Wednesday 11 July 2012

Wednesday Worries

The end of an era

The four year Olympic cycle always brings changes with many gymnasts working towards the big goal and moving on afterwards. This year is no exception and we already have some gymnasts who have started to look towards the future.

There are many gymnasts across many countries who have not made it to the Olympic Games for whatever reason. Whether it is because they have not made the team at all, have been named as reserves or are out through injury there are a lot of performances we will not get the chance to see in this summer's Games.

For some though the journey is still only beginning, for although they may not have made the team this year there are many first year seniors like Ruby Harrold (GB), Elizabeth Price, Sarah Finnegan and Kennedy Baker (USA) and other young gymnasts such as Yulia Inshina (RUS) who will be hoping to take a spot on their respective 2016 teams. These girls have worked hard as juniors and turned that work into a great start in their senior careers. I am fairly sure that we will be seeing many of them battling for spots in 2016.

Not everybody will be returning to the sport though. For some, the 2012 Olympics was their final aim and there are many gymnasts who we have already seen performing their last routines. What saddens me most is that in some cases we did not realise we were watching their final performances. Chellsie Memmel, Shawn Johnson and Nastia Liukin are three such gymnasts who will not be competing any more. Each one was hoping to relive their Olympic dreams by making it to their second consecutive Games, but this time round each one was unsuccessful. Chellsie Memmel has already taken steps towards her future. Last year she passed the judges exam and even as early as the USA National Championships she was taking part in the championships, but this time as the timing judge for the beam routines. Shawn Johnson is staying with gymnastics for now, travelling to London with her sponsors as well as being there to support the team. She is currently promoting her book 'Winning Balance' and is hoping to start college in 2013. Then there is Nastia Liukin. Nastia made it further than the other two towards her goal of the 2012 Olympics, getting as far as the Olympic Trials. Having struggled with her bars routine since starting to compete again, she once again fell off the apparatus during her routine. The crowd encouraged her on and gave her a standing ovation at the end of both her bars and beam routine. It was a fitting end to the career of a great champion. Nastia is also going to remain involved with the sport for the present time. She will be in London as the athlete representative for the FIG and will continue to design her own line of leotards. She is also planning on attending college next year.

For some gymnasts though, the end of one era in their gymnastics career is simply a step towards the next era. Two gymnasts who will unfortunately not be competing at the London 2012 Olympics are Britain's Danusia Francis and Canada's Peng Peng Lee. Danusia has been named as a reserve for the British Team and Peng Peng was injured meaning she would be unable to compete. But both of these gymnasts are heading towards a bright future in the USA as stars of NCAA gymnastics with the University of California, LA. Having watched a little of the NCAA last year, it was easy to see the great team work and camaraderie between the girls as well as great gymnastics. Danusia is particularly known for her lively and outgoing personality and I am sure that she will love every minute of competing for UCLA.

With so many things to look forward to I wish all of the girls who have come to the end of an era, in whatever country and for whatever reason, the best of luck in the future.

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