Japan and China’s Big Success at Asian Championships

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Last week’s Asian Championships held in Hiroshima, Japan saw great success for the host team, who sent their full World Championships team and picked up eight medals along the way, including nabbing the coveted team gold against rival China.

China’s team was a mix of worlds hopefuls and B-team athletes, yet they performed well enough to finish in the silver medal position less than a point behind the hosts. Wang Yan led the way with excellent work throughout, adding three individual medals – including vault and floor gold – to their overall total of seven.

The team competition also acted as the all-around final, with recent NHK Trophy champion and first-year senior Aiko Sugihara earning all-around gold with a score of 58.05. Wang was right behind her with a 58.0 for silver while this year’s Japanese national all-around champion Asuka Teramoto won bronze with a 57.75.

Sugihara continues to show what a great asset she is to this team, putting up impressive routines on bars and beam especially, though also showing clean work on floor. She attempted a DTY on vault, but was downgraded to a 1.5 after coming up a bit short on the landing, her knees bent and facing to the side. But she’s super talented and a total game-changer for this team, earning additional silver medals on bars and floor in event finals. Watch her bar routine below, where she shows lovely extension and lines, though could use some work on handstands and some form.

Her teammate Teramoto also performed exceptionally well on bars and beam, the latter of which is gorgeous, especially her Onodi to bhs loso combination and her big triple full dismount in her all-around performance (included below). She made some mistakes there in the event final, but was still good enough to pick up silver with a 14.475.

Yuki Uchiyama finished 5th in the competition with a 57.35, a very impressive score for her, but was unable to officially place there due to the two-per-country rule. Bars was her standout event, reaching a huge 15.0 in the team competition, though she only put up a 14.35 for 5th place in event finals despite a relatively solid routine. To be entirely honest, the scoring overall during the team competition was so outlandish at times, Kohei Uchimura even remarked that it was ridiculous because it gives them false hopes for worlds, where their scores are generally much lower, so it’s possible after that comment the judges toned it down for apparatus finals.

Sae Miyakawa and Sakura Yumoto also contributed huge scores in the team final, with Miyakawa hitting a 15.15 on vault and a 14.95 on floor while Yumoto nailed beam for a 14.95. Miyakawa went on to finish right behind Wang on vault, averaging a 14.812 for the silver medal after hitting her handspring Rudi and DTY, and though she sat her double front in floor finals, she still managed the bronze medal with a 13.6. Yumoto, meanwhile, ended up in 4th place during the beam final, posting a 14.4 after a big wobble on her side somi to finish just 0.025 off the podium.

The one bummer for Japan was Natsumi Sasada, a hero to their team who has had a very rough season thus far. In the team/all-around competition, she had multiple falls on bars, and also struggled on beam, though she put up solid numbers on vault and floor. But mistakes on her best two events put her at just a 52.9 in the all-around and took her out of event finals completely.

While Wang was definitely the star performer for the Chinese team, we also saw great work from each of her teammates, including Fan Yilin on bars and beam, Xie Yufen on beam, Zhu Xiaofang on bars, Mao Yi on floor, and Chen Siyi across the board. They were a very impressive group considering their overall weakness on floor, which made all the difference at this meet.

In the team final, Wang actually fell on floor, crashing her double double in the first pass and taking a little stumble out of her 1.5 through to triple full to punch front tuck (though what a pass that is!) for a 13.75. In the floor final (see below), she had a much better outing, hitting both skills incredibly well for a 14.575 to take the title. She also nailed her tsuk double full and handspring Rudi vaults with no problems to average a 14.987 for gold, and she even looked very impressive on beam throughout the week, posting a 14.95 on day one before earning the bronze event medal with a 14.425.

Fan, still a maybe for the worlds team but clearly fighting for her spot, really impressed me on bars with her beautiful lines and crisp pirouette work, getting a 15.65 in the team competition but only earning a 14.45 for bronze in event finals after putting her hands down on her whippy double layout dismount. She then went on to win the beam gold medal with a 14.55 for her relatively low difficulty yet beautifully performed routine.

Chen placed 4th in the all-around, finishing just off the podium with a 57.7 after hitting her DTY (with her chest a bit low) and looking strong on her remaining events; though she didn’t quite stand out on anything well enough to make an event final, she was remarkably consistent throughout the day, making her a great utility player for any team. Though she was slightly behind her teammates on bars due to an extra swing after her pak, I thought overall she looked lovely there.

This meet was definitely a test for Mao, the new senior who finished with a 54.3 in the all-around after struggling on bars and beam. Her bars fall was actually quite scary…she peeled off on her van Leeuwen, flipping around and landing on her neck/upper back, though she was okay enough to finish. Floor was her highlight, and with a 14.3, she was one of the team’s top finishers in the team event. Unfortunately, she sat her super impressive 3.5 to front tuck in the final, finishing 7th, though the twisting machine hit her 2.5 to front pike and triple full very well, and finished with a solid double tuck.

Zhu and Xie performed well here, with Zhu finishing on top of the bars podium with a 15.05. Considering bars is the only event on which she could realistically contribute and how well her teammates perform there, however, I don’t think she has quite what the team is looking for in a worlds scenario. The same goes for Xie, who had some nice work on beam but didn’t make a final.

In addition to the Chinese and Japanese women dominating the podiums, there were two other nations earning medals here, including South Korea with team bronze (nearly twenty points behind the top two teams, however) and Dipa Karmakar of India with the bronze on vault.

Karmakar averaged a 14.725 for her tsuk layout full and Produnova. Her tsuk full was actually very nice in the air and she stuck the landing there, earning a 14.125. And her Produnova is actually one of the least scary being done in the world at the moment, which is saying a lot…she started out with nice leg form, though gradually cowboyed throughout, and though her landing was super deep, I don’t think she actually sat it, and she only took a tiny step to steady herself upon standing up, earning a 15.325.

Though she didn’t make a podium, Dilnoza Abdusalimova of Uzbekistan had a very strong meet, placing 7th in the all-around (though officially finishing 5th due to the two-per-country rules allowing her to get bumped up) with a 54.1, her best all-around score to date by quite a lot. She also suffered from 4th place syndrome on vault and floor, mostly due to her much lower difficulty.

Farah Ann Abdul Hadi of Malaysia struggled on bars and beam in her all-around performance, though showed a clean FTY and hit her floor routine both days for a 13.25 and then a 13.15, finishing 6th in the final there.

South Korea’s Heo Seonmi performed on just vault and bars, though was super clean on both and placed 4th in the bars final for her beautifully done routine, which earned a 14.4 to finish just 0.05 off the podium.

Phan Thi Ha Thanh of Vietnam is known for her beautiful beam work and was undefeated on the event so far this year, winning the title at the world cups in Doha and Varna in addition to topping the podium at the Southeast Asian Games. She competed on just this event in Hiroshima, and though she put up a decent routine in qualifications, she struggled in finals for a 13.325, finishing 5th.

Finally, Rifda Irfanaluthfi of Indonesia, who became a fan favorite after her expressive performances on beam and floor at the Southeast Asian Games this summer, made the beam final here though her lack of difficulty held her back quite a bit, putting her in 6th place with a 13.25 (down from a 13.7 in prelims, where her routine was excellent). Everyone above her in the final had a 5.8 or higher, so her 5.1 in comparison just wasn’t able to help her stand out. She unfortunately missed the floor final, also due to lack of difficulty, though her 13.15 in qualifications was for a solid performance.

Full results from this year’s Asian Championships are available here.

Article by Lauren Hopkins

3 thoughts on “Japan and China’s Big Success at Asian Championships

  1. Pingback: GymNews – vara 2015 pe scurt | Fangymnastics.com

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