Sunday, 6 October 2013


I was only going to write a paragraph about our British boys, but it turned out that I had more to say than a paragraph could hold, so here goes a whole post:

Firstly, I must mention how proud I am of our British male artistic gymnasts- Max Whitlock, Daniel Purvis, Kristian Thomas, Ashley Watson, Sam Oldham and Daniel Keatings, throughout this competition. I don't tend to write about Men's Gymnastics but I do enjoy watching it and respect it as much as I do the Women's events. My favourite is the High Bar. Anyway I will disclose now, a few of my comments from this World Championships-

I have often heard the pommel horse described as the male version of Women's Beam; it is difficult to stay on there, but if you manage it, and have the difficulty score, you are likely to final.

2013 European Champion Daniel Keatings unfortunately fell on his pommel routine in the qualifications, as did 2012 Olympic Champion Kristian Berki. These facts alone illustrate such an allusion to Women's Beam, demonstrating that even reigning champions on this event are not guaranteed to final. But this does not mean that they are not still champions, although they have missed out on a chance to medal at this World Championships.

Max Whitlock, 2012 Olympic Bronze medalist on the Pommel, did qualify however, and topped this off with a World Championship Silver medal for himself and Britain! If he continues to train and compete like he is doing so at the moment, for a few more years, I believe that Max could become our most successful male British gymnast ever. Considering he did not even compete at the Tokyo World Championships of 2011, as the reserve, his last two years have been mind blowing! I have said it before, and will say it again- British Gymnastics is full of talent at the moment. It is very exciting!

Speaking of this, and nicely demonstrating why I have such confidence in our current British Team, our Men did fantastically in the all around Final too- with Max placing 4th and Dan Purvis in 7th. The winner was, of course, 'King Kohei' Uchimura of Japan. This fourth consecutive world title of his has made gymnastics history, not just on the men's side. If anyone can be called a living legend, it is him.  If you want a bit more scale, here is a great article (from an American perspective, not neutral, but still) stating all the facts from his past five years of dominance (don't forget, he also won the Olympics!)

Although they did not qualify for Finals, and have not featured heavily in the media this week, let's not neglect the participation of Ashley Watson and Sam Oldham at this championships, who each competed solely on one event- the Parallel Bars for Ash, and the Floor for Sam.

Ashley competed a very difficult routine, to score 15.133 altogether. Although his routine had a difficulty value of only 0.100 less than Vasileios Tsolakidis, the top qualifier, his execution of 8.433 was a few tenths too low to make the final. Despite this, he still finished within the top 20 on the apparatus, which is something to be proud of.

Part of the Olympic bronze medal winning team last year, Sam Oldham, was here for some Floor work only, in Antwerp. After a number of penalties he also missed out on the final, but we can look forward to seeing him back in full shape on all six events next year, I'm sure.

Dan Purvis on the other hand, did make it to the Floor final, and to complete our lads' championships, Kristian Thomas competed on Vault.

Dan, like Max in the all-around competition, narrowly missed out on a World medal after finishing fourth in the Floor final, however Kristian Thomas managed to pull it just the other way in his favour, winning a bronze medal on the Vault, the next day!!!

Before I go, I can't exclude my favourite male apparatus- the High Bar. Epke Zonderland put joy in my heart, by winning the competition with his incredible routine, alongside his warm bromance with Silver medal winner Fabian Hambuechen. Uchimura finished third this time. I wonder where he puts all his medals, and awards?

Again, I am so proud of our male British gymnasts- of their immense talent, but also of their maturity and sportsmanship here in Antwerp. Here are some videos to round off my little MAG section-

Dan Purvis after Floor Final (4th)

Kristian Thomas after Vault Final (3rd)

Max Whitlock after Pommel Final (2nd)

Saturday, 5 October 2013

World's WAG AA Final

World Championship Gymnastics Antwerp Belgium.
Womens All -Around Finals 4.10.13. British Gymnastics copyright reserved.
AA running commentary thoughts that I typed as I watched (based on the LiveStream footage)-

(I didn't watch the livestream live though, I only just finished watching the full thing on replay, which is why I have just posted this now)

Apologies for the messy punctuation, but this is just a few notes for my blog, not a real article.

Here we go, women's competition.....
kyla ross is up first then. let's go!
kyla's vault...... stunning. not surprised she's won longines award for artistry- long lines, straight shape and legs together!

simone vault MASSIVE of course... all she has to do it control her power to win, and complete her routines without falling

aliya- great vault, but at the end of her twisting (only in the second of the two turns) her left leg, its as if its just not strong enough, can't keep up with the momentum and bends, comes apart which is why it doesn't look as beautful as kyla ross's vault. maybe something to do with her weak/sore knee(s?)

rebecca tunney beam- her dance is awesome -see bg photo that I love at the top of this, shame about offline roundoff straight back, but as her coach claire said to her after 'It's not as bad as you think'- it was not a bad routine, it just could have been better. 'I thought it was funny how claire's next comment was also 'You've just got to smile even bigger and dance even better now' haha

roxana popa- she was born in romania? what a shame she moved to spain- the girl can do bars!

Natsumi sasada- corbut flip to shoulder stand and leg up spin looked good

gaelle mys floor- music stuck in my head so long! looks strong on floor, simple full twist on vault, I like how happy she seems, good for her competing for belgium in belgium and loving it

makra- pretty body shape, lovely to watch, handspring front pike half like seeing more people vault forward

kyla bars- wow, again just so elegant! gorgeous double straight

s biles (or smiles as my mum says)- another job done, 14.700 seems fair too

noel van klavaren- aww she was doing so well, all those difficult skills and then jumps off near the end. bless her, 12.733 she should be proud of that, with the fall and all

aliya bars- nice one! that's more like the gymnastics I'm used to from you. american commentators note how great her rhythm is in the routine. yep. and she is trying her best to cover all those landing steps with pretty salutes today!

elizabeth seitz vault- very good

iordache bars- YOU DID IT! Larisaaaaa! Think that's the best I've ever seen her on the Bars, and she even stuck her dismount! Go girl! Do it for your country, do it for your name!

Yao jinnan- WOWOWOWOW, that bar routine is POETRY! and with that crazy front 'mo' skill too! yao is possibly one of my favourite gymnasts. she wins 15.333, and my heart with that one.

ferrari- beam, nicely done. You can't miss her in a red version of her signature look for this competition- and by that I mean the shoulder peepholes are back (back, back... back again... #eminem)

larua waem looks terrified but is doing well with floor and now vault, for her home crowd.

good to see some british flags in the audience!!!

carlotta ferlito- good vault. a well rounded gymnast, not just a nice beam worker.

ferrari floor- far better than in qualifications even though she didn't do the immediate tuck back after her second tumble of full in.

'smiles' (simone biles) on the beam- she's on form today! she's going to win this, floor is easy for her.

I heard Ruby Harrold's floor music on before.... I want to see her routine :(

Shang Chunsong (had to correct that typing that a few times from chang shunong, chang chunshong...etc. From now on I'm nicknaming her 'little shang'). she falls off but the rest is great including dismount in particular

ferrari is in 2nd place, not at the end of any rotation but still oooh- she's doing really well.

vasiliki millousi- no-one can dance a floor routine more slowly and seductively than her... I'm never sure how to feel. :S. At least she is keeping greece on the gymnastics scene still, age 29 now.

aliya mustafina on beam now.... side note- has she got bruises along the side of her face or just dark lines of make up? Oh, they're even on each side. It's just questionable make up then... Doesn't make my favourite connection of hers with the onodi double spin on the end. awh. 14.166 is good for her though, she may just make it into the medals...

Larisa Iordache- NO! WHY? Dammit, she fell off on that roundoff straight back. Maybe she was playing it too safe by not doing the second full twisting somersault. Ooh she looks mad at herself, look at the way she's ripping that tape off her foot! Random thought- If Larisa was a Pokemon, she reminds me of a Spearow. I think it's her attitude filled eyes and sharp arm movements.

Rodionova- Vault- About as well as it is possible to do that vault for her.

Jinnan falls on her standing back tuck full twist on Beam. I imagine she will now have to do at least 5,000 in the gym in training, to stay on, before they let her compete that again. It is letting her down, because she is so good really.

Steingruber- utilises having a bouncy J&F Floor to her advantage, without stepping OOB today. On top of her effortlessly high and difficult tumbles, her leaps are enormous and her dance is fierce too. Oh, she makes me want to show off gymnastics to the world with routines like hers.

Kyla Ross, Beam-Looking so bold! Unless something dramatic happens now, the silver medal is hers, (I'm sure that Simone will beat Kyla on the Floor).

little shang- Good effort today tot.

Aliya FX- Pure determination and guts got her through that beautifully! Her first tumble was so full of concentration and she spotted that corner perfectly. The whole thing was her campaigning to prove she is still one of the champions, even with her background issues. She looks pleased, as she should. Russia should be so proud of her as well.

Larisa FX- looks mad from beam still. double double... stuck! full in... stuck again! and she stuck her last tumble too! if only she didn't fall on beam :( that was fantastic larisa! please don't be too hard on yourself for not having a perfect day...

Roxana popa- brilliant vault! obviously we haven't been shown everything (mostly just the first group) but it looks like she had a good day from her coach's hug there

yao jinnan- made it! you can relax now girl, the competition is over, you may have fallen but you were a joy to observe, thank you

Giulia steingruber- another sky high vault

kyla fx- great routine, how exciting for her! only her team mate and one of her best friends out here, can change her medal colour. it's difficult to want your friend to do well, and to beat her, simultaneously. she looks nervous. i wonder if she's hoping she can beat simone, or if she's simply nervous on behalf of simone- supporting her and happy for her to win the gold instead...?

vanessa ferrari- solid vault! good landing on that 1 and a half twist

finally, it's time for little miss smiles to make it count, do her thang- deep breath, and go-

(i like how rodionova (i think it's her?) has her arm around aliya. that's so sweet, especially considering she's younger.)

ohhh, her double straight with half twist (her own skill!) was spot on! of course she's smiling a lot now. this is her time to shine! this is her moment. look at that, her third tumble had a superb straight front punch out of it too! full in, small jump forward (getting a bit excited that it's the end now?) but there you have it, no doubt, she's the new world champion! wobbled a bit on her dance at the end haha, she's probably shaking with anticipation!

you can see it in kyla's body language, she knows simone has won it, but she is pleased with her silver, they are both grinning like cheshire cats! the crowd are getting impatient, they want to confirm the winner!

the score is shown, simone looks rapidly, then relaxes her head and body in relief. time to celebrate! 

aliya is certainly relieved to have clinched the bronze too. rodionova kisses her cheek, aww. I'm glad Larisa is not crying, but hugging around too.

The end, ok bring on event finals!
And videos of the British girls that I missed! (If they exist?)

World Champion, Simone Biles

Friday, 4 October 2013

My World Championships Thoughts- Qualifications

As a spectator, this is what I thought as I watched the Women's qualification competition (online via usagymnastics youtube/website- thank you!)---

(I only managed to watch a few videos, not the entire competition of this day)

Firstly, I am SO proud of my former team mates, the British girls who are in Antwerp representing my home nation. They have undoubtedly been training extremely hard in the gym and the whole process is obviously working under the new 2013 conditions by that I mean changes such as Amanda Reddin (my old coach) being the (brilliant) new Technical director, there have been changes in the squad (including retirements), the code... etc

Highlights- Hannah on Floor looked fabulously stylish and sassy. Becky D nailed her bar routine, proving she is one of the top in the World right now. Ruby's unique Bar routine is also a fantastic crowd pleaser, and from the scores I saw she also impressed all around, especially for it being her first competition competing against the entire world. It was really good to Rebecca see back on the podium on every event, especially with pretty new floor dance and upgraded bar routine (I love the way she connects stoop shap, pac, immediate stalder shap).

Hannah Floor-
Becky Bars-
Ruby Bars-
Rebecca Bars-

My thoughts, excluding the very Great Britain-


  • I loved Iordache's floor routine. She looked like she really enjoyed it, which made me enjoy it all the more, plus she had so much energy that the new no-waiting-in-corners rule didn't seem to bother her at all. Her tumbles were fantastically landed and her expressive dance hooked me too.
  • I have also favourited Sandra Izbasa's floor routine, as her presentation in her choreography and tumbling was also incredible. Top marks Romania!
  • On a briefly negative note thought it was a shame that Victoria Moors didn't make her double double straight.
  • On the other hand, a positive point for me with Floor was that I thought Simone Biles' controlled her power with nerves very well indeed. Furthermore, her double straight with half twist is WONDERFUL. I adore it. With what I have seen so far, I am sure that she will win the AA competition.
  • Aliya Mustafina (my favourite gymnast of all time) looked so tired and I heard her knees have been hurting her in training so I was sad but not shocked to see her fall on her first tumble, and not in best shape throughout this competition. Of course, even not at her best she is still one of the best. And you can see the determination in her eyes, whether she has had troubles or not there would be no stopping her competing unless she were forced!
  • Mai Murakami is a gymnast from Japan who I don't recognise from the past, but she is so cute. Her floor routine is great: focused, accurate, artistic- and then at the end she becomes a real human being and her reaction is so happy! I just want to hug her!
  • Steingruber was another gymnast bursting with energy, like Iordache, who I loved watching on the Floor. Her first tumble- full twisting double straight- is awesome, and her second- just a double straight- has gorgeous height.
  • Finally, I read that Mckayla Maroney would have made the Floor Final, if her music had been cut correctly and she had not been penalised by 0.1. If true, this is a ridiculous and embarrassing technical reason for not qualifying, and should no way happen at a World Championships. Whoever is responsible for not sorting that out should hang their head in shame.
Larisa Iordache's energetic routine-
Sandra Izbasa's graceful routine-
Simone Biles defying gravity-
Giulia Steingruber flying high-
Aliya Mustafina struggling but still super-
Mai Murakami be fantastic, then adorable-

Wouldn't want to get on Giulia's bad side..


  • Let's continue talking about Mckayla Maroney actually- her block is perfect and her form is excellent. She deserves to win the World title without question.
  • Simone Biles is a powerhouse who looks like she could compete the triple twisting yurchenko easily, so I hope she manages to do that brilliantly sometime next year.
  • Oksana Chusovitina is still competing. (HOW? LEGEND.) And she is still awesome.
  • Giulia Steingruber did her Vaults so easily, she should add an extra twist to both of them!

Mckayla Maroney soaring-
Simone Biles' strength-
Oksana Chusovitina still killing it-
Giulia Steingruber being ferocious-


  • I was pleased to see Tatiana Nabieva back, but wish she would do her huge toe-on straight tkatchev again.
  • Ellie Seitz brought her 1 and a half twisting geinger back onto the competition floor! Yay! She actually did a really fast paced and interesting routine with lots of connections, which I liked a lot, but she is reserve for the Bars final.
  • Jessica Lopez performed a routine with perfect lines and form but sadly fell.
  • I love Olympic Champion Aliya Mustafina on Bars (who doesn't?!), her execution is simply stunning to combine with all that difficulty.... but I can't decide if the new shap full breaks the flow of her routine a bit, or if I do really like it.... hmm.
  • Mckayla Maroney competed on an event which wasn't Vault, or Floor, but still looked good.
  • One thing for sure is that I miss Beth being in there, it's weird having her not even in contention!
  • Yao Jinnan, even without the crazy 'Mo' is SO good, I think I would pick her to win the Gold medal (if I could not choose a British gymnast, and I had the choice). 
  • Iordache looked surprisingly confident, good on her for clinging on with her one hand after that shap half too! Clearly she isn't a natural at Bars but she managed to push her way (just!) through a decent routine.
Iordache clinging on-
Yao Jinnan is one with the apparatus-
Aliya's Bars (what do you think of her shaposh full twist?)-
Jessica Lopez's valiant attempt-
Elizabeth Seitz tackling the equipment with explosiveness-
Mckayla's somewhere new-


  • Where Iordache is a natural- she somersaults and twists along its surface as if it is the Floor. Her spin with high leg up is lovely too. She approached her qualification routine with confidence (see her smile at the end!) maturity and absolute precision, right through the complicated tumbling pass triple twist dismount.
  • Vasiliki Millousi serenaded the beam with her usual soft and saucy grace, yet didn't qualify for the final.
  • Sanne Wevers- the most original Beam worker of this year, and exciting prospect for the Netherlands- unfortunately let her nerves get to her and missed one hand on her mount at the start of her routine, then had a fall on the apparatus half way through, too. I wanted her to spinning top her way into the final and maybe even medal, so I was disappointed for her greatly.
  • Aliya didn't look comfortable, but she balanced enough to stay on the Beam with her Russian pride intact and make the final too. Newbie Russian Anna Rodionova did a pretty routine, Kyla Ross executed her skills in her poised, controlled manner and Carlotta Ferlito posed her way through it, into the final. Simone Biles got the job done.
  • Chunsong Shang (who looks about 11 years old at the most, and cannot weigh more than 20kg, but I am not accusing anyone!) fearlessly leaped and flipped down the Beam with much spring in her step. Her tiny size means she can get a good run up for most of her elements too, which probably helps. She is flexible and packs a lot into her routine without any hesitation or apparent worries, so will probably carry China to a medal in the Beam final.

Larisa Iordache being a star-
Sanne Wevers almost amazes-
Vasiliki Millousi with her love-
Aliya fighting (and winning the battle) with the Beam-
Little Chunsong Shang-

Monday, 15 July 2013

Uber Crazy Lovely Announcement!

Ok here we go....

Or have you already guessed? ;)





Also known as an


Still confused? Not sure what all the U-C-L-A's are for?

I am going to be doing Women's Artistic Gymnastics again.
At the University of California, Los Angeles.

And no, this doesn't go against what I said in my retirement tweet  :P (see below)...! 

Saturday, 13 July 2013

if you're Appy and you know it...

You may have noticed (if you've been on Twitter at all) that I've been promoting the App Laser Chambers recently. It's not because I'm being sponsored or anything, I actually made it, with my boyfriend James McIlveen.

This is my summary of it:

Laser Chambers is a unique new puzzle game, suitable for all ages and usually priced at only $0.99/£0.69. The story line is based around the user helping a good natured scientist, Professor Mattalino, to claim back his stolen potion. To do this, they must guide a laser through a maze of chambers, filled with traps, and into the vault where the potion is being held by the evil Dr. Tuso.
The game remains both exciting and challenging throughout its 100 levels by regularly introducing new ideas as the levels become more complex. Serious puzzlers will especially delight in the opportunity to test their brain power whilst striving to earn three stars in each room along the way. For the trickiest chambers, players have the option to use hints, or even skip levels if they feel the need.
Another interesting feature of this app are the bonus Scientific Anomalies you can collect: hidden in a selection of the chambers are wooden crates which contain humorous surprises for the player to find, if they can work out how to reach them.

So far I've been really pleased with how Laser Chambers has done. We are currently featured in the UK on the 'Games- Puzzle' page, we have been reviewed in more than one language, and had downloads from as far as the UAE, Australia, India and Saudi Arabia (where we even got in the top charts)!

But being a student- no Olympians aren't automatically rich! :( - I have no money to promote my App, for example advertise on App sites... so we are now dropping off the scale completely... I think a lot of people would enjoy playing the game I made, but it's difficult to let people hear about it!

I would be so so so grateful if any of you who have purchased Laser Chambers, and like it, could leave a review, or tell their friends about it!!! You could challenge each other to beat the game first, or to get three stars on a certain level- or you could compare the items you've found in crates (scientific anomalies)!

Thank you to everybody's lovely comments about @Laser_Chambers so far, you are the best!

Jen x

Monday, 3 June 2013

Latest News

Spot ted me yet? Middle- pink jumper.
As you may or may not know, due to the Olympics I am a year behind at school with my exams. Because of this, I have been rather busy revising of late... so busy in fact that I feel like I've not been living in the real world, just in my own little revision bubble. Well, the good news is I only have one exam left now and it's a week away so I thought I'd begin to burst it a little, and write a blog. In further and related good news, I've totally finished my sixth form education- no more school lessons ever for me! The above photo shows my last 'form time'. On our last day we mostly messed around in a field, on bouncy inflatable games. Standard.

Quite a few events of note have occurred recently:

Me enjoying the sunshine on my nineteenth birthday!

You may have seen me on BBC TV in April, on a highlights show of the European Championships which I did following my Goddaughter's christening. I'm sure I've already mentioned this.

After that I went to film some more TV, this time with CBBC, for the program 'Friday Download', but I'm not sure when that will be shown yet. It was really fun, although will presumably be embarrassing when I see it because of the many silly bits we also added in...! I'll leave the details for you to see when it comes out.

At the start of May I attended a lovely prefects dinner meeting, and then went to visit York University at the weekend. On the 13th I was then lucky enough to see the inside of the Houses of Parliament in London. The press release afterwards read as follows (raw data, not an article-)

Andrew Bingham MP
Member of Parliament for High Peak


17/05/13 – For Immediate Release

Andrew Bingham MP meets High Peak Olympic Gymnast Jennifer Pinches

High Peak MP Andrew Bingham last week played host to Olympic Gymnast Jennifer Pinches in Westminster.

Following Miss Pinches’ appearance at the 2012 Olympic Games, Andrew invited her for a tour of the Houses of Parliament, and she was accompanied by her father on the trip last week.

Starting her Senior career in 2010, Jennifer won numerous national and international medals, before being selected to compete for Great Britain at the Olympics, where she helped the GB team to an historic 6th place finish in the team finals.

Andrew said:

“It was a real pleasure to meet Jennifer; she is an incredibly driven young woman and it was great to hear what it was like to compete at the Olympic Games.

“It was fantastic to see Jennifer and other athletes from the High Peak competing in both the Olympics and Paralympics, and I was delighted that Jennifer could accept my invitation to Westminster. Her enthusiasm is infectious, and I’m very glad that she enjoyed her visit.”

Jennifer added:

“It was a great privilege to be shown around the Houses of Parliament by Andrew, and I am very grateful. It was also a delight to be able to spend some time with him and get to know my local MP, especially since Andrew was so welcoming, and clearly passionate about the welfare of the High Peak. It was a day to remember."

On May the 25th I became 19 years old, so I've had a whole year of being a grown-up now. I do feel more obliged to be responsible and sophisticated, but other than that I feel the same. In fact, I keep forgetting I am nineteen. I had an in-ter-esting birthday; my family were all away besides my dad and grandad, but my boyfriend James came down from his university to see me and we went to see a show in Buxton. It was called 'The Firework Maker's Daughter' and was certainly entertaining but... well, we didn't expect it to be an opera! Always do your research. Still, I had a nice time, the sunshine came out (see photo at the top), and afterwards we went for a meal, which was actually to celebrate James' brother's birthday funnily enough, in a gorgeous Thai restaurant. It's a shame that birthdays get less exciting as you get older. At least Christmas is still a jolly ol' time. My main birthday presents were some wellington boots and a rain mac for festivals this summer- you know it makes sense, we live in the UK- plus a bit of money. I'm also going to see Robbie Williams in concert soon! I'm preparing to get my "excitement hat on"( infinity amount of brownie points for anyone who can place that quote).

Just after my birthday it is my dad's birthday, and this year I got super-lucky in being able to enjoy one of his birthday presents too! From the 28th we went away to Portugal for three days, fairly spontaneously, with my dad's girlfriend and her two kids. It was really lovely and relaxing. Even though I had to keep revising whilst there, revision in the sun is approximately ABAZILLION times better than revising in my dining room, so I didn't really mind. I even got slightly tanned, which is an achievement for me!

When I got back from Portugal, I took part in a photo shoot for Barnaby Festival art trail, with photographer Simon Brown which seemed to produce some good results, though I've not seen any released photos yet, only this outtake where he was testing the lighting and I cheekily posed.


Last but not least I will mention an upcoming event which is the GARDEN PARTY AT BUCKINGHAM PALACE on Thursday! I can't wait, although I really need to decide what to wear.

For photos of everything I get up to, follow me on Instagram (which I am now addicted to) by searching for @jempin515- same name as my Twitter.

More cool photos on my Instagram page! @JEMPIN515

Love y'all!

Jenni x

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Saved the best until last...

EUROPEANS. Ok, it has gone from our minds now.... but I have been putting off writing this post because

a) I have been revising for exams
b) It's more difficult to write about your friends

So I will keep it brief...

RUBY HARROLD- Aimed to make Bars Final. Ended up making Beam AND all around too. Not only that but she then broke the record for a Senior Euro AA result by GB, finishing on the podium with a diploma, in eighth! She did fantastically.

Becky Downie

REBECCA DOWNIE- Becky proved that she is back and still oh so capable. She qualified for Bars Final in second place, only behind Aliya Mustafina, the reigning Olympic Champion. To her and our devastation she fell in the Final on one of her many release skills and therefore ended up in seventh place. It nearly broke my heart at that moment because she knew and we knew, as soon as she missed the Bar, that she had missed her chance of that glory that she so desperately deserves, especially after coming back from last year (injuries --->missing out on Olympics). You could see every minute she had spent training, every routine, every stretch, every tear of sweat and every ounce of effort on her face as she got up from the mat, after lying there for a few seconds in anguish. Let us celebrate her return and support her toward the future rather than linger on this broken victory. She is a gymnast who is made of attitude, an attitude that will. not. give. up. that easily! Go Becky!

GABRIELLE JUPP- The nightmare of the competition. It was not just British fans who gasped upon learning that Gabby had injured her knee on her Beam dismount in qualifications. For a first year Senior she has made an incredible impact on the international scene and will be sorely missed as she recovers from a torn ACL. Fortunately an ACL tear is not the career-ender it used to be, and our British physios are among the best in the world. We will be able to ensure Gabby has every opportunity to be fighting fit again and back 'up there' in the shortest time possible. Thinking of her and wishing her all the best over the next months.

CHARLIE FELLOWS- Charlie also qualified for the all-around final with Ruby where she did very well to finish in eighteenth. This result is not any less respectable because of the high standards set by the rest of our British gymnasts. She also managed to achieve this position without her best performance.

Overall, although the championships were not kind to Britain, as Gabby was stretchered off and Becky was so-close-but-so-far, there were many triumphant moments for our women which the gymnasts, coaches and all of us can be proud of.

P.S  Our British Men’s Artistic Gymnasts had a dream-like competition however- one glorious moment after another. Max Whitlock won a complete set of medals across his competitions. He grabbed the silver medal in the all-around final, the bronze on Pommel and the Gold on Floor, whilst Dan Keatings came back stronger than ever after missing out on the Olympic team selection last year, due to injury, to win the Pommel title. Additionally, Sam Oldham proved himself on the High Bar by winning the silver medal. Think back to the Tokyo World Championships in 2011 where the Men's team didn't even qualify a team for the Olympic Games... and look where they are now: Olympic medalists, and storming the European Championships, plus even more gymnasts like Dan K, who weren't on the Olympic team. In Britain we often react a bit like Kanye-West lyrics. What doesn't kill us, makes us stronger.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Euros 2013! Gymnast by Gymnast. PART 3, ITA/SUI

See Post 1- (Russia) here and Post 2- (Romania) here, regarding the 2013 European Championships, held in Moscow.


Elisa Meneghini
As a first year Senior for Italy, Elisa did extraordinarily well. In the qualification competition  like many other gymnasts, she fell. However a fall, on the Floor, did not stop her from qualifying for the all-around final, and she also did very well on the Beam, qualifying for the final in fourth place- just behind her team mate Carlotta Ferlito, and the two Romanian gymnasts. Her Bars and Vault were also notable routines of the competition, as she scored a 14.016 for her cleanly executed yurchenko full twist and a 13.800 on Bars which was a higher score than any of the three top all-around qualifying gymnasts achieved, although not quite enough to make the final (she was third reserve).
In the all-around competition, Elisa corrected her Floor routine mistake but was a few tenths under her qualifying scores on every other apparatus. Her most evenly matched gymnast in the all-around competition, for comparison, seemed to be Great Britain's Ruby Harrold. Ruby qualified in seventh and Elisa in eighth but in the all-around final Elisa crept ahead and swapped their standings, so that she finished in seventh position, ahead of Ruby in eighth.
In the Beam Final, Elisa looked very confident and comfortable whilst performing- until she slightly misjudged her change leg side leap and fell backwards off the Beam. She recovered with a high and tidy round-off double pike back somersault dismount but looked disappointed as she came of the apparatus.
So Elisa did not win any medals, but she has shown the international scene that she is capable of great routines, and she is definitely one to look out for in the future, leading Italian Gymnastics.

Carlotta Ferlito
Carlotta has a kind of style and cheer about her gymnastics which has always made me fond of her. She seems a very positive and determined gymnast who enjoys her abilities as well as being gracious about them. In the qualification competition Carlotta scored 14.200 on the Beam and 13.800 on the Floor, showing a consistent level of beautiful gymnastics, despite a near-fatal wobble on the Beam. She made both of these apparatus finals, and did not attempt to compete all-around.
The Beam Final was first on the Sunday. Carlotta qualified with the third highest score but of course, it all depends on how it goes on the day, and as it happened she finished in fourth place with a 14.066, behind Anastasia Grishina who won the bronze medal. Had she scored the same as in qualifications, she would have still finished fourth, so the slightly lower score than on the Friday did not affect her. She did, however, have a 0.200 higher difficulty value than that of Russian gymnast Grishina, so perhaps her execution could be improved for future medals. On Floor she finished in fifth position, which is two places higher than where she qualified, and she also managed to stay in bounds for this routine, unlike in qualifications, so that was a small triumph. If she was not happy to have missed out on medals, I hope that she was pleased in having made both Finals she tried for, and being near-enough to be a threat to Russia and Romania. I'm sure she won some more fans and the only way is up for her!

Vanessa Ferrari
I have always looked up to Vanessa Ferrari, as a younger gymnast and now still, she is there at the European Championships after I have gone. I respect her guts and power on the Floor, and of course she is a former World all-around champion. She came to the European Championships just for Beam, but after having some slight injury problems she was not on top form and her two team mates Carlotta and Elisa qualified higher than her, so she could not be in the Final despite scoring the sixth highest score of 13.833.


Giulia Steingruber

I don't mean to create a shrine of photos for Giulia but she has been an utter star at these European Championships.
Before she came she was known as a great gymnast, but mostly a Vault worker. Now she is an all-around contender and has made (literal and metaphorical) leaps and bounds for Switzerland. In the qualifying competition Giulia finished ninth all around, with an iffy Bars and Beam routines that scored just 12.466 (the same as Afansyeva, interestingly) and 13.033. Her other scores were a good 13.933 on Floor and a whopping 15.300 on Vault, her biggest strength. With these scores she qualified for the all-around final in ninth place. She breezed into the Vault Final with an average score of 14.783 across her two Vaults. On Floor she performed a super cool full twisting double straight somersault, which had me squealing with excitement, and propelled her into that final too.
On Friday, the all-around Final, Giulia had a fighting chance of a bronze medal. She began with her Floor routine (which again, sent me into a frenzy after I saw her full twisting double straight) and scored 13.866. Moving on to Vault her handspring straight front with one and a half twist was a standout again, and she scored 15.066, slightly less than in qualification but still extremely impressive. Bars went about as well as she could expect and she scored almost a mark higher than in qualifications with 13.800. Beam went exceptionally well for her too, and she connected all of her elements that she aimed to, and stayed on. She had done her job and finished with a total of 57.065, equal with Diana Bulimar of Romania. She would have been in joint bronze position had Anastasia Grishina not sneaked in front of them both with her last routine on the Beam. Therefore Giulia placed in equal fourth with Diana, although arguably with more respect since where Diana was expected to succeed, Giulia exceeded expectations and really put Switzerland in the thick of things. At one point in the competition, possibly half way through, she was in second position! Wow. I hope her mum took photos of the scoreboards.
In the Vault Final, Giulia burst onto the podium again. Pressure did not touch her most confident skills and she solidly won the Final.
On Floor she stepped out of bounds resulting in 0.2 penalties and finished with a score of 14.100, which in a fiercely competitive final put her in sixth position. But I think- I hope- Giulia will go home a heroine.

Giulia winning the Vault Final.
Left-Noel Van Klaveren (2=)
Right- Larisa Iordache (2=)

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Euros 2013! Gymnast by Gymnast. PART 2, ROMANIA.

This blog post follows on from Part One, discussing the 2013 European Championships, held in Moscow.


Larisa Iordache smiling through her Floor routine

Larisa Iordache
which I pronounce 'OR-dash', I'm not sure how correctly- but it lends itself nicely to puns about dashing.
EDIT: It should be Larisa 'Yor-da-keh'

Larisa Iordache was one of the most consistent performers of the European Championships. She had no huge mistakes or shock disasters, despite performing a multitude of vastly difficult skills. In qualifications Larisa managed to have a clean competition, unlike any Russian gymnasts.

Her Floor was dynamic and bouncy yet flowing and full of charming smiles. She is clearly fit to compete at the moment, as she contained four high energy tumbles as well as a quadruple spin and excellent leap work - undeniably in splits- within the one minute thirty routine, whilst not pausing once for breath in between her choreography and tumbling. She showed constant power from her double twisting double back to her double tuck dismount yet seemed nowhere near tired, in fact she appeared to be barely affected by this, which I must highly commend her for. She qualified second into the Floor Final.

Her Vaults were neither jaw-dropping nor disappointing, as she executed a double twisting yurchenko and full twisting tsukahara, qualifying fourth into the Vault Final. Her Bars are notably weaker than her other routines but she was able to complete her routine without falling, before moving on to Beam where she displayed utter confidence in her extremely complex acrobatic skills, such as her round-off back flip triple twisting dismount, and she qualified first into the Beam Final.

Larisa must have been satisfied with a performance that yielded Finals on every event she targeted. Personally, I would be happy just to be able to complete a single skill of hers on the Beam, or Floor, with her courage and style.

In the all around final, Larisa lead the whole way- until Bars. Her Beam exuded confidence again, she made her Floor routine look easy and her Vaulting was solid. But as the final apparatus approached Larisa knew that it was going to be tough to win. She had a 0.7 lead over her rival for the gold, Aliya Mustafina, but both gymnasts knew that they were nowhere near evenly matched on this apparatus. Aliya Mustafina is Olympic Champion on the Uneven Bars, whereas Bars was the only event that Larisa Iordache could not qualify into a European Final for. Aliya's advantage on this event proved to be more than enough to take the lead and win the competition as she scored 15.133 over Larisa's attempt which did not even break the 14.000 barrier. Larisa was unsurprisingly disheartened as she realised she would not win the competition, and had fallen at the last hurdle. The home crowd cheering for their own champion probably did not help Larisa's spirits, as it would have sounded like they were cheering for her failings. But I hope she could be proud of a silver medal in the all around competition after many beautiful performances.

Larisa had no choice but to pick herself up for the Beam, Vault and Floor Finals, or risk being stuck in a Komova-like silver prison. She did so very well.

In the Vault final she was precise and improved from the qualifications. After some score changes to do with Noel van Klaveren and bad arithmetic, she finished in joint second position with the dutch gymnast. And the following day she broke free of the silver clutches as she performed excellently along her biggest strength, the Beam. Aliya Mustafina could have been a potential threat for the Beam title however after falling twice in qualifications, Larisa had an easier ride. She did not seem to see Mustafina's absence as any added pressure and her work was stunning. She was the only gymnast to score in the 15's and was rewarded with the gold medal. Finally, in the Floor Final Larisa brought back her expressive dance work and incredible abilities, and really sold a beautiful routine to achieve 14.733 and another silver medal for her 2013 collection.

Let her fly home from Russia with her head held high.

Diana Bulimar

Diana was another gymnast who avoided stumbling out of the starting blocks. In the qualification competition she qualified for the all around, Floor and Beam Finals (and no competition from within Romania, as they only brought two gymnasts, so she did not have to worry about how her team mates were doing as well as other countries, unlike Russia).
Not only did she qualify but she wow-ed us with her startling Romanian talent, only just behind Iordache- who had a far bigger name for herself coming into this. Romania took 1st and 2nd (Iordache/Bulimar) in the all around qualification and Beam qualification (Iordache/ Bulimar again). Diana also qualified fourth for the Floor Final, with some explosive tumbles and tidy leaps. In podium training, I heard that she threw a full twisting double straight in podium training, although we did not see this in competition. So the explosions may get bigger in the future too!

On Friday's all around Final, Diana was fighting for a medal. With Aliya Mustafina back on form, she was realistically fighting for bronze against Steingruber and Grishina. She actually did very well and beginning on the Beam she balanced her way to an execution score of 8.6 which was not beaten. Added to her start value of 5.800 she scored 14.400. On Floor she was phenomonal, soaring into the air and sticking her double straight, a skill which she has been able to do since she was a much smaller gymnast. On Vault she proudly presented her double twisting yurchenko and then she came to Bars. Again, this Romanian gymnast finds that her weakest piece of apparatus is the Bars, however she did pull out an acceptable routine considering her capabilities. Unfortunately for her, although she entertained us with a very good competition  Anastasia Grishina topped it and took the bronze medal. Interestingly, Giulia Steingruber tied with Diana for a fourth place finish.

Saturday gave Diana a chance to rest as she did not make Bars Final and did not enter for Vault Final.

Sunday began with Beam. Diana kept her nerve and performed securely and with beautiful presentation and flair. She was only pipped to the post for the Gold by her training partner Larisa, therefore Romania were able to repeat their fantastic result from qualifications and Diana gained the Silver medal. Anastasia Grishina took another bronze medal. 

That day off cannot have harmed her because Diana was also wondrous in the Floor Final. Behind her partner again, Diana finished third this time, after a pleasing punchy performance. Ksenia Afansyeva won the Gold.

I look forward to seeing these Romanians compete again soon, and anticipate more success for both Larisa and Diana this year, at the World Championships. 

Romania should be very pleased with their performances. These two gymnasts are stars!

Euros 2013! Gymnast by Gymnast. PART 1, RUSSIA.

MOSCOW. What an exciting place for a championships to be held! Full of history and culture, and more importantly, home to some of the best and certainly the most artistic of artistic gymnasts in the world.
I wish I could have been in the arena for the duration of the competition but I had no such money or luck therefore I was following via twitter for the qualifications and then I was able to watch on BBC 2 or the Red Button for the Finals. On the Sunday Finals I was partially following via twitter- as I was at my beautiful god-daughter Sasha's christening- and then afterwards I was at the BBC studios with Louis Smith and Matt Baker. (Both events were great in different senses and the post-christening thing explains why I was wearing a dress for the BBC, haha!)

These are my general thoughts on how the competitions went for each gymnast:

statue of Marshal Zhukov the second world war commander

The qualifications were interesting however not particularly thrilling (especially not in comparison to the Finals).

Perhaps this was because I could not see the action anywhere, other than a few videos I managed to find afterwards. Perhaps it was just because it was the first getting-back-from-the-Olympic-Games major competition. Perhaps because all gymnasts know that they need not save their very best until the finals. There were a lot of falls. But the qualifications are not the competition to go all out in. Qualification rounds try to pick out the very good gymnasts for finals*, but it's in the finals where they battle it out to be the best. (*of course it all depends on what happens on the day in any competition. One example from here- Mustafina fell twice from the beam and failed to qualify for beam final yet she has one of the most difficult routines in the world on the apparatus!)

The all around finals were much more exciting to watch and there were far less mistakes on show. I was also really pleased with the final results since my favourite gymnast Aliya Mustafina won the European title and Great Britain's Ruby Harrold did fantastically well too, to finish where she did, considering she did not aim to be an all around contender when she came to Russia.

The apparatus finals are always the most fun to watch for me. The focus is on every tiny move and skill in each gymnast's single routine, for each apparatus event. Also, gymnasts from countries which are lesser known for their gymnastics force get a spotlight and chance to challenge the famous faces. There are opportunities for historic successes to be made by these gymnasts, if they medal. For example, two Swedish gymnasts qualified for the Uneven Bars Final.

Let's begin then, with Russia, and 2013 all around European Champion Aliya Mustafina...


Aliya Mustafina.

Aliya Mustafina

As I've already mentioned, in qualifications Aliya fell twice from the beam. A video on YouTube of her at the Russian Championships would suggest that her Beam routine was newly upgraded and looking ready however she still seemed to be struggling with the new combinations and changes and wasn't as confident as that perfected video made her Beam seem. It was still good, but with the mistakes it was just not quite perfect Mustafina-style.
You've got to forgive her for that though, after the Olympic Games rise and fall she was back here again at the first big competition, with a whole catalogue of pristine skills on each apparatus and she may not have been AS sharp as she is capable of, in qualifications, but she was still sharp nonetheless.
Her Bars were fantastic of course. She has kept standards very high there and qualified in first position. And regardless of her two falls on Beam she qualified in fourth all-around. That is testament to how good she is in itself, and to why she has such an enourmas fan base (me included, she is my favourite gymnast too!) and why judges love her (oh they do).

Aliya presenting as the all around winner
Source: NBC news
In the all around finals Aliya was back in the swing of things again, after her debut competition shakes she managed to pull it together! Beam was the first apparatus that her group (the top eight) competed on and the biggest obstacle for her, but she kept her feet sticky and got through it. From that point on, she just had to repeat her qualification routines and she could win it. Her Floor routine was very good and her Vault was stuck perfectly, which left Bars last. Going into the final rotation she was 0.7 behind Iordache, who had lead the competition the whole way, but this would not stop her. Romanian gymnasts such as Larisa Iordache tend to be weakest on the Bars, out of the four apparatus. Aliya Mustafina of Russia is the current Olympic Champion. Iordache did all she could to increase her advantage, and performed one of her best bar routines she has done, to score 13.866 but it was not good enough. Aliya performed as the last gymnast of the competition, with complete focus and precision. She showed a stunning routine, hitting every handstand and without any hint of the pressure she was under. This easily closed the gap between her and Larisa, scoring a 15.133 which gave her a total of 59.032 and a gold medal, over Larisa Iordache's 58.432 and disappointed expression.

Saturday- Aliya competed in the Bars Final. She does not compete two vaults, therefore was not involved in that area but the uneven bars title was hers to lose. Championships by championships, and one flawless routine after another, Aliya very rarely falters on the Bars. This trend continued. Her biggest rival was Rebecca Downie of Great Britain, as she qualified in second position, however unfortunately Becky fell near the start of her routine. In fact, a lot of gymnasts fell in this Bar final, causing observing gym fans to label it a 'splat-fest'. Aliya did not and does not fall. She grabbed the gold medal easily. What she was most pleased about though, was not her own success but that of Maria Paseka. "Yes, yes, yes!" she cheered, jumping up and down and grinning when she saw the final results. The joy was on behalf of her team mate who she hugged repeatedly, shook, and high fived. The modesty and team spirit of Aliya makes her all the more endearing to fans, as if her brilliant gymnastics was not enough.
Bar medalists Aliya Mustafina and Maria Paseka hugging
Sunday- Aliya did not qualify for the Beam Final (after 2 falls in qualification, remember?) and pulled out of the Floor, allowing Anastasia Grishina the chance to compete.

Maria Paseka

In Qualifications Maria surprised us, after she swinging bars very well. She is known almost entirely as a strength for her complex vaulting. So then, it was an unexpected delight that she made the Uneven Bar Final as well as Vault Final for Saturday's competition.

Maria Paseka on the Bars
Source: Yahoo Eurosport
When Saturday came, we were shocked again. The vaulting that she is known for went terribly in the final. She did not manage enough height or power out of either of her Vaults, and consequently fell on both; the second one all the more devastating after the first disaster. The Russian home crowd were not impressed at her finishing positions on her back/bum and hands/knees and Paseka hid and wept in the arms of Ksenia Afansyeva. But her competition was not over- she had Bars to go. In an almost-reverse turn of events, Maria excelled on the Bars instead. Where others fell she did not, and her pretty routine scored 14.400 with an execution of 8.600 out of ten. Only the champion Aliya Mustafina and Swedish gymnast Jonna Adlerteg managed to rise above it, and so the final finished with Maria in bronze medal position. Her tears of sorrow and shame turned to joy and relief with this redemption as she celebrated alongside gold medal winning team mate Aliya, who seemed more happy for Maria's medal than her own (see photo of the two gymnasts hugging, above).

Anastasia Grishina performs in the Floor Final
Anastasia Grishina

Anastasia's qualifier was tricky. She fell on Bars and Beam but she still beat expectations. It was rumoured (Rodioneko) that she has not been training very well and that she might be insufficiently prepared for the European Championships- although she has looked great in YouTube videos (although they can be deceiving...)
It was said that maybe Afansyeva would make all around final instead of her, but this is not the way things went and she ended up in third place at the end of all the rounds. Even counting her fall on Beam she scored 13.400 which made her first reserve for the Beam final as well as being reserve for the Floor final on account of the two-per-country ruling.
As it happened, Britain's Gabby Jupp injured herself on her Beam dismount and could not take her place in the Beam final. Also, Aliya Mustafina pulled out of the Floor final giving Anastasia a chance to compete there too. So with a bit of luck, Anastasia made it into the all around, Floor and Beam finals.

In the all around final, Anastasia upped her game (along with every other gymnast). Her Floor was better, her Vault was a brilliant double twisting yurchenko for 14.900 and her Bars went through cleanly this time, to be awarded a massive 15.033! In the last rotation she was one of the final competitors, on the Beam. Where she had fallen previously, she played it safe and she reduced her double spin to a full spin as well as absorbing some connected skills into separate elements. Although slightly lower in start value, it was lovely Beam routine and she sat waiting in suspense to see if she would medal all around. She deservedly took the bronze.

Sunday- In the Floor Final Anastasia had a jump back out of her first tumble and a messy rebound out of her second yet her delectable ballerina's poise and flexibility as well as her clean final two passes kept her in fourth position by the end.
The Beam Final was more to her favour, and her elegance and grace prospered as she managed a successful routine, to win another bronze medal and capitalise on the opportunity that Gabby Jupp's misfortune gave her. She was a pleasure to observe.

Ksenia Afansyeva spins during the Floor Final

Ksenia Afansyeva/Afanaseva - It turns out that the changes in the spelling of her name are down to the inconsistencies occurred when translating from Russian.

Ksenia did not have the qualifying competition she wanted. Like Mustafina and Grishina, who counted two falls each, she had a difficult time competing. But Afansyeva was all the more embarrassed for her difficulties, as she finished bottom of the Russian pack after some serious mistakes. She only qualified for one Final: Floor. However, Afansyeva is remarkable on the Floor, and she made the most of that routine on the Sunday. An absolutely fantastic performance redeemed her European Championships experience entirely, and gave her the glorious European title.