Saturday, 22 December 2012

Sunday Spotlight: Ana Sofia Gomez Porras (GUA)

Ana Sofia Gomez Porras, born in 1995 is Guatemalan gymnast who first appeared on the international scene at the 2010 Olympic Youth Games in Singapore. At this competition, she impressed gymnastics fans from around the world with her repertoire of skills including a back sommersalt with a full twist on beam. She placed first on beam and second in the all-around at the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara. It is always exciting when gymnasts from non-gymnastics countries do well on the international scene! She is a delightful gymnast to watch and shows a real flair on beam and floor. She qualified to the Olympic Games and made the all-around final, a fantastic achievement for Ana Sofia and her coaches Adrian and Elena Boboc.

Ana Sofia mounts the beam at the 2012 London Olympics

Performing an acro skill in a beam routine at the Olympics

Her floor routine shows impressive tumbling, including a full-twisting double back as her opening pass. She also shows great amplitude in her leaps. The choreography is interesting and expressive. Here is her routine from the all-around competition at the 2011 Pan American Games where she placed second.

Ana Sofia on floor at the 2011 Pan American Games 

Ana wins the gold medal on beam at the 2011 Pan American Games 

The Youth Olympic Games are a fantastic opportunity for talented young athletes such as Ana Sofia as they gain valuable international experience at a young age. It is also a great opportunity for them to travel around the world and enjoy their sport!

'I competed against very talented rivals whom I will face regularily in the future. I also realised that I have the potential to compete at the international level'- Ana Sofia on the contribution of the Youth Olympic Games to her career (from

Congratulations to Ana for putting Guatemala on the gymnastics map, and best wishes for competitions in the future!

Full interview from the Official Olympic Website can be found here 

Article by Imogen Browne (@IFLIP4GymBlog)

Friday, 21 December 2012

China's Champions

"Starting from nothing we can forge gold, and the gold will shine"
-Encouraging words from the Chinese National training centre in Beijing

China has a strong history in artistic gymnastics. Chinese gymnasts are known for their elegance, especially on bars and beam where they display intricate and difficult gymnastics performed with breath-taking precision. Chinese gymnasts are often small with long lines making them very well suited to the sport. China has produced some of the most beautiful and innovative gymnastics seen over the last 20 years, but mistakes often plague them, meaning that no single gymnast has ever won all-around gold at an Olympics.
The following list includes (some of) the Chinese greats over the past three decades.

Yang Bo (1899 World Championships, 1990-1992 Olympics)

A young Yang Bo

Yang Bo was one of China's young stars to emerge after the 1988 Olympic Games. She was known especially for her balance beam performances, where she perfroms her own skill, the Yang Bo. This is a split leap with the head dropped fully backwards and is currently a D-skill. Her routine from the 1989 World Championships is shown below. Note the beautiful toe point and the extension through her legs during both acrobatic and leap movements. Her acro series is impressive (back-handspring, layout step-out into a full-twisting Korbut flip) and performed with amazing amplitude. Unfortunately she did not win gold at the 1989 World Championships because of a mistake on the dismount.

Yang Bo competes on balance beam for China during the event finals at the 1989 World Championships

Performing her trademark 'Yang Bo' leap

Liu Xuan (retired after the 2000 Sydney Olympics)
Liu competed for China at the 1995, 1996 and 1997 World Championships where she won three medals (two team and one for beam). After the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, she continued training for the 2000 Sydney Olympics, where she was one of the older gymnasts on the team (the Sui Lu of 2000!). She performed extremely well in these Games, finishing 3rd in the all-around competition and winning gold on the balance beam. She also contributed to the team effort earning a bronze medal, which was recently stripped from the team due to Dong Fanxiao being underage. As well as being a beautiful performer on beam, Xuan showed originality on bars, being the first female gymnast to perform one-armed giant swings on the high bar. This was down-graded to a B skill to discourage female gymnasts from performing this move.

Liu Xuan performs her optionals un-even bars for China at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta 

Liu Xuan earns her Olympic Gold medal for balance beam at the Sydney Olympics after another 4 years of sacrifice and hardwork

Zhang Nan (retired 2009)
Zhang placed 3rd in the all-around competition at the 2004 Olympic Games held in Athens (only the second Chinese gymnast to medal in the all-around after Liu Xuan). She was hailed as being China's best all-around gymnast and was a reasonably consistent competitor under pressure. She was always incredibly focused during competition and her hard work clearly played off. Her floor routine was particularly enjoyable and had an interesting choice of music which was very well suited to her style and her country. It is well-paced and she makes the tumbling, leaps and turns look effortless.

Zhang competes on floor in the final rotation of the 2004 Olympic Games

Zhang on beam during the team final at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens

Team China, 2008 Olympic Games
Cheng Fei, He Kexin, Deng Linlin, Jiang Yuyuan, Yang Yilin and Li Shanshan
These six young ladies made gymnastics history at the 2008 Olympic Games held in Beijing, taking the gold medal in the team final (both men's AND women's) in front of a home crowd. No doubt the Chinese coaches had been meticulously grooming a new generation of gymnasts to compete at these games. They worked magnificently as a team, were strong with specialists such as He Kexin on bars, Li Shanshan on beam and team captain Cheng Fei on vault, floor and beam. They also had two solid all-around gymnasts, Yang Yilin and Jiang Yuyuan. Although the sustained one fall on beam, the managed to win the gold over the USA and Romania.

Team captain Cheng Fei celebrates after nailing her floor routine during the team final in 2008. Cheng also placed 3rd on vault and 3rd on beam in the event finals

 Tiny Deng Linlin competes on the beam during the team final. She became Olympic Champion on beam at the 2012 London Olympic Games

 The elegant Li Shanshan competes on the floor exercise. She also qualified to the beam final where she unfortunately fell during finals

Jiang Yuyuan performs some charming choreography on floor during the team final in Beijing

Yang Yilin competes on beam during the team final. Yang also placed 3rd in the all-around final behind Nastia Liukin and Shawn Johnson and 3rd on bars behind He Kexin and Nastia Liukin

Bars specialist He Kexin performs her laid-out Jaeger during the team final at the Beijing Olympics. She later went on to become Olympic bars champion in 2008 and placed 2nd in 2012

Cheng's famous floor from the 2008 Beijing Olympics, which clinched gold for the Chinese Women's team for the first time in history

He Kexin's crazy difficult bar routine from the team final at the 2008 Olympic Games. She is their bars specialist and only competed on this event at both the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games. China gains a huge advantage over countries such as the USA and Romania on this event

Chinese superstars of 2008, (left to right) Cheng Fei, Yang Yilin, Li Shanshan, He Kexin, Jiang Yuyuan and Deng Linlin

Times of Change, 2012 London Olympic Games
The difficulty and consistency that the Chinese team displayed in 2008 was lacking in 2012, with China only earning a silver and a gold on beam and a silver on bars at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Their young all-around star Yao Jinnan had a rough time during qualifications and failed to qualify to the finals (she qualified first at the 2011 World Championships in Tokyo). Deng Linlin carried the flame for China, becoming Olympic champion on beam and placed a respectable 6th in the all-around final with Huang Quishang close on her heels in 7th. China was edged out of the team medals by Romania due to some poor performances. Hopefully China will resolve to come back stronger in the next quadrennium. They will really need to work on upgrading vaults (well executed DTY are almost not sufficient any more) and floor routines. Hopefully with Cheng Fei helping out as a coach, they should make significant improvements on the power events.

Deng gives a wave after her gold medal-winning performance on the balance beam, where she edged out compatriot Sui Lu for the top spot

Yao Jinnan is embraced by her coach after competing her well-executed routine in the un-even bars final at the 2012 Olympic Games

Article by Imogen Browne @IFLIP4GymBlog

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Best of Bross

Rebecca Bross is hands-down one of my favourite gymnasts. I first noticed her at the 2007 Pan-American Games where she competed alongside Shawn Johnson and Ivanna Hong. It was well known that she was immensely talented, and trained under Valeri Luikin at WOGA gymnastics. She was impressive, even back in 2007 and showed a large repertoire of skills for a gymnast so young.

Becca Bross, Shawn Johnson and Ivanna Hong at the 2007 Pan-American Games

I love that Bross is a very focused athlete and competes with great intensity. She really attacks her routines, especially on bars and beam. Rebecca made the World Championship team in 2009, the competition was held in the exact same arena as the 2012 Olympic Games. Due to a stumble on her last tumble of her floor routine, she finished second in the all-around competition to her team mate Bridget Sloan. The fact that she still managed to place second at a World Championships after a major mistake proves how talented she is. But she is a fighter and came back strong to perform well in floor and bar event finals, tying in 3rd place with Ana Porgras on bars.

Rebecca with game face on! Third place finish in the un-even bars final at the 2009 World Championships

Becca performs a sheep jump on beam during the all-around final

Becca shows a bit of extra height on her release moves compared to other gymnasts

Rebecca Bross (USA), Bridget Sloan (USA) and Koko Tsurumi (JAP) on the podium at the 2009 World Championships in London

Rebecca started off her 2010 competitive year at the American Cup where she performed very well and introduced a new floor routine with much improved choreography. The music suited her very well and she seemed very comfortable with the dance. Her tumbling, especially the twisting moves and double front somersault are particularity impressive.

Bross on floor at the 2010 American Cup. I love how she saves her smile until after the last tumbling pass!

Her best event is probably beam. When she hits, she is awesome. I love the unique turn in the squat position and the standing arabian that she performs. She won the silver medal during the event finals at the 2010 World Championships with this incredibly solid performance.

Becca wins the silver medal on beam at the 2010 World Championships

Unfortunately Rebecca dislocated her knee performing a DTY at the 2011 Nationals on the second night of competition. It was an absolutely devastating injury that took her out for the rest of the competitive season. She worked extremely hard to come return to competition in 2012, choosing to become an event specialist on bars and beam, the areas where she felt she could contribute to team USA. I have incredible admiration for her comeback, the whole process would have taken much patience and hard work. Rebecca had a couple of mistakes in her routines at the Olympic Trials and unfortunately was not selected onto the Olympic Team. For Rebecca, it was a case of bad-timing and the incredible depth of the American team at the time.

Rebecca on floor at the 2011 US Nationals

 Recently she participated in the Mexican Gala exhibition event (see floor routine below) and the 2012 Kellogs Tour of Gymnastics. It is uncertain what Rebecca will decide to do in 2013. Team USA could definitely use her on bars and beam and I'm sure many fans around the world would be delighted to see her continue in the sport. But in the end it all comes back down to what Becca decides to do. But no matter what, she will forever be a World-class gymnast!

Becca's lovely floor routine from the 2012 Mexican Gala

Article by Imogen Mireille (@IFlip4GymBlog)

Sunday Spotlight: Elisabeth Seitz (GER)

Elisabeth is a German gymnast from Heidelberg and has competed at two World Championships and the 2012 London Olympic Games. She is best known for her bar work where she performs the extremely difficult def, a layout gienger with a full- twist. She has performed well in competition this year, coming 10th in the all-around at the Olympic Games and qualifying to the uneven bars final.

German gymnast Elisabeth Seitz smiles after finishing a good routine (photo credit: ArchiFoto)

Normally Elisabeth only performs her def at bigger meets as it is a very risky move which she sometimes struggles with (she fell in the 2010 World Championships uneven bars final). She is a very dynamic and explosive bar worker, reminiscent of Rebecca Bross and is very exciting to watch. Here is her routine from the 2011 Cottbus World Cup event.

Elisabeth performs her def at the 2011 Cottbus World Cup

Seitz competes on bars at the 2012 Olympic Games

She is also a very efficient beam worker, clean, powerful and confident. Her improved performances on the event have helped to establish her as a better all-around contender. Here is her beam routine from the Glasgow Cup held this month. Elisabeth placed second in the all-around competition behind Elizabeth Price of the USA.

Seitz performs on beam at the 2012 Glasgow World Cup

Seitz, along with Kim Bui and Janine Berger are key members of the German team and we will hopefully see them continue to improve over the next couple of years!

Article by Imogen Browne (@IFlip4GymBlog)