It’s friendship and solidarity time
In the News
Hall of Fame of Abuse. After being announced as an inductee to the 2020 USA Gymnastics Hall of Fame, coach Mary Wright is facing allegations of emotional, physical, and verbal from gymnasts who trained with her at Olympus Gymnastics outside of Salt Lake City, including Stanford gymnast Hailee Hoffman, who filed a SafeSport complaint against Wright days before the Hall of Fame announcement, claiming that she “publicly ridiculed her…and pressured her to train while injured, including on what turned out to be to broken ankles.” USA Gymnastics is standing by the award, but will “reconsider the induction if and when a case is adjudicated.” The thing is, SafeSport cases without a sexual abuse component are very rarely adjudicated.
Ironic because he’s a predator. President Trump did one decently human thing (on his way out the door!) in signing the Empowering Olympic, Paralympic, and Amateur Athletes Act, which gives Congress power to remove Team USA boards and shut down national governing bodies thanks to survivors who traveled to Washington and shared their stories of abuse. Largely inspired by the USA Gymnastics coverups in the Nassar investigation, the law, co-authored by senators Jerry Moran and Richard Blumenthal, will “hold accountable the institutions that have the responsibility to keep our athletes safe.” That’s a lot of words, but we’ll see if anything actually happens.
France and Italy are OUT. As expected, two of the final top team contenders for European Championships have finally announced their decision to withdraw, with Italy breaking the news on Tuesday, while France shared their verdict this morning, citing both COVID and “current geopolitical tensions” with Turkey.
Also pulling out since last week are Switzerland, which also canceled nationals after a gymnast tested positive for COVID, the Belgian men’s program (the women withdrew last month), Portugal, and the Belarusian WAG team.
Who’s left? Albania, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus (MAG only), Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Finland, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Turkey, and Ukraine. Everyone’s out here making “Romania for team gold!” jokes and I’m crying remembering when just six years ago they were legitimately the team champions.
Friendship and solidarity are IN. Little dramas like one of the meet’s stars catching a deadly virus can’t keep the Friendship & Solidarity Meet down! Kohei has since tested negative at three separate hospitals, and will compete this weekend, but the other athletes are trying to stay as safe as possible, which is why Asuka Teramoto is twirling through a cloud of disinfectant, and why the Chinese team is in full hazmat gear.
The competition begins Sunday at 1 pm in Tokyo (that’s 11 pm on Saturday night if you’re on the U.S. east coast), and you can watch the stream live on the Olympic Channel or on TV Asahi. The full roster and team breakdown is here.
Simone claps back. The “One Million Moms” group – which is really just like a hundred moms who should focus less on Twitter and more on actually parenting their children – is mad that Uber Eats featured Queer Eye‘s Jonathan Van Ness in a leotard in its most recent ad because it “pushes the LGBTQ agenda on families” (how tho) but Simone Biles had the perfect response, saying that she’d do a million more commercials with JVN, and that the community will “always have [her] support.” GOAT athlete, GOAT human.
William & Mary MAG reinstated. After originally reinstating only its women’s program due to the threat of a Title IX lawsuit, William & Mary has made the decision to also reinstate the men’s team, at least through 2021-2022 as they reevaluate its process to determine long-term sustainability for the athletic department. They’ll need more help in the future to keep things running beyond just the near future, though, so we’ll keep an eye out for how you can lend your support.
We love John Lee. Sunisa Lee‘s dad, who suffered a tragic spinal injury last summer, had surgery this week, where doctors implanted a stimulator that helps him move his legs on his own. If you can still see through your tears after watching the video, Sunisa was also featured in a New York Times article that covers what she learned from the experiences she went through during the coronavirus pandemic, which turned her world upside-down both in gymnastics and outside of it.
Making moves. Axelle Klinckaert, a key member of the Belgian women’s program since 2014 and a member of the 2016 Olympic team until she injured her knee just weeks before the Games, has decided to move from the national training center in Belgium to Topturnen Zuid, a Dutch club in Den Bosch where Tisha Volleman trains. Axelle said she hasn’t been feeling great about how things have been going for her in the gym, and hopes that a new environment will give her the push she needs as she attempts to earn a spot on Belgium’s Olympic team in 2021. Veel succes, Axelle!
Australia Retirees. Gymnastics Australia acknowledged the retirements of senior international elites Erin Modaro and Elena Chipizubov this week. Modaro, who was a fantastic last-minute replacement on the 2018 worlds team, most recently won the Gymnix Challenge bars title in 2019 as well as the bronze on beam at nationals last year, while Chipizubov, who announced her retirement in March, made her senior debut last year and was known for her beautiful performances on beam.
Russian Championships. Nationals started in Russia beginning with qualifications on Wednesday. Uliana Perebinosova won the senior title while Alyona Glotova is the junior champion, and apparatus finals will be held over the weekend, streamed on Instagram Live. All results so far are translated here, and the men’s results from last week are here.
France’s test meet. “What’s COVID?” asks Mélanie De Jesus Dos Santos, as she goes 14+ on all four events to score a 57.366 all-around at a test event in Saint-Étienne over the weekend. This is the highest WAG AA score of the year, and she swept the competition. 13-year-old Kaylia Nemour also crushed it, getting a 54.166 to win the junior title.
Hungarian Championships. Bars daredevil Zoja Szekely narrowly defeated Tokyo Olympian Zsofia Kovacs for Hungary’s senior national title over the weekend, and first-year senior Hanna Szujo took the bronze. Kovacs came back to win the vault and beam titles, while veteran Dorina Böczögö won floor, and first-year senior Mirtill Makovits won bars. In the junior competition, 2006-born Greta Mayer won the all-around title with a 50.9, a score that would’ve also made her the senior champion, thanks in large part to a 13.3 on beam, where she had a 5.7 D. Full results are here.
Angela Andreoli. Italian junior Angela Andreoli, who we profiled recently as one of our favorite juniors to watch, won Italy’s junior gold championships over the weekend with a 57.15 (and without her massive bonuses thanks to her bars, beam, and floor difficulty, it’s still a pretty awesome 56.05). Please do yourself a favor and watch all of her routines.
This weekend. In addition to the Friendship & Solidarity Meet, there are several national competitions you can follow this weekend, including Italian Championships (schedule and info, live scores), Finnish Championships (live results, live stream), and Austrian Championships (schedule and info, live stream). Germany was supposed to hold nationals this weekend, but with COVID cases on the rise, they decided to cancel a few days ago. So weak. Oh wait, I mean socially responsible.
Jordan Chiles’ Dos Santos half-out. Yeah. That’s right. It’s Jordan Chiles not only doing a piked arabian double front half-out, but she’s also doing it super open and making it look as easy as a double tuck. Not on a competition surface, but still. I need it.
Belgium’s vault upgrades. After a lifetime of the most NCAA FTYs in elite, Belgium is working upgrades, including a DTY from Maellyse Brassart (which she debuted at Gymnix this year), a Yurchenko 1½ from Nina Derwael, and a tucked Rudi from first-year senior Lisa Vaelen!
Pleun Reinders’ Seitz. Dutch junior Pleun Reinders is training a Seitz on the uneven bars and it’s everything I’ve ever wanted from this skill.
Leo Saladino’s triple double. Leo Saladino, a junior in France’s MAG program, showed off his new floor routine at a test event, which included an excellent opening triple double. He made the floor final at EYOF last summer, and was 22nd on the event in qualifications at junior worlds.
The Russian juniors. The Russian federation put together a great little recap/highlight video featuring the junior medalists, Alyona Glotova, Anastasia Rasseykina, and Sofia Koroleva.
On The Gymternet
The 2021 Olympians. Did you know Loris Frasca didn’t make his major international debut for France until he was 22? Read all about his career and how he qualified to Tokyo in our 2021 Olympians series.
Junior Introductions. One of my favorite juniors right now, Maisa Kuusikko once competed a Maloney to hop to mixed grip to Ezhova on bars. She’s on the roster for Finland’s championships tomorrow, so be sure to read up on her (and her 5.7 bars D!) before she makes a run for another national title.
You Asked. How do you build difficulty in an NCAA routine? Will Carlotta Ferlito ever compete internationally again? How are Kara Eaker‘s ring leaps on beam credited? Was Vanessa Atler on our Olympic team in 2000?
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Article by Lauren Hopkins