In Translation: The Chinese Worlds Team Final Interviews

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Following the team competition at the 2014 World Championships, the Chinese team was interviewed by CCTV, and we have the full translation.

The most important thing to take away is that coach Huang, the coordinator/head coach of both the MAG and WAG teams, said that “out of consideration for a chance at individual gold” they will consider switching out someone for the beam final, and that “personal interests should be subordinate to national interest.”

This means that Bai Yawen is likely to be scratched for Shang Chunsong, who has a better shot at bringing home the gold medal for her country.

Interviewer Chen Ying asked Huang whether after so much success with the men’s team if some training methods will be implemented to the women’s team.

“I think first of all, we cannot blame the girls. It comes down to our coaches and their methods during training, and we need to change those attitudes and styles that are limiting us,” Huang said.

Chen Ying asked that since there is quite a bit of gap with the American team, what are the plans going forward to Rio? and Huang said that they will focus on closing the gap on FX and VT.

Then she asked him to evaluate the girls one by one on how they did today.

“Overall, even though we got silver, I am not satisfied with the process itself. There were major mistakes. I believe a good team has both difficulty and consistency. If you don’t have the difficulty and you make mistakes, that is not a mature team. So my hope is that the team can learn from this experience, and use it to measure themselves—in the future, ask themselves, ‘what kind of attitude am I going to have when I am faced with a strong opponent?’ Otherwise, we wouldn’t be competitive. I think our girls are still too nervous, I think it has to do with culture as well, our girls are too shy, whereas in the western society, they tell their girls to do something, their girls are excited by the challenge. Our girls can’t shrink at the prospect of a challenge.”

The camera panned over the girls, who all looked sheepish.

“We definitely need to work on their mental strength. A lot of the times, they mentally back themselves into a corner and want to hide from the pressure. That’s no way to go about a competition. When the crowds are cheering, you’d think that it would add to their drive and excitement, but our girls cower at it and we will work on that.”

During interviews with the girls, Tan Jiaxin went first, and she didn’t look pleased to have been left out of the bars lineup during the team final. Chen Ying asked whether FX and VT are her strong events, and she said “uh…no.”

Chen Ying then directed the conversation away and asked if she was really scared going up, and she said “not really.” She did look a little hesitant and shy, and Chen Ying asked if she could hold the mic closer when she talks, and agreed with Huang that “our girls need to be braver.” She asked if Tan was happy with her performance.

Tan clearly wasn’t really sure what to say after what Huang said earlier, since he was being critical, so she said “I thought it was okay, so-so.”

Huang then said “she did well and competed how she’d normally perform.”

“I was pretty happy,” Tan finally said, “because at least I don’t have any big regrets.”

Chen Siyi was next. She of course talked about how she didn’t think she did so well, and that even though the competition was hosted in China, it was still an international meet (which made her nervous) and she thought their competitors were amazing.

Huang Huidan went after Chen, and there’s a notable difference in their attitudes in front of the camera. Huang was quiet but confident. When asked if she was nervous, she said “no, not anymore.” As for advice for her younger teammates, she said, “you have to just perform as if you are only competing with yourself, believe in yourself.”

Chen Ying said she will go far, and coach Huang agreed that Huang Huidan did very well and showed leadership. This is the first time Huang commented on one of the girls individually.

Next was Yao Jinnan‘s turn. Chen Ying teased her about being called “yi jie”—number one big sister. Yao was shy and humble, but Chen Ying encouraged her to be more confident, and complimented her on her growth this year. Yao looked really happy, but right away, she said she didn’t do her best, and that she “made some mistake and put more pressure on my younger teammates.”

“What are your goals?”

She hesitated, so coach Huang said “go for broke.”

More words of encouragements from Chen Ying for Yao, and she nodded and agreed.

They moved on to Shang. Chen Ying asked if she felt like she wasn’t at her best from the Asian Games through to now, and Shang agreed.

Huang cut in and said “during all of these competitions, you never performed your best potential bar set.” His tone was kind of teasing, but Shang clearly wasn’t having it and corrected him, saying she did well on bars at the Asian Games.

Chen asked what she did after Asian games, if anything was different or if she worked harder, and Shang said no.

Huang stepped in to explain that they mostly did some adjustments because they were exhausted after the Asian Games. He then said something pretty poignant: “Athletes walk a difficult path [towards success]. My hope for them is that the path is not too long, so long that they reach retirement before reaching the destination. I hope that after walking past one competition, they know how to travel to the next one.”

Then moved on to Bai, who didn’t look too happy when Chen introduced that she didn’t go up in the team finals. They talked about prelims, and this is where Huang hinted that she might be switched out for beam finals.

Xie Yufen concluded the interview by saying, “I did my best and worked my hardest, to me, going up or not doesn’t matter.”

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7 thoughts on “In Translation: The Chinese Worlds Team Final Interviews

  1. I thought it wasn’t technically allowed to scratch a gymnast for the sake of another – that you had to fake injury? Galieva and Bulimar were ‘injured’, as is Nile Wilson (possibly for real, but you get me). As a coach are you allowed to say you’re just ditching a gymnast for medal chances?

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    • That rule was changed after 1992. Coaches are allowed to substitute in a gymnast over another as long as both qualified to the final (top eight on event or top 24 AA without 2 per country). This allows a gymnast to be subbed in to just one event since previously an “injured” gymnast could not compete in any EF once they were withdrawn for “injury” from the AA, etc. Romania has done it on numerous occasions, with the reason often being that the gymnast getting subbed in is a harder worker. If Nile isn’t injured, then Team GB wanted a reason to explain the switch that wouldn’t cause an uproar in the media.

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      • Ah, thank you! I didn’t realise, so often injury is used in a verrrry convenient way (for example Nile having a wrist injury too bad for him to compete AA but not bad enough to stop him competing in HB final … I’m not accusing anyone of lying but the circumstantial evidence is strong!).

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  2. This was an unbelievably harsh critique of the World silver medalists. I feel bad for the Chinese girls. It is no shame to win a World silver medal in your home country when the gold medalists are in a league of their own.

    I understand being disappointed by the falls in team finals. However, those falls didn’t change the final standings. Right now, if the US hits, the US wins. And the US has been hitting.

    All things considered, the Chinese weren’t any less mentally tough than many other teams. China, Romania, Russia, Australia and GB all had falls during TF. The US is psychologically strong. No one else can say the same.

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    • Every country in the final had at least one fall except the US, but I think China had the most – Russia just had one fall on beam and one on floor, right? China had 2 on bars and 1 on floor. Romania and Italy had one beam fall each, GB messed up one beam routine … I’m not so sure about Australia and Japan because I haven’t looked at all their scores but they definitely had at least one fall each (Teramoto on beam and Miller on floor). I agree that silver is no shame to the Chinese girls but they are probably mentally the weakest team (although I’m not sure of the value of the coach saying that on television in front of all the team members …).

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  3. Even if Shang performs perfectly in the beam final, her chances at gold are dependent on the performance of Biles, Iordache, and Mustafina. I adore Shang’s beam set, but I wish they’d give Bai a chance.
    On an only tangentially related note… The Chinese leos were by far the best on the floor.

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