Posts Tagged ‘Jiang Yuyuan’

On the World Cup, day two

December 14, 2008

Once again International Gymnast leads the field in providing up-to-the-minute coverage of the World Cup. If you couldn’t catch it live, this is a very good alternative.

The home Spanish crowd got a nice boost when their countryman Issac Botella tied for the bronze on vault (with Russian Anton Golotsutskov, 16.075 each.) Botella showed a Kasamatsu 1.5 and a handspring double front. Golotsutskov showed a Tsuk double pike and the same second vault as Botella.

Olympic silver medalist Thomas Bouhail of France won the event, despite putting his hand down on his Tsuk double pike. He nailed his Dragulescu (16.575, the highest score of the competition thusfar, for a 16.225 average). Jeffrey Wammes of the Netherlands, a capable young gymnast who did not qualify for Beijing for various reasons, was second with a 2.5 Yurchenko and a handspring front double full (the same vault Raj Bhavsar used.)

On beam, up and coming Aussie Lauren Mitchell narrowly edged Russian Yulia Lozhechko for the title, 15.25-15.2. It’s nice to see Lozhechko, who was left off the Russian Olympic team for reasons that sounded like continuing discipline problems, is still competing, even if this wasn’t the 2007 European beam champion’s best effort. China’s Li Shanshan, who’s amazing when she stays on, suffered a few little wobbles and a low landing on her double pike to place third with a 15.15.

Other notable performances: Ukranian Daria Zgoba balked on her dismount, performing only a layout, Sandra Izbasa was OK but not spectacular for a 14.925, Cheng Fei looked completely distracted (13.825) and Brazil’s Daniele Hypolito may have received the lowest score of the final (13.425) but is probably relieved it wasn’t an 11-something like she had yesterday on bars.

On parallel bars, China’s young Feng Zhe turned in a spectacular 15.775, matched by French p-bar specialist Yann Cuchrat. Ukraine’s Valery Goncharov was nearly as good, scoring 15.675 for third. Every man in this final dismounted with a double pike.

Floor: Cheng Fei redeemed! The two-time world floor champ didn’t need to throw her biggest tricks (namely the Silivas) to outscore the field with a 15.375. Teammate and Olympic floor finalist Jiang Yuyuan threw a quadruple turn and dazzled everyone with her presentation for second (15.225). Tired-seeming Olympic floor champion Sandra Izbasa, who’s been in a hell of a lot of meets since the Olympics, was decent but not at her best (15.0, third).

Slovenian Aljaz Pagan, who unless he continues on to 2012 will always be the gymnast who really, really deserved to go to an Olympic Games, scratched from this WC final because of a back injury, a.

At his best, Pagan probably could have beaten Dutchman Epke Zonderland, an Olympic HB finalist who is just getting better and better. Zonderland took the title here with a 16.175, more than one-third of a point ahead of Philippe Rizzo of Australia (15.875). This one wasn’t even close.

In his final competition, Japan’s Hiroyuki Tomita finished a distant third after falling out of his double-twisting double layout dismount (15.325). It was not the way for one of the sport’s great champions to go out.

The weeks in review

November 25, 2008

There should be a blog that keeps tabs on all the gymnastics blogs.

Tidbits of the week: Triple Full reports that 2006 World Champion Vanessa Ferrari is having a sort of identity crisis. Ongoing injuries have hindered her training, and she’s gained some weight. Nothing precipitates an identity crisis in gymnastics like the expansion of a couple inches of waistline. It seems doubtful that the feisty 2006 World Champion will be able to make a tremendously successful return to elite international competition.

Rick at Gymnastics Coaching reports that Georgia is once again on top of the yearly NCAA coaches poll, followed by perennial runner-up Utah. And that Bela Karolyi called accusers Trudi Kollar and fellow defector Geza Pozar “trash” for their accusations of Bela and Martha Karolyi’s abuse. Tactful. Very tactful.

Before becoming U.S. Team Coordinator, Martha Karolyi was the shadow behind Bela, who obviously prefers the spotlight. Rick calls for her to address the abuse allegations, as well. I kind of doubt she will. Or that USA Gymnastics will make her.

A flurry of competitions, including the Milan Grand Prix, Toyota Cup, Massila Cup, Asian Championships and DBT Cup have taken place in recent days. The rule of thumb has generally been that if you dominated during the Olympics, you dominated these competitions too. Stars include Cheng Fei, Jiang Yuyuan, He Kexin, Sandra Izbasa, Koko Tsurumi, Lauren Mitchell, Fabian Hambuchen, Maxim Deviatovskiy.

“Competing” against a weak field, U.S. gymnasts Samantha Shapiro, Corrie Lothrop and Olivia Courtney steamrolled everyone else at the Pan American Union Championships. Lothrop won vault, Shapiro bars and beam, and Courtney floor.

Nastia Liukin, Olympic Champion: Wow!

August 15, 2008

Nastia Liukin salutes the judges after her balance beam routine, en route to the all-around gold in Beijing.

Nastia Liukin salutes the judges after her balance beam routine, en route to the all-around gold in Beijing.

With elegance, style, poise, her signature pink leotard and a ton of flawlessly performed difficulty, Nastia Liukin captured the women’s all around gold medal, living up to promise and expectation that’s surrounded her since she won her first junior national championship in 2003.

Shawn Johnson took silver, while China’s Yang Yilin proved her all-around mettle, leading after two rotations and finishing with the bronze.

It was a class field that performed wonderfully. There was nary a huge mistake, save Jiang Yuyuan on vault. Yang, given her relative lack of experience and the enormous pressure to follow up Yang Wei’s heroics before the home crowd, also had the meet of her life. Her bronze was well deserved.

Liukin, however, was the class of the field, putting together the four best routines she’s done in years and not giving an inch to her competitors. So she was underscored on vault. Maybe Johnson was a bit underscored on bars. Maybe Yang was overscored on beam. The best woman still won. That’s all that matters right now.

What I liked most about this competition was that Liukin in some ways did something that seems almost relegated to old school gymnastics — she stuck her landings on vault, her beam dismount, and on that very difficult first tumbling pass. She polished every movement. She made it look easy. Johnson, despite sticking her bars dismount cold, did not. They talk about that a lot in gymnastics these days, but we so rarely see it now, particularly on vault.

When Liukin retires (and I hope it’s not this year) she’ll be remembered as one of the greatest American gymnasts ever — for her heritage, for her elegance, for her innovations (she was gutsy enough to attempt a quad on floor), for competing as a senior elite for three long years before the Olympic Games, for not listening to people who said she was too old, for not listening to people who said she was a two event gymnast, for not letting that ankle injury consume her, for maintaining a healthy rivalry with Johnson, a gymnast who is day to her night, and continuing to believe in herself.

She’s not the new Mary Lou. She’s nothing like Mary Lou, except in spirit. Maybe in 20 years some artistic kid will come along and they’ll wonder, “Could she be the next Nastia?”

Fantastic, Nastia. Just fantastic.

Women’s All-Around predictions

August 15, 2008
Could this be the woman at the top of the podium after tonights all-around final?

Could this be the woman at the top of the podium after tonight's all-around final?

Generally the feeling is that the United States will be on the podium — but in what position(s), it’s very hard to say. This blog’s official prediction is that Nastia Liukin comes back with a vengeance to take the title. Jiang Yuyuan takes second with a clean performance, and Shawn Johnson gets the bronze after a small mistake…somewhere.

The problem with saying this right out is that Nastia is, although always near the top, a gymnast that tends to make small errors (steps on landings, lots of going out of bounds on floor.)

Nevertheless, she looked on fire, determined and capable through the first two nights. Johnson, though she smiled and performed well, somehow (again, my opinion only) doesn’t look as unbeatable as she did in 2007. Could she have peaked before the selection camp?

Those who could surprise: Ksenia Semyonova, who qualified in fourth place, Anna Pavlova, and Yang Yilin, China’s other gymnast in this event. Any could climb onto the platform.

Yang Yun to be investigated?

August 11, 2008

International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) President Bruno Grandi told USA Today that he may initiate an investigation into whether Yang Yun was really 14 at the Sydney Olympics.

Yang won the bronze medal on uneven bars after a brilliant routine in event finals and was a contender for the all-around title as well before falling on balance beam in Sydney. Her pretty layout Cuervo vault, one of the best ever done, clinched China’s team bronze medal in 2000.

Yang Yun, 2000 Olympic Games Team Finals, Vault:

Yang gave an interview on Chinese television saying she was only 14 in Sydney, The New York Times reported in late July.

Grandi apparently doesn’t watch Chinese TV.

Nevertheless, after the news conference, Grandi said he wants to look into the dispute over Yang’s age. “I want to evaluate,” he said. “I want to speak with my executive committee.”

Oh yeah: Grandi suggests solving the age of athletes snafu (brought about by documents available on the internet indicating that He Kexin, Yang Yilin and Jiang Yuyuan may be younger than the 16 the government says they are) by issuing licenses to gymnasts earlier in their careers.

Which may not be a bad idea. But what’s to prevent a country from fudging its athletes’ ages beginning at age 10 or so instead of age 15?

More on possible Chinese age falsification

July 27, 2008

From no less than The New York Times. This article questions not only uneven bars favorite He Kexin, but also 2007 World team member Jiang Yuyuan, a candidate for an all-around medal.

Jiang Yuyuan won the Good Luck Beijing International Invitational.

The Times found two online records of official registration lists of Chinese gymnasts that list He’s birthday as Jan. 1, 1994, which would make her 14. A 2007 national registry of Chinese gymnasts — now blocked in China but viewable through Google cache — shows He’s age as “1994.1.1.”

Another registration list that is unblocked, dated Jan. 27, 2006, and regarding an “intercity” competition in Chengdu, China, also lists He’s birthday as Jan. 1, 1994. That date differs by two years from the birth date of Jan. 1, 1992, listed on He’s passport, which was issued Feb. 14, 2008.

…The other gymnast, Jiang, is listed on her passport — issued March 2, 2006 — as having been born on Nov. 1, 1991, which would make her 16 and thus eligible to compete at the Beijing Games.

A different birth date, indicating Jiang is not yet 15, appears on a list of junior competitors from the Zhejiang Province sports administration. The list of athletes includes national identification card numbers into which birth dates are embedded. Jiang’s national card number as it appears on this list shows her birth date as Oct. 1, 1993, which indicates that she will turn 15 in the fall, and would thus be ineligible to compete in the Beijing Games.

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Chinese women’s team is…

July 25, 2008

The rumors were true. International Gymnast Magazine has confirmed that Cheng Fei, Jiang Yuyuan, Li Shanshan, Yang Yilin, He Kexin and Deng Linlin will represent team China in Beijing.

Team captain Cheng is the only returning 2004 Olympian but also the lone member of the 2006 World Championship-winning squad.

In China, gymnasts seem to flame out faster than they do elsewhere — perhaps it’s the emergence of stunning new talent like He and Deng that makes it that much harder to stay at the top.

Yang Yilin, 2008 Tianjin World Cup Event Finals, Uneven Bars:

Like the Chinese men’s squad named earlier, this is a dream team — if they can all hit in team finals. China’s reputation there is sketchy. If they hit in event finals, the Chinese could sweep the gold medals.

Whether they win team gold or not, China has certainly locked up the depth prize this quad. Talk about a country whose B team could challenge for a medal –not making the final Olympic cut was Olympic veteran Zhang Nan, artistic Sui Lu, snazzy Pang Panpan, powerful Xiao Sha, and 2006 World team members Zhou Zhuoru, He Ning .

More floor: East vs. West, artistic routines with five passes

May 18, 2008

They said it couldn’t be done, and maybe it can’t. But China’s Sui Lu comes pretty darn close to doing an artistic floor routine packed with five tumbling passes.

Sui Lu, 2008 Chinese Championships, Floor Exercise:

Sui gave an impressive performance on all events at the recent Chinese Championships, where she was first on balance beam and tied with the great Cheng Fei for gold on floor exercise. Sui keeps this up, she could well land on the Chinese Olympic team.

Chinese floor choreography has really been Westernized since the 2000 Olympic Games. Now, with the new floor routines from Cheng Fei and Jiang Yuyuan, we’re seeing it shift Eastward again.

The Old: Ling Jie, 1999 International Team Championships, Floor Exercise:

The New: Pang Panpan, 2006 World Championships All-Around, Floor Exercise:

The Newer: Jiang Yuyuan, 2008 Doha World Cup Finals, Floor Exercise:

Return of the shaky balance beam routine

May 14, 2008

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.

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Weekend update

May 13, 2008

News you can use from publications all over the country:

Deep in the Heart of Texas: Shawn Johnson completes her Amanar with no trouble at Karolyi camp

This again: A New Zealand-based article on how difficult gymnastics is

Canadian Kyle ShewfeltBruised and battered: Canadian Olympic team members

Russia rules: The 2008 Men’s European Championships

Under the radar: A feature on Bridget Sloan

Samantha Peszek drives a luxury vehicle. Guillermo Alvarez does not.

A third of the people who won gold at the European Championships: File under “Not Going to the Olympics”

Yang WeiGetting up there: International Gymnast Magazine with Russian French gymnast Dmitry Karbanenko

New Olympic favorite: With a spectacular Amanar, Jiang Yuyuan captures the Chinese Championships

We suspected it already, but: Yang Wei is the best gymnast in China

More on Memmel: With optimistic comments from Martha