Welcome back to Junior Introductions! This week, we’re introducing you to Jennifer Williams, a 14-year-old with the potential to be a leader in the next generation of Swedish gymnastics.
Jennifer was just 12 when she started competing at the elite level in Sweden. She quickly went from a complete unknown when she made her debut at the Unni & Haralds Trophy in the spring of 2018 to earning a spot on Sweden’s Nordic Championships team a month later, where she stunned to win the gold on beam.
Jennifer (center) with the Swedish group of individual medalists at Nordic Championships in 2018, including Izabella Trejo, Jonna Adlerteg, Jessica Castles, and Tonya Paulsson
It was clear almost immediately that Jennifer was going to be a big deal for Sweden, and as she upgraded her routines and became a bit more confident between the 2018 and 2019 seasons, she was able to increase her all-around potential by nearly five points, putting her in contention for all of Sweden’s top international meets that year.
At the Nordic Junior Championships in May, Jennifer ended up with the bronze all-around medal in addition to the gold medals on bars and floor, and she ended up contributing excellent beam and floor routines at the FIT Challenge in June.
Jennifer was the only gymnast selected to represent Sweden at the first-ever Junior World Championships later that month. She did an excellent job in the all-around competition to finish 32nd with a 49.732, the best all-around score of her career. Jennifer was also on fire on beam in qualifications, hitting a stunning routine that ended up placing 16th, with one of the highest execution scores of the competition.
She also competed bars and beam at the European Youth Olympic Festival last July before finishing her season and taking a well-deserved break before she went back to training for 2020.
An incredibly elegant gymnast with lovely lines, Jennifer excels on beam. Her routine includes a back handspring mount, as well as a triple flight series, with two back handsprings into a layout stepout, typically a highlight in her performances here. Her dance elements on beam are also stunning, including a switch leap to switch half and full L turn, and she’s creative and lovely in all of her choreography. Jennifer is already so good on this event, with a start value consistently around a 5.0, but she also has plenty of room for upgrades and should be on your radar for apparatus world cup medals when she becomes a senior next year.
Jennifer on beam at junior world championships in 2019
Jennifer is also absolutely magical on floor. She isn’t a power kid at all – a double pike, a layout full, a front layout full, and a double full were her four passes when she last competed this event – but she’s super clean, and she’s able to build difficulty thanks to some awesome dance elements, including a tour jeté half, a double L turn straight into a split jump full, and a switch leap to switch half.
The uneven bars are where Jennifer made the biggest improvements between her first and second years at the elite level, and while her routine isn’t super difficult right now, the building blocks are there, and she’s able to show off nice lines on many of her elements. She dismounts with just a layout, and is a little weak in some handstand positions, but both her straddle Jaeger and Pak are beautiful, and considering she trains at Eskilstuna alongside bars queen Jonna Adlerteg, I think she’s absolutely in the right hands here, and that as she grows and becomes more confident on this apparatus, she could see huge scores in her future.
Vault is the one weak spot for Jennifer, in that she only vaulted a handspring front tuck last year. Again, she’s not a kid with tons of power, but she is very tight and tidy on this apparatus, and with a bit of work, a Yurchenko full wouldn’t be out of the question by the time she grows a bit going into her senior career.
There has been a drought at the senior level in Swedish gymnastics this quad. After qualifying a full team to world championships in 2015, it looked like Sweden could be on the rise, but then with nearly all of the country’s seniors retiring shortly after, they were often in a position where they could only send individuals to major international competitions.
Sweden has several talented juniors and young seniors right now, and if they can all hang on into 2021 and beyond, it’s likely we can see the Swedish women start to have another resurgence. Her future on the individual level is so bright – she’s one of the most talented up-and-coming all-arounders in the program and has the potential to be internationally recognized as an incredible beam worker – but she will also be key to Sweden rebuilding at the team level.
What to Watch
The FIG never uploaded Jennifer’s beam routine from junior world championships to YouTube, but thankfully for us, her family did! It’s a bit far away and hard to see, but trust me. It’s so worth it. She’s truly one of the best junior beam workers in the world right now, and this routine is that evidence.
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), Maria Ceplinschi (Romania), Lyu Junliang (China), and Charlize Mörz (Austria).
Article by Lauren Hopkins