Saturday, 14 December 2013

The Future of British Gymnastics: Glasgow Espoir Competition

A handful of Britain's young gymnasts descended on Glasgow last weekend, to take part in the 2013 Espoir competition, a meet held adjoined with the World Cup. All girls competing were either 12 or 13 years old. I was fortunate enough to watch both the all-around competition and the apparatus finals which were held on Friday and Saturday evenings respectively. I did not know much about the competitors, with the exception of Catherine Lyons and Teal Grindle, so I was content to sit back and become familiar with the athletes. I was very impressed with the maturity of the performances of many of the young athletes, and was delighted to see many expressive, confident and creative routines.

All-around competition
1st Catherine Lyons (Europa) 56.20
2nd Teal Grindle (Sapphire) 55.65
3rd Lucy Stanhope (City of Liverpool) 50.25
4th Louise McColgan (Largs) 50.15
5th Latalia Bevan (St. Tydfils) 49.60
6th Claudia Barkes (South Durham) 48.85
7th Alice Kinsella (Park Wrekin) 48.80
8th Maisie Methuen (Phoenix) 48.10

Lyons and Grindle were really a league above everyone else, with the two of them claiming the top two spots on every apparatus. Both girls had falls on bar, but in the end it was Catherine who claimed the top overall score. Nevertheless, it is obvious that these two young talents have a bright future ahead. Catherine has gorgeous lines, dynamic releases on bar and beautiful beam and floor choreography. Teal has already mastered many difficult skills across the board and has clean execution to boot! She is a confident performer and a very determined young lady- after a very nasty fall from bar on the second day she got back up to finish and performed a fantastic full-twisting double back dismount.

All-around medalists from the 2013 Glasgow Espoir competition, Catherine, Teal and Lucy

Here is Catherine's bar routine from the all-around final, the height on her geinger is amazing! Score 12.60

Teal's charismatic floor routine from the all-around competition. Score 13.75

Bronze medal winner Lucy Stanhope from City of Liverpool is another strong all-arounder and a very clean and elegant gymnast. See her here in the beam finals. Many of the Espoirs were doing this mount, I am unsure of the difficulty rating, but it certainly looks cool! Also doing very well was Scottish Louise McColgan. Also a very neat gymnast, she is especially fun to watch on floor. You can see her routine here.

Apparatus Finals

Teal warming up on floor

Catherine warming up on beam

Louise McColgan showing great flexibility in her leaps

Bronze medal winner Holly Jones on floor. Holly is another gymnast with gorgeous long lines!

1st Catherine Lyons 13.95 
2nd Teal Grindle 13.65
3rd Maisie Methuen 13.55

1st= Catherine Lyons and Alice Kinsella 13.00
3rd Teal Grindle 12.7 (fall)

1st Catherine Lyons 14.90
2nd Lucy Stanhope 13.60
3rd Amelia Montague 13.55

1st Catherine Lyons 14.75
2nd Teal Grindle 13.70
3rd Holly Jones and Latalia Bevan 13.50

Most of the vaults being performed were piked/ layout yurchenkos, Teal and Catherine both did FTY as their first vaults. Saw a few tsukaharas as well as one handspring front. Most of the girls are too small to be performing difficult vaults, but I'm sure they will come as they get older- they are only 12 and 13!

Overall I was very impressed by the talent on bar. Britain now has a strong reputation for bar, thanks to the likes of Beth Tweddle, Becky Downie and Ruby Harrold who have done very well on the world stage. This batch of Espoirs can definitely follow in their footsteps. Beams were also good, with reasonable difficulty. Catherine had a great routine, for which she was rewarded with a 14.90!

Most impressive of all were the floor routines. All finalists showed very polished routines, there were no major mistakes. These girls already look like professional gymnasts and have real artistic flair! I think that allowing gymnasts at such a young age to compete on a podium (in an arena like the Glasgow World Cup one) is a great experience for them, and really will help to build their confidence for the coming years of senior competition.

Catherine's winning floor routine

Article by Imogen Browne (follow on twitter @Iflip4gymblog)

Monday, 9 December 2013

Larisa Iordache wins the 2013 Glasgow World Cup!

The 2013 Glasgow World Cup took place this weekend at the Emirates arena, and I was lucky enough to attend! It was tight at the top, where defending champion Elizabeth Price (USA) fell uncharacteristically on her Amanar vault, leaving the door wide open for Larisa Iordache (ROM). A fall from Iordache on her layout 1/1 on beam was not enough to prevent her from taking the title over Price, winning by a margin of 0.6 points. 23-year old Vanessa Ferrari of Italy was again impressive, taking the bronze medal with a respectable total of 56.633.

Our view from the top of the Emirates Arena

1st- Larisa Iordarche 57.932 (ROM) 2nd- Ebee Price 57.365 (USA) 3rd- Vanessa Ferrari 56.633 (ITA) photo credit: Larisa Iordache Official FB page

The fall from Ebee on vault I guess was a lapse in concentration, she normally has no problems with it and had indeed successfully completed an Amanar in warmups. But a lower score of 14.233 compared to Larisa's 14.766 for a clean DTY put her at a disadvantage from the start. The youngest competitior, Spanish Roxana Popa also ran into trouble on vault where she only performed a layout yurchenko instead of a (double twisting?) that she is capable of. Ferlito (ITA) was also clearly injured, she was having problems with on of her ankles in all of the warmup vaults. Asuka Teramoto from Japan debuted a new vault, which she spent much of the general warmup time perfecting. She was the only competitor not to compete a yurchenko.

Ebee's warmup Amanar

Teramoto's vault

Bar was a disappointing rotation for both of the British girls, Ruby and Raer who both peeled off. Ferlito who was clearly having an off day also fell. Was really nice to see her helping straight afterwards prepare the bars for Vanessa. Both girls also pulled each other's springboards away- they hardly needed a coach on the floor! Iordache again scraped through another routine, Popa and Teramoto were good, but the highlight was definitely Ebee. That girl is so powerful and so strong that she makes it look easy! She was rewarded with a 14.833 for this routine. I reckon she should be in the lineup for bars at the 2014 Team World Championships.

Ebee rocking bars

Good routines from both British girls here, although sadly not the difficulty to bring in the big marks. Iordache received the top score here, 14.10 even with the fall on the layout 1/1. I guess the difficulty and the 'wow' factor is worth the risk for her. She also seems to have trouble with this pass when there is no twist, so why not chuck it in? Price and Ferrari were also impressive here.

Clean and stylish routine from Ruby, but lacking in difficulty to bring in the big numbers. Great experience for her though, and the crowd loved it!

Another professional and confident performance from Ferrari, she just keeps getting better!

The excitement was high in the last rotation, with Men's high bar running simultaneously. The audience was very involved and clapped many of the gymnasts through their routines. I would like to give a special mention to Ferrari. I like her floor routine and I enjoy watching videos. But at the top of the stands I was captivated by her! She really performs the routine, which makes a difference to some other gymnasts who just go through the motions. She was captivating! Also worth a mention is Larisa's artistic routine, where the leaps and tumbling stand out. I also love the choreography and all of the smiles! Ebee was her usual impressive self with dynamic tumbling and powerful dance. Popa is also very expressive for such a young gymnast and has great tumbling. I'm so pleased for her success this year and am looking forwards to seeing her grow over the next quad.

Roxana (in a fabulous leotard) on floor

Larisa tumbling, smiling and leaping her way to gold

Vanessa's impressive floor performance and a well deserved bronze medal!

1. IORDACHE, Larisa (ROM) 57.932
2. PRICE, Elizabeth (USA) 57.365
3. FERRARI, Vanessa (ITA) 56.633
4. TERAMOTO, Asuka (JAP) 54.866
5. POPA NEDELCU, Roxana (ESP) 54.532
6. FERLITO, Carlotta (ITA) 51.866
7. HARROLD, Ruby (GBR) 51.432
8. THEAKER, Raer (GBR) 50.632

The biggest congratulations has to go to Iordache, who has had a grueling month of back-to-back competitions and managed to put it all together to win in Glasgow. She did have a disappointing fall on beam, but her overall difficulty and consistency prevailed in the end- well done Larisa! 

Was pleased to see Ebee up there as well, it hasn't been an easy year for her, having to recover from injuries to both hips. Expect her to be back in full force for 2014!

Also to Ferrari- what a competitor! Although it seems as though she is at then end of her career, she seems to be getting better and better- such an inpiration! We hope to see her continue, Italy needs her consistency and leadership.

To top things off, I was lucky enough to meet Beth Tweddle, my favourite (sorry everyone else) British Olympian! We were stoked.

Shona, Beth and I after the competition

Article by Imogen Browne (Follow on twitter @ImogenMireille)

Saturday, 2 November 2013

New Faces: Roxana Popa (ESP)

Roxana Popa is a Romanian born first year senior who made her debut competing for Spain at the European Championships and the World Championships this year. She showed promise as a Junior and competed well at the 2012 Junior European Championships, where she qualified to the vault and all-around final (11th place).

Romanian-born Popa competes for Spain (credit: FIG)

Roxana was one of the standout rookie gymnasts at the 2013 World Championships held last month in Antwerp, Belgium. She was particularly impressive on bars where she has a strong swing and and floor where she shows much class and charisma for a young gymnast. She finished in 12th position with 53.366 behind Italy's Carlota Ferlito and Canada's Victoria Moors. Not bad at all for a first year senior!

Here she is on bars at Worlds

Here is her qualification floor routine from Worlds

Roxana is a very strong gymnast, which is clear from her bar work and her powerful vaulting and tumbling. She is also a strong all-arounder and is a great hope for Spain (who qualified strong teams to the Olympic finals in 2000 and 2004). It is lovely to see another Spanish gymnast achieving good results on the World stage. We hope to see you at the 2016 Rio Olympics, Roxana, keep up the great work!

Also see her responses to The Couch Gymnast's 15 Questions here

Article by Imogen Browne (Follow me on Twitter @IFlip4GymBlog)

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

This Year So Far... NZ Junior Elites

The Gymsports National Championships were held in Napier, New Zealand last week, where we got a chance to see how the elites are progressing. Five girls, all from Christchurch School of Gymnastics competed in the Junior section: Charlotte Sullivan, Hanna Malloch, Mackenzie Slee, Courtney McGregor and Millie Williamson

The all-around competition was close, with less than 0.1 between 1st and 2nd, and just over a point between the top three. 

1st- Charlotte Sullivan, 47.533
2nd- Millie Williamson, 47.460
3rd- Courtney McGregor, 46.433
4th- Mackenzie Slee, 45.677
5th- Hanna Malloch, 44.167

All girls scored 13+ on vault and were generally stronger on floor and beam than bars.

Millie did extremely well in the event finals, taking home 3 of the 4 possible golds (BB (1st=), UB and FX). 

Courtney was 1st on vault, 2nd on floor and third on bars.

Charlotte was 1st on beam and 3rd on bars, Mackenzie 2nd on vault and bars and Hanna 3rd on floor.

1st- Courtney McGregor 13.450
2nd- Mackenzie Slee 13.15

1st- Millie Williamson 11.500
2nd- Mackenzie Slee 11.067
3rd- Charlotte Sullivan 10.867

1st= Charlotte Sullivan 12.500
1st= Millie Williamson 12.500
3rd- Corurtney McGregor 12.45

1st- Millie Williamson 13.433
2nd- Courtney McGregor 13.10
3rd- Hanna Malloch 12.87

Overall a great effort for the juniors, they are looking very good, with both new skills and higher scores as they look forwards to the Commonwealth Games next year in Glasgow. It is great to see them adding more difficulty to their routines, they have plenty of time to iron out the mistakes!

Here is Courtney on floor, trying out a double arabian as her opening tumbling pass. She also tries some daring release moves on bar and overall has great swing- a lot of potential there!

Courtney McGregor on floor, competing for Christchurch (3rd AA)

Courtney trying out some newer skills on bars

The girls also competed in the Australian Nationals earlier this year, presumably to gain some competitive experience. They produced good results there, Mackenzie 3rd on vault, Charlotte 3rd on bars and floor.

Millie's lovely floor from the all-around finals at the 2013 Australian Nationals

Charlotte's beam routine from the all-around

And Charlotte on bar, where she shows good difficulty and a great double layout dismount!

Hanna shows off her lines on floor (AYOF 2013- couldn't find a more recent video!)

And finally watch Mackenzie's floor from the Australian nationals here

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

2013 World Championships: Qualifications Highlights

The gymnastics World Championships only happen once every year, and the gymternet always explodes with live hits, blogging, tweeting, you name it! This year is no exception, where competition is in the beautiful city of Antwerp, Belgium. Although I am not there to see the action myself, much  information from numerous bloggers is available; The Couch Gymnast, the Gymnastics Examiner- Blythe Lawrence and Gymnastike among many! Thanks in advance for the great work that you always do! Here I have outlined some of the highlights from the Qualifications round.

9- Chuso (Oksana Chusovitina- GER) On Vault
Ok, this woman is amazing. She has been competing at the international level since before most of her fellow competitors were born, and she's still producing vaults like these to qualify for World Championships vault finals- respect. 

Chuso, the gymnastics legend! Qualified 6th into the VT final

8- Mustafina's Bars (RUS)
Aliya, the most decorated gymnast of the Russian Olympic Team in London had a very rough qualifying round (although somehow managed to qualify for BB final with a very sub-par routine). She somewhat redeemed herself on bars by pulling off this excellent routine, complete with a daring new transition from low to high bars. Let us hope that she gets it together for the AA final. I have faith that she will, because she is Mustafina.

I could watch her on bars all day. Qualified 5th into the final

7- Ellie Black's Floor (CAN)
Really enjoyed this Canadian's floor routine, a very polished performance with great expression, music and tumbling to match. Thankfully we will get to see it again in the finals, Ellie qualified in 8th place! Team-mate Victoria Moors sadly faltered on her new I-rated (read: impossibly difficult) double-twisting double layout, and did not advance to finals. We will see both Ellie and Victoria in the AA finals.

6- Iordache on Beam (ROM)
Come on, you know you love her! After an extremely long wait on the podium, Iordache went up and rocked this beam routine. I love watching Romanians on beam, you can really relax and enjoy the routine! She is one of my favourites both for the AA and the beam and floor finals. I wonder if she will add a full-twist to her layout for finals...

Very confident performance from Larisa on beam- top qualifier to the beam final

5- Best Newcomer- Roxana Popa (ESP)
Roxana Popa, a Romanian-born gymnast who cpmpetes for Spain has been on the radar for a while as a Junior gymnast. She delivered today to qualify in 10th position for the all-around final. I'm pretty sure this is the highest a Spanish gymnast has finished for a while, she is a great hope for the country! I particularly enjoyed her floor routine, where she shows a real flourish for matching her dance with the music. Tumbling is pretty great too! 

Popa's great floor routine today, contributing to a good all-around finish

4- McKayla Maroney is back (USA)
An unsual choice for the US to compete McKayla Maroney as an all-arounder, nevertheless she did well apart from a fall on beam. Interesting to see her on other apparatuses besides vault, which she is still amazing at by the way. I am sure that she will successfully defend her World Championships title on vault this year.

Freaking incredible. Do the triple already! Top qualifier to vault final (only final due to the 3 per country rule)

3- Duo from Great Britian in Bars Final!- Ruby Harrold and Becky Downie
These two gymnasts from GB have both had trouble with their bar routines this year, but both pulled out excellent routines to qualify for the bars final! This is a great achievement for Team GB and we wish both girls all the best for finals!

Becky on bars (4th place qualifier)

Ruby qualified in 7th place, love her unique transitions!

2- Izbasa (ROM) and Yao (CHI) doing what they do best
Beautiful music, beautiful choreography and beautiful tumbling from Romanian veteran Sandra Izbasa. She will be looking to medal on floor after a disappointing mistake during the 2012 Olympic Games on floor. She is a real treat to watch on this event, and this very well may be the last we see of her :(

So elegant, so Sandra, love it!

What would a World Championships be without the Chinese on bars? Beautiful routine from Yao Jinnan (3rd qualifier to all-around), who qualified in first place AND is capable of adding the Mo salto to her routine (wonder if we will see it in competition?). Would love to see her win the bars title in Antwerp.

1- Simone Biles- A name to remember (USA)
This bubbly first-year senior powerhouse from the US will be World Champion on Thursday if she hits 4/4, which she is certainly capable of doing. She also qualified to ALL FOUR event finals. Think Shawn Johnson in 2007, she is hands-down the best gymnast in the World right now. Go Simone!

Best event of the day for Simone was floor, it's going to make for an exciting all-around final (floor competed last)

Should be a good World Championships! 

Article by Imogen Browne (Follow on Twitter @IFlip4GymBlog)

Saturday, 28 September 2013

The Brenna Situation...

Team USA today announced that only three athletes, Kyla Ross, Simone Biles and McKayla Maroney would compete on all four events in the qualifications early next week. Nothing was said of the fourth team member, Brenna Dowell, who is now 'the alternate'. This is certainly a shocking heartbreaking decision for Brenna, who was clearly expecting to have a chance to compete. Watch her emotional interview with gymnastike here

Sadly we won't be seeing Brenna on bars in Antwerp

The World Championships this year is an individual affair, with no team competition to take place. Each country is allowed to put up three athletes on each event, a maximum of two can qualify for the finals. Simone and Kyla are obviously locks for the all-around. Current World Champion McKayla Maroney is somewhat a specialist on the power events, whereas Brenna is strong everywhere, especially on bars.

Maroney has been named as the 3rd all-around athlete, despite clear weaknesses on bars and beam. I am happy that she has the chance to see how she stacks up at an international competition, but am really scratching my head over the decision to put her into the all-around, when Dowell has a really good shot at qualifying for the bars final. Maroney could still compete on vault and floor. What's more, Maroney is unlikely to qualify for the all-around final if Biles and Ross hit.

Why would Marta pass up the opportunity to give Brenna some valuable World-stage experience, when Maroney has already had bucketloads? If it was always the intention that Brenna was to be an alternate, why get her hopes up and name her to the team in the first place? Many US athletes could have filled the fourth spot on the team, but Brenna showed the consistency and determination required. Imagine all of those months of hard training, all of that sacrifice, the joy of making the team, only to then to find out that you have traveled halfway across the world to be an alternate.  It's just plain cruel and Brenna deserves more than that. I bet her coaches are fuming, I would be too.

Brenna will be an excellent team player over the next quad, she has great execution and can produce good routines on any apparatus. Let's hope 2014 will be her year.

Article by Imogen Browne (Follow on Twitter @Iflip4gymblog)

Monday, 16 September 2013

Then and Now: Kayla Williams (USA)

Kayla Williams from the US is a former World Champion on vault. She won the title at the 2009 World Championships in London with two fabulous vaults in her first major international elite competition. This was all the more impressive because she had only moved from the JO program in early 2009 (where she won the AA, vault and floor). In 2010, she quietly retired back into the JO program at Cincinnati Gymnastics. 

Kayla winning vault at the 2009 World Championships in London (credit:

I remember seeing her reaction after nailing her second vault- a perfectly executed and stuck DTY. She clearly was delighted to be at the World Championships and incredibly proud of her performance! 

Kayla's gold medal performance at 2009 Worlds

I very much respect Kayla's decision to retire from the elite scene, these days I feel that elite gymnasts push themselves too hard and too long. Perhaps for Kayla, she felt as though she had achieved her goals in gymnastics, and was quite happy to retire to a program where she could really enjoy her sport without fear of injury. She became an excellent addition to Alabama's college gymnastics program, where she has been a consistent performer on both with particular strengths on vault and beam. Their team finished 3rd at the 2013 NCAA Championships.

Kayla competes for Bama on beam (credit:

Kayla's passion for gymnastics is obvious, and it is great to see her continue to do well in the sport. She will be one of the leaders for the team this year, and what a year it should be! Good luck to Kayla and the rest of her team.

Check out Kayla's 9.9 beam routine from earlier this year

Article by Imogen Browne (Follow on Twitter @Iflip4gymblog)

Friday, 6 September 2013

Antwerp World Championships 2013 Wishlist

With the 2013 Artistic World Championships in Antwerp, Belgium approaching at the end of this month, I have compiled a wishlist. The World Championships the year after the Olympics never includes a team competition, giving time for teams to rebuild in the wake of the Olympic Games. Typically we see the emergence of the next generation of gymnasts, and the return of old favourites who resumed training after the Olympics. The 2013 Worlds will have an all-around competition and apparatus finals, where up to four gymnasts (on the women's side) can compete for a spot in the finals during the qualifications.

#6 For Becky Downie and Ruby Harrold (both GBR) to rock the bars final

#5 For Viktoria Komova (RUS) and Larisa Iordache (ROM) to be healthy- beam final will not be the same without them

#4 For Nabs (Tatiana Nabieva) to have a great competition and to prove that she is back for good! It's interesting that both Russia and Romania do not have any new talent this year, so veterans have filled the spots. It is lovely to see Nabieva continuing, even after not making the 2012 London Olympics team.

Nabs in competition earlier this year- Check out that pout, have missed her on the competition scene!

#3 To see a Chinese gymnast finish in the top three- most likely Chunsong or Jinnan. These tiny girls both have such beautiful skills and artistry and deserve to be rewarded!

The tiny Shang Chunsong (credit:

#2 Brenna Dowell or Ebee Price being awarded the final spot on Team USA. Both girls are extremely powerful gymnasts and could easily make the bars final. Both are second year seniors and have already had some international experience, but would benefit greatly from a World Championships experience. The depth of the US is extremely impressive, in any other countries, these girls would be on the team!

The lovely Brenna (GAGE) sticks her bars dismounts at US Nationals this year. Brenna in many ways is similar to Jana Bieger with her unique skills and power, but has great execution to boot (credit:

Ebee 'Elizabeth' Price (Parkettes) has already proved herself in the World Cup series, by taking two title at the end of last year (credit: She is a huge asset to team USA on all events

#1 For McKayla Maroney to prove not only that she is the best vaulter in the World, but to prove that she is not a one-trick pony, by taking a medal on floor as well as gold on vault.

McKayla shimmying her way to a national title on floor earlier this year (credit:

Not long to go now! Get excited :)

Article by Imogen Browne (Follow on Twitter @IFlip4GymBlog)

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Kyla Ross: The Youngest Member of the Fierce Five Grows Up

Kyla Ross is a member of the 'Fierce Five', who won Team USA's second gold medal in the team competition at the Olympics. As the youngest member of the team, she was the first to get back into training after the Olympics. Ever since the junior levels she has been a very calm and collected competitor, with particular strengths on beam and bars. Her routines are polished, fluid and have that 'international look'. Her routines are always received well by the judges.

Kyla during the preliminary round at the 2012 Olympic Games

Kyla's solid routines on both bars and beam during the team final at the Olympics helped her team to win the title by a large margin over their Russian rivals. Their performances as a team were near flawless, and they proved that they were the best gymnastics team in the world.

Kyla celebrating her Olympic gold (credit:

A year on, Kyla has returned to the elite scene, now a couple of inches taller! She seems to have gained much confidence in her gymnastics (as an experience such as the Olympics is bound to do!). Her lines are more elegant than ever and she has made a few upgrades. Kyla is definitely a perfectionist, her and her coaches will wait until a move is absolutely perfected before she puts it into her competition routines. This strategy means that Kyla always fares well in all-around competition. It is probable that Kyla and team mate Simone Biles (first year senior), a powerhouse gymnast will compete for the US at the upcoming World Championships in Antwerp, Belgium (end of Sept).

Kyla's gorgeous bar routine from the 2013 US Nationals. Kyla placed first on bars.

Also, check out her brand new floor routine. Absolutely gorgeous!

Kyla graces the floor during finals night at the 2013 US National Champs

Kyla has gone from being the youngest member of the Fierce Five to a seasoned competitor, whom the younger gymnasts who she now competes with idolise! She is a great role model for the younger girls, and together with Maroney, they should be able to guide the younger members of their team towards success. All the best of luck for Antwerp to Kyla, and the rest of Team USA.

Kyla with the younger members of Team USA at the beginning of this year (credit: Brenna Dowell Tumblr)

Kyla poses with Maggie Nichols, Lexie Preissman, Amelia Hundley, Simone Biles, Brenna Dowell, Peyton Ernst and Ballie Key (credit: Lexie Preissman Tumblr)

Article by Imogen Browne (Follow on Twitter @Iflip4gymblog)

Friday, 28 June 2013

The Olympians: When They Were Young

Anyone that makes it to the Olympic Games has to start somewhere. Gymnasts typically begin at a very young age. Watching these videos puts into perspective the amount of work, dedication and sacrifice that these gymnasts go through to make it to the Olympics.

A very young Aliya Mustafina and future Olympic Champion

1/ Nastia Liukin (USA), 2002 
Here is 2008 Olympic all-around champion on beam at the 2002 Woga Classic (aged 12). She already has some impressive skills, including her acro series, side-sommie and front tuck (with some form issues). The basis of her choreography is there. Think of the number of beam routines that she must have performed in her lifetime! Her Olympic beam routines were quite literally years in the making.

2002 Woga Classic, Nastia Liukin

2/ Cheng Fei (CHI), 2003
The Chinese star competed at the 2004 and the 2008 Olympics, where she lead her team to gold for the first time in Olympic history. She was an especially powerful gymnast and her strengths were floor and vault (most unusual for a Chinese gymnast). Here she is on beam at a Japanese junior meet at age 15, where she shows some pretty amazing skills!

Japanese junior international competition, Cheng Fei

3/ Aly Raisman (USA), 2007
Here is a 12 year-old Raisman competing on floor 5 years before she won gold at the Olympics. Interestingly the routine reminds me of some of her Dancing with the Stars performances! Of course the tumbling is excellent, and even at this age she was incredibly comfortable on floor and loved performing for a crowd.

Parkettes Junior Invitational, Aly Raisman

4/ Aliya Mustafina (RUS), 2006
Here is Aliya, around 11 years old on floor. As graceful and precise as ever, she showed promise back then. She went on to become the 2010 World Champion and won 3 Olympic medals in 2012, including gold on the uneven bars.

2006 Friendship Classic, Aliya Mustafina

5/ Larisa Iordache (ROM), 2009
The level of difficulty that the Romanian juniors have on beam will never cease to amaze me. Clearly Iordache was destined for great things at age 12.

Topgym 2008, Larisa Iordache

6/ Kyla Ross (USA), 2009
The youngest member of the Fierce Five has always been a strong beam worker. Here is her beam routine from the 2009 US Junior Nationals (aged 12). Three years later, she helped the US Team take gold at the Olympics.

Prelims, 2009 US Junior Nationals, Kyla Ross

7/ Viktoria Komova (RUS), 2008
Back in 2008, aged 12, Viktoria performed a very difficult acro series on beam- flic, layout step-out, arabian. She has since removed this combination from here routine. Her beam work has always been lovely to watch!

Viktoria Komova on beam at the 2008 Voronin Cup

Post by Imogen Browne (follow on Twitter @Iflip4GymBlog)