Around the Gymternet: I am the golden god

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Teramoto Asuka

In the News

Another legend says goodbye. Just weeks after Uchimura Kohei announced his retirement, Japan was hit with another blow as Teramoto Asuka, a two-time Olympian and three-time Asian Championships medalist who competed at the senior level for a decade and represented Japan at seven world championships, announced today that she will retire this year as well.

Teramoto, 26, was expected to be a leader for the Japanese team at the Tokyo Olympics, until she tore her Achilles early in 2020. Despite getting an extra year to recover due to the COVID-19 pandemic postponing the Games, and despite her incredible performance at the NHK Trophy last May, Teramoto ended up just a little over a point away from making what would have been her third team.

Still, her legacy in the sport and her contributions to Japanese gymnastics are immense, and I’m glad she’s going to be able to retire on her own terms, choosing this year’s All-Japan Championships as her last outing before she hangs up her grips.

RIP. Szilveszter Csollány, the 2000 Olympic rings champion who won a total of eight Olympic and world medals on the event, sadly passed away on January 24 following a two-month battle with COVID-19. Csollány was openly critical of the COVID-19 vaccines, and only opted to get the jab – a Janssen shot, requiring only one dose – so he could take a coaching job outside of Hungary. Unfortunately, he tested positive just two weeks later, before the vaccine was fully effective, and by the end of November 2021, he was hospitalized and on a ventilator due to the seriousness of his case. He leaves behind a legacy in the sport, and serves as yet another reminder that COVID is no joke.

From bars to ballroom. If you haven’t been following, 2020 Olympic bars champion Nina Derwael has been straight-up killing it on Belgium’s Dancing with the Stars. I always tune in to check out the U.S. gymnasts when they compete, but I think Derwael is blowing everyone out of the water with her passionate and vulnerable performances. She even got to perform in one dance with her grandmother, which was super adorable.

Can’t catch a break. Between the COVID shutdowns, injuries, and the tragic death of her brother last year during Great Britain’s Olympic team trials, Ellie Downie made the decision to step away from gymnastics for the rest of 2021, and focus on life in the sport post-Tokyo. Unfortunately, the 22-year-old just can’t catch a break, announcing yesterday that she missed her foot while training on beam, tearing her plantar plate and lateral ligament in her foot, an injury that will keep her out for a yet unknown amount of time. Get well soon, Ellie!

Funding the U.S. men. Kensley Behel kindly broke down notes from January’s Men’s Performance Committee meeting, most importantly sharing that 35 men’s athletes will be funded this year, including all members of the senior national team, as well as all Level 10 national team athletes, a massive increase compared to previous years. The program will use a tiered system to determine the amount of funding per month.

 Meet Updates

12 earn elite status in Vegas. Six seniors and six juniors earned elite status for 2022 at the first U.S. national qualifier held in Las Vegas over the weekend. Ashlee Sullivan of WOGA had the best senior all-around performance, while club teammate Hezly Rivera topped the junior field, and Twin City Twisters also had a strong showing here, qualifying three seniors. Athletes who qualify elite are eligible to compete at the American and U.S. Classic competitions this summer, where the goal is to get a qualifying score for nationals. [Results]

All American National Qualifier. The second of six elite qualifiers held in the U.S. this year takes place at the All American Invitational in Puyallup, Washington this weekend. The optional qualifier will take place on Friday, January 28, beginning at 3 pm PT, while the compulsory session will be held on the 29th at 11:30 am.

If you want to follow along with those who have qualified to elite, nationals, and Hopes, we started a tracker that also includes the rules and requirements for qualifying at each level.

NCAA Corner

WGYM rankings. Reigning national champions Michigan now have nearly a half-point lead ahead of the rest of the field, and I have a feeling this is going to grow even more in next week’s rankings, after the team’s Monday night 198.025 is counted! The Wolverines competed at Minnesota, which also had a blowout meet that night. The team entered the rankings last week in seventh place, but look out for them climbing in week four.

1. Michigan 197.850 (no change)
2. Utah 197.425 (no change)
3. Oklahoma 197.317 (+1)
4. Florida 197.217 (-1)
5. Denver 197.067 (+1)
6. LSU 196.950 (-1)
7. Minnesota 196.900 (debut)
8. Auburn 196.883 (-1)
9. Alabama 196.817 (+1)
10. Missouri 196.725 (-2)

Jade Carey is the moment. 2020 Olympic floor champion Jade Carey is only two meets into her college career, and she’s already shattered Oregon State’s all-around record, scoring a 39.800 that included a 9.975 on both beam and floor. Her performance earned her both the Pac-12 Gymnast of the Week and Pac-12 Freshman of the Week honors, she’s currently ranked first nationally in the all-around and on bars, and she’s the first gymnast in over a decade where I’m like, yeah, she’s gonna get a Perfect 40 and deserve it. Get her, Jade!

Italy’s first college gymnast. Clara Colombo, a junior at Nebraska, was featured in local press as the first gymnast from Italy to compete in college gymnastics, inspiring others – like Huskers teammate Martina Comin and Iowa State freshman Sydney Saturnino – to join her. “It’s such a great opportunity and I feel like people [in Italy] didn’t have the information three years ago when I got here,” Colombo said. “They can actually have the opportunity to come here and I think it’s such a great experience.”

UCLA updates. It’s only been a week since I first talked about the situation at UCLA, where Black gymnasts felt like their leaders let them down after they reported a racist incident, yet SO much has happened, so I’m going to bullet point it for those not following in real time.

  • An anonymous Twitter user posted that Alexis Jeffrey was bullied by those who confronted her about the incident, and that it’s “unfair” no one is covering “her side” of the story, but…no one on “her side” is speaking up, so? There are apparently legal issues tied into this now that are complicating things, which is likely keeping her (and UCLA) quiet.
  • Numerous people related to the UCLA gymnastics program liked the Tweet, including the mother of one of the coaches. Margzetta Frazier denied these allegations, stating that her team “does not tolerate hazing…or bullying of any kind” and that these are “the most horrible lies [she has] ever heard.”
  • LSU head coach Jay Clark held a press conference about his decision to invite Alexis Jeffrey to join the team despite everything that went down, which was frankly the most adult thing I’ve seen from any of those in leadership positions involved in this mess. He involved Ashleigh Clare-Kearney Thigpen – the Athletic Director for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at LSU – to help navigate the situation, and also talked to both LSU and UCLA gymnasts before concluding that he could move forward.
  • UCLA’s AD Martin Jarmond also ReLeAsEd A StAtEmEnT but he truly used the most amount of words possible to still say nothing.
  • According to a Los Angeles Times story that came out last night, Frazier called the statement and any action so far “performative,” adding that any meetings she’s been part of “were abstract conversations that didn’t specifically address racism on the team” while her requests for help “were neglected and brushed under the rug.”
  • Most horrifying in this story was that coaches apparently “told some Black gymnasts that [Jeffrey] felt ‘scared’ or ‘intimidated’ by them.” Frazier told The Times that “the problem isn’t even [Jeffrey] anymore,” and that the team’s issue is primarily with the coaching staff and the athletic department.
  • For an all-encompassing recap of the situation from start to finish including screenshots and related media, please check out Suzanne Boswell’s stellar Twitter thread.
  • UPDATE: Frazier and Sekai Wright were featured on Amanda Seales’ podcast today, discussing the ongoing situation and the protection of Black athletes at UCLA. Frazier says: “I want the head coach gone.”

MGYM rankings. Stanford didn’t compete this week, but climbed up one spot by default as Oklahoma had a weaker meet compared to the team’s first outing. Fuzzy Benas was again stellar, though, posting a 13.55 on rings, 14.55 on vault, and 14.4 on p-bars to lead the team against Air Force.

1. Stanford 407.500 (+1)
2. Oklahoma 404.600 (-1)
3. Nebraska 402.050 (no change)
4. Ohio State 393.425 (+2)
5. Michigan 392.275 (-1)
6. Navy 387.825 (-1)
7. Illinois 385.950 (no change)
8. Penn State 382.850 (+1)
9. California 382.100 (-1)
10. Springfield 375.600 (no change)

Staying Social

Emily Leese. Lots of phenomenal vaults this week, but this beautiful stuck 1½ from Rutgers’ Emily Leese was one of my faves! It only received a 9.825, likely in part because of the knee form, but it definitely would’ve been a perfect 10 candidate at a larger program.

Suki Pfister. My other fave was Suki Pfister of Ball State performing this textbook handspring pike half. Breathtaking.

Ona Loper. Then there’s Minnesota gymnast Ona Loper’s Yurchenko 1½, which might actually be one of the most perfect pieces of gymnastics I’ve ever seen. Thankfully, the judges thought so too. 10!

Jocelyn Moore. This Yurchenko 1½ was a huge statement from Missouri freshman Jocelyn Moore – I love the way she flares out SO early!

Lex Ortega. Lex Ortega of NC State had a fantastic beam set in Saturday’s meet against Towson, with her back handspring to Onodi series the highlight of her routine. Gorgeous!

Ronni Binstock. Western Michigan gymnast Ronni Binstock showed off a great connection series on floor – a front handspring to front layout 1½ to back layout full to straddle jump. Obsessed, especially with the extension on the jump at the end!

It’s the little things. A few of my other favorite moments of week three included Jordan Jaslow of Arizona State casually refastening her knee brace before before tumbling on floor, Shaelyn Luksik of Kentucky arching over her bail to a near-perfect planche (and then successfully adjusting back out of it!) on bars, and this fun air/leg guitar choreo moment from Abbie Thompson of Denver.

Article by Lauren Hopkins

6 thoughts on “Around the Gymternet: I am the golden god

    • For real, I thought he was going to blow this whole thing off and be like “not my problem” since it happened at UCLA. Really impressed that he consulted outside of his own realm and seems to be following advice.

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  1. Thanks for highlighting the *beautiful* combinations and vaults from lesser-known college gymnasts! Some I had heard about but others were new to me. So impressive. IMO, the judging inconsistencies (loose scoring for “top” teams) in college do more harm than good for the sport.

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    • Of course!! I was lucky to catch a few live and then even luckier to happen to see a few of the others randomly on social media. Even though some of the non-SEC/Pac-12/OU vaults have little form issues, so do the SEC/Pac-12/OU vaults and they still get 10s so…why don’t give the smaller programs 10s as well!? That pike half vault was just jaw-dropping!!!

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