Articles by "Opinions"
Showing posts with label Opinions. Show all posts
Leanne Wong's was our no. 1 floor routine of the championships. Photograph: YouTube

Here are our 10 favourite routines of the 2017 P&G gymnastics championships.

1. Leanne Wong (junior) – The Queen of Elegance is the perfect combination of difficult tumbling and picture-perfect choreography. Perfection is an underappreciated quality in elite gymnastics these days.

2. Kara Eaker (junior) – Kara’s lyrical beauty on floor and her rhythmic gymnastics style may bring tears to your eyes.

3. Maile O’Keefe (junior) – Maile developed a new maturity on floor, her routine is a story of unfolding dramatic beauty, she is magnetic.

4. Riley McCusker (senior) – Riley’s ‘sassy ballerina’ routine will bring a smile to your face, while her virtuosity will prevent you from taking your eyes off her.

5. Adeline Kenlin (junior) – Grace and finesse are one with Adeline, who among all that beauty can casually throw a Podkopayeva II tumbling pass.

6. Emma Malabuyo (junior) – Fun but composed, difficult but light, Emma’s floor routine is a joy to watch. She is a sunray among all the tempestuous drama of elite gymnastics.

7. Ragan Smith (senior) – The Olympic alternate embraced her new mature role within the team, showing off a new well-choreographed routine, which, paraphrasing her coach Kim Zmeskal-Burdette, aims to be cute but sassy. Goal achieved!

8. Luisa Blanco (senior) – The Alabama commit did not get any media attention, but her polished work is a beauty and her balletic pointed toes are the highlight of her routine.

9. Marz Frazier (senior) – The UCLA commit proved that you can throw big skills out on the floor, and still dance like you are at a party and have fun. Miss Val must be proud!

10. Trinity Thomas (senior) – Another gymnast who got undeservingly little media attention, Trinity seems to be blessed with wings, so high she flies when she tumbles and dances. Impressive!

Article by Talitha Ilacqua
Lots and lots of skills were added to the CoP during the 2013-2016 quad. Here are my top eight favorite skills.

Photo by Silvia Vatteroni


Originator: Brenna Dowell

Skill: Double forward pike on floor

Rating: F


Originator: No one (since more than one gymnast competed the skill at the same championships, it was added to the CoP without bearing any name) 

Skill: Change leg ring leap with half turn on floor

Rating: D


Originator: Simone Biles of USA

Skill: Double layout half out

Rating: G


Originator: Victoria Moors of Canada

Skill: Double twisting double back layout

Rating: I


Originator: Katarzyna Jurkowska-Kowalska of Poland

Skill: A split jump with 1/1 turn (360˚) to the ring

Rating: D


Originator: Aliya Mustafina of Russia

Skill: Triple Y turn

Rating: E


Originator: Pauline Schafer

Skill: Side somi with half twist

Rating: E


Originator: Shang Chunsong

Skill: Piked Hindroff on uneven bars

Rating: F

By Gigi Farid

I haven't gotten over the 2013-2016 Quad neither do you. Here are the absolute ultimate highlights of the quad.

Russia's Ksenia Afanasyeva learning and competing an Amanar at the age of 21.

Afanasyeva debuted her Amanar at 2013 Universiade Games. There, she earned a gold medal on the vault. She again competed the vault at 2015 European championships and won a bronze medal.

Learning and competing such a difficult vault at the age of 21 is definitely one of the ultimate highlights of the past quad.

China's Yao Jinnan Competing the rarely done and most difficult bars release Mo Salto

In 2013, Jinnan had our jaws dropped when she trained and competed the Mo Salto, a very difficult and rarely done uneven bars release. Unfortunately, the skill did not help her much. At World championships, she fell on it  during the uneven bars final taking her out of medal contention. She hasn't competed it since then.

The rise of US Simone Biles

Biles established herself as a dominant force. She won gold in the all around and on floor exercise at all three World championships and at the Rio Olympics, she was basically unbeatable. She was as well the winner of two balance beam World titles and the winner of an Olympic vault title. In addition, she had a difficult skill named after her on floor exercise which is a double layout half out. Oh and she led her team to two World titles and Olympic one. Seriously, when was the last time we saw someone as dominant as Biles!

The continuing success of Aliya Mustafina

Mediocrity was never in Mustafina's dictionary. The girl became a World champion on her weakest event (the balance beam) and three times champion at the first edition of the European Games. She won three of the same medals at back-to-back Olympic Games: gold on uneven bars, silver with the team and bronze in the all-around. Moreover, she had another skill named after her, a triple Y turn on floor.

Dutch Sanne Wevers winning that Olympic gold medal

That was one heck of a surprise. Her gold medal win left us speechless. Wevers is very much admired by hardcore gymnastics fans for her originality. For them, her winning an Olympic medal was merely a day dream. She turned that daydream into reality. What an astonishing accomplishment.

Multiple gymnasts from not so gymnastically strong countries winning Olympic medals

They didn't lie when they said that everybody loves the underdog. Gymnastics fans were more than thrilled to see three underdogs winning medals (in addition to Sanne Wevers) at Rio Olympic Games. Giulia Steingruber became the first female Swiss gymnast to win an Olympic medal, a bronze on vault. Germany's Sophie Scheder won bronze on uneven bars while Amy Tinkler of Great Britain won bronze on floor exercise.

US Aly Raisman and Gabby Douglas making successful comebacks

When was the last time we have seen a successful a US Olympic gymnast making her second Olympics? Yea I thought so. 

US Aly Raisman finally getting her Olympic all around medal

Raisman was devastated when she missed out on an Olympic all around medal in London due to tie breaking rule. She worked really hard and showed great improvements. Seeing Raisman getting her own redemption and winning the Olympic all around silver medal in Rio was very inspirational.

The Produnovas

Competing/attempting the Produnova vault was one of the most spoken about topics. Egypt's Fadwa Mohamed, Uzbekistan's Oksana Chusovitina and India's Dipa Karmakar have all competed the vault. Due its dangerousness and it being poorly executed, there have been calls for the Produnova vault to be banned.

Russia's Anna Pavlova comeback for Azerbaijani

Pavlova is a huge fan favorite gymnast. Seeing her getting shot down by the Russians after the 2008 Olympics, was not easy on the heart. She took the decision to represent Azerbaijan in 2013 and was seen again on the international scene. Her biggest accomplishment was a silver on vault at 2014 European championships.  

Italy's Vanessa Ferrari finally winning some serious medals

Ferrari suffered from so many disappointments. In 2010 2011 and 2012, she did not win any individual medal at a major international competition. This quad, she got her redemption (kind of) by winning a silver medal on floor at 2013 Worlds and a gold one on the same event at 2014 European championships.

North Korea's Hong Un Jong attempting the triple twisting Yurchenko

Un Jong has been submitting the triple twisting Yurchenko since 2008 Olympic Games. She finally attempted it at 2016 Rio Olympic Games. Despite it being a failed attempt, it deserved to be on our list.

Hong Un Jong being back on international scene

Un Jong rose to fame in 2008 when she became the first female North Korean gymnast to win an Olympic gold medal which was on vault. In 2010, North Korea was banned from all international competitions for two years thus she did not have the chance to shine in this period.  When the ban expired, Un Jong managed to medal on her strongest event at all three World championships. 

Four gymnasts tie for gold at 2015 World championships

Judges were feeling generous at this day. They gave gold medals to four gymnasts in a single event final. This was the first four-way tie for gold at a World Championships.


Giulia Steingruber winning eight medals at European championships including the all around gold which made her the first female Swiss gymnast to win so.

Dipa Karmakar being the first Indian woman gymnast to qualify on for the Olympics and the first gymnast of either sex from her country to grace the Games since Tokyo 1964.

Written by Gigi Farid

Photos by Silvia Vatteroni

The 2013-2016 has not been easy on me. Here are what broke my heart into a billion pieces.

Photo by Silvia Vatteroni

US Mckayla Maroney not being the gymnast she deserved to be

She had two World medals and an Olympic one on vault, that's something of course but Mckayla is so effing ridiculously talented. She deserved to have a vault named after her, an Olympic individual gold medal, multiple World titles...heck she deserved absolute domination. Unfortunately, she suffered from on going injuries and from mental health issues during most of her competitive career which eventually put an end to it.

Mckayla Maroney not making the floor finals at 2013 Worlds because her music is one second too long

She is known as a vaulter but she is also beautiful on the other events. Her music was over the allowed time by a second thus incurred a 0.1 deduction, the deduction which left her out of the floor final.

Russia's Anastasia Grishina not living up to her full potential

I fell in love with Grishina ever since I first laid my eyes on her at London Olympics. She was so Soviet, graceful and elegant. I wanted her to be healthy in that quad, to compete at several European and World competitions, and to earn multiple medals at important meets. Sadly, the 2013 Europeans was her only big competition. She couldn't get rid of her bad luck as she suffered from series of injuries during most of the quad.

Romania's meltdown 

Oh boy, that one was depressing. No Romanian team at the Olympics, Romania failing to bring home an Olympic medal UFFF nightmare!

Someone having a voodoo doll of Viktoria Komova

Like seriously, how would you explain what was happening to her that quad! She got diagnosed with viral meningiti, back pain, ankle injury and God knows what. 

Judges hating Shang Chunsong 

She competed at all three World championships and the Olympic games YET not a single individual medal was handed to her. The girl either gets harshly scored or underscored. She deserved individual medals at these important meets especially that AA bronze medal in Rio (time to hide from Mustafina's fans).

Fan Yilin not making the bars final in Rio being seriously underscored on bars

Dear lord! Yilin went to the Olympics as the co World champion on uneven bars and was expected to easily qualify on the event and be one of the favorites to medal but she didn't and that's not because she has done an error or something. It is because she was undeniably underscored. You don't think so! She had the same execution score as ALY RAISMAN, so shut up.

Vanessa Ferrari not winning that bronze medal on floor in Rio

Don't get me wrong. I unquestionably believe that Amy Tikler deserved her bronze medal. I actually became a fan of her, the moment she started that routine. But man, seeing Ferrari narrowly missing out on an Olympic medal for the second time in a row, not something to be taken lightly.

Larisa Iordache not winning any medal on balance beam at Worlds

She fell on the apparatus at the event finals in 2013 and 2014, and fell on it in the qualification in 2015. She is a gorgeous beam worker. How I wish, she had won a medal of any color.. wait.. a gold one actually.

Larisa Iordache not competing in Rio

The girl carried the weight of her team for three years and ... I am sorry, I can't do this, excuse me while I go whip my tears.

Anna Pavlova not competing at European Games due to injury

Pavlova is Russian. Azerbaijan had her signed to compete for them in the aim of having her perform at the European Games which was held in their country. Sadly, she suffered an elbow injury which forced her not to compete in the Games. BUMMER.

Former Brazilian Lais Souza sustaining a neck injury that left her quadriplegics 

After ending her gymnastics career, Lais took up the winter sport of freestyle skiing, and qualified in the aerials event for the 2014 Winter Olympics. She sustained an injury while preparing for the Olympics which left her quadriplegics.


Ukraine's Mariya Livchikova tearing her ACL for the second and third time, not living up to her potential and retiring. 

Dutch Noel Van Klaveren not making to the Olympics and retiring.

Great Britain Gabby Jupp tearing her ACL twice.

Balance beam final at all three World championships.

Roxana Popa of Spain and jonna Adlerteg of Sweden not being able to attempt to qualify to the Olympics due to injuries.

Rebecca Andrade of Brasil tearing her ACL in her first senior year.

Romania's Andreea Iridon, Asiana Peng and Andreea Munteanu having their potential wasted

Written by Gigi Farid

Brasil's Flavia Saraiva competes on floor at the Olympics. Photograph: Silvia Vatteroni

What a year for gymnastics 2016 was! This article aims to recollect all the sweet gym-memories of this year.

I will start off with the Olympic Games, which was the peak of this gymnastics quad: high difficulty, great execution, beautiful choreographies, huge gymnastics variety, more and more involved countries. What a show these gymnasts put up for us. Congratulations to all participants.

U.S. Simone Biles

Rio had to be Simone Biles’ Olympics and the best gymnast of modern times did not disappoint. She won four gold medals, including the most prestigious of all, the all around. She showed great difficulty combined with very clean execution on all apparatuses, which is what makes her so special. Her Cheng vault is probably the best ever performed. Speechless.

The Final Five

The Fierce Five looked amazing, the Final Five looked incredible. Simone Biles, Gabby Douglas, Laurie Hernandez, Madison Kocian and Aly Raisman were the most consistent and successful team of the Games and won a record total of nine medals. Will there be a team capable of doing even better in four-year time?

U.S. Aly Raisman

Aly Raisman has always been the ‘underdog’ of Team USA. Despite being the most decorated U.S. gymnast in London 2012 and delivering consistent performances for her team throughout her career, she has never received as much media attention as Jordyn Wieber, Gabby Douglas and Simone Biles. Aly, however, is the hardest worker, and hard work pays off: this year she won three Olympic medals, including (eventually!) an all around medal, to add to her three Olympic medals from London. Future gymnasts, she is an example to follow.

Russia’s Aliya Mustafina

The Russian tsarina proved once again that she is the best Russian gymnast of the decade. She pushed through chronic injuries and pain to defend her uneven bars title with a beautifully fluid routine, which included her signature dismount, the ‘Mustafina.’ She was the first gymnast to defend her Olympic title since Svetlana Khorkina in 2000. Respect.

U.S. Madison Kocian’s ‘15.900 +’ UB score

On Day 2 of the U.S. Olympic Trials, Madison Kocian scored 15.900 on the uneven bars, outscoring contender Ashton Locklear. NBC commentator Tim Daggett rhetorically asked, doubtful, whether 15.900 was a score Madison would ever receive in an international competition. The answer is yes, she scored 15.933 in the team final and never scored below 9.00 in execution at the Olympic Games. That was satisfying. Never underestimate a WOGA gymnast, Mr Daggett!

Unexpected Olympic medallists

Switzerland’s Giulia Steingruber on vault, Germany’s Sophie Scheder on the uneven bars and Great Britain’s Amy Tinkler on floor were not the favourite but performed out of their skins in the Olympic event finals and achieved Olympic glory. Female gymnasts from seven different countries won a medal in Rio, what an achievement! Hopefully this trend will keep increasing...

Sanne Wevers and the Dutch team

Sanne Wevers’ gold medal on balance beam is the emblem of how impressive the Dutch team has been this quad. They worked the CoP perfectly, they showed original gymnastics as well as difficult skills, they qualified for the Olympic Games for the first time since 1976 and brought home an Olympic gold medal. Sanne Wevers was the only gymnast in Rio capable of taking a gold medal away from Simone Biles. Golden girl, we are all so proud of you! Congratulations also to Eythora Thorsdottir, Lieke Wevers, Céline Van Gerner and Vera Van Pol.

Italy’s 14+ floor routines

The Italian team failed to qualify for the Olympic team final due to a disastrous beam rotation, but impressed on floor, producing four routines out of four that scored over 14.000. They were the second highest-scoring team on this apparatus behind the United States in qualifications. Vanessa Ferrari scored 14.866, Erika Fasana 14.333, Elisa Meneghini 14.233 and Carlotta Ferlito 14.033. Hard work pays off, impressive!

Brasil’s Rebeca Andrade’s comeback

Rebeca Andrade tore her ACL the year before the Olympics, putting her career at risk. But she came back incredibly strong, competing an Amanar vault and qualifying in third position for the Olympic all around final. Lack of experience probably cost her a medal, but she is young and tough. She and teammate Flavia Saraiva can achieve great results internationally in the future, good luck!

Great Britain’s Ellie Downie’s strength

Ellie Downie landed  her third tumbling pass on floor on her headduring the qualification round, leaving her dizzy. Most people would have given up, but Ellie came back and finished the competition on vault for her team. Such strong character this young lady has!

Venezuela’s Jessica López

For a lot of gymnasts, an Olympic qualification is worth an Olympic medal. Jessica’s tears when she made the uneven bars final proved exactly this. Congratulations on her longevity and determination in sports!

An historic Japanese team

Japan achieved an historic fourth place in the team final, a huge result, which emphasises an improved Japanese female gymnastics programme, which certainly eyes Tokyo 2020. What impressed me most, however, was the pure joy and fun the gymnasts showed competing at the Olympics. It was beautiful to watch, a breath of fresh air in such tense atmosphere.

Uzbekistan’s Oksana Chusovitina

Oksana achieved a new record this year, becoming the first female gymnast to compete in seven Olympic Games. She also qualified for the vault final, finishing seventh. Because of her achievements and longevity in sports, Oksana was mentioned in this year’s Guinness Book of Records. A Legend.


I could go on recollecting beautiful Olympic moments forever. But the Olympics was not the only meeting in which we witnessed amazing gymnastics in 2016. Here are other gym-memories we will remember in the years to come.

Euros: Russia’s comeback on top of Europe

At the European Championships in Berne the Russian team won the team competition for the first time since 2010. Aliya Mustafina, Angelina Melnikova, Daria Spiridonova, Seda Tutkhalian and Ksenia Afanasyeva competed some pure Russian routines and were a joy to watch. Such a happy moment!

Euros: Russia’s Aliya Mustafina’s gold on beam

Aliya’s weakest apparatus is beam because she is not always consistent on it. But when she hits, she is one of the best in the world. At Euros she performed beautifully on beam and she won the event final with a score of 15.100, the first time she had scored over 15.00 internationally on beam since she tore her ACL in 2010. She is a class act.

Euros: Switzerland’s Giulia Steingruber’s victories and Ilaria Kaeslin’s tears

Giulia won gold on vault for the third time in four years and gold on floor for the first time. She was delighted, and so was the Swiss public. What I found particularly moving, however, were Giulia’s teammate Ilaria Kaeslin’s tears of joy and pride when Giulia won the floor title. Victories are sweeter if you know the right people to celebrate with.

Euros: Britain’s Becky Downie’s second UB title

Becky Downie turned senior in 2007, but it took her years and years in the British team to become consistent and produce important results. This last quad she has finally impressed, winning two European bars titles (2014 and 2016) and a world bronze medal with the team last year. She is going for Tokyo, will she impress us even more?

U.S. Ashton Locklear’s UB routine

One of the cleanest bars workers of the quad, Ashton was a victim of the depth of team USA. Her difficult combinations and beautiful lines, however, are unforgettable.

U.S. Ragan Smith’s floor routine

Ragan’s floor routine to the Addams Family soundtrack was one of the most fun routines of the year. She is a great floor performer, as well as a very good tumbler, I am looking forward to her new routine next year.

U.S. MyKayla Skinner’s all around performances

It is incredible how much MyKayla improved throughout 2016. Her Olympic Trials performances were stellar, it is unfortunate she was not chosen for the Olympic team, she deserved it. She is now competing in NCAA gymnastics for the University of Utah, her super difficult skills have set her to become a star!

Viral: UCLA’s Sophina DeJesus’s NCAA floor performance

Only one gymnastics performance went viral this year, and was not Simone Biles’ nor an Olympic performance. It was UCLA’s senior gymnast Sophina DeJesus’ floor performance, who charmed the world with a sassy routine packed with pop music moves. So much fun, congratulations!


2016 was also a year of gymnastics revelations. Here are the unexpected gymnasts who impressed most this year.

U.S. Laurie Hernandez

We knew that the 2015 Junior U.S. champion was a good gymnast, but Laurie took us all by surprise in Jesolo last March, when she performed an Olympic-worth balance beam routine, an excellent floor routine and improved vault and bars. Her Olympic floor routine was one of the most fun and beautifully choreographed of the Games, and her personality and maturity has made her a star. She is only 16, wow!

France’s Marine Boyer

Marine turned senior this year and at her first international competition, the European Championships in June, she won a silver medal on beam with a beautiful routine, as well as bronze with the team. This summer she qualified for the Olympic beam final and finished fourth. She has a great career ahead of her!

Turkey’s Tutya Yilmaz’s beam routine

Tutya impressed at the Olympic Games, when she narrowly missed the beam final. She performed a beautiful routine, which included a G-rated full-twisting layout. She deserves more recognition, I was very impressed!

Italy’s Elisa Meneghini’s beam routine

Speaking of full-twisting layouts on beam, Elisa performed a beautiful beam routine at Euros in June, which included a full-twisting layout. Unfortunately, she is not the most consistent beam worker, but when she hits, as she did in Berne during the team final, her routine is first class. Impressive!

Belgium’s Nina Derwael

Nina, a first-year senior, competed one of the most intricate and beautifully executed uneven bars routines in qualifications at the Olympics. She narrowly missed the final, which is a pity. But she is young, hopefully she will win what she deserves in the future!

The Hungarian team

At the European championships in Berne last June we witnessed the comeback of the Hungarian team. They finished eighth in the team final, but their work is very good and I expect them to grow in the future. Congratulations to 2016 Olympian Zsófia Kovács, Dorina Böczögő, Luca Divéky, Noémi Makra and Julianna Csányi.

U.S. Maile O’Keefe

Maile was quite unknown before she became the 2016 Junior U.S. champion. She is an excellent all arounder, but shines particularly on beam. I expect big results from her next year!

WOGA’s Irina Alexeeva’s BB routine

The 2016 Junior Secret U.S. Classic champion is an excellent beam worker. She has very intricate combinations, and her long lines take us back to the past. She could not compete to the P&G Championships, because she is not an American citizen yet. Hopefully she will be awarded full citizenship soon.


Finally, there are a few mundane events we will remember from this year.

U.S. Laurie Hernandez’s Dancing With The Stars victory

In November, Laurie became the youngest contestant to win the U.S. dancing programme Dancing With The Stars. Laurie has a natural talent for dance and her performances were impressive. What an incredible year this has been for Laurie Hernandez, I cannot wait to see what she has in store for us next year!

Great Britain’s Claudia Fragapane’s Strictly Come Dancing participation

Claudia competed in the British equivalent of DWTS, Strictly Come Dancing. She was eliminated in the semi-final, but she was probably the one contestant who improved the most during the show. It will be interesting to see how she will include her new dancing experience into her floor routine!

Tied Knots

Finally, congratulations to all those gymnasts who got married this year: Anastasia Grishina, Shawn Johnson, Ksenia Afanasyeva, Ksenia Semenova, Andreea Răducan, Amelia Racea and Aliya Mustafina. We wish you all the best!

By Talitha Ilacqua