He Kexin (CHN) – January 1st, 1992.
He Kexin splashed into the international scene in 2008 with an innovative and original D-score bar routine. Among the skills that would continually wow the public was the Jaeger with half turn to regrasp in mixed grip.
At the 2008 Beijing Olympics He fell during qualifications but still managed to earn a spot in the final. During the important team competition she overcame the disappointment of the qualifying round and contributed to her team’s historic first-place finish. During the bars final she survived the pressure of the crowd’s expectations and placed first with Nastia Liukin. A bit of luck accompanied her, and a second tie breaker resolved in her favour awarding her a home gold.
After the Olympics He and her fellow 2008 Chines Olympic team gynmasts had to face the non-stop rumours of being underage. Documents were uncovered that said He was born in 1994, making her 14 at the Olympics and not age-eligible. A formal investigation concluded that He had been born in 1992, and therefore eligible to compete at the senior level in 2008.
Post-Olympics, she went on to capture gold on bars at the 2009 World Championships without difficulty. But in 2010 He fell on her straddled Jeager during bars final at Worlds, and did not medal. She went on to win the bars title at the Asian Games a few weeks later.
By 2011 she had dropped floor and was focused only on uneven bars. Named to the World Team in Tokyo to contribute only on bars, she fell during qualifications on the same straddled Jeager. In 2012 she was named to World Cup team where she once again fell on the same skill. Her fate for the 2012 Olympics seemed to have been sealed with that fall. Taking He, who couldn’t seem to get the only routine she trained together under pressure, seemed to be too much of a risk for the struggling Chinese team. But surprisingly she was selected for the London team over Beijing teammate Jiang Yuyuan.
Her tale came to a happy ending in London: she qualified to the bars event final in second place, came through for her team when she was most needed, and won a silver medal on bars. She’s the first Chinese gymnast to win two medals in the same event at two consecutive Olympics. He Kexin can now happily retire.
He Kexin – Floor – 2010 Worlds Qualification. He Kexin on her less-seen apparatus.
Article: Isabel Zamora
Editor: Maree Jones
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