Shang Leads China’s Olympic Nominative Team

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Shang Chunsong, the 20-year-old from Hunan province who wasn’t quite ready for the Olympics as a first-year senior in 2012 but has spent this quad growing into the country’s best, has been named to lead the Chinese team in Rio this summer.

The federation released a nominative list of its Olympic team following the Chinese national championships held over the past week, where Shang dominated to earn the all-around, beam, and floor titles. While the selection was nominative and is open to future changes, Shang – a member of each of China’s world championships teams this quad who played a crucial role in back-to-back silver team medals – is essentially a lock at this point and will almost assuredly compete in Rio as an individual medal hopeful in addition to leading the team.

Also on the shortlist are 2015 worlds team members Fan Yilin, Mao Yi, and Wang Yan with first-year senior Liu Tingting filling out the final spot. All four of these gymnasts will be 16 or younger at the start of the Games in August, making the Chinese team most likely the youngest overall team to compete.

Fan was one of four world gold medalists on bars last year at 15, and like Shang, is also most likely a lock for the team this year, hoping to help the team out on bars and beam. Fan won the bars title at nationals this weekend with a huge 7.0 routine, and she’s a favorite to win gold on this event in Rio.

Both Mao and Wang are known for their super difficult work on floor, an area typically weak for the Chinese and the reason they failed to make the team podium in 2012. These two in addition to Shang turn the Chinese into one of the strongest floor teams in the world if they hit, showing how much work the federation has done over the past quad to turn things around. Wang is also known for powerful vaults and her strong work on beam, while Mao’s DTY on vault should help the team as well.

Liu is a bit of a surprise, getting in over two-time world silver medalist Tan Jiaxin, who was named an alternate for the time being. Only 15, Liu has been one of the team’s strongest juniors over the past couple of years with especially strong work on bars and beam, and she also has a DTY on vault, though she crashed it in the all-around competition this week.

The decision to take Liu over Tan is an interesting one, as Tan has a more reliable vault in addition to a majorly difficult routine on bars, valued at a 6.8 (she was the bars silver medalist this weekend, scoring a 15.3 to Liu’s 14.767 without the bonuses). The two are about even on floor, though Tan doesn’t typically compete on beam while Liu has a full all-around set, which could be the reasoning for choosing her at the moment. Without Liu, China would be forced to use Mao’s relatively weak beam in qualifications, which could affect the team’s ranking going into finals (at worlds last year, they opted to compete only four of their five beam routines rather than using Mao’s set).

I do see Tan as heavily in the mix, however, especially as Mao has been looking stronger on beam and could put up a decent routine if needed. Tan is hoping to upgrade to an Amanar, something she’s been working in training but has yet to compete. I think if she can successfully add this into her repertoire, she will make more sense than Liu, as she could contribute much higher-scoring routines in the team final both there and on bars. It’ll all come down to whether they want Tan’s vault and bars or Liu’s beam. Given Wang’s lack of consistency this week, I see why Liu is highly valued at the moment, but it could definitely go either way.

The other two in consideration as alternates are first-year seniors Luo Huan and Liu Jinru. Luo has some nice work on bars and beam, but overall isn’t at the same level as most of her teammates, while Liu is known for strong and powerful vaults, but wouldn’t be able to contribute elsewhere.

Several gymnasts were taken out of consideration for Rio following their performances at nationals, including 2012 Olympian and 2014 world bars champion Yao Jinnan, 2013 world bars champion Huang Huidan, two-time worlds team silver medalist Chen Siyi, 2014 worlds alternate Zhu Xiaofang, and first-year senior Lu Yufei. Yao, who underwent shoulder surgery last year, fell three times in qualifications to miss out on all finals while Huang, who won the national bronze medal on bars, is generally quite weak overall.

Article by Lauren Hopkins

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9 thoughts on “Shang Leads China’s Olympic Nominative Team

    • I agree…I think she reminds me of Yao and Shang in 2012 where she’s just a young little beginner who does a good job but isn’t a standout and then comes back next year and does really well all quad to become the star of the next Games (though this didn’t end up happening for Yao, obviously, but it was what she was on track to do…stupid injuries!). I still think they really want Liu for her beam, especially given that their only other solid beam workers on the team are Shang and Fan thanks to Wang’s inconsistency, but I think it could go either way between her and Tan!

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  1. Naming this team is pretty difficult I think considering they have six really strong contenders. At this point, what worries me most is Wang’s inconsistency. A part of me almost thinks they should just take Tan over her. Last year in TF, Tan’s DTY scored the same as Wang’s rudi, and she rarely stays on beam anymore. Of course, Wang can also contribute heavily on floor which is another major reason to take her… I think Liu is valuable to the team right now mostly because she can go up on any event in a pinch if needed (she can definitely vault better than she has been, and I think she’s great on floor even with a low star value) but what she is really giving the team is a very usable bar set and a CONSISTENT beam routine. I could easily see her being the lead off in a TF setting on both events (assuming Tan won’t be on the final team for bars and Wang won’t be put up on beam in a three up three count). Before these Nationals, I had completely written off Mao Yi but I have to say she is much improved and impressed me a lot so I’m happy to see her named. Also, to note, the team they have now is perfect for quals: Shang, Wang, Liu all do AA with Fan UB/BB and Mao VT/FX.

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  2. Though the decision between Tan and Liu is difficult, I’m glad Liu is putting pressure on Tan to do the amanar. Super happy for Mao this competition, but sad for Yao.

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  3. I think it would be a mistake to make Tan Jiaxin the alternate because of her strong vault and bars. Her floor could be used in qualification if needed. Liu Tingting is not known for her consistency which makes her a risk especially in a team final situation. I don’t see her DTY as a reliable vault, however her bars and beam are usable. Her start value on floor limits her to only being used in qualification. In a team final she would be used on the same 2 events as Tan. Tan has a higher scoring potential even without an amanar. Having Liu as the alternate makes the most sense since she can fill in on any event if someone were to be injured. Wang’s inconsistency is worrying but I think it is mainly cause of the back strain.

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  4. Upsetting to see Yao Jinnan and Huang Huidan not make the team considering they were basically their only individual medal hopes for the first half of the quad, and it’s even more depressing to think that their de facto team leader will never be an Olympic medalist (let that sink in). Yao Jinnan has helped them so much, so eventhough I think we all knew that Yao Jinnan wasn’t going to make it after nationals, it’s upsetting to see it be made official. For the team as its named, I still feel Mao Yi and Tan Jiaxin should be switched out. That would force them to use Wang Yang or Mao Yi on bars in qualifications, neither of which will bode well in scores. Mao Yi has made tremendous progress in the past year to go from a complete unknown to Olympic hopeful for even an individual medal if she hits (similar to a lot of Chinese gymnasts like Yao Jinnan and Deng Linlin) but at the present moment I think Tan Jiaxin would be better for the team, even if only for the prospect of the amanar. I put Liu Tingting in the top 4 because she’s actually consistent. Last year, Liu Tingting hit a good amount of her routines and this year, out of 11 routines at nationals, she only made a major mistake on 1. And then you have to consider that Liu Tingting is like an artistic version of Gabby Douglas for the Chinese team. Gabby cant really be expected to bring in an individual event medal, usually hovers between second and third on the team on most of the events, but stands out in the fact that she contributes good scores everywhere, making her a true all arounder and steady performer, and I fell Liu fills that same kind of spot for the team, and is without a doubt second the Shang in the all around.

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