2020 Olympic alternate Wei Xiaoyuan put up a tremendous all-around performance in the final at China’s National Games to get the gold medal just a tenth ahead of Olympian Ou Yushan, while three-time Olympic medalist Xiao Ruoteng won the men’s title less than a tenth ahead of up-and-comer Zhang Boheng in the men’s meet.
Wei, a bars standout who is expected to compete at world championships next month, relied on her best event to get ahead in this meet, getting a 14.866 to create just enough of an advantage ahead of the competition to keep herself in contention for gold. Her bars were super clean and just as difficult, including an inbar full to Komova II to Pak, van Leeuwen, inbar half to front pirouette series to piked Jaeger, and a full-twisting double layout, showing only minor form errors to put up the best routine of the meet on any event.
The rest of her routines were a bit lackluster, with a low Yurchenko full, a few wobbles and missed connections on beam, and a few mistakes on floor, including on a double tuck and on a wonky wolf turn, though I always enjoy the performance level she brings here.
Ou bested Wei on every event but bars, where she had a hit routine but still finished nearly a point back from Wei with a 13.966. That combined with her Yurchenko full left her scrambling to catch up to Wei on the last two events, but while she got close, she ultimately came just shy of making the win happen. She did have one of the best beam sets of the meet, earning a 14.033 for beautiful work, though she did wobble a few times, and she topped the field on floor with a 13.5, taking big steps on her triple full, 2½ to front layout, and double tuck, but she was clean otherwise, and took the silver.
The same amount of separation between Wei and Ou also separated Ou and first-year senior Luo Rui, the bronze medalist with a 54.866. Luo did beautiful work on bars, earning a 14.633 with a Komova II to Pak, Maloney to Gienger, front pirouette series to piked Jaeger, and stuck full-in dismount, and on beam, where she put up a 13.9 with a wobble on her layout series, switch ring, and front aerial, but showed clean elements elsewhere.
Like most of the gymnasts in this final – and in China in general – Luo’s scores on vault and floor are much weaker than what she’s capable of on bars and beam, so this held her back a bit, though she did have a strong triple full and clean leaps on the latter.
2020 Olympians Lu Yufei and Zhang Jin were just outside of the podium in fourth and fifth with scores of 54.598 and 54.332, respectively. Lu did nice work on bars and beam, but wasn’t at her strongest on either, while Zhang came up a bit short on her tsuk double full, and had some rough bars work, coming out of her toe full at horizontal and stumbling her full-in dismount.
14-year-old Qiu Qiyuan finished sixth with a 53.932, hitting a handspring front pike half on vault and relatively “simple” yet mostly tidy work on bars and floor, though beam was a standout event for her, earning a 14.433, the top score on this event of the session. She opened her routine with a split leap to split ring leap to Korbut, hit a clean back handspring to layout stepout, quickly connected three transverse jumps (with a wobble at the end but it was impressive nonetheless), showed off a unique switch ring to sheep jump series, and nailed a clean double full dismount.
Rounding out the top eight were Zhao Jiayi in seventh with a 53.166 and He Licheng in eighth with a 53.132, with Zhao’s best work coming on bars, while He reached a 14.0 on vault.
Others of note included Qi Qi in 11th with a 52.865, hitting vault and floor, though not at her best, and not being at a hundred percent on beam, where she needed to be at her best to stay competitive with the rest of the field. It was also a surprise to see 2020 Olympian and 2019 world all-around silver medalist Tang Xijing finish 13th with a 52.533. She unfortunately got off to a rough start, crashing both her Yurchenko double and her double layout bars dismount, and while she came back mostly strong on beam and floor, neither were her best.
In the men’s competition, Xiao posted the top scores on pommels with a 15.066 and on vault with a 14.933 while also doing incredibly strong work on floor with a 14.8 and parallel bars with a 14.9 to secure his win ahead of Zhang.
Zhang actually had an incredible meet and was looking to go 88+ but he unfortunately put his hands down on his kaz double, keeping him just short of getting the win. He had the best routines on floor and high bar, however, and was excellent on the other three events. There’s no doubt he’ll be a major challenger to Olympic all-around champion Hashimoto Daiki in the all-around and on several events when he makes his major international debut at world championships next month.
On floor, Zhang hit a front full to piked double front, piked double front half-out, 2½ to front double full, front 2½, double full side pass, and stuck triple full to finish, looking incredibly clean throughout for a 15.0, and he had a huge routine on high bar, nailing a Cassina, Kolman, and Kovacs in addition to a double-twisting double layout dismount for a 14.733.
2020 Olympic medalist Sun Wei won the bronze with an 86.365, doing an especially impressive job on both pommel horse and parallel bars, though he came up short on vault, leaving him unable to contend with the top guys.
Two exciting young competitors finished in the top five, with 20-year-old Shi Cong finishing fourth with an 85.331, while 18-year-old Yang Haonan was fifth with an 84.798. Shi, who is on the nominative roster for worlds, scored above a 14 on every event, with a 14.5 on floor his top score, while Yang reached above a 14 on every event but high bar, with a 14.633 on vault his strongest.
Rounding out the top eight were Ta Yinga in sixth with an 84.066, Hu Xuwei in seventh with an 83.665, and Lan Xingyu in eighth with an 83.465. Both Hu and Lan are on the nominative roster for worlds, with Hu hoping to be a challenger on parallel bars and high bar, while Lan is an outstanding performer on rings, earning a 14.966 in this final.
The National Games will finish up with event finals on Saturday and Sunday, both at 2:30 pm local time (or 2:30 am ET). The live stream will be here, and you can also follow along with the live scores.
Article by Lauren Hopkins