Girl is shoooort. We are of course no stranger to tiny powerhouse gymnasts but Mai in particular has that extra quality of 'where did THAT come from?' as she doesn't have the obvious strength and stamina that more muscular gymnasts do. She can give them all a great run for their money.
Check out those awesome tumbling passes! And she has some even more impressive ones cooking...
WOW. Not landed on a competition mat of course, but it may be by now! She is apparently training a Produnova vault (handspring double front). This is an extremely rare vault as it takes such brute power to stand up. We have seen Yamilet Pena land this to her back over and over again, receiving much lower scores than if she landed a clean DTY. Yet Mai looks to be very capable of it. I would put her ahead of any other current powerful gymnasts to land that vault.There IS footage of her training a layout-1 and a half twist vault however. I would and I'm sure everyone would, love to see her land both.
Dance moves have not been neglected in place of pure power either. Here she is performing a beautiful quadruple spin on beam! Betty Okino would be proud. This has since been bettered by a quintuple spin by a teammate, but nevertheless just so impressive.
Unfortunately footage of her beam and bars show weak spots. Her bars are somewhat underwhelming and she just doesn't shine on them. Her beam shows impressive skills but she has difficulty with steadiness. We can of course speculate she will be able to get her bars to a decent clean standard, Japanese bars as a nation tend to have a lovely swing and score pretty well. Beam could be pretty easy to fix. I find it kind of odd to comment on a gymnast's looks BUT I have to say, she is SO CUTE! Especially that reaction when she completes the spin.
Go Mai! Looking forward to seeing her at Worlds.
Update: Apparently an elbow injury hindered her performance at Nationals. What a shame, with clean routines she absolutely would have threatened Wieber, Iordache, Komova and co. I'd also question how early Nationals were, start of April?? Could well be that if they were being held now, she would have performed much better. It will be very tough for her to hang around for the next quad, but there is great precedent in her country and not a huge amount of depth.