Junior Introductions: Paula Vega Tarrago

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Welcome back to Junior Introductions! We’re excited to bring Paula Vega Tarrago into your lives. The 13-year-old German gymnast won the national espoir all-around, vault, and bars titles last year, and she’s looking to be one of the country’s top junior talents in 2020.

Experience

Paula began representing Mannheim at Bundesliga early in 2018, and a few months later, she made her nationals debut at just 11 years old with an all-around win in the espoir division for 2006-born gymnasts.

A year later, Paula was selected to be on an all-espoir team for Gymnix, and while her two falls on beam held her back to 24th place in the all-around, she was an adorable crowd-pleaser with so much potential, and it was clear there that she’d be one to watch in the future.

Paula’s second national all-around title also came last year, with the vault and bars titles added on, and she was 10th at the Swiss Cup Juniors meet later in the year, in addition to also competing regularly at Bundesliga meets and Spanish league meets.

Skill Level

As an espoir gymnast, Paula kept her skill level pretty low key, doing just a Yurchenko pike and a handspring front tuck on vault and nothing really beyond the “basics” for elite elsewhere.

Her most notable basics include a very nice Jaeger on bars (and she’s trained a solid clear hip to Hindorff and a double front there as well), and really strong tumbling on floor, where she had a double tuck, 1½ to front full, and 2½. Floor is where I felt like she had the most potential, and she’s trained some really big skills there, including a double double and a triple full in addition to adding a front full out of her 2½, so hopefully she’ll be able to add some upgrades when she needs them in the future.

Beam is definitely Paula’s weakest right now, mostly because while she has some solid difficulty (including a front aerial and a punch front) and overall tidy skills, she’s a bit nervous and inconsistent there, which tends to bring down her all-around scores pretty considerably. Technique-wise, bars is probably where she falls most short, but she at least tends to hit there, whereas beam always tends to have larger mistakes. She’s training a punch front mount, which looks promising, but at the same time, with her history on this event I think the ultimate goal would be just getting a bit stronger in terms of her mindset there, and then she can start adding more difficulty.

Future Impact

As a first-year junior, Paula will be up for a spot on the European Championships team this year, and though she’ll face strong competition from some of the 2005-born girls, I think a strong spring could help her get one of those spots. Next year, it’s all about EYOF and junior worlds,  and then she’ll become eligible for senior competition in 2022, and given the number of potential retirements for the German program in the coming years, I think she could absolutely have potential to step into the scene.

Why We Love Her

Honestly, when I first saw her at Gymnix a year ago, I basically screamed because Paula was the tiniest, most adorable smol bean in a field of adorable smol beans. Her floor performance was absolutely delightful, and that’s where I first noticed her potential. She was very good there, but the joy in her performance made her stand out above other smol beans with potential. She’s been so much fun to watch as one of the wee ones, and I hope she keeps that magic in her performances as she gets a bit older and starts fine-tuning skills and adding difficulty.

What to Watch

Below is a good montage of Paula at various meets throughout her career, so you can get a feel for her ability on all four events. You can also follow her YouTube, where most of her competitive routines from throughout her career are available.

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