Sunday, 18 November 2012

Sunday Spotlight: Deng Linlin (CHI)

Deng Linlin is a two-time Chinese Olympian. She has won two Olympic gold medals, first with the team at the 2008 Beijing and secondly in the beam final at the 2012 London Olympics. It is amazing that she remained competitive at such a high level for two Olympic cycles. This makes her one of China's most successful gymnasts. Her strongest event is definitely beam, where she was also World Champion in 2009.

Deng happy after she finished her gold-medal beam routine at the 2012 Olympics

Deng was selected to train with the Chinese national team in 2004, where at the ripe age of 12, she moved away from home to concentrate on making the 2008 Olympic team. She was the third best Chinese all-arounder in 2008 (at both the Chinese Nationals and Olympic Qualifications) behind Yang Yilin (who won the bronze medal in the all-around competition) and Jiang Yuang. Deng was heavily relied upon in the team final, where she contributed fantastic scores on vault, beam and floor (15.250, 15.925 and 15.150 respecitively). Twenty minutes before the competition, the coaches decided to put her in the vault line up instead of Jiang Yuang. She did a fantastic job, sticking her DTY vault beautifully.

Deng Linlin's 15.250 DTY in the Team Final during the 2008 Beijing Olympics

Although other members of China's gold medal winning team from Beijing continued to train after 2008, Deng was the most persistent (and did not undergo a large growth spurt like Yang Yilin!). She claimed the beam title at the 2009 World Championships in London. Her acrobatic skills are crazy high, she shows of her flexibility (especially in the shoulders) and she is very precise. Chinese gymnasts are notoriously inconsistent, especially on beam. Deng in one of the more consistent Chinese gymnasts, and I believe that is precisely why she took the gold at this year's Olympics over her compatriot Sui Lu. Here is one of Deng's best routines from the Team Final at the 2010 World Championships in Rotterdam.

Deng Linlin performs on beam during the team final at the 2010 Rotterdam World Championships

The podium for the beam final at the 2012 London Olympics. Sui Lu (not impressed), Deng Linlin and Aly Raisman (delighted)

Deng has brought pride to her country once more, by bringing home an Olympic gold medal this summer. In honour of her achievements, the 'Deng Linlin rest and exercise centre' has been constructed in her hometown. Deng is very thankful for this and hopes that her achievements will encourage people to take care of their health and that her community will continue progressing. I am uncertain if Deng will choose to continue in gymnastics but nevertheless  she has had a very successful career and should be extremely proud of what she has accomplished. It is not easy to understand just how much sacrifice and dedication it takes to remain successful in the sport of gymastics for two Olympic cycles. China should be incredibly proud of their star!

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