their strength on bars and beam compensate for weaknesses on the power events? The Russian women, Angelina Melnikova, Maria Paseka, Aleksandra Schekoldina, Daria Spiridonova, Anastasiia Agafonova, and Lilia Akhaimova are looking to place in the top three, but it won’t be easy with an extremely strong French team, and a brand new generation of Italians. This year is a little weird for Russia, they’re missing 2012 and 2016 Olympic Champion Aliya Mustafina due to Valentina Rodionenko an injury. Russia is also waiting for their best juniors, Vladislava Urazova and Elena Gerasimova, to turn senior next year so for now they’re just playing the waiting game for now. My expectations aren’t too high for the Russians this year, however Melnikova will definitely be looking for an all around medal, and qualification to the floor final. Paseka (two-time world champion and Olympic medallist on vault) will be looking to make the vault final, as well as Akhaimova. 

The men’s team final should be very exciting this year with the emergence of a very strong Russian team. The team consists of Nikita Nagornyy, Artur Dalaloyan, David Belyavskiy, Ivan Stretovitch, Denis Abliazin, and Vladislav Poliashov.  I’m thinking a team final scenario would look like this for the Russians

FloorPommelRingsVaultParallel BarsHigh Bar
Belyavskiy/StretovitchStretovitch/ BelyavskiyDalaloyanNagornyyBelyavskiyStretovitch/ Nagornyy
DalaloyanDalaloyan/NagornyyNagornyyDalaloyanNagornyyBelyavskiy
NagornyyBelyavskiyAbliazinAbliazinDalaloyanDalaloyan

Nikita triple-back Nagornyy is the favorite to take the all around title barring any catastrophe to happen because Russian gymnastics things. As of right now, I also consider the Russian men to be the favorite to win the team final, but the Chinese could upset. Last year, the Chinese edged the Russian men out by a pinhole sized margin of 0.049 for the gold medal. One thing worth mentioning is the Chinese team selected for this year’s World Championships is exactly the same as last year. The talented team consists of Xiao Ruoteng, Lin Chaopan, Zou Jingyuan, Sun Wei, Deng Shudi, and You Hao. I think it’s safe to say that the Japanese are the favorites for the bronze medal. The team consists of Kazuma Kaya, Wataru Tanigawa, Kakeru Tanigawa, Daiki Hashimoto, Yuya Kamoto, and Shogo Nonomura. Prior to contrary belief, Kazuma Kaya (2015 pommel horse bronze medallist, 2015 team gold medallist, 2018 team medallist) and Wataru Tanigawa (2018 team medallist) are not newcomers (*cough Olympic Channel). Kaya and one of the Tanigawa brothers will be looking to qualify and medal to the all around final. Kaya in particular is looking to be on the podium and is a bronze/silver medal threat. I’m very excited to see how this Japanese team does because it gives us a very good indication on how they’ll perform at their home Olympics this summer. 

Speaking of the Olympics this summer (!!!) there are still nine men and womens teams who are looking to battle for Olympic births. Last year the Chinese, Russian, and Japanese men automatically qualified by placing in the top three. This year, the American, British, Brazilian, Swiss, and Dutch teams are almost certain to qualify teams. However there are many bubble teams who are looking to qualify like Germany. The absence of key contributors Marcel Ngyuen and Andreas Brettschneider, are making it look like an uphill battle for the German men. One team that’s created quite the uproar recently is the Turkish men. The stars of the Turkish team, Ahment Onder, Ferhat Arican, and Ibrahim Colak are looking to carry the team to an Olympic qualification, which would be THE FIRST TIME IN TURKISH HISTORY a full team qualifies to the Olympics. The Ukrainian men consisting of Oleg Verniaiev, Petro Pakhniuk, Yevgen Yudenekov, Vladyslav Hryko, Igor Radivilov, and Maksym Vasylenko are also looking to qualify a team to the Olympics, and they should as long as they stay in one piece (I’m looking at you Oleg) and don’t implode halfway through the competition.

For the women, the United States, Russia, and China have automatically qualified teams for the Olympics next year. Teams like Great Britain, Germany, Japan, Brazil, the Netherlands, Canada, France, and Italy are almost certainly going to qualify teams as well, which leaves one more team to battle for the remaining spot. Right now I have my bets on Belgium. The Belgium team, headed by reigning bars world champion Nina Derwael is looking to grab the last spot and qualify to Tokyo. However another team like Ukraine could also slip in and grab their spot. The Ukranian team featuring stars like Diana Varinska, Angelina Radivilova, and newcomer Anastasiia Bachynska could challenge the Belgians and get the job done as long as they hit. For Ukraine, hitting routines when it counts has been an issue plaguing them since the early 2000’s. But this team seems to have found the secret formula and are looking to not only qualify a full team, but also make multiple event finals. 
Although we are missing many potential medal threats like Morgan Hurd, Kenzo Shirai, Mai Murakami, Riley McCukser, Nile Wilson, and Aliya Mustafina, this year’s world championships are going to be a major indicator of what we will see this summer in Tokyo, so sit back, hold on, don’t get injured, and enjoy the show.

Chinese Women Confident After Podium Training

After the first day of podium training at the Olympic Games, Team China had the opportunity to talk to the press for quick thoughts following training:

Tang Xijing: I basically the same feeling as training at home, here [the vault] is just a little firmer. At home no matter how many times I did this vault it was fine. However I think it shouldn’t be a problem, I can adjust.

Guan Chenchen: I think beam training has been going pretty well. My knee has been a little bit swollen but I have been training normally so it’s not a big issue.

Ou Yushan: Vault has been going well, on bars I was able to overcome a small issue, beam was also pretty good – no big issues.

Lu Yufei, Tang Xijing and Zhang Jin were the only three who did all around during podium training. They are also slated to be the only three to do all around during qualifications.

Photo from @祝福体操小花们

Veteran Fan Yilin Ready for A Very Different Olympic Experience

Fan Yilin first turned heads when she- along with Madison Kocian, Daria Spiridonova, and Viktoria Komova- became world champion on uneven bars back in 2015. Her brilliance on uneven bars and her stable beam work set her up perfectly for the 2016 Rio squad. Five years and another World title later, she heads the 2021 Chinese Olympic squad as the Olympic veteran with hopes for gold.


Like the rest of the foreign athletes, upon arrival to Narita Airport, the Chinese delegation was met with warm greetings and dreadfully long Covid testing procedures. “Although we arrived very late, the organizing committee staff greeted us very warmly, they were very accommodating.” Fan said upon arrival to the Olympic Village her first impression was that it was very “clean”. Even though the living arrangements are not too spacious, they are still equipped for the athletes to have a comfortable stay.


Due to the rising Covid cases, Japan issued a state of emergency for the greater Tokyo area- heightening skepticism around whether the Olympic Games can be held safely. Tight measures have been put in place to detect, trace, and contain the spread of the virus. “Seeing the safety protocols put in place makes me feel relieved. When we go out we always wear our masks to protect ourselves.”


Upon the first day of training, the gymnasts did a light workout to maintain form. “Today we did training to adapt to the new environment,” Fan said. “I am familiar with the venue and the equipment, the gym was very clean. We had a good training.”


On top of the normal pressure that comes with competing at the Olympic Games, the new pressures of dodging Covid and saving your Olympic dream will be a whole other hurdle to overcome. Although these Games will be a totally different experience than her last, Fan’s maturity and poise will guide her to overcome the challenges.

Source: 新华网

Photo courtesy of 体操圈

Li Shijia Early July Knee Injury Update

After suffering a knee injury on vault at the first Olympic Trials selection camp, Li Shijia returned to Sichuan, her home province, for recovery. Upon arrival she was diagnosed with an acute bone injury. Although not too serious, it has caused her to withdraw from Olympic contention.


According to the video, Li Shijia was added to the roster as an alternate, however, there has been no news regarding any changes to the existing roster that lists Wei Xiaoyuan, Liu Tingting, Qi Qi, Luo Rui, and He Licheng as the alternates.

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