Monday, 14 November 2011

DTB cup. Did Huang Qiushang win the battle but lose the war?

Two days ago, in the heart of Stuttgart, the unthinkable happened: Huang Qiushang went 4 for 4. This was a moment so unexpected and memorable that it will likely take off as an urban phenomenon (“where were you when Huang hit 4?” - that kind of thing).

OK so this is unlikely. But to the people that know, this was actually quite a nice surprise. But with the good came the frustration: why could she never do this before? And even worse: is it already too late for her?
For those that may not yet have seen the footage from the DTB cup this weekend, see the videos below. Do not be taken in too much by my hyperbolas introduction: her floor was very watered down and this field was basically nonexistent. It was even a field at all. It was a lawn. An un-watered lawn (and all thanks to these ridiculous new world cup rules sucking all the life and intrigue out of these world cup events).

Vault: Decent DTY (incidentally I don't believe the amanar rumours)

UB: Nice as always

Beam: For once a performance that doesn't make you hold your breath for dangerous periods of time

Floor: Nothing to write home about tumbling wise and a big OOB, but nice choreo

But hit she did. A total of 58.032 was miles away from the rest of the field, head and shoulders above silver medallist Kim Bui. Her bars, as usual, were lovely. I am a big fan of her on this event and think that the Chinese athletes were hit way too hard by the judges at worlds. But that’s another story. Her beam was refreshingly solid.

Success is always great to see, but failure to succeed when it matters unfortunately tips the scales. In situations like Huang’s it is hard not to wonder what might have been.

In the years running up to an Olympics, as pressure builds and challengers gradually emerge from the woodwork, it is important for the less hyped athletes to hit to their greatest potential and take advantage of the competition. Looks at Jiang Yuyuan. She probably won’t factor in at all in 2012, but she can say for her whole life that she had a great day when it counted and will forever have been the second best in the world. Same goes for Koko Tsurumi (third best) and countless others in the history of the sport.

Making the most of AA opportunities: Jiang Yuyuan

Huang has shown that she can put up a decent AA challenge. But will she have the opportunity again? The ever competitive second AA spot is like a medal itself in countries with a deep field and chances don’t often stick around for long.

It is with regret that Alexandra Raisman must be drawn in at this point. Two years as second in command to two different AA big-dogs, and twice a car crash on the bars. I am a big fan of her powerful tumbling and magnetic feet on beam and vault, but with the potential of a healthy Bross and Johnson next year (not to mention the new seniors), will she ever be number 2 again?

(On an unrelated note, nice to see Kim Bui in second, but a shame that she no longer uses that 1.5 twisting jump on beam. It was a really unusual skill and I really liked it). 


  1. I think Huang has a very good chance for Olympics as long as she stays healthy. China is seriously lacking vaulters, which is why Huang was subbed in for Wu Liufang in Tokyo anyway. At this point, Sui Lu and Yao Jinnan are probably locks, with Tan Sixin somewhat tentatively there (for her BB and FX) so any decent DTY (+ possible Amanar) is good enough for China. China peaks skills quite carefully, so I won't be surprised if she (and Yao) finally gets one next year.
    And China is not as harsh on headcases as Martha... unless you are He Kexin

  2. Yeah I agree with all of this. I don't mean to cast doubt on her making the team (a lot can happen between now and then and I am not clued up enough on the Chinese field and juniors etc), but I meant this as more of a general feeling about AA competitors in the run up to the Olympics and to think about how many shots at a place in the starting order for AA people like Huang and Raisman will realistically have given the strength of their respective programmes.

    I are that she could very possibly be on the Olympic team just not necessarily in the AA (but she very possibly could be - I was more using her as an example).

  3. Chinese have a interesting program all right, Tan Sixin is a possible AAer, she was supposed to in Tokyo...she needs to stop head-casing.

    But yea I get what you are saying, gymnasts who are not quite the very best have just a few opportunities for the really big prize. Aly Raisman could have easily had Bronze this year (I'm not a fan of her gymnastics, fugly feet). Especially with the US, where there are quite a few strong AAers, I doubt she's going to get a chance in London. Wieber, Bross.. Shawn Johnson, Kyla Ross, even McKayla Maroney... phew, tough field. China (right now out of the 12 people on their national team this year), only Yao Jinnan and Tan Sixin (and Huang and maybe Deng Linlin) can even do AAer.

  4. Yeah that's what I mean about Aly, I think it was her last chance to make a big AA splash this side of the Olympics. You are so right about her feet though. She is like a duck or something. Yeah her gymnastics aren't pretty but I like her tumbling and consistency. I don't think she has a chance of AA next year though, but who can say. I bet noone thought Memmel would look as good as she did at trials in 08: a lot can happen in a year (ish).

    I didn't realise China had so few AAers. I mean I do hope things work out for Huang I think she is a nice gymnast