After days of team and all-around competition, it was finally time for the event specialists to take center stage and show their own skills at this year’s Chinese Nationals. With juniors and seniors competing together, this was another great opportunity to see the dynamics of Team China for the 2017-2020 quad.
Starting on vault, London Cup competitor Liu Jinru took the title with an average of 14.483 after showing two very difficult vaults, landing her double twisting Tsukahara with a big step back and taking just a tiny hop on her Rudi. Over half a point behind her was second-place finisher Qi Qi with 13.933 following an opposite strategy by choosing easier but cleaner vaults, performing a DTY with a tiny hop back and a full twisting Tsukahara with a big step to the side and out-of-bounds. The bronze medal belonged to Yu Linmin with a final score of 13.783 after landing her DTY a bit low with a small step back and showing a Lopez as her second vault, taking a step back on the landing. In fourth place was Liu Jieyu with 13.533 due to some lower difficulty, while Li Linxi was fifth with 13.517 after crashing her Rudi despite showing a decent double twisting Tsukahara. In sixth and seventh place were Deng Yalan and Tie Jiayi with 13.350 and 13.300, respectively, mostly due to lower difficulty vaults and lastly Wu Jing was eighth with 13.050 after crashing both of her vaults, a double twisting Tsukahara and a Rudi.
On one of the best events for the Chinese women, uneven bars, all-around champion Luo Huan managed to capture another gold medal to her collection, after hitting her routine with elegance and fluidity, including a Maloney to pak to van Leeuwen series, a sequence of pirouettes into a piked jaeger and a floaty double layout dismount capped off with a stuck landing to receive a total score of 14.533. 2002-baby Du Siyu was second with another great routine that featured a Chow to pak and a series of pirouettes but also a fantastic combination of Maloney to giant full to Tkachev to Gienger before finishing with a double layout with a tiny hop for a 14.300. Despite some mistakes, 2015 World Champion Fan Yilin managed to take the bronze medal after starting her routine cleanly with an inbar full to Komova II to pak, but then failed to connect the pak to the Chow transition, instead taking a stalder circle in the middle. She then connected the Chow to a Gienger release and performed a series of full pirouette skills, taking out the 1.5 pirouette and dismounting with only a double pike instead of her usual double layout, though she wasn’t able to rotate it fast enough and sat it down. Showing some execution issues but no significant errors was Xie Yufen in fourth with 13.467, while all-around silver medalist Chen Yile was fifth with 13.300 after a major form break following her piked jaeger that forced her to take a few empty swings to get back into the flow, though she managed to stay on and avoid a fall. Wang Cenyu wasn’t so lucky and fell on her double front half-out dismount, finishing sixth with 13 even, while Zhu Xiaofang didn’t count any falls but had a very overarched handstand after the pak and couldn’t connect to the van Leeuwen and later on had very short handstands to score just 12.800 and take seventh place. In eighth and last place was Liu Jieyu who fell on her pak and didn’t continue the routine, instead just going for the full-in dismount and therefore losing the requirements for same bar release and different grips to receive only 11.067.
Moving on to beam the next day, Zhu was able to recover very well from her disappointing bars performance and take the title on beam, receiving a total of 14.167 for her solid exercise that included a round-off to layout, a switch ring to sheep jump, a front aerial to split jump to back tuck and a somewhat low triple twist dismount landed with a few steps back, only counting a tiny wobble on her side aerial. Despite counting almost opposite levels of difficulty (5.5 versus 6.3, respectively), Li Hairuo and Li Qi tied for second place with 13.967, both hitting their routines without major issues. Boosting the second lowest difficulty among the finalists, Li Hairuo was able to reach the podium by executing her exercise with confidence and precision, performing a round-off to layout, a front tuck, a switch ring, a front aerial to split jump to BHS and a double pike dismount with a small step back, though her choreography was a bit too simple and could use some work. Li Qi, on the other hand, had the highest difficulty of the final featuring intricate connections like a switch half to Korbut, a front aerial to split jump to Onodi to stag ring jump and a side aerial to straddle jump to BHS, but counted some wobbles and other small mistakes throughout her routine, specifically on her full turn and switch leap to sheep jump dance series, finishing everything with a triple twist dismount landed with a hop and bringing her back leg up. Also showing some shakiness during their exercises but managing to stay on were Olympians Wang Yan and Shang Chunsong in fourth and fifth, respectively, with 13.600 ad 13.567. All-around and bars champion Luo was sixth with 13.333 after a fall on her Onodi, while Chen and Fan tied for seventh with 13.067, after Chen had a fall on her layout and Fan performed a downgraded routine with only 5.0 in difficulty.
At last, on floor, Shang Chunsong managed to hit her routine, but had leg form issues everywhere and was much messier than usual, taking a few steps back on her double pike and showing some leg issues on her 2.5 twists to front pike, though she hit her 1.5 twist through to triple twist to front tuck cleanly and stuck her double twist dismount to post a 13.300 and take the gold. After missing the beam final due to a fall in qualifications and withdrawing from the all-around final, Liu Tingting finally got to compete and performed her floor routine very nicely, finishing second with 13.100 after showing a triple twist to front tuck, a double L turn, a 2.5 twists with a tiny hop forward, a double tuck with a slightly deep landing and an attempted Memmel turn though she was unable to complete it. Her Guangdong teammate and all-around bronze medalist Liu Jingxing got another bronze medal here, receiving a final score of 12.800 for her effort that featured a triple turn, a double layout with some leg separation and a big step forward, a full-in with some steps back, a front tuck through to double tuck and a double pike with a big step back to finish. Right behind the medalist was Luo in fourth with 12.733, followed by Li Qi in fifth with 12.633 and Xu Li in sixth with 12.500. Jing Yang was seventh with 12.133 and 2003-born Tang Xijing was eighth with 10.800 after putting her hands down on her double pike and sitting double her double tuck.
On the men’s side, Mu Jile won floor with 14.700 after a hit routine that featured some stuck landings, while Zou Jingyuan took the pommel horse title, receiving a 14.933 for his difficult but seemingly effortless exercise. On rings, the gold medal belonged to Lan Xingyu with 14.733, whereas Qu Ruiyang came out on top on vault with 14.734 after showing a super underrotated Tsukahara with 3.5 twists landed with a big step to the side and out-of-bounds and a front layout with 2.5 twists as his second vault. After his gold on pommels, Zou won another title on parallel bars, posting a huge 16.000 after a fantastic exercise and continuing to be the only guy (or girl) to reach the 16s range under this new code, while Xiao Ruoteng took the gold on high bar with 14.533, with a routine packed with releases.
With the exception of some World Cup appearances, this was our first look at Chinese gymnastics since Rio, with some of the older players sticking around while new faces also surfaced everywhere. With the Asian Championships happening soon, this was a very important factor to decide the members of each team and hopefully every gymnast was able to show their full potential and got the recognition they deserve. As we continue towards the second half of the season, the Chinese Nationals Games and the World Championships are getting closer and closer and everyone is working to stay at the top of their game for these competitions so we should only expect to see improvements from here on out.
Full results here.