Photo by Silvia Vatteroni
Due to a shoulder injury, Chinese national team member Yao Jinnan has not competed for a long time. On the Chinese Nationals competition on 12 May, she drew the whole stadium’s attention the minute she came out.

At the team final cum individual qualification competition, Yao did not compete her best apparatus of uneven bars. Unfortunately, on her other three events, she did not perform well, vault and beam with especially large mistakes. Clearly, she is not yet prepared for the upcoming Olympics.

At the London Olympics four years earlier, the barely-17-year-old Yao was the little one of the team, at her full abilities and confidence. However, she only earned 4th on the uneven bars and did not ascend the podium at the competition, the one regret in her heart.

The hope was for a fresh chance 4 years later, but circumstances are conspiring to prevent that from happening. Last February, her shoulder injury and operation prevented her from training fully and she missed several internal tests. Her chances at the Olympics seem to be disappearing steadily. At these nationals, she overcame great difficulties given that she had not had her skills back for very long; despite the poor results, she is still improving. However, she knows this might be her last chance to earn an Olympic medal. She will not give up without trying.

Her prospects for earning a spot on the team are not high, but she is gritting her teeth and persisting: in her heart, apart from her own dreams, is an even greater responsibility. Most of the national team now have only one or two years of competitive experience, and Yao is the only member who has been to the Olympics and has that advantage of experience and maturity.

As team leader, she often advises her juniors, saying: “I help them now, as I was helped by my seniors in the past”. Whether or not she goes remains an unknown to Yao. But she faces this with greater calm and acceptance than a year ago. “The reality is as it is; as long as I try, I will not have regrets”, she says.

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Translated by gymguistics



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