Fan Yilin, a member of China’s 2016 Olympic team who was also one of four gymnasts to win a gold medal on bars at world championships a year earlier, came pretty close to finishing her gymnastics career this year, moving from the national training center to train with her provincial team.
But then at the Chinese National Games in Tianjin earlier this month, Fan showed routines on bars that the national staff just couldn’t leave behind. With a 6.3 D score and two routines earning scores of 14.933, Fan was offered a spot on this year’s world championships team where she’ll be the only returning 2015 gold medalist on bars able to fight to defend her title this year.
Fan, who turns 18 in November, spoke to the press earlier this week as the team was getting ready to leave for Montreal, and thanks to translator Wilson Lee, we were able to hear her thoughts as she heads into her final stages of preparation.
How do you feel about making the worlds team?
I’m still pretty happy about it. Perhaps because it’s only an individual competition, there is not as much pressure as the team competition. I’d like to just focus on the process.
I heard that you raised your start value from 6.3 to 6.5 for the world championships. You want to really challenge for the uneven bars gold, don’t you?
Yeah, it’s one of my stronger events, after all. I am also only competing one event so I need to give it my 100% to perform well.
Is it easier to give it all on one event when there is no pressure of the team competition?
That’s right, and — more energy to just focus on one event to make sure I am well prepared.
You became world champion in 2015 but had some stumbles in Rio. Do you feel like you want to prove yourself again this year?
Of course I thought about it. But I think it’s best to not put too much pressure on myself. I think staying normal and completing my skills are enough.
You are going to World Championships right after finishing the National Games. Are you tired? How is your body coping?
I am a little bit tired. But we are going to the world championships early. I still have some time to adjust.
After you won gold at the last world championships, people have a lot of expectations for you every time you go to a competition. Do you think it is a source of pressure?
A little bit. But it’s only for seconds. I guess I can move past it pretty fast. [chuckle]
What are your goals for yourself for the world championships this year?
Still…aiming for gold.
Do you think your main competitors have changed since the last world championships?
Not really. I think the biggest competitor is still myself.
Doing your best is enough.
Fan and her teammates — fellow Rio Olympian Wang Yan as well as Asian all-around champion Liu Tingting and national all-around champion Luo Huan — left for Canada a couple of days ago to train at the Pine Valley Gymnastics Centre in the small village of Tawatinaw outside of Edmonton, Alberta, and they’ll head to Montreal later this week.
Article by Lauren Hopkins
Translation by Wilson Lee
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