Return of the shaky balance beam routine

Balance beam is a shaky event.For many years, the balance beam has been seen as the hardest event in gymnastics. It’s nerve-wracking, those four inches, four feet off the ground. And gymnasts have to do so much these days.

One of the things that makes Olympic champions like Carly Patterson and Andreea Raducan great is the way they almost never seemed to falter on that most precarious of events.

Seems like these days more gymnasts have major problems on uneven bars. Great all-around prospects who had difficulties hitting bars in competition or getting a start value that didn’t deflate all-around possibilities? The ranks burst with them: Vanessa Atler, Alicia Sacramone, Cheng Fei, Anna Pavlova, Sandra Izbasa, Jana Bieger, Catalina Ponor, Gina Gogean, etc.

So it’s almost refreshing to see a gymnast whose worst event is the old classic balance beam, who makes you bite your nails and get so nervous during the routine that suspense movies hardly compare.

Such a gymnast is China’s Jiang Yuyuan. The 2008 Chinese Champion has rocketed into the Olympic all-around picture by unveiling a very good Amanar vault. She has class and tumbling on floor, and while she’s no He Kexin on uneven bars, she’s bound to score well there, too.

No, given what she’s shown so far, Jiang’s achilles heel could actually be balance beam, an event she didn’t compete at the 2007 World Championships.

Jiang Yuyuan, 2008 Chinese Championships Team Finals, Balance Beam:

All that being said, maybe she was just having a bad day. She was much better in the all-around final.

Jiang Yuyuan, 2008 Chinese Championships All-Around, Balance Beam:

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