An announcement last week from the Chinese camp. Four of the five athletes for London have been chosen: Sui Lu, Yao Jinnan, Huang Qiushuang and Deng Linlin. No great shocks there. The last spot is between Jiang Yuyuan, He Kexin and Tan Sixin.
Regular readers of the blog will know we don’t follow Team China as much as we do some others. I myself used to be a big fan, until 2008’s epic cheat fest and attempts by gymternet fuckwits to cover it up left a bad taste in my mouth. So I’m pleased to see them field a fairly mature team for London. One that we can (mostly) enjoy guilt free. Sui Lu and Huang Qiushuang have both been around for donkey’s years – each was on the scene in 2008 – and so has Deng Linlin. Obviously she looked 8 in Beijing, but has now morphed into a wizened old man. So I think we can feel confident that she too is old enough to be there.
Anyway, much of Bron and I’s coverage of China in recent months has centered around how much we love Wu Liufang. Alas, following her neck injury at Nationals in May, even we have had to accept that she is no longer in the running.
The four announced athletes fill the following spots:
VT – Huang Qiushuang, Yao Jinnan, Deng Linlin only if absolutely necessary
UB – Huang Qiushuang, Yao Jinnan
BB – Sui Lu, Yao Jinnan, Deng Linlin
FX – Sui Lu, Yao Jinnan, Huang Qiushuang
The beam lineup is extremely strong, probably even better than Romania, if they can all stay on – Deng Linlin is particularly solid. Floor isn’t too bad either. Huang Qiushuang is a weaker 3rd floor worker than the US and Romania are likely to use, and probably Russia too, but the others can pull in big scores. They should be in touch with Russia at least. But there’s a definite gap for bars – Sui Lu is totally useless and Deng Linlin won’t break 14.
Vault is more difficult to call. The last DTY we saw from Deng Linlin was this effort at Chinese Nationals:
Eagle eyed viewers will note that it is rubbish. We hear that she got 14.9 for a DTY in a recent internal test event, and Chinese domestic scoring is usually reasonably sensible, so she may well have improved. But either way, the 5th gymnast needs to do bars in TF’s and ideally to be usable on vault as well. There are no Amanars in the offing from any of them that we are aware of. Yao Jinnan injured herself attempting one at Nationals in podium training, so we’d be surprised to see her competing one. Jiang Yuyuan hasn’t thrown hers since 2008, and neither of the others has competed one. Solid DTY’s is what China will be looking for.
Definitely in the running for an AA medal, here’s a cute interview with Yao below.
Bronwyn’s favourite is Tan Sixin, a stunning and totally untrustworthy headcase in the finest vintage China mould. Her beauty on beam and utter lack of anything resembling a headgame compare well to the greats of the 90’s. Stoi! rather fell in love with her work at the 2010 Youth Olympics, still in many ways the best competition of the quad so far.
Jiang Yuyuan is perhaps the safest option. Traditionally, vault and bars have been her strongest events. She was taken to Tokyo for vault only and didn’t do a very good job of it, but to be fair to her she was injured.
Her DTY at Chinese Nationals wasn’t much better, but I trust her to crank one out when occasion requires.
Perhaps the most intriguing option is He Kexin. As she’s not competed her DTY recently, we assume she would do bars only, and never mind Deng Linlin’s ankles. This is a rather tantalizing prospect.
He Kexin was uncatchable for the first couple of years of this quad. Nobody was in the same league. Then, around the time she became legally old enough to compete, she started to look mortal. It’s almost as if teaching exceptionally hard skills to a prepubescent isn’t necessarily the best way to prepare said athlete for competing when she’s actually old enough to do so, isn’t it? Not the most sustainable approach. Anyway, she’s been useless since the Rotterdam EF, and had a particularly epic fail in Tokyo prelims. So utterly shite that she was benched for TF’s.
However, she does remain capable of hitting. Sometimes. At the recent Chinese Nationals, she made an absolute bollocks of one routine, then followed it in the EF with the best set she’s done since 2010.
It is no mean feat to be able to get through a 7+ difficulty set when you have grown five inches and lost your 12 year old’s physique.
So it depends how high Coach Lu’s appetite for risk is. He Kexin will either post a bigger score than any of her teammates could hope, or fail gloriously. It should be noted that this time, unlike in Rotterdam, they won’t have the option of benching her for TFs even if she headcases prelims again. Not unless they want to use Deng Linlin instead, anyway. Boring.
– Clara & Bronwyn