What an insane 48 hours this has been for the sport. In the past few days excitement levels have really begun to escalate and we are getting a taste of what a ridiculously exciting Olympic year this is going to be.
In the space of a weekend we have seen that USA now have a minimum of 4 Amanar vaults. We have seen Gabrielle Douglas beat Jordyn Wieber at the American Cup, cementing her status as a serious contender for the Olympic team (and in doing so edging team-mates Sacramone and Maroney's chances ever more into the shadows - and for that matter Raisman's chances of being second in command in an All Around situation). We have seen Iordache of Romania hit a beam say way into the fifteens showing the world that the Romanians are NOT out of the picture on an individual level despite the loss of Porgras and reported re-injury of Izbasa.
This weekend has also seen the English Championships take place. This competition doesn't usually give us information impacting the world stage in the same way as the above, but it does mean we get to have a good look at British favourite Beth Tweddle.
I am going to allow myself a bit of fawning here. Beth is just great. Not only has she carried on into her THIRD Olympic title in the face of adversity. Not only did she face heartbreak at the last Olympics. Not only if she incredibly likely to go again, but she is in a better position on her signature apparatus than ever before. AND she CONTINUES to upgrade.
We have seen her throw the Fabrichnova before. She has brought it out of the bag in podium training a few times, giving the impression that she might throw it in a pressured situation. I think she probably would have gone for it in 2010 if He Kexin hadn't come off the bars, so easing the pressure for Beth. But here is a video from the English champs of Beth dismounting with a double twisting double tuck. We will have to wait for higher quality videos, but it doesn't look half bad, does it?
Now noone is saying this routine isn't without its problems. She could get slammed on a few of those handstands, for instance. But it is by far the most original and difficult bars routine in the world right now, and she looks set to enter the Olympics with the hardest bars set for the second Olympics in a row: that feat alone deserves a medal. If she hits the Ono-Markelov-Gienger combination as well as the Toe on 1/1-Tweddle-Ezhova-Van Leeuwen (she doesn't compete the toe on 1/1 here, but the rest of that combination is looking great) then she could be looking at a start value approaching 7.3.
This is fantastic news. There is the possibility of course that Beth does not necessarily plan to throw this dismount regularly and that she was just giving it a go. She did say during the commentary at the test event that she had no planned upgrades to her routines in the run up to London. But then again she also said she would quit after Beijing so who knows!
Beth is such a commendable athlete and she never stops stunning her audience with her ability to improve her routines at this stage in her career. I just PRAY that she hit in QFs (finals too, of course, but one step at a time).
Just imagine the drama: the unlikely champion turned specialist turned home crowd favourite. I can't even bear to think what NBC will do with it.