Koko Regaining Consistency. After an incredibly successful world championships in 2009 where she recorded the best ever all-around finish for a Japanese woman, Koko Tsurumi has struggled to reestablish her place in international gymnastics. With inconsistencies on nearly every event, a failure to upgrade on vault, and a serious lack of spark to her gymnastics, her future as an all-around contender was beginning to appear questionable at best. With a solid four-event effort in front of her home crowd this weekend, the still talented Koko defeated several strong challengers, including China’s Sui Lu and Yao Jinnan as well as Australia’s Lauren Mitchell. She’ll still need some upgrades to challenge for a repeat podium finish in Tokyo this fall, but Koko may have just regained the most important gymnastics ingredient of all – confidence.
Koko Tsurumi Vault 2011 Japan Cup
Sui Lu Continues To Impress. After just missing out on an Olympic berth in 2008, Sui Lu has emerged from the shadows of her predecessors as perhaps China’s most consistent gymnast of this entire quadrennial. Now with several world medals to her name and growing confidence in the international arena, the beam and floor star is a sure bet for the Chinese world team this fall, and likely a front runner for the Olympic team next year. She’ll not only be a contender for several medals herself, but she’ll be a crucial part of the Chinese quest to regain their spot on top of the Olympic team podium.
Sui Lu Beam 2011 Japan Cup
China’s New Rising Star? With several of its 2008 Olympians being on and off the injury bench over the last two years, perhaps no other team has been in need of a brand new star as much as China. With an extremely well balanced four-event program and the potential to contribute to the defending Olympic champion’s team effort on every single event, Yao Jinnan just may be China’s new rising sun. She might have missed a couple of her skills here and there in Tokyo this weekend, but this gymnast has the form, the artistry, the difficulty, and the technical prowess to be a major player for Team China as soon as this October at the world championships.
Lauren Mitchell’s Floor A Work In Progress. After competing the same floor routine for three consecutive years, the current world floor champion’s time for new music and choreography was long overdue. Unfortunately, the stylish Mitchell seemed a bit too distracted by her new dance to focus on clean tumbling, and we as fans were a bit too distracted by her out-of-control landings to appreciate her potentially cool choreography. Although her new routine’s debut didn’t quite meet our expectations, she’ll have a chance to make it right when she returns to Tokyo to defend her world floor title in just a few months.
Lauren Mitchell Floor 2011 Japan Cup
Lauren Mitchell Beam 2011 Japan Cup