James, Morgan Stand Out as British Juniors

Many of Great Britain’s top juniors last quad moved up to the senior ranks this year, but there’s still some great young talent in the under-15 group, especially with Taeja James and Amelie Morgan, born in 2002 and 2003 respectively, in the mix.

James won the all-around title by nearly a point before capturing three more titles on vault, bars, and floor in addition to the silver medal on beam, while Morgan won the silver all-around medal, snagged the beam title, and picked up two more silver medals on vault and bars.

British Gymnastics is using a bonus system, so the scores here are all going to be inflated by a few tenths. James, for example, got a 53.950 for her all-around finish, though without the bonus this would be about a 53.350, still a good score either way. She was best with her beautiful FTY on vault and excellent floor routine, and while her bars and beam weren’t quite as steady, she still did well enough to kill it in the competition.

In event finals, she put up another clean FTY on vault along with a good tsuk full before going on to nail bars and floor with excellent execution on both, earning a 14.05 on the latter, with two tenths in bonus included. She did have a fall on beam in the finals, but the final was messy and weak enough that this didn’t matter all that much, which is how she still ended up with a second-place finish.

Morgan was also great, standing out especially on vault and floor like James, but her bars and beam both came with mistakes, bringing her to a 53.050 total. She had a pair of beautiful vaults in the final, including an incredible FTY, looked clean on her lower-difficulty bars set, was solid on beam to win the title with a 13.45 (two tenths in bonus), and then ended her day with a fall on floor, placing seventh there.

The Welsh gymnast Jolie Ruckley won the all-around bronze with a 50.950, getting on the podium ahead of Laura Beasley, who ended up fourth with a 50.150. Neither has super high difficulty, but Ruckley had a stronger day overall whereas Beasley struggled on bars and floor, and wasn’t able to overcome her larger mistakes.

Rounding out the top ten were Phoebe Jakubczyk in fifth with a 49.000, Zoe Simmons in sixth with a 48.750, Roshelle Spencer-Smith in seventh with a 48.700, Hallie Copperwheat in eighth with a 48.500, Megan Splain in ninth with a 48.300, and Chiara Bunce, who recently changed her nationality to Slovakia but still trains at Heathrow, in tenth with a 48.150.

Though James and Morgan dominated event finals, Simmons and Ruckley also picked up a couple medals apiece here. Simmons won the bronze for her 13.425 vault average, putting up two clean attempts, and then went on to get the silver on floor for a hit, if not quite perfect, routine. Ruckley, meanwhile, got the bronze medals on bars, beam, and floor, looking her cleanest on bars and floor, and fighting through a few wobbles and mistakes on beam to come out ahead of others with bigger mistakes and falls.

This wasn’t a terrific meet, with lots of mistakes and falls showing that there isn’t a ton of depth in the junior program right now, but this early in the quad, most big countries are going to have similar deficits as they continue the rebuilding process. James and Morgan are clearly fabulous gymnasts with tons of potential, but there’s no need for them to come out this early with gigantic all-around scores. That’ll come eventually.

Full results from the British Championships are available here, and you can also check out the senior recap to see how many returning Olympians fared.

Article by Lauren Hopkins

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