After competing for their respective provincial teams on Saturday, the best all-around gymnasts came back on Sunday to fight for themselves in the final and hopefully add another medal to their individual collections. With the men competing in the morning and the girls in the afternoon, some athletes were able to show their best performances while others suffered some disappointments.
On the women’s side, despite qualifying in third place, Liu Tingting opted not to compete in this final and instead focus on the event finals she also qualified for, opening the door for her teammate Liu Jingxing who was fourth during qualifications but had initially been left out due to the two-per-province rule. Aside from this small change, the podium was the exact top three form qualifications with Luo Huan leading the way, followed by Junior Chen Yile in second and first-year Senior Liu Jingxing in third place.
Qualifying into this final in first place, 2000-born Luo Huan took the title with a total of 54.200 after great performances everywhere but beam where she unfortunately had a fall. Starting on vault, she showed a nice FTY with just a tiny hop on the landing to receive a score in the mid-13s, followed by a very clean and difficult bars routine that featured a Maloney to pak, a van Leeuwen, some intricate pirouette work connected to a piked Jaeger and a floaty and nearly stuck double layout dismount to finish her exercise and score her highest of the day with 14.150. Next on beam, Luo was has beautiful and precise as always, smoothly performing some interesting series such as a switch leap to ring leap to BHS, a round-off to layout to stag ring jump and a front aerial to split jump to Onodi to straddle jump where she had a tiny wobble at the end. Sadly, she didn’t manage to hold her double pike dismount and sat it down after taking several steps back, still posting a result that matches most hit routines with a 13.700. Funny enough she actually scored nearly a full point lower on floor despite hitting her exercise rather nicely. Her difficulty however is not the highest with her hardest skills rated a D, like a Memmel turn, a 2.5 twist landed with some steps forward, a front tuck through to double tuck nearly stuck and a double pike to finish with a slightly low chest and a small stumble forward. After not really factoring into last year’s Olympic selection, Huan seems to have finally found her footing in the sport and has already won quite a few international medals this year, mostly on bars and beam. At this rate, she could very well become China’s leading AAer at Worlds.
Totaling exactly one point less than champion Luo was 2002-baby Chen Yile with 53.200 who also had a very solid day with the only problems happening on beam. Beginning her day on vault with the top qualifiers, Chen presented a very clean FTY for a score in the mid-13s, while on bars she continued the trends of the top bar workers, connecting a Chow to pak and a Maloney to Gienger, as well as showing one-armed pirouettes directly into a piked Jaeger. Unfortunately she had a tiny hesitation on one of her front giants, which lower her score a bit, posting in the high-13s when she could realistically reach the 14s range without that error. Beam wasn’t much better as she suffered a hard fall on her switch ring and took quite some time to get back into her routine, eventually hitting the rest of her exercise including a round-off to layout, a front aerial to ring jump to BHS and a triple twist dismount with a step back to receive a mid-12. Chen was however able to end her day on a high note and get silver after showing a 1.5 twists through to triple twist with a step back, a triple turn, a 2.5 twists to front layout and a double tuck also with a step back. I honestly didn’t know about Yile before this competition but she seems quite promising and already beat more experienced gymnasts twice here so I expect very good things from her. Turning senior next year, I hope she will continue to improve and eventually make some international teams in the near future. In the meantime she’s been selected to the Junior team at the upcoming Asian Championships, which should give her some very important international experience.
After almost missing this final due to a technicality, Liu Jingxing was at last allowed to compete when her teammate Liu Tingting withdrew from the final and she took this opportunity in the best way possible, coming away with a bronze medal after posting a total of 52.7. Also starting on vault, she exhibited a FTY to score in the mid-13s, while on bars she deviated a bit from the traditional Chinese style, ditching the pirouette work for more flight releases and connections, such as a piked jaeger, a Church to pak and a Maloney to Tkachev, though she had some leg separation at times and landed her fill-in dismount a bit low, receiving a score in the low-13s for her effort. On beam she posted a similar result after showing a round-off to layout, a switch ring to Korbut landed a bit off to the side, a front tuck with a wobble, a switch leap to split jump to back tuck and a double tuck dismount with a step back, before going on to finish with her floor routine that featured some daring tumbles such as a double layout with a small stumble forward and a full-in with a step back, as well as a front tuck through to double tuck with a step back, a double L turn, a triple turn and a stuck double pike to receive a 13 even. As a first year senior, Jingxing has already been under the gymternet’s radar for a while but this was definitely her biggest competition yet and she proved to be up to the part. I was particularly impressed with her floor, an event where a lot of her teammates seem to be struggling, since we very rarely see such double salto heavy routines from the Chinese, which tend to prefer the twisting passes. I hope she will keep up her game and hopefully challenge for Worlds later this year and for other competitions to come during the quad.
In fourth place was 2003-baby Tang Xijing with a total of 52.500 after a solid day on all four events, followed by Lu Yufei who qualified twelfth but managed to recover very well to finish fifth with 51.850 despite counting a fall on beam. Wang Cenyu was sixth with 51.650 after a fall on her triple twist on floor, Du Siyu was seventh with 51.600 after two falls on beam, though she did have the best score of the day on any event with a 14.400 on bars, and Zhang Jin was eighth with 51.250 after some issues on beam.
Notably absent from this top 8 was Junior Liu Jieyu who qualified into this final insixth place with 52.450 but had a disastrous competition on Sunday, only managing an 18th place with a total of 46.200 after crashing her DTY to her knees on vault, counting a scary fall on her van Leeuwen on bars, falling again on her BHS mount and double turn on beam and then opting to perform just layouts as most of her tumbling passes on floor.
Also missing from most of this final was Shang Chunsong who started on bars but had had a very disappointing routine overarching her very first handstand and being unable to hold the next handstand after the clear hip circle and just hopping off. She remounted the bars but didn’t perform her eponymous skill and went directly into the pak before counting a rather scary fall on her Shaposhnikova transition. She then opted not to finish the routine and withdrew from the rest of the final, instead focusing on her beam and floor finals.
On the men’s side, Lin Chaopan took the title with a total of 86.350 after hitting all of his routines and improving his qualifying score by about two tenths. Xiao Ruoteng was second with 85.300 due to a fall on pommels, finishing about a point below his qualifications score where he was first, and Deng Shudi was third with 85.050 mostly due to a rather weak vault which kept him from reaching the two top positions, though he improved his qualifications result quite a bit where he was just fifth after issues on pommels and parallel bars.
With these results, Luo Huan has indeed established herself as one of the top Chinese gymnasts at the moment, especially with a lot of last quad’s stars retiring after the Chinese Games later this year. Aside from her, other girls, even juniors, have shown they are on the right path to reach great results and should be even better in the next few years to help China sustain their presence on the podium and avoid a London 2012 repeat. For now, Asian Championships are just around the corner and some of these athletes will have an excellent opportunity to prove themselves on a big international stage, solidifying their importance to the team.
Full results here.