Friday 6 December 2013

Spread the Love for China

China are a little mysterious. A lot of news is closed, the juniors tend to only compete in internal competitions of which videos are hard to find if Piibunina isn't there...and there is just a general lack of news about them in the public English language domain. Not to mention that the mass retirement of China's veterans leaves a gap both in knowledge of the ones to watch in the next generation and also interest since the next generation are relatively unknown quantities. In this post I will look at who I think are the star juniors (thankfully I now know a LOT more about them than when I tried to do it more than a year ago :D ), starting with the list of the new National Team. I haven't forgotten the Mexican Open and Stuttgart but they will be amalgamated with Glasgow and inspiration has struck due to one or two posts I have seen wondering about the juniors.

Here's the new national team. I omitted the girl's provinces for clarity.

1. Coached by Xiong Jingbin and Zhang Xia
Shang Chunsong
Chen Siyi 
Lu Qiuying
Deng Yalan
Liu Ying 
Lv Jiaqi
Wu Jing 

2. Coached by Wang Qunce and Xu Jinglei
Yao Jinnan
Huang Huidan 
Liu Tingting 
Wang Yan
Zhou Linlin
Zheng Lin
Luo Huan

3. Coached by some male coach and Sun Haiou
Tan Jiaxin
Zeng Siqi
Xie Yufeng
Hong Ke 
Liu Jinru
Chen Chaohui
Bai Yawen 

4. Coached by some male coach and Zhang Haiyan
Tan Sixin
Zhang Jin
Zheng Wen
Yuan Xiaoyang
Zhu Xiaofang
Li Ziqi
Gong Kangyi

5. Coached by some male coach and Sun Ping
Wang Wei
Qin Chang
Li Haiming 
Fu Yuyao
Zhang Yuxin
Lin Jinyu
Zhao Wei 

Obvious missing girls from the above are Mei Jie, Fan Yilin, Liu Zhilin and Xu Chujun. That doesn't mean all hope is lost, for one reason or another it may not have been in their interest to attend the selection camp, they may be recovering or injured, having routines restructured or it's just thought they might do better training provincially for the time being. But, some have fallen off the radar like Zhu Siyan and Xie Wenwei.

In my last post but one I detailed China's new bonus system. Obviously it aims to strengthen areas in which they are weak as a country; but as I said then I think it will be fairly messy or not really that effective in the short term. Quite frankly they do not have the body types necessary. But change has to start somewhere and hopefully they become more accepting in that regard. Huang Yubin is the (still fairly new) head coach and he is starting as he means to go on.

Recently, the MAG and WAG seniors were given a challenge. For the women, they are expected to show a 3.5 twist on trampoline at the end of winter training next spring. Trampoline will be incorporated more into training, and this is of course a good idea since it does help in developing new tumbles, spatial awareness etc. But I'd have to question a 3.5. It's not a viable option on hard surface for the vast, vast majority. Only one gymnast ever did it justice, it's so difficult to get fully around. Of course, a double layout or piked double arabian could be a little cruel since there are definitely more twisters than tumblers. Never fear, Shang Chunsong was straight off the bat and received the prize of an iphone for being the first girl to successfully complete the task. She gave it to her mother, of course.

China do not have much depth this quad. The 'old guard' are all at university. The current seniors that would make a team are: Yao Jinnan, Shang Chunsong, Huang Huidan, Tan Sixin, Zeng Siqi (maybe?) and Tan Jiaxin. There is also Lou Nina, a new senior, but she has been injured so is MIA at the moment. Next year, Wang Wei is the only new senior of note. And that's the problem, since their home worlds is next year. The quad is far from a write-off though as there is a glut of amazing juniors who will make their debut in 2015 and 2016. It doesn't appear that Russia or Romania are in an enviable position either, so who knows, 2014 may be fairly evenly matched in that sense.

Picture interlude! I have a feeling this post will be loooong..

Shang Chunsong receives her prize. Source - Che Li's weibo
He Kexin kisses a dolphin. Source -

The bed of a (UB) world champion. Source -

And back to business with the upcoming seniors.

Name: Wang Yan
Turns senior: 2015
YOG elegible: Yes
Best event: Vault or beam
All-arounder: Yes
Skills: DTT, Rudi, Shawn Johnson's acro line on beam - BHS 2 feet, BHS 2 feet, layout.
Notable D-scores: 6.7 BB, 6.2, 6.0 VT
Why Wang Yan: Wang Yan is tiny and compact, but powerful. She has huge vaults, SERIOUSLY huge for China let alone a junior, but is far from a one-eventer. Her full beam d-score is 6.7 which I'll admit she hasn't hit this year, though she did get 6.5 at Chinese Nationals Prelims in May. Floor is not anything to get excited for yet, though her landings on tumbles are nice and high. Bars show potential, not great flow or handstands currently. She has had some issues with injury this year so didn't have a good National Games but thankfully looked a lot better at the Japan Junior, placing second behind Bailie Key in the AA, with 14.950 on vault and 14.7 on beam. At this competition she placed higher in the AA than Laurie Hernandez, Andreea Munteanu, Maria Bondareva, Maria Kharenkova and Kim Janas, amongst others. Little bean, as she is now known, also placed second on vault and third on beam. Not bad for one who seemed to spring up out of nowhere in the midst of well-known juniors. She's more than likely going to be China's representative at YOG next year so hopefully she will show more progress on floor and bars there.

She's had better landings than this (wasn't fully healthy here), but I can't find any others :( Youku is for obvious reasons impossible for me to search.

Name: Liu Tingting
Turns Senior: 2016
YOG elegible: No
Best event: Floor I think
All-arounder: Yes
Skills: Nothing worth mentioning so far. Her d-scores have increased dramatically since last year but it's moreso the potential at the moment.
Notable D-scores: 5.8 BB
Why Liu Tingting: Aside from lovely long lines and extension, despite being very short, Liu Tingting shows massive potential in the all-around. Her legs seem quite springy and powerful so she looks well capable of a good standard of difficulty in time, yet she's also very graceful. Fabulous execution on everything except twisting, where she unfortunately sickles a bit but even her double pike and tuck look amazing. It's so interesting how perfect execution on a skill can make it look quite different in a way to the norm. She had the highest beam execution score at Chinese Nationals Prelims this year and also the highest execution on bars last year at Nationals, where she scored 9.0 which is basically 9.7. She has a lovely swing on bars and the makings of a great routine there, and is similarly stunning on beam but I do think she shines on floor. Hard to pick really. 

Bars Beam Floor

Name: Luo Huan
Turns Senior: 2016
YOG elegible: No
Best event: Beam
All-arounder: Beam/bars specialist but..maybe
Skills: Lin, Lin 1/2 and Ling pirouettes, BHS-BHS 2 feet-layout, Onodi-sheep
Notable D-scores: 6.2 UB, 6.3 BB
Why Luo Huan: For this. The best beam routine of the year, without question. Such a pity she was three years too young for Antwerp. Luo Huan is another princess of technique, execution and extension. Just look at that Onodi and double pike, and the layout which hangs in the air..I think there's a tiny skip there but it's still massive. She has the same precision on bars, with no less than three lovely pirouettes and a sky-high Jaeger. Ignore the silly fall. She is essentially a joy to watch and amongst a nation of bars and beam queens, still manages to stand out. 

Name: Yuan Xiaoyang
Turns Senior: 2015
YOG elegible: Yes
Best event: Vault
All-arounder: Edit: Maybe. The 2.8 bars routine is not hers actually!
Skills: DTT, BHS-BHS 2 feet-Layout, switch ring leap.
Notable D-scores: 6.0 VT, BB
Why Yuan Xiaoyang: She's powerful, basically. Has a better build than quite a few of her fellow national team members, which is always helpful. Not quite as clean as the two above who are really quite textbook, but could be just as useful if not moreso since of course, vault is an issue with this team. Her inferior execution is explained by her late entry to the sport, she started off a diver no less, so hasn't had as much grounding in basics as the others. Her floor hasn't reached the same level as vault and nor has Wang Yan's actually, but I'm optimistic that both have the goods and the power to build difficult routines. Surprisingly, Yuan Xiaoyang is also good on beam, with a high difficulty solid routine. She may not be the most stylish or with standout execution but I have a feeling she might prove the old adage 'slow and steady wins the race'.

Beam Floor Unfortunately her DTT is not to be found, but it exists I swear..

Name: Lv Jiaqi
Turns Senior: 2016
YOG elegible: No
Best event: Beam
All-arounder: At the moment UB/BB but..I think she could well be
Skills: switch ring leap, BHS-BHS 2 feet-Layout-wolf jump-scissone, BHS-LOSO (go on, add another!), Lin
Notable D-scores: 6.0 UB, 6.3 BB
Why Lv Jiaqi: She's oldschool, I always feel like I'm watching a Chinese gymnast from the 90's glory days. There is an elegance and presence in the way she moves and performs that is beyond her years. Another who shines on beam and bars, but in a different way I feel. I thought last year she might be one of the fan favourites whose gymnastics is great to watch but who doesn't really get anywhere, but she has definitely shown this year that she means business. I'm hoping her floor and vault can progress too. And if your eyes watered at the killer dead hang below, the good news is she's in a good group to learn some shaps.

If you're looking for her on youtube, her name is Lv, or Lu with an umlaut (which stubbornly refuses to paste correctly..). Writing Lu will find the Lu (umlaut) videos though.

Bars Beam

Name: Wang Wei
Turns Senior: 2014
YOG elegible: No
Best event: Floor
All-arounder: Bars are not her thing..I'm going with no
Skills: DTY (?) DLO, tucked full-in, triple twist, round off-layout
Notable D-scores: 5.8 VT (?), 6.0 BB, 5.6 FX
Why Wang Wei: Two main reasons; she can tumble AND she's turning senior next year, when she is badly needed in the small pool of girls China have for Nanning. It's quite an impressive skill selection she has on floor, with some connections either from tumbling or dance, it would boost her difficulty higher still. Her vault, as seen above, is in question. There WAS a DTY. It has not appeared in a good while and has caused some issues with bad landings, so she has reverted to a FTY. She's still classed as having a DTY and it may well reappear (safely, hopefully!) so I will leave it as a mystery. Leaps are not Wang Wei's friend and they're in sharp contrast to the girls above, but I wouldn't write off her beam either.


Other juniors to nerd up on: Fan Yilin 1999, Qin Chang 1999, Mei Jie 1999, Xu Chujun 1999, Zhou Linlin, 2000. It might be difficult as youtube is not overwhelmed with videos of Chinese juniors. But, names to keep in mind. Fan Yilin is glorious on bars, Qin Chang's event is beam, Mei Jie beam and bars, Xu Chujun beam and floor and Zhou Linlin leans towards AA.

There is quite obviously a dearth of floor workers and vaulters, and a gap as the glut of new seniors will be 2015 and 2016 - next year is lacking bigtime. Of course, China spend longer on and care more about basics and flexibility, so skills are added later, compared to other countries.  I don't think they will be able to pull off great results next year under the circumstances. But I do expect the gymnasts mentioned here to make their mark. It's not unusual for teams to have off years and while China has deeper problems such as filtering by body type still, they can be up at the top again. 


  1. Thank you for this post. Great work Catherine!!!

    Enjoy your weekend:-)


  2. Thank you Catherine!! I love your blog partly cos here I don't have to read all the crap that the Chinese girls get about being 10. I can understand and speak Mandarin but don't hang out the Chinese gymnastics forums (also I don't read Mandarin that well).

    I don't really mind the trampoline training, might be good for them to get spatial awareness etc as you point out, and if nothing else at least if you aim for the stars and fall slightly short you might still end up around a triple twist, which isn't bad. I think given the current composition of the Chinese team (at least body size/shape) I'm also quite skeptical about the huge 'flipping' type tumbles, but certainly I think twisting and combination twisting passes could work. They certainly worked reasonably well with Sui Lu in the past, and also with Chunsong.

    I've given up with Siqi, I think. Huidan has really come on with her headgame, maybe she just needed the confidence that she got at the NG but I'm glad, as China really can use all the help they can get. Especially since I think Yao Jinnan has peaked and hasn't been lucky with injuries, but also not great choices of skills. Lou Nina could be good as she was quite powerful from what I remember and China doesn't need bars anyway, but I guess we'll need to see how she comes back from injury.

    At least the 2015/2016 seniors look good, though I am sometimes wary about the shift from junior to senior with injuries, some of them just not fulfilling their potential or being very inconsistent etc. Definitely true about Russia and Romania (much to my dismay). It's only the US which seems to have massive depth at all levels, every other country seems to be fighting their own problems, whether it's politics, lack of interest, lack of coaches, lack of funding...

    Btw sometimes I also post on here as Rachel - same person!

    1. Btw Luo Huan reminds me so much of Sui Lu. China has beautiful beam workers galore but even then there was something special about Sui Lu's elegance and rhythm on beam.. she really did get robbed in London.

    2. Yesterday I just learned how to actually pronounce their names (let's not get started with tones, I just mean pronounce XD ). And my mind was blown. Unfortunately despite knowing it should NOT pronounce like English (I do have some other languages), my brain defaulted to that. It is funny how I have been writing about them for a good while now, always butchering their names saying them in my head. Their names are much prettier now :) Zeng Siqi, Mei Jie and Jiang Yuyuan are among the hardest to say.

      You're dead right about twisting. And the triple too, I wasn't really thinking about that aspect. They should all have the 2.5-layout front. And more leaps out of passes. Aside from favouring twisting over tumbling, they are not working the code enough, I feel. Wang Wei's routine for one should not be 5.6.

      I gave up on ZSQ after National Games. I was very skeptical about her endurance and strength before that, but NG and now Mexico have really slammed the door shut. Stranger things have happened..but..I just don't see her coming back to success? I'm so impressed with Huang Huidan, I had dismissed her earlier in the year but then she hit, hit, hit bars :) Tan Sixin has also come back from the dead, if only on beam. But she can replace ZSQ who had become a one-eventer anyway. It's great that the next generation are not so much one-event specialists.

      I think Yao has peaked, but I could see her still being great. Just not as easy as it was in 2011 of course. I agree, skill selection has been a problem as well as injuries. Much as I love the Mo, hearing how low her hit rate was in training in Antwerp turned me against it, as well as how recatches it. I do hope Lou Nina comes back strong. China need as many warm bodies as possible next year!

      I am also wary about injury amongst the juniors. Did you see the bonus post? (Sources are excellent :D ) I think it could increase the number of injuries in the short term as they don't really have the body types that the bonuses want.

      And the age comments get old (lol) fast. I will pretty much never mention it I think. Ah I wondered that before! Thanks for your thanks and thank YOU for a great comment :)

    3. I have just seen a comparison to Tan Sixin on beam- 2010 ish that is. The beauty of the routine, and the possible hype that is. To me, Luo Huan's technique outshines both..just a little.

  3. Chen Siyi will be a senior next year, too.

    1. Yes indeed but I don't see a future. Also Bai Yawen. There are maybe 8-10 total 2014 seniors but Wang Wei is I believe the only useful one, as of now.

    2. Xie Yufen is another new senior for 2014, but her prospects aren't that great.

  4. Sorry I'm a little out of touch with these Chinese gymnasts but what happened to Huang qiushuang? Did she retire?

    1. Yes she did, along with He Kexin, Deng Linlin, Sui Lu and Wu Liufang. So the entire 2008 quad is completely out of the gym now.

    2. It still saddens me that they all retired, but it's seeing them in that one group of updated pictures!

    3. Ah well. There's a new generation to look forward to! :D But after National Games are over, expect retirements. They really hang on for it.

  5. What happened to Li Yiting? Or does becoming National Vault champ mean nothing in China these days? I know she's entirely a one-event gymnast right now but it's one event they could really use in a team situation next year ...

    1. She underwent knee surgery shortly after the National Games, and her future in the sport is uncertain.

    2. Thanks! That's sad, she looked absolutely ecstatic on the podium.

    3. I believe she has retired now...she is no longer on either the National Team or the Beijing Team's roster. This is probably also partly due to the coaching shake-up on multiple levels.

  6. First, thanks for posting this. It seems that alot of general gymnastics sites treat athletes from USA, Russia and Romania as individuals and post about them as such but don't talk about the Chinese athletes that way and don't really know their names. I am not Chinese and do not speak Chinese but I know the different athletes and I like to hear them reported on as individuals.

    Also, I wonder if the reason China has been having so much trouble with power events is the emphasis on putting gymnasts on super strict diets. I have seen a number of interviews with Chinese athletes which seem to show that the gymnasts do not eat enough food and therefore have stunted growth and delayed puberty. See:
    It seems that someone so small might not have enough body mass to get enough force to do the most difficult tumbling. Wang Wei is the only gymnast currently doing an F skill and she is not as skinny as many of the other athletes.

    1. You could well be right. It's something you don't hear much about so I personally find it hard to judge whether it is more severe than other gymnasts' restrictive diets or if it's their small frames to begin with that make it seem worse. I myself am shocked when I see photos of dinners like Moors has put up, some fruit slices and carrot sticks. So I'm a poor barometer I think. Very interesting thought though, thank you. Will have a look at those links later.

  7. Oh my goodness... Luo Huan's layout and Onodi are seriously drool-worthy. China always has such gorgeous two-foot layouts. Pointed toes on the double pike are awesome as well.

    I'm also in love with Liu Tingting's beam work for whatever reason. She just seems so floaty. I love the extension through her flic before the back tuck. I'm excited to see how she comes along as she gets older.

    1. Some of the Chinese layouts have a little too much leg separation, but not all and they're all very dynamic.

      Liu Tingting's work is so pretty, and yeah, floaty is the perfect word for her. I'm excited for this bunch too.


    Catherine, have you ever heard of this mount? Do you know if there's ever been an attemp?

    1. Nope, not that I know of. Looks like it would be very pretty! Did you look through the beam mount videos on youtube?

    2. Yeah I've searched it. Don't you think it should be worth more? It's almost like a layout front mount. When I first saw it dos Santos' mount immeadiately came to mind. And yes, it must be so beautiful.

    3. Yes, DDS mount! This mount with hand support i.e. tic-toc like Shang Chunsong's is my favourite at the moment. It's what I want to see more of, simple, pretty mounts that aren't boring. As for acro mounts, I understand why they're not done so much anymore, but I love seeing them, like Natsumi Sasada's mount.

  9. Great post! Most of my feelings have been summed up by other commenters, but also... He Kexin is absolutely adorable! That dolphin photo...I love it.

    1. Thanks! Very jealous of her there :p I believe the 08 Olympians or some of them got to visit the Giant Panda Reserve afterwards..

  10. Just came across this blog and wanted to commend you--it is wonderful to read a blog that manages to be both informed and analytical without bashing or negativity. I hope you get more followers, you deserve them!

    1. Thank you so much! This blog always surprises me with the amount of views it gets, so that's fine with me :)

  11. Thanks for the blog I really appreciate it! My daughter wants to get into gymnastics in Johnson city TN and she will love this site. I will have to show her!

  12. Catherine, I was watching Antwerp's all around final again, and I noticed that right before Shang Chusong's beam routine, you can hear Izbasa's floor song playing, but Izbasa obviously didn't compete all around. I was wondering if you know what happened since you were there watching the final.

    1. Dutch gymnasts Noel used that music as well. (Actually she used it before Izbasa. :) )

    2. Thanks Peggy, must have been Noel so. I noticed a few 'mistake' things alright and I really dislike that music..but never noticed! Too much going on.