Murakami, Hatakeda Sisters Top National All-Around Qualifications

The Hatakeda sisters, Chiaki and Hitomi

Qualifications are done and dusted for the women at All-Japan Championships, and Murakami Mai will go into the final with a half-point lead over first-year senior Hatakeda Chiaki, with Hatakeda Hitomi not too far behind.

Murakami did basically exactly what you would have expected from her, which was hit, though she did come with a few surprises today, including posting the top bars score of the competition with a 14.033 (her Church to Pak and Maloney to Gienger were excellent), and debuting a Rudi on vault, which looked a bit rough (and scored lower than her Yurchenko doubles normally do), but this was her first attempt at a handspring vault in over five years, so I’m willing to give her some time to improve it before wanting to see her drop it entirely.

Her beam looked steady, getting a 13.766, but she unfortunately had a scary fall on floor that terrified me to death. Her opening double double and double layout had no major issues, but she looked like she slipped when punching out of her 2½, causing her to bounce forward onto her back. After looking stunned for a second, she thankfully seemed fine, standing up and continuing with the routine, which concluded with a 1½ to front full, and because she’s the queen, even with the fall she was still able to finish her day with a 55.065.

The younger Hatakeda sister proved that her performance at the Friendship & Solidarity Meet a month ago was no fluke. In fact, she looked even better this time, hitting all four events with ease to finish with a 54.532, showing a fabulous DTY on vault and the best beam routine of the meet, which earned a 13.900 with a 6.0 start value. With hit performances on bars and floor rounding her out, she was able to reach a 54.532 in the all-around, the best of her career.

I said in the preview that beam would be especially important for her here, because if there’s one thing Japan needs on the team, it’s consistency on beam. Hatakeda has struggled with her consistency at times, especially when she’s gone for upgrades in her routine, but what she’s doing right now is everything, and she’s pretty quickly going from “iffy” to practically a lock on my Olympic team list.

Her sister, Hitomi, is generally the most consistent on the team, even if she’s not necessarily one of the flashiest on any event, and today was no different. Bars, normally her strongest, wasn’t her best, but she was super tidy and solid on beam and floor as well as with her Yurchenko 1½, finishing her day with a 54.265.

Rounding out the top eight were Sakaguchi Ayaka in fourth with a 53.833, Soma Ui in fifth with a 53.432, Matsuda Towa in sixth with a 53.332, Yamada Chiharu in seventh with a 52.798, and Kokufugata Azuki in eighth with a 52.732. 

Sakaguchi notably has one of the best DTYs in the country, which boosts her all-around scores and got her some world cup assignments last year. Her 14.800 today was the second-best vault score of qualifications, and though the rest of her scores are quite low in comparison, she nonetheless had a pretty excellent day, with her beam at a 13.333 and floor at a 13.100. Since Japan often selects teams by all-around ranking alone, Sakaguchi is always going to be one to consider for the Olympic scenario despite her lack of overall balance, but I 

Imagine my surprise when I saw the surname “Soma” on the list and didn’t recognize the first name as a gymnast who had ever competed before. And yet this never-before-seen gymnast placed fifth?! After searching the internet far and wide for the first name in Japanese, I realized that one transliteration was “Ui”…and then gasped. Could this be Ui Soma, the American gymnast who won Hopes Championships in 2017, qualified to junior elite and U.S. national championships in 2018, but then had to miss that competition and all of 2019 due to injury?!

It seems so! The 2005-born Soma, who trains at San Mateo Gymnastics in California, has been quiet on Instagram, but she recently shared some training updates on YouTube that look like they were filmed in a Japanese gym. I’m assuming that with the Olympics getting pushed back a year and with 2005-born gymnasts now eligible to compete in Tokyo, Soma is taking advantage of the opportunity to challenge for a spot on the Japanese team, and is now living and training in the country to make this dream come true.

A junior placing fifth all-around in her very first Japanese national championships is a huge deal, so kudos to Soma for such an impressive rise. She will certainly throw a wrench into the Olympic team decision if she continues the way she’s going. Since getting to Japan, she’s already upgraded to a DTY on vault, which earned a 14.533 today, and while her difficulty is only in the 5.1-5.2 range on the other three events, she performed well on all three events, with room for improvement. I’m excited to see how this plays out, and even if the Olympics don’t happen for her, she’ll still have plenty of international assignments in her future, especially as many of Japan’s top gymnasts retire post-Tokyo.

Matsuda is another young one who is fast on the rise thanks to recently upgrading to a DTY, and she also had the second-best bars score in the country with a 13.833. At junior nationals in 2019, she was 13th all-around with no standout events, but today she was kind of awesome, so I’m looking forward to watching her in finals to see if she can keep it up. Yamada was a bit hit-or-miss, though is always lovely on bars, and Kokufugata is an impressive talent on beam and floor, though her lower difficulty on the other two events makes it difficult for her to keep pace with the others.

As for some of the others who were expected to be among the top here? Sugihara Aiko ended up in 10th with a 52.666, hitting a clean Yurchenko 1½ and also making it through bars and beam, with her 13.533 the fourth-best beam score, but it looks like she had a rough floor performance, getting just an 11.733 there. Teramoto Asuka, meanwhile, seems to have fallen on both vault and bars based on her scores, finishing just 18th with a 52.032, though she did some nice work on floor, while Hiraiwa Yuna was downgraded from the DTY to the Yurchenko 1½ on vault and also had a bit of a disastrous bars set, earning just a 10.833. She looked great on beam and floor, though, putting up scores of 13.333 (eighth-best) and 13.466 (second-best) to finish with a total of 51.932 for 19th place.

All three will at least be in Saturday’s all-around final, but the same can’t be said for Uchiyama Yuki, Miyakawa Sae, and Kajita Nagi, who finished 30th, 34th, and 39th, respectively. Uchiyama had some mistakes on bars and beam, and her difficulty is just a bit lower overall, so she ended up with a 50.933. Miyakawa had the top vault score of 14.900 thanks to her excellent Rudi, and she was also up to a 5.8 D score on floor, which she hit for an eight-best score of 13.000, though she had weak routines on both bars and beam, and finished her day with a 50.533 (her highest total score in over two years!). Kajita, meanwhile, had a fall on beam, and just wasn’t at a hundred percent on bars or floor, leaving her at a 49.932.

Other notables? Miyata Shoko finished 56th all-around due to lots of falls, but she had the third-best vault of the meet, with a 14.733 for her DTY. Serita Mikako, 12th all-around, had the third-best bars score with a 13.766; Ashikawa Urara, the beam queen who has unofficially secured an Olympic spot via the apparatus world cup series, had the second-best beam score with a 13.866; and Hanashima Natsumi, 16th all-around, had the third-best floor score with a 13.266.

A full list of qualifiers is below. The all-around final will be held on Saturday, December 12, at 12:05 pm (local time). A stream is available here, and live scores are here

Qualification Results

1. Murakami Mai 55.065
2. Hatakeda Chiaki 54.532
3. Hatakeda Hitomi 54.265
4. Sakaguchi Ayaka 53.833
5. Soma Ui 53.833
6. Matsuda Towa 53.332
7. Yamada Chiharu 52.798
8. Kokufugata Azuki 52.732
9. Nakamura Yumika 52.698
10. Sugihara Aiko 52.666
11. Mune Marin 52.532
12. Serita Mikako 52.465
13. Fukasawa Kokoro 52.366
14. Kashiwagi Juri 52.166
15. Ashikawa Urara 52.131
16. Hanashima Natsumi 52.099
17. Okamura Mana 52.065
18. Teramoto Asuka 52.032
19. Hiraiwa Yuna 51.932
20. Sonezaki Shizuku 51.931
21. Mori Aoka 51.799
22. Yumoto Yurika 51.598
23. Takagi Ai 51.532
— Sano Arisa 51.532
25. Watanabe Hazuki 51.232
26. Mizumura Rino 51.199
27. Kuwajima Kiko 51.065
28. Kasahara Arisa 51.032
29. Hanawa Soyoka 51.031
30. Uchiyama Yuki 50.933
31. Koike Ayu 50.832
32. Sakatani Rinne 50.765
33. Kawasaki Marina 50.632
34. Miyakawa Sae 50.533
35. Sato Ryoka 50.199
36. Makibayashi Rin 50.132
37. Iwasaki Natsume 50.099
38. Aota Moeka 50.098
39. Kajita Nagi 49.932
— Iseki Minori 49.932
Matsumura Akari 49.932
42. Dobashi Koko 49.798
43. Yoshimura Hohoemi 49.633
44. Takezawa Kaoruko 49.598
45. Yumoto Sakura 49.531
46. Kamino Yuna 49.465
47. Obata Reika 49.433
48. Niiyama Ayumi 49.165
— Fujitsuka Ayumi 49.165
50. Furuyama Aoi 49.131
51. Toyama Arisa 49.032
52. Sakamaki Reon 48.932
— Yasui Wakana 48.932
54. Suzuki Kanna 48.831
55. Tokuda Chisako 48.732
56. Miyata Shoko 48.666
57. Haruguchi Hijiri 48.665
58. Kawabata Rin 48.599
59. Mita Suzuno 48.366
60. Hirai Miyu 48.331
61. Kodama Yumiko 48.299
62. Yasu Yune 48.232
63. Ishikura Azumi 48.166
64. Katsuragi Nanase 48.132
65. Sakakibara Koyuna 48.065
66. Kitada Ayame 47.998
67. Ogoshi Mian 47.965
68. Ushioku Koba 47.964
69. Hirabayashi Yabuki 47.732
70. Nakaguchi Sakura 47.699
71. Nitta Izumi 47.299
72. Tone Ayana 47.065
— Endo Yuna 47.065
74. Nakai Anna 46.600
75. Toyoda Nozomi 46.332
76. Noguchi Yumika 46.132
77. Nonomura Aki 45.766
78. Yoshida Nanaka 45.131
79. Kizaki Nonon 44.465
80. Watanabe Kotomi 34.766
81. Sasaki Aika 12.066

Top Vault Scores

1. Miyakawa Sae 14.900
2. Sakaguchi Ayaka 14.800
3. Miyata Shoko 14.733
4. Niiyama Ayumi 14.666
— Sonezaki Shizuku 14.666
6. Kasahara Arisa 14.600
7. Hatakeda Chiaki 14.566
8. Soma Ui 14.533

Top Bars Scores

1. Murakami Mai 14.033
2. Matsuda Towa 13.833
3. Serita Mikako 13.766
4. Mune Marin 13.633
5. Takagi Ai 13.533
6. Nakamura Yumika 13.466
7. Kashiwagi Juri 13.433
8. Mori Aoka 13.366

Top Beam Scores

1. Hatakeda Chiaki 13.900
2. Ashikawa Urara 13.866
3. Murakami Mai 13.766
4. Sugihara Aiko 13.533
5. Hatakeda Hitomi 13.466
6. Okamura Mana 13.366
— Kokufugata Azuki 13.366
8. Hiraiwa Yuna 13.333
Sakaguchi Ayaka 13.333

Top Floor Scores

1. Hatakeda Hitomi 13.500
2. Hiraiwa Yuna 13.466
3. Hanashima Natsumi 13.266
4. Hanawa Soyoka 13.166
5. Teramoto Asuka 13.133
6. Sakaguchi Ayaka 13.100
7. Hatakeda Chiaki 13.066
8. Kokufugata Azuki 13.000
Miyakawa Sae 13.000

Article by Lauren Hopkins

 

6 thoughts on “Murakami, Hatakeda Sisters Top National All-Around Qualifications

    • I’m not worried yet…I think with a hit day she’s still one of the better gymnasts! She’s just not hitting right now and is still downgraded. I’m sure she’s still dealing with nerves in the aftermath of her injury!

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    • Personally I think that Teramoto will make a nice compliment to C.Hatakeda, along with H.Hatakeda and Murakami. Barring (further) injuries to any of the four or another world catastrophe of course.

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    • Seems like its actually Sugihara’s spot in jeopardy now. Teramoto is still too good on vault and bars (when she hits) to leave behind. Murakami/Teramoto/Hatakeda/Hatakeda which notably has four great beam routines and three on all the other events now that Chiaki upgraded to the DTY.
      Chiaki has bumped Sugihara from a beam/floor role though, and for the individual spots Urara has already locked up an individual spot for beam (Aiko’s best event). Japan will very likely get a second individual spot which is more likely to go to Miyakawa now that she upgraded floor again and is delivering on vault. Plus the emergence of Yuna Hiraiwa is another challenge for Aiko on beam too, and I recall that as a junior Ui Soma was quite the beamer as well.

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