Huang Qiushuang has made quite the internet splash since a video of her new Amanar was unveiled online this week:
This undoubtedly helps China TREMENDOUSLY. Most fans and experts have been considering China the likely 4th place team in London, primarily due to their lack of Amanars on vault and rather unimpressive performances from multiple Olympic contenders at their national championships this spring. When matched up with the deep 2011 world champion U.S. team, the classy 2010 world champion Russian team, and the resurged 2012 European champion Romanian team, China’s chances for an Olympic team medal this summer have been looking sketchy at best.
But we can’t forget that depth has essentially no bearing on today’s 3-up-3-count team finals format, and if China can find three world class routines to put up on each event, they could still factor into the team race. We know this team is capable of greatness on bars and beam, while floor and vault have characteristically been less spectacular. We must remember, though, that Sui Lu and Yao Jinnan are two of the best in the world on floor, and this new vault from Huang Qiushuang now gives their team total a huge boost over last year – perhaps both mathematically and psychologically.
Although Jiang Yuyuan is currently listed as an alternate to this team, I couldn’t help but try and dig up the stunning Amanar she debuted in 2008, shortly before the Olympics in Beijing:
I remember being in awe over how EASY she made this vault look. Not only was she one of only a handful of gymnasts capable of this vault at the time, but she did it effortlessly. It immediately made her one of the biggest threats to Nastia Liukin and Shawn Johnson for the Olympic all-around gold. Unfortunately, though, we never saw a vault like this from her ever again. The Amanars she attempted in the competitions in Beijing looked nothing like this, and in fact weren’t even close. Her fall in the team qualifications took her out of the team finals lineup, and another in the all-around finals took her out of the individual medal hunt. I did, however, uncover a video of a landed Amanar from Jiang in the podium training from Beijing, which I had never seen before. This one was quite good actually:
She has shown some pretty good DTY’s over the last few years, but none that have looked capable of an Amanar again. I think it might take an Amanar on vault to get Jiang on this Olympic squad, because otherwise it’s difficult to argue what she’d really contribute to this team. Without an Amanar, Deng Linlin can easily replace her on vault, beam, and floor, and He Kexin – if reasonably consistent – can outscore her on bars.
The only other Chinese gymnast I could see capable of an Amanar is Yao Jinnan, who has one of the nicest DTY’s in the world:
I haven’t heard any rumors of an Amanar from Yao, but she has both the power and technique to do it.
China is a bit of wildcard for the Olympic medal race right now, but an exciting one nonetheless. I’d love to see them surprise the world with some breathtaking routines in London, where they could perhaps still factor in after a somewhat disappointing quadrennium as a team. With some beautiful gymnastics still in their lineup from stars like Huang Qiushuang, Sui Lu, and Yao Jinnan, as well as Olympic experience from Deng Linlin and He Kexin, perhaps this team could prove to be a pleasant surprise.