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)

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