No videos exist yet so it’s hard to say exactly how everyone looked at the Junior Japan International meet in Yokohama this week, but we do have a pretty good idea based on the results. And it’s impossible not to know that Laurie Hernandez is unstoppable.
After two injuries kept her out of competition from late 2013 until she returned at Jesolo this March, Hernandez had absolutely no trouble getting back into fighting form and looked better than ever. She’s undefeated in the all-around this season, winning the junior titles at Jesolo, the Secret U.S. Classic, U.S. Championships, and now Junior Japan. She has also won every single event medal she’s been eligible for, which internationally includes golds on bars and floor at Jesolo and an additional two golds and two silvers in event finals today.
Her all-around performance yesterday led to a dominating three point win over teammate Jazmyn Foberg. With a pair of 14.8s on vault and bars, a 14.6 on beam, and a 14.55 on floor, she had an incredibly steady meet, one of the best this year with zero weak spots. And she looked even better in event finals, averaging a 14.566 for her DTY and FTY (juniors compete two from the same family) to win gold there, getting huge scores on bars and beam – 14.833 and 14.633, respectively – to win silver on each, and then posting a 14.933 on floor, her personal best there this year.
Hernandez is undeniably the best junior in the world at the moment, and yet still has plenty of room to grow. I can’t wait to see what she’s able to do in the coming year.
Foberg had a mostly solid day in the all-around, though seems to have struggled on bars with just a 13.15 there. Otherwise, her other scores on average were about five tenths less than what we saw from her domestically this summer. It’s not clear whether she had mistakes or is just a favorite of the U.S. judges at home, but in the end her 55.95 was a bit lower than what we’re used to seeing from her.
In event finals, she managed bronze on vault (averaging a 14.266) and on beam (earning a 13.9). She must have fallen in the floor final, however, as her score of 12.9 is much lower than what she’s capable of, leaving her in 7th place on that event.
The bronze medalist was Russia’s Elena Eremina with a 55.6. She had a rough time in event finals, falling on both bars and beam, but her teammate Anastasia Iliankova won the bars gold with a 15.166, the highest score of the competition on any event. Iliankova placed only 8th in the all-around, however, due to an 11.0 on beam.
Also earning gold was China’s Liu Tingting on beam. Liu was fifth in the all-around after mistakes on floor, without which she would’ve been on the podium and possibly in the silver medal position. She hit beam on that first day with a 14.2, but then saw everything come together in finals, posting a huge 14.8 to come out on top there.
Kiko Kuwajima of Japan shared Hernandez’s gold on vault with a 14.566 average of her own, her teammate Natsumi Hanashima was the bronze medalist on bars with a 13.8, Megan Roberts of Canada won the floor silver with a 13.9, and Japan’s Koko Dobashi earned floor bronze with a 13.766.
Though she didn’t medal anywhere, Jade Chrobok of Canada also impressed by finishing sixth in the all-around and qualifying to every event final, one of only three gymnasts to do so. Nagi Kajita of Japan also had a couple of close calls, a fall on her normally strong floor taking her out of all-around contention and a 13.666 on bars putting her in fourth there.
Romania sent the Rio-eligible Stefania Orzu and Denisa Stanciu to the meet, the two placing 13th and 14th with scores of 51.2 and 49.65, respectively. They looked like Romanians in every sense of the word with rough bars but promising beams, but weren’t quite at the level as some of the other performers here. Orzu did qualify to the beam and floor finals, however, placing fourth on beam with a 13.833 and fifth on floor with a 13.566.
Catherine Lyons of Great Britain was expected to compete, though she has been dealing with stress fractures this year so the Welsh gymnast Maisie Methuen went in her place. Methuen placed second to Lyons at British Championships this year and at 14, is eligible for Tokyo 2020. She placed 10th here with some nice scores across the board, though from what I remember in watching her at other competitions, her difficulty is still quite a bit low.
Lina Philipp and Carina Kröll of Germany placed eighth and tenth with Philipp also qualifying to the floor final (though falling there for a 12.2), Seo Jeong Yeo of South Korea qualified into the vault final, the two gymnasts from Hong Kong – Chun Mei Cheung and Ho Yat Cheung – competed just two events apiece, and finally Emily Whitehead of Australia competed on bars for a 13.05.
We will post videos as they become available. For now, enjoy full results here.
Article by Lauren Hopkins