January 15, 2009

More AYOF News

Thanks to a poster at GGMB, we have a bit more information about the women's team competition at the Australian Youth Olympic Festival in Sydney, which was won by China, just ahead of Japan.

It sounds like Japan's Natsumi Sasada, who posted the highest all-around score in the team competition, is quite the gymnast to look out for. She reportedly mounts beam with a layout Garrison (i.e. a roundoff layout-full). We can't wait to see a video of that surface on YouTube! Sasada is also said to have a double-twisting Yurchenko and mature tumbling on floor, as well as nice Y-scale turns and customary Japanese good form on beam and floor. Sounds like Koko Tsurumi may get a bit of a rival on her own team, doesn't it? We'll be interested to see if Sasada can repeat her four-for-four performance in the all-around final.

Japan's Natsumi Sasada (photo: Mark Nolan/Getty Images)

China's performances on beam must have been quite something, considering that they got the highest scores on the event despite counting two falls. Reportedly Cie Jie fell on an acrobatic pass, while Wu Liufang came off on a switch Yang Bo leap. Tan Sixin, who scored a meet-high 15.85, apparently hit a ff-ff-whip-Korbut combination. Nice!

Australia's Natalia Joura reportedly had a complete meltdown on bars, coming off on a hip circle, counting many dead hangs and empty swings, and falling on her double tuck dismount. Ouch.

An anonymous commenter on our previous post said Australia's Mary-Anne Monckton had to scratch from the meet due to an ankle injury. Here's hoping Monckton will make a speedy recovery...

Men's competition

By now we also have the results of the men's competition, in which only five teams competed, including two from the home country, Australia. The young British men surprisingly beat China by over ten points, 247.201-236.400. Apparently China was in the lead after four events, only to disintegrate on the last two apparatus and see the Brits, who had a strong finish on high bar, snatch the victory from them. China only had two gymnasts who competed on all six events, Liu Zhanteng and Zhu Xiaodong. Wang Yongchao competed on five events, Fang Lixiang on three. For Britain, Sam Oldham, who is recovering from an injury, only competed on four events, but his teammates Ashley Watson, Reiss Beckford, and Max Whitlock all did a great job on six events, finishing first, second, and third, respectively.

The victorious British men's team (photo: British AYOF site)

We guess these results confirm two things:
1. The British men's team really will be a force to be reckoned with come London 2012 (the juniors have had some excellent results lately, and the seniors aren't too shabby either).
2. Huang Yubin wasn't exaggerating when he said that China's juniors leave a bit to be desired.

Australia's A team finished third, following a nightmare on high bar. The team did, however, post the highest score on floor, where both Sean O'Hara and Luke Wadsworth received 14.20s.

As always, vault was the highest-scoring event in the men's competition. Both Reiss Beckford and Liu Zhanteng posted 15+ scores on the event, and six more gymnasts scored in the 14s. The highest score on the other apparatus was Ashley Watson's 14.667 on parallel bars.

Jayden Bull, who represented Australia's B team, was his country's top-ranked all-arounder, finishing fifth. He suffered a meltdown on pommel horse but redeemed himself with a 14.80 on vault.

Detailed results can be found here: team and individual.

A British response to their teams' efforts (both men and women) can be found here.

Action pictures of Team GB can be viewed here.


  1. http://au.youtube.com/watch?v=A68yUqvBPm0 Didn't take too long for someone to post it- nice beam mount by Natsumi Sasada

  2. I have no idea what to think about the men's results. Maybe the Britons will be a force to reckon with. Maybe China just has to give psychological training to the juniors. We'll just have to wait until they're seniors.

  3. Ask and ye shall receive! Here is Sasada's BB, courtesy of flipping_crazy at GGMB:


  4. Thank you, anonymous posters! Wow. That's a nifty routine. We'll post a link to it after we've had a chance to check out some of flippinggymkid's other AYOF videos.

    Cidlover, by all accounts the Brits really do have a very talented junior squad. We've heard excellent things about these boys. As to China, we're not too worried yet. We'll see how these kids fare in other competitions...

  5. Could someone explain the rise in Japanese women's gymnastics? I guess it's been in the last two cycles that they have started showing improved world rankings. Did they import some coaches?

  6. Anonymous, we're at a loss to explain Japan's current rise. All we can say is that the Japanese girls finally seem to be catching up to their male counterparts. The Japanese men have always been a force to be reckoned with (no need for foreign coaches there!); it now seems that the Japanese have finally begun to realize that they could do well in women's gymnastics as well. It's probably a matter of funding more than anything else. Japan has always had talented individual female gymnasts, often with exquisite form, so they've always had good coaches. We guess what's different now is the funding, enabling them to produce more such gymnasts. But we really don't know.

    As for foreign coaches, we know there are at least two foreign coaches in Japan: former Soviet star Natalia Kuchinskaya and former Romanian star Gabriela Potorac. However, both of those have been in Japan for quite some time, and as far as we know they're not high-level coaches. The Japanese Gymnastics Federation might very well have imported some top coaches from elsewhere, but if they have, we haven't heard anything about it.

    Hopefully someone else will be able to provide a better explanation for Japan's sudden rise...

  7. Maybe men's artistic gymnasts have decided to start coaching women's artistic gymnastics. It works for other countries.

    Although when I saw Japan at the Olympics, I only remember seeing female coaches.