Olympic Preview: Team China

8:46 PM Arabian Punch Front 1 Comments

Team China has been a bit of a mystery to me. Most of the information we get is through the Chinese gymternet and the people kind enough to share it with us on tumblr. The Olympic team has been announced and there has already been a replacement due to injury. The current team consists of Shang Chunsong, Fan Yilin, Wang Yan, Mao Yi, and Tan Jiaxin.

Shang Chunsong is now the veteran of the team. She made her international debut in 2012 at the Pacific Rim Championship. Since then, she has gone on to 3 World Championships and was a lock for China's Olympic team. Shang grew up in a rural area of China. and her family sold their calves to pay for her gymnastics. As a senior, Shang won many national titles earning her enough money to help settle her family and buy a home for her brother who is visually impaired. Despite numerous national titles in one of the greatest gym nations, Shang is yet to bring home an individual world medal. She has made numerous all around finals though is often held back by a weak vault - a full twisting Yurchenko (5.0D). Though her difficulty on vault is low, her difficulty elsewhere is competitive. She has made an individual event final in everything but vault and has often finished in the top 8 AA. Her execution, however, can cause trouble. A specific slow motion of her switch ring on beam at 2013 worlds comes to mind. That aside, with Larisa Iordache possibly out of the Olympics and Angelina Melnikova struggling with a hamstring injury, Shang could finally have her chance to bring home an individual all around medal. Also look for her to make the beam and floor finals - her floor with a very strong 3.5 punch front pike and triple twist immediate punch front tuck. You can read more on Shang Chunsong/a translation of a short documentary on her here: In the Olympic Year - Shang Chunsong.

World Champion Fan Yilin is one of the other crucial members for Team China. In 2015, she was part of a four-way tie for the gold medal on uneven bars but boasted the highest difficulty of the group at 6.9. Since then, she has successfully competed a 7.1 D at an internal test with a connected pirouette giving her the additional two tenths in difficulty (D-score breakdown here). Her balance beam is at a 6.7 D score if everything is connected. Fan has competed floor exercise but not at major international competitions. Her D there is relatively low, 5.4. Look for Fan to again make the uneven bar final with her eyes set on a medal. Also look for her in the beam final if all goes according to plan in qualifications.

Though I missed a lot of junior chat, Mao Yi was one of the juniors I do remember hearing about. She had her senior debut in 2015 and capped off the year as a world silver medalist with the team in 2015. She competed on vault and floor in both team qualifications and team finals where she boasts a solid double twisting Yurchenko. Don't be fooled as Mao did compete in the all around at the 2016 Chinese National Championships where she won the silver medal. She struggles on bars with a slightly awkward construction but has a good beam and has upgraded floor to a 6.4 difficulty. Like Shang Chunsong, she has a 3.5 to punch front tuck, a triple full to punch front pike, with the addition of a 2.5 to punch front layout? half. I don't know why but that last one impresses me the most. For Mao, look for her to possibly joining Shang in the all around final and possibly floor final. You can read/watch more on Mao Yi here: The Olympic Year - Mao Yi.

Wang Yan is another athlete that was heralded as one to watch as a junior. She competed at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games then at the World Championships in 2015 as a newly minted senior. She competed in all 4 events and made the all around final. In the team final, she contributed on everything but uneven bars. Wang is China's only shot at a vault medal where she has a double twisting Tsukahara (6.0 D) and a Rudi (6.2 D). She's capable of being one of China's top all arounders but injuries have plagued her throughout 2016. Her vaults and her potential are part of what kept her on the team, after pain kept her from competing to her fullest potential at this year's Nationals. Based on interviews with the coaches, she is coming back stronger both physically and mentally. Look for her in the vault final. Her other finals, beam and floor are possible if she is close to 100%.

To round out the team, we have Tan Jiaxin who recently replaced injured Liu Tingting. Unfortunately, Tan is not without injuries as an elbow injury keeps her a question mark. She is most useful on vault and the uneven bars. On vault, she was working an Amanar though, to my knowledge, she has not successfully landed it in competition/internal test (though has gotten very close). She is also great on the uneven bars where she has high difficulty and caps off her routine with a full twisting double layout.

Here's what I make of Team China's lineup. Without Liu Tingting, they lose a strong beam worker. Tan is strong on vault and uneven bars, provided her elbow injury does not cause difficulties on this event. Of note, China is in a similar all around issue that other countries are in. Shang is certainly doing all around. Mao finished 2nd at the recent championships. Wang has great all around potential though she has not shown it recently due to injury and consistency issues. Do you give her the chance on uneven bars or give it to Tan since she actually has a chance at the event final? Based on what we've seen, I think the spot goes to Tan. All around spots will go to Mao and Shang.

Possible Lineup
VT: Shang, Mao, Tan, Wang
UB: Mao, Tan, Shang, Fan
BB: Wang, Mao, Fan, Shang
FX: Fan, Wang, Mao, Shang

What do you think of this lineup?

1 comment :

  1. Thanks for posting this! I find it harder to keep the Chinese gymnasts straight than those from many other countries... whether because there's less coverage of the individuals, or they have more girls with similar names, or what, I'm not sure. Possible a combination of those things - I can't keep Australia's several Georgia's straight, either. :p