It is that time of year again, when The Couch Gymnast gives out her own awards for the performances and people who competed at Worlds. Here are the awards in the first three categories.
In the most capricious of sports like gymnastics, sometimes the hardest thing to attain is stability within a team or during a long competition. At these times there is no such things as the predictable outcome. And although that is part of the fun, it is impressive to see those who can work through a meet as arduous and important as a World Championships without losing their nerve. There were a number of gymnasts who performed with such commendable consistency, calm and reliability in Tokyo. These are the women who make fabulous team players as well as champions.
As someone who had the pleasure and privilege of watching China’s Sui Lu, the 2011 World beam champions and floor runner-up in training and on the podium all week, I can tell you that this girl never misses- particularly on beam. And this young woman spends more time on beam than any other Chinese team member. While the rest of her team mates are honing their bars sets, little Lu is pounding away at the beam, perfecting every little detail, and it absolutely shows in her work on the podium. She did not just not miss a routine- she barely wavered in training and on the floor in both her key events. It was phenomenal to watch.
Runner Up One: Emily Armi, Italy
This quiet achiever from Italy made her return among the elites after having missed Worlds last year to injury. With her return, she has brought an air of quiet consistency and calm to both training and competition. While the other Italians girls might be prone to, well, their fun and dramatic Italian-ness, Armi was quietly plugging away in the background.
Runner Up Two: Tatiana Nabieva, Russia
Who else has trouble realising the fact that Tatiana Nabieva did not miss a single routine on the podium during Worlds? Sure, there were form errors and some messy legs, but this year there was not one single dramatic Kersplat! from our favorite mercurial Russian. She kept all that to the training halls, where she was her usual unpredictable and wildly entertaining self.
Runner Up Three: The US team, USA
Who would have thought that with all the drama of selection, with all the untimely injury, with all the inexperience out on the floor that these five young women could produce consistently excellent enough performances to top the team standings during both team events? Let alone to do it with the same five girls in rotation, girls who were then still level-headed enough to go out their and collect a swag of event final medals. The US team was a mightily impressive outfit this year and part of it came from their mammoth consistency.
Be it old or new, we love it when an exciting move is used at Worlds, especially among the plethora of cookie cutter, identical skill sets so often used in this code. Here are some moves to celebrate this year.
There are those that will think I should give this win to a gymnast who debuted a new skill or who performed something massively difficult, but I am not. For me, Peng Peng Lee’s flares mount on beam is an utter thrill to watch- particularly after the parade of easy little leaps to one leg mounts we have had to witness this year. The other fantastic things about it? Lee’s mount was hands-down the most exciting skill performed just for the sake of fabulous gymnastics- and not just for difficulty. I want to see more of these moments of inventiveness and daring in this sport. Gymnastics for the sake of gymnastics. I love it.
Runner Up One: Elisabeth Seitz, Germany
Which brings me to another one of these daredevils. Last year she earned a runner-up for the Def. This year she wasn’t content to just stick to that exciting skill. Elisabeth Seitz may not be able to produced the consistency of execution to make event finals, but her desire to get out there and sink her teeth into some hard, and even original skills has to be celebrated. This year the talented and driven German had to have her own skill- a full twisting Maloney.
Runner Up Two: Yamilet Pena Abreu, Dominican Republic
The gymnastics world has been awaiting another Produnova- the girl and the vault. This year, Dominican gymnast Jamilet Pena Abreu brought us the vault. The powerful young woman was able to get it around in qualifications, earning herself a spot in the vault finals. Sadly, she could not repeat it at event finals for a medal.
Runner Up Three: Mary-Anne Monckton
There has been debate over whether it can really be called a piked Shushunova- but whatever it was, the Australian gymnast Mary-anne’s new bars release is now called the Monckton. It is lovely to see another Australian gymnast enter the history books. Aside from Mitchell, I am not sure we have had a WAG gymnasts in the code since the McIntosh vault.
Best ‘New’ Newcomer
In this category I like to choose gymnasts whose entry into the senior ranks has not earned as much attention or anticipation as gymnasts like Komova or Wieber, but who shone at Worlds, earning media and audience attention they may not have received previously.
Yao Jinnan debuted her extraordinary little self at some World Cup meets earlier this year. Those who saw her appreciated her budding talents immediately. Here was a terrific candidate to take up the reigns from some of the older Chinese gymnasts at World this year. When she did appear on that team, the world was forced to sit up and take note, as Yao Jinnan did not only take up the reigns, but excelled in Tokyo. Her all around scores already to point to her being a formidable player in London next year. Her beam and floor work is also of medal-winning standard, as she proved last week. There seemed to be little this quick, adroit little gymnasts can’t do.
Runner Up One: Nadine Jarosch, Germany
The entree of this German newcomer to the team this year made a considerable difference to Germany’s standings this year. In fact the addition of her scoring potential has been significant enough to help put them, for the first time in a long time, among the top eight teams in the world. Throughout the year Jarosch proved she has the difficulty, talent and style to be a great all-arounder. And she is only going to get better.
Runner Up Two: Gabbie Douglas, USA
Many of those that avidly follow the US national team had their doubts about little Gabbie Douglas making the Worlds team. She was known for her style and strength and for her much-needed excellent bars work. But did she have the maturity and composure to see her though a Worlds so early in the competitive game? Well, the youngest gymnast in Tokyo proved time and time again that she was equal to the task.
Runner Up Three: Ana Lago Serna, Mexico
This lovely little newcomer for Mexico not only shone because of her elegance- but also for her daring, especially while throwing the first Mexican standing back full on beam. She also shone for her terrific all around performance in qualifications. Despite being known as something as a beam and floor specialist, Ana was the highest ranked all around gymnasts, while some of her senior team mates crumbled under the pressure.
Look out for more awards tomorrow.