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2009 Women’s Japan Cup
Although not a huge competition in terms of numbers, this weekend’s Japan Cup marked one of the few competitions we’ve seen all year in which several of the world’s top gymnasts competed on the same floor – at least on the women’s side. Continuing with the growing trend we’ve seen in the last couple of years, the women’s field was far inferior to the men’s – not only in the number of high level competitors, but in the quality of gymnastics. Still though, there were several highlights on the women’s side.
There were four women’s teams, competing under a 5-3-3 format (which will be used at the London Olympics in 2012). China edged Russia by a mere one tenth for the gold, while Japan finished five points behind for the bronze, and a weak Australian contingent rounded out the field in 4th. The Chinese regime consisted of Olympic Bars Champion He Kexin, 2008 Olympic alternate (and recent National AA Bronze Medalist) Xiao Sha, and newcomers Huang Quishuang and Zhang Jing. The Russian squad showcased several young gymnasts we’ll likely be seeing a lot of over the next few years: Anna Myzdrikova, Ekaterina Kurbatova, Aliya Mustafina, Tatiana Nabieva, and Anna Dementieva. Othe notable competitors included Japan’s Koko Tsurumu and Australia’s Lauren Mitchell.
The top all-arounder in the team competition was China’s Xiao Sha (57.6), who may be making a strong case to be selected for the world championships this year. She also put up the highest beam score with a 15.55. She was followed by Russia’s Tatiana Nabieva (15.15 on bars) and China’s Huang Quishuang (56.85). The all-around finals will take place Sunday.
Here’s a look at by far the highlight routine of the meet, along with the highest score (16.25):
He Kexin (CHN) – 2009 Japan Cup TF UB
Awesome set! I’d say that was actually better than what we saw in Beijing. You’ll notice she made a couple of changes to the routine – adding another hop full turn to elgrip before the first Yaeger, and connecting the laid-out Yaegar immediately into the Pak salto. I thought her handstands were pretty awesome, and I’m sure that short dismount was likely a result of her still building her endurance back up. This routine sure makes it seem likely that she’ll be at worlds this year, and will likely be battling for the gold again with gymnasts like Beth Tweddle and possibly Nastia Liukin.
Here’s a look at Olympic Beam finalist Koko Tsurumi, who you may remember finished 8th in Beijing but showed a lot of promise:
Koko Tsurumi (JPN) – 2009 Japan Cup TF BB
Nothing too spectacular but a nice clean style. If you read my previous blog on the top women’s all-arounders, you’ll know that she’s put up a couple of good numbers this year and could be one to watch, at least for a top 10 finish.
I’ll post some more videos and results as they become available, including today’s all-around finals. Stay tuned for some commentary and videos from the men’s competition!