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)