Well it appears Lauren Mitchell has been saving it.
If fans had any lingering doubts about the world floor champion’s readiness for Tokyo, they can now be put to rest. At this weekend’s Australian World Trials, Mitchell served noticed that she’s not only ready to defend her world floor title, but she’ll once again be a contender on balance beam as well as in the all-around.
After becoming one of the world’s premier gymnasts on beam, floor, and in the all-around in 2009 and 2010, many fans began to question this gymnast’s chances for medals in Tokyo after seeing her struggle in numerous competitions this year. The normally crisp and dynamic tumbler has looked less powerful than we’re accustomed to all year – watering down her DTY on vault to a simple Yurchenko full in numerous competitions, occasionally downgrading her 2 ½ to front layout on floor, and looking uncontrolled on many of her landings. Her much anticipated new floor routine, which she debuted at July’s Japan Cup, was somewhat of a letdown to many fans due to several landing errors and lack of her typical competitive spark. She’s looked sluggish on bars at several competitions (disastrous performance at March’s American Cup), and even her typically world class beam has looked less sharp than we’ve seen from her in the past. She did win the all-around and three out of the four events at July’s Australian Nationals – where she did reinstitute her DTY on vault – but still made several large errors in the competition and didn’t score as high as she’s capable of.
That all changed this weekend, when Mitchell posted world medal-worthy scores on beam, floor, and in the all-around over two days of competition. Her floor routine this weekend not only included her very best tumbling skills – complete with the whip double Arabian she debuted this spring and her 2 ½ to front layout – but demonstrated she has regained control of her landings and maximized the special landing bonuses encouraged in the current code of points. Mitchell gained 0.3 in bonus by cleverly adding leaps immediately out of three of her four tumbling passes – her whip to double Arabian mount, her piked full-in second pass, and her double pike dismount. While some may argue these points are somewhat “cheesy,” there’s no doubt they require proper landing positions and excellent control. And better yet, they eliminate landing deductions. Her D-score of 6.4 on Day 1 of this meet is the highest being shown in the world (scored 15.55 and 15.1).
Mitchell also again competed the DTY on vault she left out earlier in the year (scored 15.3 and 14.8), hit solid bar routines with a 5.9 D-score (scored 13.95 and 14.25), and seemed back to her old self on beam, receiving massive D-scores of 6.5 and 6.8 (scored 14.5 and 15.85). Her all-around totals of 58.85 and 60.45 are high enough to challenge the very best in the world for an all-around medal.
It appears the popular Aussie gymnast, who has struggled for much of 2011, may be peaking at just the right time. Look for Lauren Mitchell to provide several highlights in Tokyo, where she’ll not only contend for several individual medals, but will hope to lead her team to a top-eight finish and a spot in next year’s Olympic team competition.