Welcome back to Junior Introductions! This week, we’d like you to meet Lyu Junliang, a 13-year-old with a brilliant beam routine who will be part of China’s super bright future in the 2024 quad.
When Junliang was eight years old and competing for her provincial squad in the Xiangxi Autonomous Prefecture, she was the subject of a “day in the life of a young gymnast” feature that followed her on a competition day at the Hunan Games in 2014, where she won a handful of medals.
A talented standout from the same gym that produced Shang Chunsong, Junliang was noted early on for her power, maturity, and fearless attitude, and while she was still a long way off from heading to the national training center, she was clearly one to put on the “must watch” list for the future.
Last year, Junliang finally made her way to the national stage at the age of 12, where she finished eighth all-around in her age group before winning the beam title as well as the bronze on floor.
A few months later, she was selected to make her international debut at the Olympic Hopes Cup in the Czech Republic along with a super talented group of other young juniors, and though her overall difficulty held her back considerably in the all-around, her beam was one of the standout performances at this competition, earning the silver medal with a 13.667 thanks to her polished skills and high level of difficulty for her age.
Junliang is quite weak on vault, and she actually competed non-salto front handsprings at a couple of her competitions last year, which obviously keeps her from being able to contend as an all-arounder against other gymnasts who are more advanced here…but vault was one of Junliang’s best events as a younger gymnast, and hopefully it’s something she’ll be able to improve on at the elite level with more experience.
Her skill level is stronger on bars and floor, but is still pretty basic, with a Tkachev and Pak salto her biggest bars skills, though she has pretty tight form throughout and dismounts with a double layout, and on floor, her most difficult pass is a double pike, but again, she’s super clean and precise here with tons of room to grow.
Beam is very clearly her standout event, where her difficulty is more than a point higher than it is on any of her other events. Junliang is your typical Chinese beam queen, with a flawless two-foot layout series and some fabulous dance and mixed combos, like a switch leap to sheep jump to straddle jump and a front aerial to split jump to back handspring.
Beam kids are a dime a dozen in China, so obviously Junliang’s beam – as magnificent as it is – won’t be enough on its own to catapult her into senior stardom. However, I think she has the power and talent to bring in some huge upgrades on floor in the coming years, and by the time she becomes a senior in 2022, I wouldn’t be surprised to see her as one of the top floor workers in the country, and this beam-floor combo could be enough to make her a major team threat.
What to Watch
This is Junliang’s beam set from event finals at junior national championships last year, where Junliang won the gold in the U13 division with a 13.967. This age level featured all espoir-level gymnasts born in 2006 and 2007, though her score here would’ve been good enough to get the silver medal in the junior division, and she has the confidence and poise that would’ve made her right at home among seniors, too.
Meet More Juniors!
Miss any of our previous editions of Junior Introductions? Go back and read our most recent profiles featuring Tatiana Levchuk (Belarus), Ruby Stacey (Great Britain), Maily Planckeel (France), Paula Vega Tarrago (Germany), and Maria Ceplinschi (Romania).
Article by Lauren Hopkins