There are tons of new seniors on the rise for 2015 (and you can check out our pretty complete list to see everyone making the jump!). The 14 on this particular list are those who have the potential to be game-changers, both as individuals as well as for their nation’s teams. This is the first in a series about new seniors, so stay tuned to see more of our favorite up-and-comers!
1. Tyesha Mattis, Great Britain
Born in London and a student of Lorraine Atkinson at East London Gymnastics, Tyesha is a fierce all-arounder with a ton of power. Though she was a frontrunner for European Championships this year after winning the all-around title at English Championships (defeating both Amy Tinkler and Ellie Downie with a 55.3 – and that was with big mistakes!), an injury kept her out for the remainder of the 2014 elite season. But with her awesome DTY, uber powerful double double on floor, and high start values along with consistency on bars and beam, she’s one you can expect to take the British team to another level.
2. Kim Janas, Germany
An ACL injury sustained in training about a year ago meant Kim was out for nearly all of 2014, but before her bad luck, she dominated the junior scene in Germany. At the European Youth Olympic Festival in the summer of 2013, her score of 54.95 tied Russia’s Maria Kharenkova for gold, though she lost the tie-breaker and was awarded the silver medal and then also picked up a silver on floor with her famously creative routine. At the Leverkusen Cup last October, she showed off her upgraded DTY vault and won the AA with a 53.9 – even with multiple falls in a disastrous bar routine that earned just a 10.4. Bars won’t really matter for her, though – the Germans are already solid there, and she will definitely make any international team with her combination of vault, beam, and floor.
3. Nia Dennis, United States
Nia first turned heads last summer when she showed massive height on both her Tkatchevs on bars as well as her standing arabian on beam. She’s had some struggles with consistency that made her narrowly lose out on what could have been an all-around win at U.S. Nationals this summer, but if she can figure out how to compete confidently (hopefully new club teammate and queen of late bloomers Gabby Douglas can give her some advice!), she’ll be a major threat as a senior. Her difficulty across the board already rivals some of the best in the world, and she could be a great utility player in a major team final. Upgrades on bars, beam, and floor could make her even more valuable, and I wouldn’t be surprised to watch her seamless DTY turn into an Amanar in the next year or so.
4. Wang Yan, China
One word. VAULT. If there’s anywhere China falls behind, it’s here…and it doesn’t hurt that she’s also pretty great on beam and floor, both of which were struggles for the Chinese this year. Yan has two major vaults – a Tsuk double full and a Rudi, with start values of 6.0 and 6.2 – and is training a Tsuk 2.5, though who knows if that’ll ever see the light of an arena. She won the gold on this event at the Youth Olympic Games this summer and could possibly challenge in next year’s event finals at World Championships. While floor isn’t quite at the same level just yet, she shows enormous potential. Twisting comes naturally to her, and unlike her teammates, she’s very springy in her tumbling, so we can probably expect upgrades here in the future which will be a major help in team competition.
5. Amy Tinkler, Great Britain
While I love Amy because her last name is so much fun to say, that’s not why she made this list. She’s here because she’s a phenomenal little gymnast, especially on floor, where the Brits tend to fall a bit short. She’s this year’s WOGA Classic floor champion and then picked up the silver medal at European Championships with a routine that includes massive tumbling, including a huge double layout and tucked full-in (at one point, she was training a tucked double double, so don’t be surprised if that emerges in the next couple of years). She’s also a pretty serious vault threat, having won European bronze on the event with a pretty solid DTY.
6. Seda Tutkhalyan, Russia
I am an unapologetic Seda fan, and think she has what it takes to breathe new life into a dying Russian morale. She is incredibly positive and upbeat in addition to being super talented, and she makes everything about her performances a joy to watch. She doesn’t share the traditional Russian lines or polish with her teammates, but is a firecracker of a gymnast and shows promise on vault (where she already has a powerful, if messy, DTY), beam, and floor. Her consistency is something that needs to be fixed in the coming months, as it’s been her downfall this year (though she did come out with the Youth Olympic Games all-around title even with a fall on floor). But once that’s taken care of and she tosses in some upgrades, get ready – she’ll be unstoppable!
7. Andreea Iridon, Romania
Bars, bars, bars, bars, bars. Why didn’t Romania medal as a team this year despite all of Russia’s mistakes? BARS. Where does little Andreea excel? BARS. It’s actually funny how excited I get over her bars – they’re not that amazing in the grand scheme of things, and I think Larisa Iordache is probably stronger at this point, but compared to the bleak bar sets from her teammates this year, she’s golden. She definitely has the potential to improve on her difficulty, but what’s best is that she is SO lovely to watch (those lines!) and she pays close attention to technique. But don’t ignore her beam or floor – she got silver medals on both at European Championships this year with fabulous routines.
Article by Lauren Hopkins