Worlds preview — Thoughts from Leanne Wong — Must-click links
The IX: Gymnastics Saturday with Jessica Taylor Price, October 16, 2021
It’s the calm before the storm, or, more accurately for these worlds, the calm before the … light sprinkling?
Last time we talked, the U.S. was in the midst of selecting the worlds team, which consists of Kayla DiCello, eMjae Frazier, Leanne Wong, and Konnor McClain. Even though they probably just took the top four all-arounders, I think this is coincidentally also the strongest team, especially if McClain can do what we know she’s capable of on beam.
A quick spiel on what we can expect at these worlds:
Wong, DiCello, and McClain all have all-around potential, and will likely end up facing off with Wei Xiaoyuan and Angelina Melnikova there, but otherwise the all-around field is pretty open. For vault, Rebeca Andrade (who is skipping floor) has the advantage, along with Melnikova. On bars, nearly everyone from Russia and China is expected to do well, with Becky Downie hopefully competing at full strength to make that final as well. Beam is always up in the air, as pretty much all of the top athletes could rank high if they hit, but I’d put my money on Li Shijia to do well here, and if McClain hits, she’s up there as well. On floor, Mai Murakami (who is only competing on floor and beam) is a favorite along with Melnikova, and I hope to see Wong do well.
Podium training happened, and some heroes were able to get us video footage of some of the most anticipated routines, including Li on beam, Wei on bars, Wong on floor, DiCello on floor, McClain on beam, and Downie on bars:
Of course, anything can happen, and it will be exciting to see who can sneak into the finals and onto the podium, so the good news is things will definitely be interesting. For coverage between newsletters, Gymcastic is on the scene and The Balance Beam Situation is doing great things as always.
- Bless Cordelia Price, who found broadcast information for worlds — finals will air live on The Olympic Channel.
- It took people forever to get to the competition due to COVID, the location, and alleged disorganization in general. Aimee Boorman tweeted that it took her 54 hours to get to her hotel, so that’s not good.
- The competition hall is RED and ugly.
- Ciena Alipio will compete at the Arthur Gander Memorial, a competition where gymnasts get to compete on their best three events. Melnikova and Giorgia Villa (in her first competition since her injury) are also slated to compete on November 3 in Morges, Switzerland. Meanwhile, word on the street is that Olivia Greaves gets to go to the Swiss Cup.
- Murakami plans to retire after worlds. She talked to the Olympic Channel about her feelings going into her last competition.
- Andrade graced the cover of Vogue Brasil, and she looks amazing:
She also talked to the FIG about her perseverance in the face of her many injuries.
- Claudia Fragapane had surgery and is on a six-month road to recovery.
- Simone Biles talked to Olympics.com about mental health.
- Trinity Thomas talked to Inside Gymnastics about what she looks forward to this year, including her recovery from her ankle injury.
- Athlete safety news: US Olympic Committee defends handling of Nassar case (Reuters), Gymnasts call on Congress to dissolve US Olympics board over Larry Nassar case (ABC News)
Tweet of the week
Morgan Hurd is a STAR:
Five at the IX: Leanne Wong
Leanne Wong kindly spoke to the media after the team selection. Edited for clarity and length.
What happened in Tokyo this summer, and what has that done to motivate you for this worlds?
This summer in Tokyo I was a roommate of someone who tested positive, so I was a close contact and I also had to quarantine. So after just a few days of training I was in quarantine and had to wait until that quarantine was over and went home. So after that I was just really disappointed in my experience and I just really wanted to train more and just get the real experience of competing outside the country.
When did you make your decision to forego going to Florida and continuing to train at GAGE?
Actually, before the Olympics I wasn’t really planning on stopping my elite career, I was just kind of taking it one step at a time and thinking about it. And then when it came to the quarantine, I was like, “yeah, I’m definitely going to do worlds after this.” So I’m taking online classes right now and just focusing.
How does it feel to be a de facto leader of this team with Kayla DiCello?
It’s great to have Kayla on the team as well as the other girls because me and Kayla went to Japan together and we were training together for a little bit, so we have the experience of traveling to Japan and what it’s like over there, and all the testing and everything. It’s really good that we’re training together now.
How did you deal with being isolated in your hotel room during the quarantine?
Being in quarantine for like 11 days was definitely really stressful, since I was getting tested daily still, and making sure I didn’t test positive so I could go home and not have to extend the quarantine even longer and not be able to work out, and just knowing that in the future I wanted to train for worlds still. So I just tried to stay active and do everything I could in the room.
I hope that you had a TV during that time. Did you get to watch your teammates compete and what was that like?
Fortunately, I was able to quarantine in the hotel and I did have a TV, so that was nice. And whenever the girls were competing I tried to sign on and watch, but it was kind of hard because there were so many people watching so it wasn’t always working. But it was really exciting to watch them compete and represent the United States and just have fun out there.
What would success look like to you at this worlds?
I would just like to go out there and compete on the world stage and show everyone what I’ve been training for. And come home with some medals, that would be very successful for me.
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