Posts Tagged ‘Li Ya’

12 days of up and coming gymnasts, day 11

January 2, 2009

Cui Jie, China: A series like this wouldn’t be complete without mentioning one of the immeasurably talented members of China’s junior squad.

Like the Russians, the Chinese juniors have so much promise that it’s hard to say definitely that this one or that one will be great. They all have the potential to be exceptional on the international level. In a country like China, it may be more difficult to win an intrasquad competition on your best event than to make a world final on that event.

So enter Cui. What makes her special? High level skills for someone so young, particularly on floor. And different skills, too, ones that represent a departure from the Chinese norm (example: a double Arabian on floor, and a double front off bars.) There’s also the fact that she scored a 16.025 on beam at the 2008 Pacific Rim Championships, tying her with Rebecca Bross for the event title. She’s definitely one to watch in the future.

I’m also excited to see whether Xiao Sha or Sui Lu, China’s almost Olympic team members, will continue. Both are extremely talented and have the potential to win big meets on their best event. Perhaps they could be like Li Ya, who despite Olympic disappointment went on to do her most memorable work in the years between the Games.

Cui Jie, 2008 Chinese Nationals Event Finals, Floor Exercise:

Another innovation from Liu Xuan

October 4, 2007

China's Liu Xuan in flight.

Seven years after her retirement, China’s Liu Xuan continues to amaze me with her creativity. Xuan, who was considered too old by her coaches to be competitive at the 2000 Olympics, stunned everybody by striking gold on balance beam with the routine of a lifetime during event finals. Not to mention the bronze she got in the all-around when Andreea Raducan was stripped of her title.

Liu’s golden routine on balance beam from the 2000 Olympic Games:

Thanks to Aleksas Trotter’s Youtube channel, I discovered that Liu was perhaps the first to perform a Jaeger with a half turn on uneven bars, which countrywoman Li Ya amazed everybody with at Cottbus in 2006 by performing it in combination with a second Jaeger.

Liu Xuan on uneven bars at the 1998 Sagit Cup:

Li Ya on uneven bars at Cottbus in 2006:

Liu also pioneered a one-arm giant, which she performed in combination with a second one-arm giant into a Geinger in 1995 and 1996.

Svetlana Khorkina is given tons of credit for her innovations on all events, particularly bars, and deservedly so. But the Chinese gymnasts of the 1996 generation, especially Liu, deserve the same.