Tag Archives: Catalina Ponor

2011 Will be an AWESOME Year for Gymnastics

I haven’t blogged in quite awhile, and can someone explain how we are already into the qualifying year of the Olympics?  How did it get here so fast?  I dropped out of blogging and gymnastics news for a good six months following the Olympic Games, feeling no quad would ever top the last…..I was wrong.  So wrong I can hardly believe it.  If you would have told me while I was experiencing postpartum Olympic Depression that the next Olympics would have nearly everyone on the US team making comebacks, Russia being on top, and a true fight amongst the AAers and the Team Final I would have told you that you were delusional.

Now a lot of hardcore fans felt that the last couple of years has been less than thrilling and I beg to disagree.  Why?  Because the 2012 Olympics are going to be very 1996ish.  Oh yes they are.  No matter what, amazing gymnasts are going to be left home due to 5 per country.  Amongst at least the Americans and Russians, an amazing gymnast is going to be left out of the AA because of two per country.  This is just like 96′ and even 00′ for the Russians.  In the US we have Rebecca Bross, Jordyn Wieber, and possibly even Shawn Johnson contending for those 2 AA spots.  Russia has Aliya Mustafina, Viktoria Komova, and Anastasia Grishina competing for their spots.  Prelims will be a battle for simply that reason.

As for the Team Final, I would first like to point out that it was all China and US last quad for the team battle.  Not so for this quad.  China, US, and Russia are all going to be pretty equal most likely.  A lot of people may disagree with this, but look at the splatfest of the 2010 World Team Final.  This WILL be like 1996, you MUST hit, or someone else will and take that spot.  For this we cannot forget Romania, who has a history of taking other countries medals because they hit and others just didn’t.  For the last three Olympics that is exactly what they have done.  Russia’s current top 2 will cover 2/3 of their 3 up 3 count.  Grishina is supposedly upgrading on floor and training a much more difficult vault.  If they come out with all 3 of their AAers capable of being the entirety of their TF, then they have 2 spots left for specialists, no other country can currently match that.  But it is still a long way away and anything can happen.  Russia’s got 2 gymnasts that don’t appear to have dealt with puberty yet, and who knows when that will strike and what it will do to them.

I would also like to point out, when comparing this quad to 96′, that we also have our old-school coaches back.  The soviet coach Alexander Alexandrov has returned and I feel like that is odd that the Russian resurgence aligns with that.  And Ocatavian Bellu and and Mariana Bitang have returned to Romania.  I personally feel that you can see their work in Ana Porgras.  Porgras wasn’t the most consistent gymnast, and since their return tell me you can’t see the improvement on beam.  Consistent as hell, and not to mention her speed, rhythm looks just like your classic Romanian….except Porgras does add her grace 🙂

I claimed millions of times that Shawn Johnson and Nastia Liukin were never going to compete again, yet here we are with both of them making comebacks.  Nastia IS, for those of you that don’t believe it, we just have to see how much she will come back for.

Another comeback (from injury) that I am eagerly awaiting is what Ivana Hong will bring.  there are rumors of completely revamped bar sets that look GOOD, and there was a small rumor out there of her competing a very 2006 Catalina Ponor series of Onodi+front aerial+BHS+LOSO.  I will believe all these things when I see them, but I have to wonder what Valeri Liukin has done to work his magic.  After only 6 months with Valeri we saw a slightly improved Hong.  And notice the changes in Bross from 2009 to 2010; there were definitely elements in her FX to show flexibility, as well a tiny move on BB to emphasize that as well.  I feel as if many people see flexibility and thus assume artistic so this was a smart move.  Valeri is masterful at hiding weaknesses and showcasing strengths, so I am eager to see what Hong does next weekend at the WOGA meet.

The US has so many people right now that you would think would totally make the Olympics, Bross, Wieber, Alicia Sacramone, Alexandra Raisman, Johnson, Liukin…but right there that is already 6 members.  Raisman is someone I would like to highlight, because the more time goes on the more I like her.  She has proven herself by being an anchor on half the events in team finals as a fist year senior.  She also apparently doesn’t BS us.  The recent video of her at the training camp showed a potential 6.4 beam routine that looked SOLID, not to mention the fact that her leaps look improved!  Anyone watching all the training footage going on at Worlds saw Alicia trying to help Raisman with performance, and I think we are going to see a difference there as well.  I also firmly believe she will have the Amanar back by Nationals at the latest, and I would expect that she is upgrading floor.  With an Amanar, high start values and solid, consistent routines on beam and floor, how can you deny her?  This could spell doom for Sacramone and possibly Jonhson (or ANYONE else that is a 3 event gymnast that doesn’t include bars).  We cannot take more than one 3 event gymnast to the Olympics.  It just doesn’t seem possible.  2 AA spots, a 3 eventer, and I would say the last spots go to bars people.   Keep in mind that there is no way Nastia won’t be included if she is ready to go on bars.  She is too valuable on this event and could be taken for that one spot alone.  However,the number of bars specialist spots depend on what the others are doing.  Wieber does have the potential to get up in the mid 6’s on bars.  If she did, and Bross upgrades which I highly suspect she will, then you have 2 bar sets included in your potential AAers.

But it is still too early to tell.  Things always happen and people unfortunately get injured.  Who knows what will happen?  The point is that there is enough to keep us highly entertained as we watch the pre-Olympic year unfold.

On a side note, I have the Florida Gator Gymnastics team to keep me excited as well, as I watch intently.  I am hoping this will finally be our year.

On a last side note, I am sitting 6th row, center section with a very good friend at the American Cup on March 5th.   I WILL do a blog for that!

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Thoughts on the age discrepancy with Chinese gymnasts

Recently among the gymnastic message boards there has been a lot of talk about the ages of some the Chinese, notably He Kexin.  (wwgym is very appealing to me)    

Many people have claimed that it was well known that He was and IS still a junior, born in 1994, not 1992.  This has lead to other discussions about several of the other Chinese gymnasts not being of age either.  Some claiming that ALL of the current Olympic prospects are underage with exception of Cheng Fei.  There have then also been a couple of claims that even Cheng just turned 17 last year! (a rumored photograph of her at her birthday, only 17 candles on the cake.  If anyone can show me this picture I would love to see it!)

One of my most recent thoughts is, “How does something like this not get out?”  The Chinese have media, just like we do.  If suddenly Rebecca Bross was 16 it would be all over the media. But of course, our media gives us everything you could ever know about a person, and controversies are easily sought out because they make sensational stories.  I am not familiar with the media system in China, but one thing I do know a little bit about is their sports philosophy.  To my understanding, the Chinese find  physical well-being quite important.  As that combined with metal well being brings upon a balance, the Qi.  Sports success brings great honor.  I feel that in the US, sports success just brings about fame or money.  Hence, this is why I love watching the Chinese compete; their pride and passion moves me, the way they root and congratulate one another.  it is refreshing.  Not to say I don’t see that from other nations, but thinking of examples I think of Ling Jie praying for Liu Xuan in the balance beam event final, Sydney 2000.  Or Andreea Munteanu screaming in jumping for Catalina Ponor in the floor event final, World Championships 2003.  Both Ling and Munteanu had already competed in the same event final, and rather than being upset for their loss, they thrived on their teammate’s happiness.  That isn’t something I see with the US girls.  I am not saying they are bad people but our systems and societies are different.

Back on topic, do I think these  allegations are true?  Tough to say, I do have a gut feeling  Kexin is underage.  Why didn’t she compete in the 2007 worlds?  When I thought about the Cheng allegations I did ponder the fact that she too was absent from the prior worlds before Athens.  And she did fill the hole of vault/floor for the team.  Kexin does look awfully young, but I think that reasonable evidence.  And she doesn’t appear Kim Gwang Suk young.  Then again, there could be reasons (injuries) that neither competed the World Championships preceding the Olympics.

Now IF there are underage people competing, do I care?  I am still trying to figure that out.  I am opposed to the age rule in place, I think it should be 14 or 15.  But I don’t like cheating.  But with Cheng, I am blinded by how awesome she is, and nothing I hear can taint what I think of her.  And really, same thing with Kexin.  I favor the “wow” factor of gymnastcs, I love new and innovative routines.  She certainly fills that.  Her Yaeger combos are truely magnificent (and the nod to Li Ya, I think the half turn Yaeger should be named after her, OR call it a “Li Ya” combo).  Due to my love for gymnastics and lack of evidence, I am willing to turn my back on the issue.  I my opinion, I think He Kexin should be the bars champion, as her routine is the most spectacular  to emerge in years.

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