The first weekend in March proved to be one of the busiest in elite gymnastics thus far in 2016. It saw L’International Gymnix take place in Montreal, Canada, the American Cup take place in Newark, New Jersey, USA, the Austrian Team Cup take place in Linz, Austria, the 2nd Italian Serie A meet take place in Ancona, Italy and the Turkish Championships take place in Mersin, Turkey.
It was a weekend that had us screaming “HELEN WHO!?”, after Helen Hu wowed us with her unique floor exercise at the Nastia Liukin Cup and had some people, *cough* Chelsea Clinton professing Gabby Douglas as the greatest gymnast of her generation, if not any generation after her win at the American Cup. Who is Simone Biles anyway? It also had gymnastics fans fall in love with a tiny Russian by the name of Varvara Zubova after her International debut at L’International Gymnix and simultaneously scream at the television for ignoring Ellie Blacks existence at the American Cup whilst also grinning ear to ear in the aftermath of watching Queen Carlotta Ferlito of Italy’s floor exercise, that came complete with stuck landings and Christina Aguilera vocals.
After such a hectic weekend, gymnastics fans needed some rest and recuperation, however the week after proved to be just as hectic. Here is the week in review.
1.Simone Biles finally appears on the Ellen DeGeneres show:
After three World Championship titles and many tweets sent pleading for the 18 year old to appear on the show, Simone, wearing her newest ‘Simone by GK’ leo appeared on the famous talk show. She was her bubbly self, smiling from ear to ear and laughing contagiously. Simone, was of course gifted a Zac Efron leotard by Ellen (aka Ellen’s producers) after a build up that made me believe that Zac Efron himself was going to pop out from behind the set and let us see Simone in a rare shy moment, as she blushed at the sight of her celebrity crush. However it wasn’t meant to be and Simone had to settle for a leotard, let’s hope Aimee Boorman lets her wear it at P&G’s! The interview was topped off by the usual watered down balance beam routine that we see on talk shows. However this one was slightly harder than past guests, namely Jordyn Wieber and Shawn Johnson. Who knows why it took so long for Simone to get this well deserved attention. Perhaps because Ellen’s producers probably thought they had the ‘Olympic gymnast’ box ticked with Sophina DeJesus. *eyeroll*. However it was great to see her step into the mainstream media limelight a little, no doubt there’s more to come.
2. Larisa Iordache injures her finger:
As if things couldn’t get worse for the Romanian team, leader, Larisa Iordache announced on Wednesday, March 9th that during training on Tuesday, March 8th she fractured one of her metacarpels. Whilst no injury comes at a good time, this could possibly be one of the worst times for Larisa to be injured. Due to this injury the 19 year old must undergo surgery and as a result, will miss the Rio Test Event in April. Following a disastrous World Championships last year in Glasgow, the Romanian team failed to qualify to the Rio Olympics and are relying on the test event to qualify. As you can see this poses a great issue for not just Larisa, but Romania. Their strongest gymnast is now out and it is very questionable whether they can qualify without her.
One must remain optimistic, however with Larisa being the only Romanian to qualify for a final at last years World Championships, Olympic Champion, Catalina Ponor still very much in the early stages of her comeback, Romania having a meek number of new seniors ready for the world stage, the injury status of important team member Anamaria Ocalisan uncertain and Romania generally just having a low number of gymnasts capable of posting competitive scores, the unthinkable may happen and there may be no Romania in Rio, a mind blowing thought as the Romanians have not just attended every Olympics but won a team medal at every Olympics since 1976. It was heartbreaking to see Larisa and the Romanian team cry on the sidelines at last years World Championships, dismayed at the fact that their once unbeatable Gymnastics program had plunged so far. And it will be heartbreaking if they fail to qualify, however only time may tell.
3. U.S Gymnasts attend Team USA Media Summit in Los Angeles:
One of the trademarks of an Olympic year is the media associated with it. Mainstream media mostly ignores Gymnastics as a sport, in those ‘inbetween years’. However once 12:00AM hits on January 1st of an Olympic year their attention shifts to the stars of the Summer Olympics. With Gymnastics being one of the most watched sports of the Olympic Games, gymnasts are a hot commodity during this pivotal year, and in particular American gymnasts. The media circus that surrounded the ‘Fierce Five’ after their win in London was insane and 2016 will be no different should the US girls triumph in Rio. However with the US being such a heavyweight in general at the Olympics and it being a highly commercialised society, even before Olympic glory the future stars garner attention and the media circus officially got underway during the week with the Team USA media summit, an event which invites Olympic hopefuls from various sports to attend and be photographed, interrogated and profiled by hundreds of media outlets. From USA gymnastics, 2015 World Team members, Madison Kocian, Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas, Maggie Nichols and Simone Biles attended. Whilst I refuse to get caught up in the hype and proclaim these five as the U.S Olympic team, they most certainly are the front runners and the attendees of the 2012 Media Summit proved to be quite similar to the gold medal winning team we saw in London. During the fun of photo shoots and hair and makeup, we found out interesting little tid bits, such as Aly Raisman’s thoughts on the Code of Points and injuries in Gymnastics and that Madison Kocian is suffering from an ankle injury which is requiring her wear a boot and use crutches. Eeep! Although really, this is not worrying, that girl has had more ankle injuries that gold medals won by Simone Biles and she has time to heal. There is no need to panic. She will be fine.
4. Gymnastics Australia holds selection camp for 2016 Olympic Test Event and 2016 Pacific Rim Championships:
On Tuesday, March 8th 2016, whilst Romania’s Olympic dreams suddenly became uncertain, Australia were operating in full steam ahead as their selection camp for the upcoming competitions got underway. As Australia failed to qualify a full team at last years World Championships, like Romania they must head to Rio in April and compete for a spot at the Olympic Games . At this selection camp, there was two days of competition to decide the teams that will be sent to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in April for the test event and to Everett, Washington, USA for the Pacific Rim Championships in late April. 2010 World Floor Exercise Champion and two time Olympian, Lauren Mitchel was in action during the two days of competition, having recently announced her comeback. A standout for me, personally was Larissa Miller on bars who’s high and flighty piked Jaeger blew Gabby Douglas’ out of the water. As of yet, no teams have been announced, however it was clear that all girls were hungry to be named to a team and qualify to Rio as they were showing impressive new upgrades on all events. Gymnastics Australia did a fantastic job of covering events via their social media. Videos of the gymnats’ routines can be watched on the Gymnastics Australia Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/GymnasticsAustralia
5. Confirmation that ‘Douglas Family Gold’ is happening:
Whilst 2012 Olympic Champion, Gabby Douglas posted on Facebook in May 2015 announcing that a reality show starring herself and her family was “coming soon”, we hadn’t heard anything about it until now. Many thought it simply wasn’t going to happen, however on the 8th March, Gabby confirmed via Twitter that the show is going to happen and will premier on Oxygen on May 25th. There is now an Official Facebook Page for the show and there is much buzz, at least in the gymnastics community about the show which will chronicle Gabby’s road to Rio. It will star Gabby, of course, along with mother, Natalie, sisters, Joyelle and Arielle, brother, John and presumably grandmother, Miss Carolyn? Surely Martha would have a few words to say about Gabby’s newest venture, and rightly so.
Whilst I am not opposed to Gabby making the most of every opportunity that comes her way, this life is surely taxing on the 20 year old. It is not necessarily a distraction and I realise that filming has probably wrapped at this point. However, whilst filming, it must have been a hectic schedule. Part of the show was presumably shot in LA when Gabby still lived there along with her family, surely filming continued once she moved to Ohio to train at Buckeye. And I assume that Kittia Carpenter didn’t allow cameras filming in her gym every day, so therefore, I presume Gabby had, for some time training obligations and filming obligations. At least she’s graduated high school and doesn’t have academic obligations on top, right? I am just a little bit skeptical, and think that this is a heavy weight for her to carry. Lately, in competition Gabby has seemed constantly worried, looking extremely serious, and whilst I know she is competing and wants to win, I can’t help but think that she feels the pressure to win as a result of making a good storyline for the show. Afterall if this show is chronicling her road to Rio, and she doesn’t end up in Rio, that would be a disappointment to the producers to say the least. Additionally, I wonder if Gabby essentially playing the role of provider, at least financially is putting extra pressure on her to succeed.
Perhaps I’m reading too much into this however it does worry me. Nonetheless I will watch the show like the dedicated gym nerd I am and hope for it to be a well made, positive show, with some juicy gossip, maybe a Martha cameo!? One can dream, can’t they!? With her retirement looming maybe she wants to have one last moment in the limelight! One thing can be sure though, we will get a great look at the Douglas family dynamic with the family being on opposite sides of the country and Gabby’s older brother, John going after his own Olympic dreams as a track and field athlete.
Evidently, it has been a busy week. In addition to this news, during the week we also learned that the 2017 P&G Gymnastics Championships will be held in Anaheim, California. The announcement was made in Disneyland by President of USA Gymnastics, Steve Penny and he was accompanied by Bela Karolyi and Olympians, Kyla Ross (love that she’s doing promotional work for them since her retirement), Sam Mikulak and Carly Patterson.
Also this week, the unoffical roster for the City of Jesolo trophy was announced. Teams from all over the world are attending including USA, Canada and Brazil and the roster is jam packed. Also announced was that FloGymnastics would stream the event.
The promo video for the 2017 World Championships in Montreal, Canada was also released.
Also Nadia Comaneci, Bart Conner and Jordyn Wieber joined the team for Los Angeles’ bid for the 2024 Olympics.
Aaaand finally Lieke Wevers announced and injury that would take her out of the Glasgow World Cup this weekend.