China Names Olympic Teams Following Internal Tests

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Ou Yushan | Photo thanks to 体操圈

China held its final two Olympic selection meets at the end of last week, and named both the women’s and men’s teams immediately after the competitions.

Zhang Jin, a member of China’s bronze medal-winning 2018 world championships team who won both of the women’s trials after finishing second all-around at nationals, will headline the team alongside 2019 world all-around silver medalist Tang Xijing, 2019 Asian Championships all-around silver medalist Lu Yufei, and 2019 junior world all-around bronze medalist Ou Yushan.

The federation also selected the 16-year-old brilliant beam worker Guan Chenchen to compete as an individual in Tokyo alongside 2016 Olympian Fan Yilin, who won a nominative berth via the apparatus world cups.

The Chinese team is missing world beam medalist Li Shijia, one of the top contenders who suffered an injury just prior to the first trial and wasn’t able to get back in time. Li’s absence is disappointing, but thanks to China’s depth this year, it is not a blow to the overall quality of the team, and in fact, there are still some reserve gymnasts who could contribute just as much as those selected, like Wei Xiaoyuan and Qi Qi.

Both Wei and Qi are more specialists than all-arounders, with Wei a standout on bars while Qi has some of the team’s strongest work on vault and floor, though it seems the selection committee went with a group of gymnasts who are more balanced all-arounders who can contribute anywhere if needed rather than risk potentially weak scores across the board just to get strong results on one particular event.

Wei did finish second all-around this week, posting the top bars score in addition to the third best score on floor with the best routine of her career, but historically her all-around results have been a bit lower than those selected, with her vault and floor generally not up to par. Those selected performed well both this week and throughout the season, and all have major international all-around medals – world championships, world cups, and continental championships – to their names, and China is also not leaving any top individual medal contenders behind, aside from potentially Wei with her bars.

There was a bit of controversy in selecting the men’s team with China leaving out Zhang Boheng, this year’s national silver all-around medalist and floor champion who won the final trial with an 88.565, the highest men’s all-around score of the year globally.

Reasoning that Zhang was a risk as an athlete with no international experience, the selection committee ultimately went with 2017 world all-around champion Xiao Ruoteng, 2016 Olympic medalist and six-time world medalist Lin Chaopan, 2018 world team gold medalist Sun Wei, and two-time world parallel bars champion Zou Jingyuan, who competed only three events at the trial, but can contribute some make-it-or-break-it scores on both parallel bars and pommels to give the men a needed boost in the team final.

In this sense, the men’s program took a risk that the women’s program did not. Though his scores on the majority of apparatuses aren’t nearly China’s best, Zou can compete all six events in qualifications if needed so the team won’t have to go three-up three-count anywhere, and even if they do end up counting his floor or high bar, it’s not like he’d do so much damage that China would miss the team final completely. I’d imagine they’ll list him at the end of the lineup for his weaker events and only use him if there are falls or major mistakes earlier in the rotation.

Putting Zou up in a team final, even just for his parallel bars, is worth the gamble of a potentially lower team score in qualifications, but if one of China’s all-arounders ends up injured and unable to compete leg events in the team final, for example, Zou will not be able to step in at the same level another more balanced all-arounder could. The chances of this happening are slim, however, so I think when weighing the pros and cons, this decision makes sense.

I do question taking Lin over Zhang, however. Not only did Zhang outscore the veteran by three points at the final trial, but Lin – fourth all-around at the test competition – has underperformed over the past couple of years in general. I’d argue that he is more of a risk than Zhang is, especially as Zhang has a better recent track record on floor and vault, two of the events where the team will have holes in the final. Lin was also the only gymnast out of the eight who competed at trials who did not place in the top three on any event, while Zhang was in the top three on all but pommels and rings, so the decision is certainly questionable.

In addition to those selected for the team, Liu Yang, who missed out on a world cup berth after a last-minute upset from Eleftherios Petrounias of Greece, was awarded an individual spot after earning a 15.7 on rings at last week’s trial, while You Hao was able to pick up a nominative berth on parallel bars at the world cups once Liu was knocked out.

Article by Lauren Hopkins

7 thoughts on “China Names Olympic Teams Following Internal Tests

  1. Pingback: China Names Olympic Teams Following Internal Tests | The Gymternet - Finshorts

  2. Chinese men’s team makes sense as they are going to be fighting for every tenth and half a tenth in that team final gold medal battle against Russia. While China is at risk in the team final with Zou Jingyuan, Russia is in a similar situation with Artur Dalaloyan coming back from torn achilles. Unlike Jingyuan, I don’t think Artur can even do vault or floor right now and he is risking dismounts on pbars, high bar, and rings.

    The Chinese ladies don’t need to take the risk like the men because they are not in contention to rival the US for team gold. They should find themselves up against Russia for silver, with the Russians the better team on paper. A consistent China on all four events should challenge Russia if they face a fall and some mistakes. China should easily hold onto bronze over both Italy and Great Britain (and potentially France). So this is where I see the team selection coming into play. Besides Ou Yushan on beam, they aren’t really standing out individually, but that is why they have Guan Chenchen and Fan Yilin. Since those three are the potential medalists, it makes sense to comprise the team of three consistent all arounders like Tan Xijing, Lu Yufei, and Zhang Jin to ensure reliability in team finals to secure a team medal.

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  3. Well, good thing to see the chinese team being hashed out. USAG just released their report on team selection meeting on why mccallum over skinner. etc…. we are still waiting for your deep dive 🙂

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    • It was very clear in their report. While Skinner would benefit the team by .3 due to vault, she only participates on that event, since Suni outscored her. However, McCallum would be used on both vault and floor exercise, which leaves Suni off those events in team finals.
      Also, McCallum is a strong lead off on all four events and can be used on bars and beam in team finals if needed.
      Skinner cannot be used on bars or beam in team finals and would not be used on floor exercise.
      Skinner only makes the highest scoring team due to her Cheng vault.

      Sounds like they want to rest Suni on VT and FX in team finals. To be honest, I would take Simone off beam and put McCallum there so Biles has a little bit of rest. She was exhausted on night 2 of Trials.

      When it came down to it Grace finished 4th all around and provides more to the team than one vault, which is all that Skinner can provide.

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      • Sorry this:
        “It was very clear in their report. While Skinner would benefit the team by .3 due to vault, she only participates on that event, since Suni outscored her.”

        should say this:
        “It was very clear in their report. While Skinner would benefit the team by .3 due to vault, she only participates on that event, since Suni outscored her ON FLOOR.”

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      • If that was the case, I am wondering even if skinner got 4th place, but somehow grace got better fx score, would they still put grace into the team over her? lol… guess we will never know on that scenario, just like we would never know if a hit riley would’ve made it also even though she might not have any AA program?

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        • Riley would probably have been in the mix for the individual spot if she hit. Because of the 4-person team, they really do need all the gymnasts to be able to do AA, but they could have taken Riley as an individual for bars and any other events she was capable of doing without worrying about it affecting team qualifications if she could only do bars or bars and beam or what have you.

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