Thursday, 20 September 2012

Peng Peng Lee- UCLA's newest recruit

Christine Lee, or Peng Peng as she is known in the gymnastics world burst into the international scene as a junior in 2007 at the Pan American Games in Rio. The young Canadian impressed gymnastics fans around the world with her trademark beam mount flairs (usually reserved for Men's gymnastics). She performed many difficult skills, especially on beam and floor. Although the execution was not quite there, it was obvious that she would be the one to watch over the coming years.

Peng Peng demonstrates her artisitc flair during her Balance Beam routine in the Team Final at the 2007 Pan American Games in Rio

Unfortunately for Peng Peng and fans alike, she sustained an injury to her back in 2008, which forced her out of elite gymnastics. Late 2010 and early 2011 saw her return to international competition. At the 2011 World Championships, held in Tokyo, Lee was the highest scored Canadian athlete after in qualifications with an all-around score of 54.632.

Peng competes on un-even bars during the team final at the 2011 World Championships in Tokyo

Peng competes on beam and wears her trademark white lily in her hair

Peng Peng had an extremely strong debut in the Olympic year in 2012, performing well at both the London Test Event in January, and at the Pacific Rim Championships in March. Now a mature and composed competitor, she is most impressive on beam and floor. Her beam routine combines unique choreography with difficult skills including a standing full twisting back-sommersalt. Her movements are assertive, confident and performed with such fluidity that you can't help but be drawn into her performance. She could have easily medalled in London with a routine like this. 

Peng's stellar balance beam routine from the beam finals. She earned a massive 15.30 for this routine

Peng was not able to represent Canada at the 2012 London Olympics due to a torn ACL. The timing of this injury was most unfortunate, but Peng was able to remain positive and travelled to London to support her team as the 'honorary' team captain. She is obviously well loved by her team mates, as they wore her trademark white lily in their hair during the team competition at the Games!

Peng is continuing her gymnastics career at UCLA, where she will train under the Miss Val, the infamous Bruins coach. I can't wait to see what she will do with her floor routine (it's like Mattie Larson all over again). Peng, we wish you the best of luck at UCLA and look forwards to seeing your wonderful wonderful gymnastics for years to come. Welcome to LA.

Go Bruins! (Photo from Peng's twitter account)

Article by Imogen Browne (@ImogenMireille)

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