Tag Archives: Ksenia Semenova

2009 Worlds: Event Finals Commentary

Wow.  So I must say that I have heard a lot of comments about this Worlds being boring.  Um….no.  This was WAY better than 2005 (comparable because there is typically a bit of a lull the year following the Olympics) and I think the quality of gymnastics that we saw we typically much higher than what we usually see after the Olympics.

So let me just say that Worlds interrupted my life a little bit (and happily so).  I was very behind in school work, forcing me to come home directly after the nail biting Gator Football game and write a paper.  I watched the first night of EF until about 4am, and woke up at 7:45am to watch Day 2.  I nodded off during parallel bars a little bit.

But here were the things that made me yell out loud.

1.  Kayla Williams.  Well, her life just changed.  She will definitely be on the next world team.  The first American woman to win a world vault title.  But it’s not just that…..the quickness in which she has improved over the last few months is of Chellsie Memmel quality.  I am also willing to nominate her in the gruop of “Best DTY Vaulters” because I have seen what….5 or 6 DTYs from her and she has stuck….well, like all of them!  Hello the new Vanessa Atler (minus the nerves).  Can we also talk about how awesome her attitude is?  She is all business, and look at the way she runs off the podium when she is done, adorable.  Then she fights back tears.  Hello to one of my new favorites.

2.  Beth Tweddle if this is your last competition I am glad it ends with a gold medal for you.  Nice last pass.  Sad she didn’t make bar finals.

3.  Anna Myzdrikova would have beat Tweddle if not for that last pass.  The whip double arabian was one of the best pieces of gymnastics I have seen in quite some time.  (Or since Kayla’s DTY haha)  The Triple back tuck combo is also something of great originality.  I love this girl’s floor.  I am sad she didn’t come away with a medal.  But her awesome performances put hope into my, ‘Will the Russians reemerge as a gold medal threat?”  i can wait and hope.  bet you she will be on the World Team next year.

4.  Ana Porgras is another person I am excited about.  3 EF’s and some really great style!  Her Memmel turn  on floor is amazing!  Really excited about this girl’s future.  How I wish she wouldn’t have fallen off the beam!

5.  Yay for Marian Dragulescu winning two gold medals!  How I wish this would have been the Olympics!

Side notes-

He Kexin is looking even better.  WOW.

-I wish Ivana Hong hadn’t wobbled all over the place, I think she could have gotten gold.

Rebecca Bross didn’t do the Gogean, she only did a half.  In the AA I thought this was a mistake….was this planned?  Also, I like her double L.  These elements could have made her bronze on floor.

-After Chinese Nationals, I said that if Deng Linlin didn’t fall, she would be world champion on beam.  This happened.

Ksenia Semenova I am hoping just didn’t have enough time to perpare (I also heard she has a back injury, dunno if that is true) which I hope is the reason for her poor showing.  I really like her style.  Also I have that Russian hope for 2012.

Lauren Mitchell is now a force to be reckoned with.  Watch out world.  i am still hoping that Dasha Joura will come back better than ever next year.

-I hope Anna Pavlova is continuing and coming back.

– I am not a big fan of Sui Lu‘s FX.  Sorry.

-My biggest complain is the stupid bonus gymnasts get by doing jumps after passes (like Mitchell’s stag after her double arabian, though she does it nicely).  This completely negates the “stick your tumbles” rule.  Hate it.

-Beam and floor routines are a lot smoother and look better with the code cutting it down to 8 skills.  Much better.

-These execution scores are ridiculous.  Let’s take William’s DTYT score….a 9.175?  I think that was actually the HIGHEST execution score of WAG Worlds.  That should have been like at least a 9.5.  I would take a tenth for the split legs on the preflight, one for the slight crossing of the ankles toward the end.  MAYBE a tenth for distance.  You know what?  Let’s take a tenth for height too.  She lands ON THE LINE so no deduction there.  Okay, well that E-score is a 9.600.  What the heck is with all that anyway?

Here is a list of what I wish would have happened at Worlds….

AA

1.  Bross

2.  Sloan

3.  Porgras

VT

1.  Hong Un Jong (wish she hand’t fell even if I love Kayla)

2.  Ariella Kaeslin (this really happened!!!!)

3.  Mzydrikova

UB

1.  Kexin

2.  Tweddle

3. Semenova

BB

1.  Deng (yay!)

2.  Porgras

3.  Bross

FX

1.  Tweddle (another ‘yes’!)

2.  Myzdrikova

3.  Mitchell (this is actually my favorite routine, but Myz’s tumbles I like better)

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2009 Worlds: WOW! Thoughts on Qualifications

PRELIMS VIDEOS ARE HERE AND HERE PLUS HERE

First off, here are the standings after Qualifications:

AA

1. Bross (USA) 57.400
2. Porgras (ROU) 57.300
3. Mitchell (AUS) 56.675
4. Deng (CHN) 56.350
5. Sloan (USA) 56.075
6. Kurbatova (RUS) 55.950
7. Tsurumi (JPN) 55.925
8. Yang (CHN) 55.500
9. Kaeslin (SUI) 55.450
10. Semenova (RUS) 54.900

VT

1. Williams (USA) 14.812
2. Hong Un Jong (PRK) 14.787
3. Myzdrikova (RUS) 14.450
4. Kaeslin (SUI) 14.325
5. Kurbatova (RUS) 14.225
6. Dufournet (FRA) 14.212
7. Rogers (CAN) 13.975
8. Garcia (MEX) 13.862

UB

1. He Kexin (CHN) 15.975
2. Rebecca Bross (USA) 15.050
3. Cha Hyong Wa (PRK) 15.025
4. Tsurumi (JPN) 14.775
5. Miller (AUS) 14.650
6. Sloan (USA) 14.600
7. Porgras (ROU) 14.575
8. Licchetta (ITA) 14.200

BB

1. Porgras (ROU) 14.850
2. Kim Un Hyang (PRK) 14.775
3. Deng Linlin 14.450
4. Hong (USA) 14.400
5. Mitchell (AUS) 14.400
6. Tsurumi (JPN) 14.375
7. Yang Yilin (CHN) 14.375
8. Preziosa (ITA) 14.275

FX

1. Myzdrikova (RUS) 14.500
2. Sui Lu (CHN) 14.275
3. Porgras (ROU) 14.175
4. Tweddle (GBR) 14.075
5. Mitchell (AUS) 14.050
6. Gil Ortitz (COL) 14.050
7. Deng Linlin (CHN) 14.00
8. Bross (USA) 13.950

WOW!  So many unexpected happenings!  I can barely organize a single thought, so I will go through each individual gymnast….

Rebecca Bross–  1st after qualifications WITH A FALL!  Considering that 2nd place Romanian Ana Porgras did not fall….this is definitely Bross’s title to lose Friday.  No major mistakes should give her the win.  An unfortunate over rotation on her Patterson beam dismount made Bross just miss beam finals (14.150).  Too bad because the translation of that score would be enough to get the gold.  I thought Bross could make UB finals (which she did, qualified 2nd) but I thought there would be no way she would medal.  I was wrong.  Bross also qualified 8th into FX finals (13.950).   Should someone scratch from the beam final, Bross is the 1st reserve.  I am excited, because gymnastically, Bross is my favorite right now.  I love her style, the way she hooks her hand as she goes into round off.  I am conflicted though, because I believe that if Bross is the 2012 champ, WOGA will rule the world in gymnastics, and I would absolutely loathe that.

Bridget Sloan– Had a bit of an off day, qualifying 5th into finals.  I feel like Bridget is a 2nd day gymnast…should do better Friday.  She did not made FX finals (rough landings) which I expected, and made bar finals, which I actually did not expect.  I love her bars though, that piked toe on Tkatchev is awesome!  She also fell on beam.  But this is kind of like Nationals….hopefully Sloan will pull it all out for Friday….

 

Ana Porgras–  Hats off to the Romanian of the future!  She qualified 2nd into the AA, 1st on beam, 3rd on floor, and 7th on bars!  I completely expected her to be top 3 on beam, and MAYBE qualify for FX, but wow!  Porgras also shows a form and style not typically seen from the Romanians.  I now predict that Porgras is to be the new Romanian star of the quad….I will go as far as predicting that she will be back in London for 2012.  After watching some videos on youtube, I must say the potential for Porgras is immense.  Furthermore, this is her first major meet and looks how she comes out on the first day!  This will be a force to be reckoned with, mark my words.

Kayla Williams–  QUALIFIED 1ST INTO VAULT FINALS OVER THE OLYMPIC CHAMPION!!!!!  Enough said right there.  This girl will medal on Saturday.  Unfortunately, teammate Bross took over her FX spot for finals.

Anna Myzdrikova–  An amazing floor routine qualifies her first.  I predicted she would be on the medal stand.  She also qualified 3rd into VT finals!  Whoo-hoo!  Anyone following this blog knows that I am hoping upon hope that the Russians are about to emerge again as a gold medal force to be reckoned with this quad.

Ksenia Semenova–  The disappointment of the day for me.  She didn’t qualify to any event finals, and is 10th in the AA standings right now 😦

My heart goes out to Beth Tweddle.  A large mistake left her from UB EF.   She does have a really great floor set, and a stumble on her first pass tells us that she may well take the gold on this event…it is definitely possible.

My official predictions for Finals:

AA

Bross, Porgras, Sloan.  I am hesitant between bumping one of those names out and putting in Lauren Mitchell.

VT

Hong Un Jong will pull it out and score gold.  Williams will be second, and I think Ariella Kaeslin will end up 3rd over Anna Myzdrikova.

UB

He Kexin is a sure bet for first if she doesn’t fall, it is impossible to catch her if she hits.  I think Bross will be second, followed by Koko Tsurumi.  Who knows though.  Cha Hyong Wa will medal if she goes as clean as she did today. If something happens, and Bridget does not get an AA medal, for some reason i think she will throw the routine of her life and get a bronze.

BB

I think Ana Porgras will be first, Deng Linlin second, and either Ivana Hong or Lauren Mitchell for bronze.  We shall see.  Keep in mind that 2nd through 8th place are separated by 5 tenths of a point.  Deng got penalized for overtime, Hong and Mitchell did not perform their best routines (Mitchell had a bigger mistake I believe–so more potential to score big)

FX

I think Tweddle will rally and pull off the gold for a wonderful close to the competition/her career.  I hope she does.  I am hoping for Myzdrikova to place second.  I think Sui Lu or Ana Porgras will take bronze.

What I have learned this day:

China has the power to rule the world in gymnastics.  I am also hoping against hope that as the quad progresses (and juniors become seniors) that Russia will emerge as the greats they once were.  Scoring is bizzaro low to me, I can only hope that gets better with the quad.  And obviously the scoring tweaks have done nothing to eliminate those who can win with a fall, as Bross is in first with a fall.

As with the Nationals this year, it is such a different experience to watch without super favorites and root for so many people!  It is so much fun.

I cannot wait for Friday!

Nice Link to EF qualifiers here

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2009 Worlds: WAG Qualifications Results – Rebecca Bross Leads With a Fall

Click here for live updates.

I will update this post all day long.  Turmoil for Bridget Sloan so far, fall on beam and messy floor has her behind Kayla Williams for FX!  Rebecca Bross can probably take away the FX Final spot.  Ivana Hong is currently 3rd on beam with a good routine (think she had a fall on bars)  Deng Linlin also had a good beam set but Romanian’s Ana Porgras leads beam so far!

UPDATES

Beth Tweddle fell and will not be in bar finals 😦  Awwww, and neither will Ksenia Semenova

Even with a bad beam set, not her best floor, Sloan is 3rd in the AA with 2 subdivisions left.  Deng is in second, Porgras 1st.

Sloan may be making bar finals (yay!)  And He Kexin received the only score in the 15’s with a 15.975 on her bar set.  (As a poster on wwgym said; Kexin could stop in the middle of her routine, go have a smoke break, and still qualify, hahahaha).

Yang Yilin will not be in bar finals 😦

Standings after 4 subdivisions (1 more left)

AA

1. Porgras (ROU) 57.300
2. Deng (CHN) 56.350
3. Sloan (USA) 56.075
4. Kurbatova (RUS) 55.950
5. Tsurumi (JPN) 55.925
6. Yang (CHN) 55.500
7. Semyonova (RUS) 54.900
8. Dufournet (FRA) 54.375
9. Morel (FRA) 54.200
10. Bui (GER) 54.175

Vault
1. Kayla Williams (USA) 14.812
2. Hong Un Jong (PRK) – 14.787
3. Ekaterina Kurbatova (RUS) 14.225
4. Youna Dufournet (FRA) – 14.212
5. Brittany Rogers (CAN) – 13.975
6. Marissa King (GBR) – 13.850
7. Jana Komrskova (CZE) – 13.812
8. Valeri Maksiuta (ISR) 13.675

Bars
1. He Kexin (CHN) – 15.975
2. Cha Yong Hwa (PRK) – 15.025
3. Koko Tsurumi (JPN) – 14.775
4. Larrissa Miller (AUS) 14.650
5. Bridget Sloan (USA) – 14.600
6. Ana Porgras (ROU) – 14.475
7. Ekaterina Kurbatova (RUS) – 14.200
7. Serena Licchetta (ITA) – 14.200

Beam
1. Ana Porgras (ROU) – 14.850
2. Kim Un Hyang (PRK) – 14.775
3. Deng Linlin (CHN) – 14.450
4. Ivana Hong (USA) 14.400
5. Koko Tsurumi (JPN) – 14.375
5. Yang Yilin (CHN) 14.375
7. Elisabetta Preziosa (ITA) – 14.275
8. Ksenia Semenova (RUS) – 14.075

Floor
1. Sui Lu (CHN) – 14.275
2. Ana Porgras (ROU) – 14.175
3. Beth Tweddle (UK) – 14.075
4. Deng Linlin (CHN) 14.00
5. Kayla Williams (USA) 13.900
6. Youna Dufournet (FRA) – 13.625
7. Bridget Sloan (USA) – 13.600
8. Ekaterina Kurbatova (RUS) 13.475

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2009 European Championships Begin

I have been gone quite some time from the gymnastics blogging.  I return.  I am still getting over the Olympics.  But I will get to that in a second.

No surprise to me at all that Ksenia Semenova leads the pack in the Qualifying round.  She also qualified to the event finals in 3 events (no vault).  She fell on a Pak salto in her UB routine.  She will win the All Around in my opinion.  I do believe that I blogged during Beijing, about her being one of the next superstars until this quad gets seriously underway.  Early to say, but I honestly believe she will be in the next Olympics.  Here are my random items from what I know so far about the 2009 European Championships:

  • Youtube videos are already popping up here.
  • Vanessa Ferrari looks completely different.  BTW- she went back to her 06′-07′ FX routine. (Not the tumbling!)
  • I think scores here are LOW!  And I know the D-scores (formerly the A-score) are lower with the new code, but the E-scores (formerly the B-scores) are just insanely LOW to me.
  • Semenova is definitely going to be one of my faves for the quad.
  • Go Beth Tweddle, leading the pack on UB and qualifying into the FX final as well.

This is all I can say for now about the Europeans.  Now onto why I have been absent.   Yesssssss, I am a big dork and had to pull away from gymnastics for awhile.  The outcome of the Olympic Games was a bit much for me.  I don’t think there could ever, ever be another Shawn Johnson.  I can’t believe how much admiration I have for someone who is 10 years my junior.  I really wanted her to have the AA gold.  And I am hoping upon hope that she will return to the elite gymnastics scene.  But the sadness of the Olympics is also that I waited 4 years for it!  And since gymnastics has a different ‘season’ than most sports, the tendency is for the sport to only be wild the year before and of the Olympics.

Here is an incomplete list of what broke my heart during the Games:

  • The broken US team.  Notably Chellsie Memmel.  I really wanted to see her compete 4 events.  And i was so excited about her comeback.
  • Alicia Sacramone‘s TF performance.  She has gotten a lot of crap about it.  I was simply saddened for her.
  • Cheng Fei‘s EF performances.   Same way I felt bad for Alicia.  With every major title on vault for the whole quad, it sucks to see her fall on her two main events.  Cheng should have had 3 gold medals.
  • Scoring aggravated me.  Too much detail to go into for now.

So for now, I will wrap this post up.  I have too much to do at the moment.

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Best and Worst of the Olympics

They’re over. I’m sad. But I thought I would write a little about the things that were impressing versus that which made me cringe.

The Chinese Audience hosted a FANTASTIC OLYMPICS in my opinion. First off, the designs were astounding. From the Bird’s Nest to the Water Cube, the architecture was fabulous. The gymnastics venue was also wonderfully decorated inside. I am specifically talking about the colorful borders that ran through the arena; it looked GREAT on high definition TV!

On that note, the Chinese were a truly fabulous audience. They packed the arena and cheered so loudly for everyone! I was very impressed when the booed Jonathan Horton‘s high bar score during finals; they thought he should have beat their own countryman, Zou Kai! Great audience!

My personal pick for the team with the overall best leotards went to Russia. Hands down.

The above leo is what I would have loved to see on the USA. But EVERY Russian leotard I saw throughout the entire Olympic Games was GREAT.

Awesome that we saw astounding history in Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt! I am awating Phelps’ blood test because I think it will come back stating that he has part dolphin genes!

For gymnastics, the most beautiful display of sportsmanship winners were Shawn Johnson and Fabian Hambuechen. Fabian was SO upset with his personal performance during the high bar final! But of course that didn’t stop him from warmly congratulating the winners. Same thing with Shawn. Love them.

Who I already predict to be on the 2012 Olympic Teams: Fabian Hambuechen, Zou Kai, Kohei Uchimura, Ksenia Semenova.

There were some diappointing moments with the scoring. I won’t comment on a lot of it because it makes me angry.

The two athletes that that made me the saddest were definitely Cheng Fei and Anna Pavlova. Cheng Fei’s disappointing EF showings on VT and FX. Pavlova for not receiving a medal, and she should have had Cheng’s beam bronze. Now that I think about it, Alicia Sacramone made me quite sad as well. I am so sad she didn’t come away with an individual medal! That vault bronze I thought should have been hers. The rest of the judging that really angered me I won’t go into.

I disliked the way NBC presented some of the gymnastics. First off, starting it at 10 or 11 (Eastern time) at night was not good. I hate that it just HAD to be live to get those ratings in. I also did not like that we saw ONE routine from the bronze winning Romanian team.

A couple of posts ago we went into what REALLY aggrivated me the most. There is no reason to reiterate. Let’s just say there are a few people who I no longer have any respect for anymore.

I am trying to get the “what could have been” thoughts out of my head had Chellsie Memmel competed all four events. Sigh. I heard she is planning to continue though! Good deal. At least she has an Olympic Medal.

Dasha Joura not competing at her best also makes my heart break. Maybe 2012???

One more note about the hosting of the Chinese: Opening and Closing Ceremonies were AWESOME! Way to go China for putting on a truly spectacular show.

Also, my hat goes off to trck star Bernard Lagat, whom I have blogged about before. Lagat was the 2007 World Champion on both the 1500 and 5000 meter runs. A bronze in Sydney, a silver in Athens, I really wanted that gold for him!!!! I heard he had a foot injury. That is really sad. I don’t know the time span and age ranges for runners. Will he be able to compete realistically in 2012? If anyone knows the answer to that please comment and let me know!

That is it for now, if I think of more things I will add them to this post.

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Updated thoughts on Event Finals

So now that we are only two weeks from the start of the Olympic Games, I thought I would update what and who of the Event Finals.  After all, we know who is competing minus two spots on the Russian Team which will be announced shortly.  Remember guys, this is just my opinion!

So here is my post from my previous predictions and I will also look at how my viewpoint now varies.

Vault-

The Finalists-  Cheng Fei, Hong Su Jong, and Alicia Sacramone will be finalists.  Period.  There is no way I see them unable to qualify.  I also still think that Cheng and Hong can qualify even if they count a fall (assuming they both do the 6.5 A-score vaults).

Rounding out the other five spots I think will be Oksana Chusovitina and Jade Barbosa, both are very good vaulters, the same which I thought before.  Who else is doing well on the vaulting scene?  I am thinking at least one Russian will be in there, and I think Anna Pavlova is the front runner on that side.  They may even nab another spot, a couple girls featured on gymnast.com have some exceptional DTY’s.

Differences from previous post- Elena Zamolodchikova isn’t going, so she won’t qualify.  Pretty much is the same.  Also, I think an Italian may possibly sneak in there, I have been hearing Amanar rumors about (I think) Carlotta Giovanni.

Guesstimate on the Medalists- Cheng, Hong, Sacramone. (No specific order)

Uneven Bars-

The Finalists- Without a doubt I think Nastia Liukin, He Kexin, and Yang Yilin will qualify.  I also think that Beth Tweddle, Ksenia Semenova, and (probably) Steliana Nistor will find themselves in there.

That leaves two spots left.  I think Marie Sophie Hindermann and Chellsie Memmel will do it.  The British have been getting a lot better on bars so maybe they will change this.  Who knows.

Differences from previous post- Seems I replaced Memmel for the thought of Daria Zygoba.

Guesstimate on the medalists– He, Yilin, Liukin.  (No specific order)

Beam-

Finalists- Without a doubt I think Shawn Johnson and Li Shanshan will make finals.  Rounding out the other six spots I think there will be one more American, two Russians, two Romanians, and probably another Chinese.  Although I would normally put Nastia in there automatically, I am not so sure anymore.  Memmel and Sacramone are capable of scoring higher due to higher A-scores, but we will have to see because I don’t think they can match the execution scores of Liukin.  I also can’t speak about how scoring will ride in Beijing because it always seems to vary.  The last World Championships seem to favor difficulty, but I have a feeling execution may be weighed a bit more.  Two Russians in the spot are between Pavolva, Semenova, and also Lyudmilla Yezhova  Grebenkova (if she is selected onto the team).    Steliana Nistor and Sandra Izbasa have room to sneak in there.   For the last Chinese member I would say Deng Linlin or maybe Cheng Fei.  I think there is room for Australia’s Lauren Mitchell to come in there and bump someone out of this lineup.

Differences from previous postYulia Lozechko and Sui Lu are not on the teams, so aren’t qualifying.  And orginally I didn’t factor in Pavlova.  I also mentioned Stefani Bismpkou whom I now don’t think will qualify but would LOVE to see qualify.  Mitchell wasn’t in my orginal post either.

Guesstimate on the medalists- Johnson, Li, 2nd American (No specific order)

Floor-

Finalists- Shawn Johnson, Cheng Fei, and Sandra Izbasa  WILL be in this floor final.   I don’t have Sacramone in there because at this point I think it is questionable that she will even make it!  It is quite possible (if all the upgrades do make that 6.5 or 6.4) for Memmel to bump her off the line here.  Now, if Sacramone upgrades (I hear her score will be at least a 6.4) then with clean routines I think Sacramone will be the one with the higher execution scores.  Regardless, one more American besides Johnson will advance to finals.  So there is half the lineup.  Others who have a shot at this final in my opinion are Daiane Dos Santos, Anna Pavlova, Dasha Joura, Beth Tweddle, Jiang Yuyuan, or even Yang Yilin.  I can’t think of anyone else, I hear Cassy Vericel is still limping around.  I don’t think Vanessa Ferrari will make it due to her foot making her A-score lower.  Out of those mentioned above, I would like to see the last four spots got to Dos Santos, Pavlova, and Joura.  I didn’t pick a last person.  I am not sure.  And I keep thinking I am missing someone key.

Differences from previous post–  Not much.  Sui Lu was mentioned as a possibility and that’s not happening.

Guesstimate on the Medalists- Cheng, Johnson, Izbasa.  (No specific order.  Note:  How happy I would be if Dos Santos won.)

Without a doubt it is going to be a blast.  I can’t decide which EF I am most excited about.  Here is what I am generally looking forward to most in each event:

Vault-  Cheng Fei.  Hands down.  I want Olympic Glory for her.  Sacramone doing her absolute best, and of course the anticipation of her Amanar.  Chusovitina competing her last moments in her final Olympics.

Uneven Bars-  The race between the 7.7 A-score Club.  Without a doubt.  And because I am really thinking Memmel will be in the lineup, another lovely Memmel moment.

Beam-  Shawn Johnson competing.  Beam is also my favorite event usually.  It’s the event with the most adrenaline for me to watch as it is the make or break event.  I really want Shawn to win gold here.

Floor-  Cheng and Johnson again make this for me.  But the list of competitors that I have the potential to see makes it quite thrilling.  Remember, I am one of those who loves the sentimental favorites.

I can’t believe it all starts in just two weeks.  By the way, I have no idea what the text did to itself in this post.

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The Pressure is on…

So I have been thinking about all the pressure that must be amounting to gymnasts around the world right now. I’ve said it before and I will say it again; this isn’t football, where there are games every week, playoffs (NFL not NCAA which NEEDS a playoff system but don’t get me started on that and the BCS), and a yearly duel for the trophy.

Gymnastics as a sport I think is most comparable to soccer, in my opinion. I am not talking about the nature of the sport. But some of us Americans don’t realize that football around the world is soccer. And they actually call it football. Like gymnastics, the pinnacle of importance in the sport comes every four years (The World Cup as apposed to the Olympic Games). People lose their lives over soccer. It is absolutely crazy.

I can’t imagine the pressure people feel from sports like these. It’s not a “We’ll get em’ next season” kind of deal. This is your one shot for the title. I would be what the gym fans call a “headcase.” I used to perform in guard shows (where you throw a variety of equipment in the air) and almost always I was unable to have a “perfect” competition.

But anywho, I have been thinking so much about all these girls around the world and the pressure that must be mounting them…

Shawn Johnson– With news articles of million dollar earnings of endorsements, and the media on her every which way she turns, Shawn is experiencing the largest string of pressure through media. But beyond that she is heading into the Olympics after going pretty much 16 for 16 throughout Nationals/Trials. There is so much pressure with even THAT. She has the pressure riding her of, “Will she crumble during Beijing?” Shawn has possibly 3 AA competitions between prelims, team finals, and AA. (Though she probably won’t do bars in TF). And she must HIT. Prelims need to be hit to guarantee her spot into the AA (and I am hoping for beam and floor finals as well). Then there is still the pressure to do well for the team. How can a 16-year-old handle this? Shawn IS by far one of the most consistent gymnasts I have seen.

Nastia Liukin– For years she was hearing how that Beijing ticket has been in her hand. And maybe even the gold. But Nastia has been overshadowed the last couple of years. And the pressure to hit when it counts surely must be mounting more and more while Shawn garners more spotlight attention. To do well in the AA is Nastia’s biggest source of pressure I think. And the string of second place finishes she keeps receiving on bars the last couple of years (06′ Worlds, 07′ Pan Ams, 07′ Worlds, 08′ Pacific Rim) add more pressure. I think. Plus, Nastia has alluded in a couple of interviews that the AA is her biggest priority.

Cheng Fei– I wish I knew more about how the media in China. Gymnastics is a much more popular sport there and Cheng Fei I would assume is certainly the most popular and famous women gymnast in the country. No one has ever won 3 straight world titles in a quadrennium, but Cheng Fei has! There is not just pressure but “GOLD OR BUST” seems to be the Chinese way. She must be phenomenal in team finals, and phenomenal in vault and floor finals. She also is the leader of the team, and must be there for all her teammates. To add to the pressure, this is not only the best shot China has ever had for team gold (or even this many golds!) but with the entire Nation watching her do this on her turf, Fei is certainly going to have all the pressure in the world riding her shoulders. Will Cheng Fei do what so many other great gymnasts from China do….crumble under the most intense pressure?

Yang Wei– A silver in Sydney, a fall in Athens, a silver in Anaheim. And the first man in like 80-some years to win back-to-back World titles. I MUCH less about the world of MAG, but I am pulling really hard for Yang. Like Fei, I cannot imagine what the pressure must be like for him. I totally believe there is almost no way the Chinese Men will lose the gold, so I wonder if that factor will help or hurt the pressure on him. The whole country is looking for gold from this man, and that just can’t be easy.

Vanessa Ferrari– The 2006 World Champion has informed the gymnastics world that she will not be up to par for Beijing and I think that is sad. From a country where they aren’t one of the main players in the gymnastics scene, I know bringing home an individual medal from the Olympics would be a huge, huge deal for her. Ferrari is a good competitor, it will be interesting to see what she does. But injury or not, in the world of gymnastics in Italy, that girl must have a lot of pressure on her to deliver.

Steliana Nistor and Sandra Izbasa– This will be the first Olympics in a looooooong time that Romania may not get a team medal. Like the Chinese, team is first priority. But in this new age of Romanian gymnastics, medals in individual events would be a big deal for them in my opinion. So a country with a love for gymnastics looks to these two to help bring home any medals possible. Not only leaders of the team and the ones the other look up to, these are the only shots at individual medals that Romania has.

Beth Tweddle– Of any gymnast, I swear I can count more times for Beth than any other who receives a great many string of 3rd and 4th place finishes. Hailed as the best and most successful gymnast of Great Britain, Beth has been eluded a major title many times on bars, though she did nab the gold in 2006. As one of the bar front runners in this quadrennium, Beth also has joined the “I have higher than a 7.5 Bar Club” and knows she must hit like her life can depend on it. After all, several of the front runners have shown some inconsistencies this year. Although the lead Chinese bar workers He Kexin and Yang Yilin have been the MOST consistent this year, it has been an unfortunate Chinese tradition to crack under the pressure of the big events. And Beth knows that a mistake from any of the three main rivals (Kexin, Yilin, Nastia) can give her a huge advantage; an Olympic gold. I wonder how well she is doing under that pressure.

Jade Barbosa– One of the best gymnasts ever from Brazil, I actually wonder how the pressure is on her. I have seen many different things featuring her that suggest she is getting a lot of media spotlight, but she recently lost the National Title to Ana Claudia Silva. That is something that may either add or subtract pressure, I’m not sure which.

Dasha Joura– The very best of the Australian team must be feeling some enormous pressure. With people retiring and putting more pressure on the team, Dasha may be the only shot for a medal, and has Australian female ever won a medal in the Olympics? I am not sure, but I don’t think so. And Dasha seems to be doing a lot to promote the Olympics and seems to be getting definite media attention with her newspaper column and all.

Oksana Chusovitina– It’s her fifth Olympics and her only medal is the Unified Team gold in her first Olympics, 1992. A medal would be an amazing achievement as she has no individual title regardless of the many world medals she has. I think it is kind of a long shot considering her difficulty, but you never know who will mess up! Maybe Oksana doesn’t have pressure, she does have more Olympic experience than anyone out there!

Alicia Sacramone– You know she wants an individual medal. Well, everyone does. But Alicia is only capable of medalling if she is at her very best. She also has the amanar to consider. With that and her good execution scores, she is capable of gold if Hong Su Jong and Cheng have errors. Her disappointment last year at the floor final is a good indication that she will be fighting for a medal this year. But she also has to be careful because she must deal with the pressure of not getting injured. In addition, Chellsie Memmel‘s comeback could jeopardize her spot in the beam lineup for Team Finals. And she now has one of the lowest A-scores among the Americans on floor. Not good.

He Kexin– Um, is she aware of what is going on in the world of gymnastics? Does she know that half the fans believe she is ineligible? That would add a lot of pressure. Plus, she hasn’t competed on a stage as large as the Worlds or Olympics before. She also has the pressure to win the bars title.

The Entire Chinese WAG- With the strongest team ever and on their home turf, China legitimately has a chance to take all six gold medals. Team, AA (Yang Yilin I think has the best shot), vault (duh), bars (two more duhs, beam (Li Shanshan or even another between Yang, Cheng, or Deng Linlin). They have never ever been in this situation. I think Mo Huilan was capable of 4 or 5 gold medals in Atlanta. but nothing compares to how deep they are now. I can’t imagine what it must be like for them.

There may be others I haven’t included. All the reigning world champs want to earn their titles again, Ksenia Semenova is one I didn’t really dig into.

And the pressure is still on for all the American girls at home, fighting over spot number six…

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