Emily Whitehead, the 14-year-old who would have missed Rio 2016 eligibility if born just 20 days later, was crowned the junior national champion at Australian Championships last weekend.
With a combined score of 112.975, Whitehead had a full six point edge over second place Talia Folino, who earned a 106.650, and nearly 13 points over bronze medalist Charleis Kingston-White, who earned a 100.175.
This incredible success, however, was mostly due to her sky-high difficulty, which allowed her to add 5 bonus points to each of her two all-around scores. Folino was the only other gymnast to earn these bonus points, though hers were far less – only around 2 points – and had the bonus system not been in use, she actually would have come out on top.
In finals, Whitehead hit all of her big tumbling on floor to start, including a double arabian, double front, double wolf turn, 1.5 to punch front full, and a beautiful double pike to finish with a 16.175. This score without the 3 point bonus was actually a 13.175, however – still a very good score for a junior floor routine, but not quite as insane as it seemed!
Whitehead also performed a clean FTY, but had a few bumps in her bar routine for a 14.975 (12.975 without the bonus) and then struggled on beam for an 11.825. Without the bonus, her single-day all-around total would have been a 51.650, though because she put in the extra effort, she ended up with a 56.325 to nab the title.
Folino got off to a strong start on floor, hitting a clean and high full-in to start, followed by a 1.5 through to double tuck and a double pike, which she hopped back slightly to finish out-of-bounds. She had a 14.325 on this routine – 13.125 without the bonus.
Her FTY was powerful and clean, earning a 14.225, and like Whitehead, she finished with mistakes on bars and beam, earning a 12.05 on bars (11.55 without the bonus) and a 12.925 on beam.
Though Kingston-White seems like she’s pretty far behind these two, without the bonus system the difference would only be a couple of points. While her difficulty isn’t quite as high, she’s a mostly clean gymnast, making just a few nervous mistakes throughout her day and looking especially good on floor, where she earned a 13.125.
Yasmin Collier showed an impressive FTY in all-around finals for a 14.075, though had some errors on her other events for a 50.525 in finals and a 98.825 combined score for fourth place.
The bonus system stayed in place for event finals, where Folino and Whitehead shared the titles. Folino came away with golds on vault and beam while Whitehead was the champion on bars and floor…though again, without the bonuses, Folino would have won floor and the two would have tied on bars.
Whitehead had some minor errors on bars in the final, and looked dynamic and clean on floor for the most part. She also earned the silver medal on beam, looking solid with a front tuck, bhs layout, and double tuck dismount for a 12.575, and she won bronze on vault with a 13.637 average.
On vault, Folino is insanely crisp and clean, averaging a 14.0 for her FTY and Yurchenko layout, and on beam she had some lovely work with great lines, including on her bhs bhs layout series and big double pike dismount for a 13.725, a huge score that would have earned silver in the senior competition!
She hit her bars routine well for the silver medal there, showing no form breaks and earning a 13.475 (without the bonus, 12.975). Finally, she added another silver on floor after hitting for a 14.75 (13.25 without the bonus) thanks to her powerful tumbling, including an especially lovely full-in to start.
Kingston-White competed in all finals but vault, and earned the bronze medals on both beam and floor. Her beam was lovely and solid up until the dismount, where her foot slipped and she was forced to take the fall (though she got up and smiled right until the end). It was a relatively simple routine out of a 4.4 start value, but even with the fall her execution was at an 8.025, making it one of the overall cleanest routines of the day! Her difficulty is also a bit low on floor, but she showed more tremendous work there, earning a 12.875 with an 8.375 e-score.
Also medaling was Collier, with silver on vault and bronze on bars. She performed two Yurchenkos, a 1.5 to start (it was a bit messy and she landed with a foot over the line for a 13.2) and then a clean FTY for a 14.2, averaging 13.7. Her bars difficulty is very low – just 3.8 – but she still managed to pull off a podium finish thanks to her solid ability, earning an 11.7 to finish.
Full results are available here.
Article by Lauren Hopkins