Posts Tagged ‘Li Xiaopeng’

Who was better the second time around?

November 27, 2008
Dominique Dawes was better in her second Olympics than her first.

Dominique Dawes was better in her second Olympics than her first.

“She was as good in her second Olympics as she was in her first. You can rarely say that about a gymnast.”

So go my thoughts on now injured Russian star Anna Pavlova, who blew out her knee at the DBT Cup earlier this month. Maybe that’s not quite accurate — Pavlova was in the hunt for an all-around medal in Athens (and probably would have gotten one, had she been competing in the leaders group in the all-around. Although in top form in Beijing, she made too many mistakes to really challenge for an all-around medal there.

Still, Pavlova’s achievement is pretty incredible: How many gymnasts look as good in their second Olympics as they did in their first? Few names pop to mind.

Americans Dominique Dawes and Shannon Miller come to mind, particularly Dawes, who didn’t come into her own in gymnastics before sweeping the titles at the 1994 U.S. Championships. (Dawes and Amy Chow looked OK in Sydney but perhaps suffered from a little lack of prep time before beginning very serious training in 2000. My opinion is both were better in 1996.) Kerri Strug came into her own in 1996.

China’s Liu Xuan looked far steadier and more experienced at the 2000 Olympic Games than she did in Atlanta. Lavinia Milosovich, Gina Gogean and Simona Amanar and their Olympic performances in 1992 and 1996 (Gogean, Milo) and 1996 and 2000 (Amanar) are the reason the Romanians have the reputation of consistency that they do.

Men’s careers are more easily traced by an arc, rather than a line from one Olympics to another the way the women are. American Blaine Wilson, who competed in three Olympic Games, reached his apex in his second in 2000. So did John Roethlisberger, who competed in Barcelona, Atlanta and Sydney. Assuming he would have competed in 1996 had he not ruptured his achilles in Atlanta, Ivan Ivankov was best in his “second” games too, in Sydney.

Paul and Morgan Hamm were at their best in Athens, all grown up after Sydney. From the way Paul Hamm looked at the U.S. Championships in June before breaking his hand, he would be among the very few one could say looked as good in their third Games as they did in their second.

Then there are ageless types like Oksana Chusovitina and Jordan Jovtchev, whose gymnastics looked the same in 2008 as it did in 1996, and Italian ringmaster Yuri Chechi, who won the gold in Atlanta and made a surprising comeback to take bronze in Athens in 2004.

I’m always a bit suprised to see France’s Dimitry Karbanenko still on an Olympic roster, though. It was like watching 1988 Soviet team member Sergei Kharkov competing 10 years ago for Germany. Li Xiaoshaung got his greatest honor the second time around. Yang Wei took three tries to win an Olympic all-around.

Beth Tweddle, Daiane dos Santos and Daniele Hypolito seem not to age much, either. Svetlana Khorkina looked a tad young in her first games, best in her second and somewhat frightening in her third.

Who wasn’t better the second time around? Hmm — Henrietta Onodi. Yelena Zamolodchikova. Svetlana Boginskaya peaked around 1990 and wasn’t quite the same in 1992 or 1996. Vitaly Scherbo, but that’s a case of extenuating circumstances.

Sexy Alexei Nemov was perhaps less, um, enthusastic the second time around, but he got the big prize in the end. You got the sense that by his third time in 2004, it was just all about fun.

Anyone else?

Chinese Dominate Tianjin World Cup

May 16, 2008

Chinese floor specialist Zou Kai had a mistake on floor but won high bar at the Tianjin World Cup.Eight world cup golds. In a single competition. Out of 10 events. Goodness.

The Chinese are certainly putting on a display of strength leading up to Beijing. This week’s example is the World Cup, held in Tianjin, where the Chinese won everything, except men’s floor (that one went to Japan’s Kohei Uchimura and men’s vault, which was won by North Korea’s Ri Se Gwang.

The usual suspects won everything else. (Women’s vault, beam and floor went to Cheng Fei. Bars were won by Yang Yilin after teammate He Kexin withdrew from the competition, citing “exhaustion”. Li Xiaopeng won parallel bars, Xiao Qin won pommel horse, Zou Kai high bar, and Chen Yibing rings.

Youtube user Fanbutterfly has videos.

It’s a little deceptive, given the fairly weak field and the fact that the competition was held in China. Then again, Americans like me probably shouldn’t complain. It’s not like we don’t do the same thing every year.

(via International Gymnast Magazine)

Russian men on top at European Championships

May 9, 2008

Nikolai KryukovThe usual suspects — including Fabian Hambuchen, Yuri van Gelder and Nikolai Kryukov — all did very well during team qualifications at the Men’s European Championships in Lausanne, Switzerland, International Gymnast Magazine reports.

Going into team finals, the picture looks like this:

1. Russia 273.175
2. Germany 268.000
3. Ukraine 267.025
4. Romania 266.275
5. Belarus 265.150
6. Switzerland 264.800
7. France 263.300
8. Italy 262.950

Russia seems likely to win the team title, but some good races are shaping up for event finals, particularly on rings, where would-be Olympic rings contender van Gelder will go up against Jordan Jovtchev. 2007 World high bar champion Hambuchen will go up against 2001 World high bar champion Vlasios Maras of Greece in event finals as well.

Some surprises though: Veteran among veterans Kryukov is leading on parallel bars and pommel horse. I think of Kryukov as the veteran among veterans not because he’s 28, but more because he’s been around since 1996, when at 16 he was the youngest member of the gold-medal winning Russian team in Atlanta.

The best male gymnasts of the past 10 years — Li Xiaoshaung, Alexei Nemov, Ivan Ivankov, Alexei Bondarenko, Li Xiaopeng, Yang Wei, Yevgeny Podgorny, Rustam Sharipov, Marian Dragulescu, Hiroyuki Tomita, Paul Hamm — Kryukov’s gone up against all of them. And the 1999 World Champion has proven that he’s among the best too.

In other news, the Russians appear to have let Maxim Devyatovsky back onto the team after his stint of bad behavior at the 2007 World Championships.

Devyatovsky competed all six events and was the top individual, though the all-around will not be contested in Lausanne.

Great routines you won’t see in Beijing and one you might

April 13, 2008

Krisztian Berki, 2007 World Championships Event Finals, Pommel Horse:

Yuri van Gelder, 2008 Doha World Cup Event Finals, Rings:

Both topped the standings on their specialties at the Cottbus Cup.

A great routine we’ll probably see something like in Beijing, although nothing’s a given:

Li Xiaopeng, 2006 DTB Cup, Parallel Bars:

This routine, one of the last he performed in competition before his injury, had a 6.9 A score and received a 16.3. Apparently he’s only gotten better — his Cottbus routine carried a 7.2 A-score and earned a 16.5.

Li’s longevity on what is unquestionably the deepest men’s gymnastics team in the world is unparalled and not often recognized. He’s 27, and made his debut at the 1997 World Championships in Lausanne, Switzerland by winning a bronze on floor and a silver on parallel bars. He went on to become the 2000 Olympic champion.

His record-setting p-bars set will no doubt help his Olympic cause. The Xinhua News Agency reports that he’s already got another assignment:

Former Olympic champion Liao Xiaopeng will lead the Chinese team to take part in the gymnastic World Cup to be held in this port city on May 14-15.

Li, 27, who won two gold medals in the men’s parallel bars and team events in the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, has been out of practice since 2006 due to injuries and has not competed in international competitions. But he has regained his form and fitness, said Huang Yubin, head coach of the Chinese national gymnastics team.

Paul HammTwo years out of competition and making an impressive comeback, eh? Sound like anyone else we know?

(via Gymnastics Coaching)

Ensuring gymnastics success in China

December 11, 2007

China's Zhang Nan.

The Guardian Unlimited reported last week that the Chinese government is forcing its gymnastics coaches to sign contracts promising that athletes will not be injured before the Beijing Olympics.

BEIJING, Dec 7 (Reuters) – China’s gymnastics coaches will be forced to sign contracts promising not to let their athletes get injured before the Beijing Olympics, team leader Zhang Peiwen told Friday’s China Daily.

China will be relying on their gymnasts for a bumper haul of gold medals at next August’s Games and officials are anxious to avoid a repeat of the injury which has kept double Olympic champion Li Xiaopeng out of competition this year.

“In the coming days, all the Chinese national coaches will sign contracts with the gymnastics administrative centre to prevent serious injuries from happening before the Beijing Games,” he told the paper. “We don’t want injuries to destroy our prospects for the Beijing Games. I hope we can reduce injuries to a minimum by signing these contracts.”

Brilliant idea! Now all they need to do is get the gymnasts to sign contracts saying they won’t mess up in competition.

(via Gymnastics Coaching)

China’s Lu Bin making a big comeback

December 3, 2007

China's Lu Bin

Even on a team as deep as the Chinese men’s, Lu Bin is proving that it is possible to make a comeback.

The 28-year-old Lu has been the star of the Good Luck Beijing International Invitational, posting some of China’s highest scores during the team competition and then claiming individual victories for himself on rings, vault and pommel horse.

Lu Bin, 2007 Good Luck Beijing Invitational, vault:

Interesting to note that some of China’s top gymnasts — Lu, reigning world champion Yang Wei, 27, and Li Xiaopeng, 26, who is reportedly also planning comeback himself, are not exactly young in the gymnastics sense of things.

Seems that the sport has matured enough that both sexes are finding it easier not only to compete, but stay near the top, well into their 20s.

(via Gymnastics Coaching)

Li, Johnson, Memmel on comeback trail

November 17, 2007

Chinese parallel bars virtuoso Li Xiaopeng is reportedly planning a comeback.

News bites:

The Des Moines Register confirmed this morning that 2007 World Champion Shawn Johnson is indeed healing from the stress reaction in her right shin and provided more details on her whirlwind existence since Stuttgart.

Johnson has resumed training at Chow’s Gymnastics and Dance Institute when she isn’t in demand elsewhere.

In the last two weeks, Johnson has traveled to Atlanta for a photo shoot for Coca-Cola; to Los Angeles for an NBC promotional shoot; and to Houston for a U.S. national team training camp.

She also posed for an ESPN the Magazine photo shoot.

And on Tuesday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution introduced by Rep. Leonard Boswell, D-Ia., congratulating Johnson on her world championship.

Next up: photo shoots for GK Elite Sportswear and Adidas. Johnson also will receive a necklace that Brodkey’s created especially for her.

How cool is all that?

The Xinhua News Agency reported that 2000 Olympic parallel bars champion Li Xiaopeng is also returning to competition. Li, who has been sidelined with various foot and ankle problems for the past two years, will compete at the Chinese national championships in April.

Hard to believe that Li made his debut as a 16-year-old at the 1997 World Championships, where he was second on parallel bars, fourth on the floor exercise and first with the dominating Chinese team.

Li Xiaopeng, 1997 World Championships Event Finals, Floor Exercise:

Apparently, like all the Chinese, Li is focusing on upping his difficulty for the Olympic year.

“Li Xiaopeng is setting about new action in his stronghold of parallel bars. If the action is locked, Li can upgrade his A score(difficulty) by 0.3 to 0.4 points directly,” said Chinese team leader Zhang Peiwen.

In Zhang’s point of view, the long absence from all sorts of competitions won’t hinder Li much. “Li is an experienced gymnast with a bunch of glory, so he can fine-tune to the real challenge soon. His training has never halted in spite of no show,” commented Zhang, adding Li is also a strong contender on vault and floor exercise as well as rings.

And 2005 World Champion Chellsie Memmel is also getting ready to make her comeback. Agence France Presse wrote this morning that Memmel will be competing in her first international competition — The Good Luck Beijing Invitational, which Americans call the Beijing Test Event — since suffering a shoulder injury at the 2006 Worlds.

Chellsie herself said it like two weeks ago on her WSCN blog.

I just got back from Texas for a National Team training camp. It was awesome to be able to train all four events again and to do some of the verifications for those events. My routines are really coming together now, and I hope I’ll be heading to China for the test event scheduled at the end of November. It would be a great all around competition and I can’t think of a better way to start my comeback!

Joining her there will be 2007 World team alternate Bridget Sloan and six yet-unnamed members of the U.S. men’s team.