As we are still grieving over McKayla Maroney’s retirement and how the Olympic vault finals will have less thrill, let’s not forget that there is still someone, with two very difficult vaults, waiting quietly for her redemption. Having to settle for silver in the last Worlds, Olympic and World Champion Hong Un Jong is someone who can leave the world in gasps of admiration.

The calm and slightly shy Hong Un Jong has always maintained a rather cool demeanor. As a vault specialist, she competed in every Olympic and World Championships from 2007 to 2015, other than from 2010 to 2012 when North Korea was banned from competing due to an age controversy. During her long span of 8 years gymnastics quest, she collected an Olympic gold, a World Championship title, a silver and a bronze on vault. Her dedication as a vault specialist and perseverance in doing the same vaults for 2 straight quads make her name big. 

When you look at her vaults through these years, you cannot help but admire this athlete’s effort in perfecting her vaults. She does not have the same explosiveness of Makayla and Paseka, but her ability to twist efficiently while maintaining good form allows her to rotate fully by the time she lands. 

Seeing her improving every time she vaulted, from upgrading her doubt twisting Yurchenko to her Amanar, then losing her composure in 2009, and after 4 years of long wait, she got her power back, though still struggled with controlling her power and twisting. The next year, she was more capable in controlling her landing, and finally corrected her slightly piked form in the Cheng vault. Eventually, in 2015, she vaulted the best Amanar and Cheng in her career. The high degree of mastery of the two vaults she has been doing since 2 quads ago is a result of her commitment to vaulting, despite having 3 precious years stolen away from her.

This article may be the first of its kind to be dedicated to Hong Un Jong, yet Hong Un Jong is no newcomer to success. It takes her 8 years of endurance to arrive at this level of technical insight, making her, undoubtedly, a master of vault. As long as she is not retiring and staying healthy, her vaults will just become closer and closer to perfection.

Written by Valerie Theodora Ko


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