With all of the Canadian talent on hand in the senior division at this year’s International Gymnix, it was a huge surprise to see the young and inexperienced Hitomi Hatakeda of Japan take complete charge of this meet, winning the all-around title on top of medaling in all four event finals to walk away with a total of four golds and one bronze.
Hatakeda was a new senior last year, though not really one to keep an eye on. The 16-year-old was 10th at nationals and 7th at the NHK Trophy, her consistency getting her through more than anything. Without any standout event, her only success at Japan’s event championships was her fifth-place finish on vault, leaving her completely off the radar going into the Olympic selection process.
Now, Hatakeda is still pretty nicely-balanced across her four events, though she’s actually scoring better in this new code than she did last quad, which is kind of awesome. It shows in her gymnastics, too, where she’s added difficulty and has become a bit more polished, especially on bars and floor.
In the all-around competition, Hatakeda earned a 54.634 to win the gold by over a point, landing her Yurchenko 1.5 with a small hop, getting a 13.667 for her clean bars set, hitting beam, and performing a lovely set on floor for a 13.6.
She was just as solid in event finals. Her win on bars came with a 13.875 for a routine that included clean inbar work, a big piked Jaeger, and a full-in dismount with a hop back. On beam, she was a bit steadier than she had been on the first day of competition, earning a 13.35 for another gold there, and on floor, she was tidy with strong tumbling to earn a 13.6 for her fourth gold of the meet.
With 2016 Olympic vault finalists Shallon Olsen and Oksana Chusovitina in the Gymnix senior vault final, Hatakeda wasn’t anywhere close to being in the running for the top of the podium, but even so she went out and performed two clean pieces, her 1.5 followed by a solid tsuk full, averaging a 14.025 for bronze.
A mess of Canadians followed Hatakeda in the all-around, with Olsen winning the silver medal after earning a 53.401 and first-year senior Brooklyn Moors taking the bronze with a 53.001. Fellow first-year senior Jade Chrobok was just off the podium, in fourth with a 52.635, and following her we saw Ayu Koike of Japan in fifth with a 52.402, and Canadians Sophie Marois in sixth with a 52.168, 2015 worlds team member Audrey Rousseau in seventh with a 51.701, and Olympic alternate Megan Roberts in eighth with a 51.435.
Olsen and Moors actually both had a pretty great day, though Olsen was a little rough on beam and Moors isn’t very strong on bars, though they both seemed happy with how they ended up finishing at this meet. The pair each ended up qualifying into three finals as well, with both on vault and floor, Olsen also on bars, and Moors also on beam.
Olsen earned the gold medal on vault for her powerful DTY and Khorkina, with the DTY a downgrade from the Amanar she learned last year, though she said she’s hoping to bring the Amanar back soon. Her bars were messy but hit, good enough for fifth in a final with several falls and mistakes from the others there, and she had a few short passes and landing problems on floor, but her high difficulty helped carry her through, getting her to the bronze medal with a 13.467.
Unfortunately, Moors just had a rough finals day, beginning straight away with her tsuk full on vault. She actually looked really good in the air, but a stumble on her landing caused her to put her knee down, and she averaged a 13.225 for fourth. Her beam was beautiful, with lovely dance and awesome front handspring to front layout 1.5 dismount, but she lacked some of the difficulty of the other competitors, again getting a fourth-place finish, this time with a 13.1. Finally, on floor, she landed her difficult front double full to front full and her double front, but then at the tail end, she stumbled forward her 2.5 and put her hands down, giving her a 12.967 for fifth place which was the biggest bummer of the meet for me. With a hit routine, she would’ve easily won gold.
The rest of the Canadians here faced the dual-edged sword of low difficulty and weak performances, though there were some nice highlights in event finals with Chrobok pushing through her beam routine to get a 13.275 for silver and Roberts winning the floor silver with her huge Dos Santos and a solid piked full-in.
Several of the country’s Olympians aren’t fully back yet, though are expected to contend for worlds team spots later this year, so most of whom we saw this weekend were kind of “B team” gymnasts at best. The depth is pretty weak because so many of last year’s Olympic contenders moved on to NCAA, with those left over still a bit young and green. On paper, they don’t look great right now, but I think as the younger seniors keep improving and as we see some of the Olympians start to return, we’ll see an entirely different picture of the Canadian team.
For Japan, Koike won the bronze medal on bars with a 12.95 for a mostly clean routine, though she finished with a stumble on her double pike, and Olympic alternate Marina Kawasaki had a really rough day in the all-around, finishing 12th with a 50.402, qualifying only into the floor final where she had some horrifying landings, including putting her hands down on her double tuck.
Australia also brought a senior team to this meet, though it was mostly a B team aside from Rianna Mizzen, last year’s national champion. Mizzen had a pretty rough all-around performance in Montreal, including falling on bars to miss out on the final (which was funny because three of her teammates made the bars final, but she’s supposed to be the specialist). With a 51.135 for ninth, she was still the top all-arounder for her country, and she went on to win the beam bronze with a 13.2 in addition to placing sixth on floor, with solid routines for both.
Emily Whitehead, straight from her competition at last week’s American Cup, also earned a medal for Australia, getting the silver on bars for a hit but low-difficulty routine, while Jade Vella-Wright placed sixth there and Erin Modaro was eighth, both counting falls.
Shannon Neate was the fifth member of the Aussie team here, and I’m not sure where she came from, as I’ve never seen her compete even at a domestic elite competition let alone on the world stage. Competing all events but floor, her difficulty was a bit too low to give her a chance at any of the finals, especially since she had mistakes on pretty much all events.
Finally, in the midst of all three teams, Chusovitina competed as an individual, performing every event but bars in prelims and winning the silver on vault in finals, averaging a 14.475 for her handspring layout full and tsuk 1.5. Chusovitina also made the beam final, hitting everything but not showing enough difficulty to challenge for the podium, and so she finished sixth with a 12.9.
Full results from the entire Gymnix competition are available here.
Article by Lauren Hopkins