The Gymnasts React to Balance Beam Finals

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Silver medalist Bai Yawen of China was almost taken out of the beam final and replaced with Shang Chunsong, who the Chinese coaches thought had a better shot at a medal.

In a controversial decision, Bai was replaced in the team final despite a solid performance on the event in qualifications. Thankfully, however, after Shang showed weakness during the all-around final, the coaching staff agreed to let Bai compete.

A good thing, too, as the hometown girl had a phenomenal medal-winning routine.

“I feel very happy,” she said of her performance. “Because I didn’t have a lot of confidence before the competition, I didn’t think I could get into the top three, so I was very relaxed and that helped me.”

With a surprise bronze medal after a rough routine, Aliya Mustafina of Russia called the results “sheer luck.”

“I knew my beam routine was not the most difficult one and I had no expectations to make it to the podium today,” she said. “My mind went blank before the competition. I knew the end was coming near, and I felt I had to stick it out until the very end. I am very pleased I got the bronze medal but I am even more pleased this competition is over and done with.”

Kyla Ross of the United States won the silver medal on beam last year, but was unable to challenge this year due to a combination of lower difficulty, missed connections, and mistakes.

“I didn’t come out as strong as I have in the past,” Ross told the press. “I think it was more of a mental thing. I just needed to focus on doing my best, but I got a little shaky and a little bit nervous and I needed to be a little bit more confident. Hopefully I can work on that.”

With three gymnasts falling before her, Ross’ window of opportunity to earn a medal opened wide, with some saying this pressure was responsible for her mistakes. But Kyla said she “really wasn’t paying much attention to anyone before [her],” adding: “I even went to the back gym to warm up [during the competition], so I was just really focused on myself.”

For the future, she recognizes her low difficulty and cites it as something she needs to fix. “I know that my difficulty hasn’t been as high as it was in the past on beam,” she admitted. In response to a question about FIG president Bruno Grandi’s statements about focusing more on artistry than acrobatics, she said that “it might help in some of my routines, especially on floor and beam, but I think I still really need to improve on some of my acrobatic skills to raise my difficulty.”

Canada’s Ellie Black placed seventh with a fall on her back handspring to tuck full. Earlier in the day, she said she’d be happy with no matter what happened, as she was thrilled to have made the finals, and remained in high spirits even after the fall, stating that she felt her routine was “pretty good except for the fall.”

“I tried to stay on the beam,” she added, “but I failed. I didn’t feel much pressure, and I think I gained a lot of experience here. I showed my best and did what I can do. The final was a little different from the all-around, where you have four opportunities and in the beam final, you could only try once. I think that aspect made me feel more nervous and intense, considering beam is also a tough apparatus to compete on. But overall, I’m satisfied with what I did today.”

The day after she won her uneven bars title, Yao Jinnan was unable to challenge in beam finals due to a fall on her flight series. She says she wishes she could have performed better, but seemed relieved Championships were over, adding that she “will just take it easy and keep working on getting better for next year.”

During the beam final, Yao was giving a lot of encouragement to Iordache, echoing the friendly international spirit of this entire meet. “I think she has advantage in this event and she always makes mistakes when competing it…maybe because she is nervous. So I wished her a good performance, and then congratulated her.”

For balance beam champion Simone Biles‘ reaction, please read the floor final interviews, as her press statements were done for both events at the same time.

Article by Lauren Hopkins

3 thoughts on “The Gymnasts React to Balance Beam Finals

  1. Can anyone elaborate on why Ross dropped her difficulty this year? Strategy, injuries, growth spurt?? I know she had the injury leading up to worlds, but she had already dropped her difficulty much earlier in the year. Has she been dealing with other injuries I didn’t know about. Also will she realistically be able to increase her difficulty next season. Not that I have a problem with low difficulty/awesome execution. Just curious on peoples thoughts.

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    • Well, she’s had two injuries this year, a back injury from the beginning of the year and a hip injury right before Worlds. At Worlds, she cut her back tuck in quals and efs after wobbling on her switch, and the rest of it was connections she didn’t get credited with at Worlds. It definitely made sense in efs, but not in the other rounds to me. I think that, if she takes the right time off and properly deals with her injuries, upgrades on bars and beam are definitely possible. Vault pretty much most definitely not and probably not on floor either, other than maybe to get back her full-in.

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