At almost five-foot-six, German gymnast Antonia Alicke will literally stand out among her fellow competitors at this year’s Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China.
As the tallest gymnast of the competition, whose height is matched only by that of Tunisia’s Rahma Mastouri, she is sure to be noticed by spectators and judges alike, thanks to her long lines and precise movements.
Alicke broke onto the German junior gymnastics scene in 2010 when she won the “new talent” championships as an 11-year-old. She has placed third in the all-around at German Junior Nationals in her age group for four consecutive years, along with winning several event medals every year.
Like many of the current and past gymnasts on the German national team, Alicke was born and still trains in the Stuttgart area of Baden-Württemberg, the state that is to Germany what Texas is to the US in terms of gymnastics – gymnastics heaven.
In April 2014, Alicke kicked off her competition season by winning the team title at a junior friendly between teams from Switzerland, Spain, Italy, Great Britain, and Germany. One month later, she placed second all-around at the Deutschland Pokal competition in the 13 to 15 age group.
Most recently, she competed at the German Junior National Championships, where she not only placed 3rd all-around (missing second place by only 0.025) but also swept the event titles, except for vault, where she won silver. (It should be noted that the German competition system differentiates between age groups in juniors. Alicke turns 15 this year and is thus part of the “AK 15”, meaning she only competes against girls her age, which is likely why she’s been able to so consistently place third all-around for all these years, despite having younger girls on the national team sometimes outscore her.)
Her difficulty across the board is on par with that of most of her competitors at the Games. On bars, she has a 5.6 start value, making it her most difficult routine out of the four events. On beam and floor, her score starts out of a 5.4 and 5.2 respectively, while vault is her weakest event, where she competes a handspring front tuck (4.4) and a handspring front tuck with a half twist (4.8).
On vault, she consistently scores in the low to mid 13s and most recently earned a 13.375 at Nationals.
What makes Alicke such an exciting gymnast to watch are certainly her long, gorgeous lines, which she uses to swing bars beautifully. She reminds me of Sophie Scheder, perhaps only missing a bit of polish in her form and some confidence on her skills that will come with time. She also needs to work on her handstands in order to not give away valuable tenths every time she competes.
Here’s her all-around bar routine from this year’s nationals. Her score of 13.0 was the highest of the day on the event.
This is her winning floor routine from this year’s nationals, for which she earned a 13.675 (8.475 execution!!!). I think she does a great job of incorporating the corner rule into her dance. While her tumbling may not be the most difficult, it’s clean and she easily makes (or even sticks!) her landings, leaving some room for upgrades in the future.
On beam, Alicke has had some issues hitting her side somi lately, usually resulting in a fall. Her beam routine features a very nice triple spin and her leaps are slowly but surely improving in flexibility. She has improved a lot on beam this year, going from having three falls during one routine at the Friendly in April to having just one at Nationals in June. When she hits all of her connections and doesn’t fall, she could score in the high 13s, maybe even low 14s on beam.
The decision to send Alicke to the Youth Olympic Games is an interesting one, as she has very little experience in international competition. One reason why she was possibly not chosen to represent Germany at the Junior European Championships earlier this year is her inconsistency – she unfortunately has a tendency to fall in competition. Ironically, this may very well be the reason why the federation has decided to send her to Nanjing over more experienced girls like Pauline Tratz. She could use the experience of a big international competition to gain confidence and contribute to the German team effort in the future.
If she has a clean Qualification competition, we should definitely see Alicke in all-around finals and, depending on how well her competitors fare, uneven bars and floor finals are also a possibility for the German “wunderkind.”
Article by Fran Elsner