Saturday, 7 September 2013

Farewell to He Kexin and..the injury list

Copyright- A'Min, Guo Chen- Xinhua news agency
After a long (for a female gymnast) and fruitful career, He Kexin bid farewell to gymnastics today. The winner of multiple titles on bars- including Olympic, world and National Games- had a mishap on her final routine, where she lost it on a turn on the low bar and came off. Unbelievably, she managed to smile at her own misfortune and gracefully saluted the crowd afterwards. She will be much missed.

Here is her final routine. The jumbotron at the end shows roughly (not my translation of course, but a very accurate source!) "From the National Sports Arena (Beijing gym venue) to the O2, we've watched your brilliant performances. Today, we hope to see your radiant smile as you perform the final routine of your career. He Kexin, UB queen forever!"

And one of her best.

;( What a truly phenomenal bars worker.

And of course, there's more sad news. The injury list has grown to include Diana Bulimar. Diana was winning medals at Interland last week, but had knee surgery yesterday. It doesn't sound too serious, but the six weeks rest will of course mean she's going to miss worlds. Devastating! Winning a medal would have been a long shot but it's the joy of her routines that counts.

The Injury (or recovering) List

Mariya Livchikova, Ukraine
Gabby Jupp, Britain
Nadine Jarosch, Germany
Lisa Hill, Germany
Janine Berger, Germany
Jade Barbosa, Brazil
Adrian Gomes, Brazil
Viktoria Komova, Russia
Ksenia Afanasyeva, Russia
Anastasia Grishina, Russia*
Evgeniya Shelgunova, Russia
Lou Nina, China
Julie Croket, Belgium
Gabriella Douglas, Canada
Lexie Priessman, USA
Katelyn Ohashi, USA
Madison Kocian, USA
Elisabetta Preziosa, Italy
Giorgia Campana, Italy
Erika Fasana, Italy
Celine Van Gerner, Netherlands
Lisa Top, Netherlands
Diana Bulimar, Romania
Wyomi Masela, Netherlands
Anna Kuhm, France
Sarah Finnegan, USA
Sabrina Vega, USA

I do think Anastasia Grishina is not fully out due to injury- it seems blacklisting could be the issue there. Neither Ana Sofia Gomez Porras, Alexa Moreno or Elsa Garcia appear on the nominative list, which is a bit worrying. 

In happier news, Shang Chunsong added to her haul of medals at National Games with gold on bars and a whopping score of 15.367. Yao Jinnan just missed, she didn't do the Mo and skipped another connection so her 15.2 reflects a lower d score. In third place was Huang Huidan, who continues her miraculous streak of not falling. As mentioned above, He Kexin sadly fell. In vault finals, Li Yiting HIT, scoring a 15 on her DTT. Second and third went to Deng Yalan and Yang Pei. Tiny superstar Wang Yan unfortunately fell on her Rudi but it was an interesting final- with a dearth of Yurchenko vaults! Li Yiting hitting vault like that makes things interesting- it makes no sense for Zeng Siqi to go to worlds and if Sui Lu retires beforehand- then there's a possible opening for Li Yiting...

I don't think I mentioned the all-around but if you didn't hear- the best result possible happened- Yao Jinnan and Shang Chunsong tied for first! This result alone sets them up for life, so happy for them. Deng Linlin bowed out of competition on a high note, just about (and controversially at that) securing the bronze.

Today at Romanian Nationals, Larisa Iordache triumphantly returned to competition, taking first in the all-around. She watered down most of her routines and was a little wobbly on beam, but a stellar performance given that she only restarted training a week ago. Hopefully she can regain the difficulty in time for Antwerp, which is really creeping up fast now. She came to a stop on bars after messing up her Jaeger- and it looks like her coach helped that long by touching her- but she introduced the shap half at last and the rest of the routine looked fine, but laboured. Andreea Munteanu was second with STUNNING floor and beam routines that are a must-watch- especially beam, and likewise Andreea Iridon was third with gorgeous bars and beam routines. Sandra Izbasa scored a huge 15.1 (think US scoring at this competition) on floor. Larisa has a new floor and I like it, until it was pointed out the choreography is much the same as her old routine. The music is dramatic and hopefully she can differentiate more between this routine and the last one with her dance in time. You can find videos here.


  1. Kim Bui has too much uni work.
    Lisa Hill injured herself during the training camp at Brestyan's in August. Ligament/tendon issues. Doesn't require surgery, but a break.
    And now Janine Berger's out as well - not enough preparation time following her knee injury.

    I'm absolutely gutted for Didi, I really wanted her to do well in Antwerp :(

    1. Aww :( I thought I had Janine- I heard she's fine but doesn't have her London vaults yet- if that's the only reason then she's still worth sending because even with Olympic experience she's still 'new'.

    2. Yes, she's fine health-wise, just doesnt have her vaults back yet. Ulla Koch said in an interview yesterday that there is no point in sending her if she's not competitive. I understand that they have targets to meet and that it's a funding issue as well, but Germany have quite a few rookies who would greatly benefit from the competitive experience on an international stage, even in the knowledge that they don't have the difficulty (yet) to play a role.

      Some sources also claim that Vika is definitely out. Do you have any confirmation of that? Would be a shame, but I'd rather see her rested and back to full fitness, and maybe she could do the orld cups in December. But it would put even more pressure on poor Aliya to bring back medals :(

    3. I thought Berger looked good at..was it Anadia? I get confused with the world cups. :(

      The confirmation about Vika is her own vk (Russian facebook) page. Grishina has also posted about her seems to be a back/leg problem..people are guessing sciatica.

  2. Goodbye to He Kexin - I liked her bars work and she seemed like a nice person.

    As I said in the other post, there will be an injury list longer than the competition list at the rate things are going.

    I don't think Grishina is too injured to compete and as you said it is blacklisting, Valentina already said she wasn't going to go, so with Komova injured it will be Anna it seems. Russia seriously has no depth and so again Aliya burdens the pressure.

    Has Huang Quishuang retired? I know she was going to but I thought it would be after Nationals.

    Kim Bui is studying biological engineering so I would assume school work is a lot right now, so I doubt she will compete the rest of this year.

    I am glad Iordache perfomed and was injury free. On a serious note, at the rate these injuries are going, I don't think the gymnasts should perform too hard a routine at Worlds and just try to finish Worlds healthy!

    1. Yeah, but then Epke is in medical school and he's going to worlds! Just joking, it must be very tough for her to find the time to train..and him and any gymnast in that situation.

      I believe Huang Qiushuang may go to the east asian games and then bow out after that..not certain.

      He Kexin was an amazing team leader and so lovely to the younger gymnasts on her provincial team, like Wang Yan- lots of photos of HKX hugging her, so cute! By all accounts she is indeed a lovely person- she gives off that vibe in spades even just in her salute I think.

    2. she seems like a real gem. the image of her wiping her teammates' tears in a very maternal sort of way in london was just lovely. and bars queen for sure :)

  3. So many of the Romanian junior girls are extremely talented. It's such a pity they're only sending 2 seniors to Worlds...

    I hope Izbasa ends up doing VT at Worlds. Larisa doesn't have competitive vaults...unless she upgraded, but I don't think so. Bulimar had SUCH bad luck getting injured.

    The juniors were amazing. I love the two Andreeas! I watched Romanian Nationals live and I was generally impressed. Some of the juniors were wobbly on beam but they have time to improve. Vault landings were extremely bouncy and everyone was vaulting FTY and layout yurchenkos. Bars were disappointing, as usual. Doesn't Romania have any other up and coming bar worker besides Iridon? If you want, watch Alexandra
    Mihai's floor. Really enjoyable routine. I liked Iordache's floor overall.

    1. Thankfully they're sending their 2 best girls though to Japan junior!

      She won't, she's already said she'll only do floor. No, Larisa will probably make finals though.

      I also watched it live, took some doing to fiddle around with settings and stuff first and I wish they'd had names since I don't recognise a lot of juniors yet. I was really impressed with Stoica, Ciurusniuc and Mihai!

      Madalina Blendea is very good on bars, but she's still recovering- terrible luck with injuries for one so young. Munteanu and Jurca have both improved quite a bit on bars, and I think Peng and Arabisouiu (spelling??) are good. No real standout other than Iridon at this stage.

  4. No, not Bulimar! I love her! Seriously, this World's is going to almost be a joke. Well, it should be interesting to watch, anyway.

    1. It's still quite deep for a post-Olympics worlds, amazingly enough.

  5. I almost cried at Kexin's final performance, I think. It looked to me like a bit of a wry smile - she completed all the hardest elements including all her release combis, but fell on what was a relatively simple bit of her routine. And I think she was just relieved to have all the pressure of having to compete over, she was clearly not in her best form already and looked like she was working really hard just to even stay in routine shape. It's pretty insane that 5 years on from Beijing she still has a 6.8 D score, higher than anyone else at EFs. I really liked Kexin after listening to a lot of the interviews she gave, she comes across as very genuine, very introspective and an all round lovely person. I'm glad that she went out happy even if it wasn't the most glorious ending.. and I'll really miss her.

    Lexie just had surgery, so my guess is she's going to be out for some time too. A real pity, this could have been her year..

    1. Yes, I thought she had a 'you gotta be kidding me' smile at that fall. Such a graceful and gracious exit from competition with her final salutes.

      Oh really? Does that mean she tore the Achilles in the end- would straining normally require surgery?

  6. I'm loving the improvement on Iordache's Pak salto

    1. The shap half was very clean too! Hopefully she can hit it without errors, it's 5.9 which helps her out..

    2. That's very encouraging, I wasn't aware her difficulty was that high. Also I think her rhythm and swing are much better than waht we saw at Euros

  7. I am so impressed with Wang Yan. She reminds me a bit of Deng Linlin. I just watched her FX EF and it has loads of potential - she has decent difficulty there and lots of room to upgrade with how powerful she is, she isn't even needing the whole diagonal for her tumbling runs - at least two of them don't start near the corner at all! She's still 2 years away from turning senior, right? Loads of time to upgrade her floor and vault. What a little firecracker.

    After finally watching Shang Chunsong on all events I think I'm even more of a fan than I used to be, her style is much more aggressive and powerful than the Chinese usually, but her form is still impeccable. So glad she's done well for these games. Why was she not taken to London? Was it because she was inconsistent? It's interesting to think how London might have gone for the Chinese if she had gone, given Yao Jinnan's unfortunate injury. I think she could get her D scores up further by more turn combinations, she's a great spinner and her tumbling is already pretty tough.

    1. I LOVE Wang Yan. Her nickname is potato and He Kexin referred to her as that in either an interview or commentary (she commentated the last day of event finals for a Beijing station)- but she's very affectionate towards her etc, so it's not an insult or anything. What most impresses me is her aggression on beam. It's refreshing- her layout pass is perfection, and it's much nicer than Shawn's. And her double pike is so high and good ughh..amazing. She wasn't at her best an NG, hopefully she can recover in time for Japan Junior, but a bunch of 4th places won't do much to help her confidence.'s also thought that she and Zeng Siqi were not fully considered because of how young they look and the furore over Beijing...but that's a guess, not fact. Yes she is a fantastic spinner, hopefully that's something she can work on for next year. Here's something to love her more by- her prize money is going to buy her family a new house (they're extremely poor) and to treat her elder brother's eyes (he's blind).

    2. I really do love Shang, but not so much about the prize money business, simply because it is very much ingrained in Chinese culture and values that you are expected to support/help your family out. There's a great deal of emphasis on family over other ties (especially personal wants/desires) so in a way it was a bit of a constrained choice, though I wouldn't be surprised at all that she also wanted to help her family, since they would have had to pay for her fees to join a boarding school-gym when she was very young. The costs can be quite prohibitive for very poor Chinese from a farming or labourer background.. it was pretty much this way with Cheng Fei too. So her parents would also have sacrificed a lot for her. It's really great to see it working out for her, though I do feel sorry for all the numerous children (and their families) who never make it at the top levels, get injured etc.

      It's also really good that they get a place in one of the top universities, since this at least gives them some payoff in terms of future prospects. The downside of this is that usually education really falls by the wayside for the Chinese gymnasts, and that competition is highly, highly, highly intense for those spots in top universities (think 12 hour per day tuition camps for months to cram for entrance exams etc). So the gymnasts are likely to have difficulty keeping up with their classes in the universities just because training was obviously the main priority for years. I watched a video about Li Shanshan of 08 Beijing fame and she was talking about this. So I guess I have mixed feelings - on one hand it's definitely awesome that there are attempts to provide a future for these gymnasts, but there are still problems... and I'm not really surprised many may prefer to go back to the gym to coach.

      Sorry for this really long comment. I just think the situation in China - whether structural in terms of how training is organised even from a young age, cultural expectations & societal norms both from the family perspective and the amount of competition in Chinese society now - is just really different than elsewhere in the world and particularly from the US. It's kinda hard to understand the background against which they come from. I'm ethnically Chinese, am Singaporean, but a lot of the societal expectations still hold good.. and I also watch quite a lot of the Chinese videos/interviews on gymnastics since I can understand Mandarin.

    3. I am so jealous you understand Mandarin!

      I can't speak for the US but here in Ireland it's not so long ago that when children got a job they gave up their entire salary to their parents and got a tiny pittance handed back to them. And those who emigrated (we are a top country for emigration) would send home enough money to support their families left behind. Not exactly the same, but still.

      Shang Chunsong also stated that she has no real interest in the money or has things to spend it on. She has put a down payment on a house/apartment for her brother. I think even though as you say it is the societial norm especially for someone from her background, her actions are still intensely admirable. Even the fact that she can provide for them at all like that. Stories like this and Yang Hak Seon's are just so touching.

      I think education of elite gymnasts is a worldwide problem, worse in central training centres probably but still an issue everywhere. Like last year, all of the Romanian gymnasts sitting the BAC failed it. I asked Danusia Francis a question on her about wheether she prefers the setup of US degrees re. modules etc. to what she has heard of what British universities do..and she said the US, because it's more open. She hasn't been able to do as many subjects in the British school system, and that would have narrowed her choices in a British university should she have chosen to go to one. So, minor in the scheme of things but still there. Even in the US, the gymnasts who are homeschooled are behind their peers- squashing in 7 hours of training just can't work out perfectly. It's why we do not see a huge proportion of elites in colleges like Stanford, because their academic requirements are so high.

      Former gymmnasts like Amy Chow who is a doctor and others who became lawyers etc. are a rarity. There is an enormous amount who go into coaching, or sports therapy or some other avenue. Not that I would condemn someone for their choice- but it just doesn't seem like they have as many options to go down, which is sad.

    4. Yeah, I definitely agree that it's a major issue worldwide. The US seems to have gotten it together the best, mainly because their education system seems reasonably flexible and there's greater opportunity for homeschooling.. plus even if it doesn't work out with elite gymnastics (or quite near elite level) there are still opportunities for the gymnasts to get a decent education and jobs in the future, esp with NCAA opportunities. That at least gives some payoff to the amounts (time and money) invested in gymnastics.

      Whereas the thing with elite gymnastics in Romania, China and Russia appears to be that you can hit elite level or even national team level but really have very little of a future. I loved that Alexandrov was trying to change things in Russia to encourage greater participation in the sport and to create opportunities for gymnasts to remain in the sport by coaching etc... but oh well :/

      And sometimes I think it's even harder in countries which are not big on gymnastics, where the gymnasts would probably have to rely on negotiating with their schools to sort out a school schedule that could fit in with training. It's a tough problems, I guess.

  8. OH MAN. I would love to see one or two of the top 3 Chinese vaulters at international competitions! I think world's might be hoping a bit too much... this year at least. Tan Sixin was lovely as well, I thought. And I am becoming a fan of Shang Chunsong! (I already loved Yao Jinnan :P )

    I think the Romanians themselves know how much the scores are inflated at home... they rarely seem surprised in competition! Wow that Iordache had her beam routine that good after training for only a couple of weeks.

    Do you know what Lexie's injury is? Last I heard it was a tendon strain, which wouldn't require surgery... poor thing.

    I am still mad at Russia. Lucky that their funding is so secure that they can afford to leave behind one of their top gymnasts for petty reasons. I just want to form another country and get Grishina to compete for it.

    1. I think I read that Wyomi Masela was injured as well but I'll be damned if I can find a source :/

    2. Li Yiting has had awful luck with injuries. If she's fine and willing to go, that would be nice.

      Strained Achilles was the announcement, but surgery would seem to indicate she tore it, or it was a bad strain? Don't know anything about that.

      Grishina has said (I think on vk) that her back/legs are injured. People are guessing that means sciatica..

      Yes, Wyomi Masela is out- Achilles.

    3. Not a doctor but... I don't think you'd have surgery for a strain. You don't want to mess with tendons more than usual. The only thing I can think is, since she's out of world's anyway, maybe it's a surgery she'd been putting off? (Unlike Afan - I can't imagine she'd have had that surgery unless it was vital, not this close to world's!

  9. do you know what's up with Elisa meneghini? I was surprised she wasn't on the Italian nominative list. Also, I hope this weakened worlds roster convinces marta to send 4 gymnasts and save Mckayla's potential AA for next year. I hope peyton ernst gets a spot for some experience or Ebee price gets a spot because she deserves it after last year.

    1. No idea, maybe they are saving her and building up her difficulty? Trying to be more optimistic than injury! I thought before that she might not fit in if they go for aa/beam/floor since she's surpassed there (at the moment)..

  10. Lexies surgery wasn't anything to do with her injury that kept her out of nationals. It was to fix a problem she had with two of her toes that she's been dealing with for a few months. It was nothing serious they just thought they might as well get it while she's out anyways with the sprain

    1. Oh right, thanks! Makes so much sense, glad to hear it's not serious.

  11. So, US camp ends tomorrow. So excited for the announcement. Predictions anyone?

    1. The team is Ross, Maroney, Biles, and Dowell. Price is the non-traveling alternate.