In her first year as a senior, Amy Tinkler of South Durham had an excellent day at the 2015 English Championships this weekend, scoring a personal best of 56.200 in the all-around while also winning gold on beam, silver on bars, and bronze on floor. Catherine Lyons, who nearly swept the podium at the Welsh Open in February, was equally dominant in Loughborough, winning gold everywhere but bars.
Tinkler defeated 2014 World team members Claudia Fragapane and Kelly Simm, who earned silver and bronze, respectively, making her a huge threat for the coming international season, especially with European Championships around the corner. She displayed a powerful DTY on vault, a very clean van Leeuwen and a stuck full-in on bars, excellent consistency on beam (where the Brits typically fall a bit flat), and big tumbling on floor, including a full-in double layout, double layout, and double pike.
Fragapane had a rough competition at American Cup last week, but it was clearly a fluke, as she looked back on track this week, earning vault gold, bars silver, and beam bronze in addition to her second place all-around spot. She had a powerful DTY, and though the form on her second vault – a Lopez – is pretty weak, the difficulty in the two combined brought her to an easy title (though really, I’d love to see her fix the Lopez).
On bars, she did an excellent job catching the Church and bringing it right down into the pak, something she missed all week in training at American Cup, and the rest of her routine was decent, capped off with a solid double layout. Aside from a fall on her standing full, her beam routine was pretty steady, and on floor she hit her full-in double layout (with a foot OOB), double arabian (landed OOB), triple full, and huge impressive double layout finishing pass with ease. I think once she can control the power on those landings, this could be a great routine.
Simm, often seen as “just a vaulter,” really stepped it up to prove she’s more than one event. She stuck to just an FTY on vault instead of a DTY, but had a Lopez as her second vault and it was a much nicer version than Fragapane’s. On bars, she debuted an awesome Ray right into a Tkatchev in addition to sticking her double layout, and though there’s some form work that can be worked on, she gets mad props for that skill combo. She had a fall on her bhs layout on beam, but hit her brand new tucked full-in dismount, and she won gold for her really strong set on floor.
In 4th place was Lisa Mason, the 32-year-old who retired after competing at the 2000 Olympic Games and then made a daring comeback in 2013. She earned a 52.500 in the all-around but took home the bronze and silver medals on vault and floor, respectively. Her vaults included a clean FTY and a gorgeous handspring piked half-out; though she lacked the difficulty of Fragapane and Simm, she was easily the tidiest vaulter there and could be very threatening with even slight upgrades. On floor she showed a stuck piked full-in, a triple full, and a Rudi with a big hop back.
Also of note in the senior field were the Downie sisters and Tyesha Mattis. Becky Downie competed on bars and beam, debuting a new bars set that included a crazy awesome combo right off the bat…a hop into forward toe-on half into a Chow into a Shang. It’s unbelievable. She also has a toe full into her Downie release, a clean pak salto, a Maloney into a Hindorff, and a full-in dismount. She bent her knees on one of her final handstands, but that aside it was a tremendous routine worthy of a Worlds podium. She did have a fall on her switch ring on beam, but otherwise this was an excellent meet for her.
It was the senior debuts of both Mattis and Ellie Downie, and neither competed in the all-around. Downie had a bit of a rough bar routine, but won silver for her clean and steady beam, which included a lovely double turn and a clean 2.5 dismount. On floor, she nailed her huge opening double arabian and 1.5 through to 2.5, but did just a layout for her final two passes, so it’s clear she’s just not fully ready here though once she is, I have a feeling it’ll be a really strong number, as she placed 6th on the event with a 12.700 even missing the two tumbling runs.
This was Mattis’ first competition back from a knee injury sustained a year ago, so she was only able to compete on bars and beam. She won silver on bars with a 14.050 for a routine that includes a shaposh to pak salto, a Khorkina, a clear hip full to huge Tkatchev straight into a Gienger, and a double front dismount. On beam she unfortunately had a fall on her bhs tuck full, but showed an excellent bhs loso loso, double turn, side somi, side aerial, and big 2.5 dismount for a 12.950 to secure 5th place, even with the fall.
As far as the juniors go, Catherine Lyons was incredible, especially now that she has the spotlight pretty much to herself. Winning gold on everything but bars, Lyons was especially brilliant with her artistry on beam and especially floor, which was definitely the highlight of the meet. Her beam was art, with every movement deliberate and lovely. In addition to being a beautiful routine, it was also super solid, including a front aerial to sheep jump, a bhs bhs loso, an incredible front scale hold before going into the full turn, a switch ring, and a 2.5 dismount.
On floor, her tumbling isn’t super difficult; she showed a 1.5 to front full, a double pike (where she was under-rotated and put her hands down), and a 2.5 to front tuck. But don’t watch for that. Watch because her dance elements are beautiful, and more importantly, because it defines artistry. She puts every ounce of herself into her performance and just looks graceful, elegant, and regal with every step she takes.
On vault she had a super clean FTY in addition to a Yurchenko layout as her second vault (as a reminder, juniors are allowed to do two from the same family in finals). She placed 6th on bars despite a fall on her Maloney to Shang (which she also missed at Welsh Championships); otherwise, she looked good, showing a huge Gienger, a clean bail to Ray, and a giant full to arabian double front dismount.
Though Lyons was the star in the junior field, others held their own. Notably Phoebe Turner, who earned silver in the all-around in addition to on beam. Unfortunately, no videos exist of her performance, but she’s definitely one to keep an eye on in the future. I heard her floor was especially fantastic in terms of the music and choreography.
There was also Alice Kinsella, who added bars gold to her bronze all-around finish. On bars, she earned a 13.350 after catching a Jaeger, a bail to toe shoot, and a lovely double layout dismount. It wasn’t a very difficult routine, but she did very well there and elsewhere, also showing promise on floor with a well-choreographed routine that showcased her talent at leaps and turns.
Finally, the young Lucy Stanhope in her first junior competition (she competed at the Espoir level as of December of last year, when she earned the silver all-around medal at the Espoir British Championships) likely would have been on the podium had she not finished with a rough performance on floor. She ended up placing 4th, though earning the silver medal on bars in addition to bronzes on vault and beam, where she earned a 13.800 after a beautiful routine that featured a full-twisting back handspring, a solid bhs loso, and a 1.5 dismount.
Unfortunately, the weekend wasn’t without its mishaps. Several seniors withdrew from the competition, including 2014 World team members Ruby Harrold, alternate Charlie Fellows, and Gabby Jupp. Jupp unfortunately sustained a second ACL tear, this time in her right leg, less than a year after coming back from a left ACL tear, which kept her out of competition for 16 months. It’s definitely a bummer, and will be very difficult for her to return to the sport in time to challenge for the Olympic squad next year.
But this ill-timed travesty aside, there’s definitely lots of good to be said about the English ladies, who could field a very impressive group for Great Britain at Euros in April.
Article by Lauren Hopkins