The Balance Beam Situation

Because gymnastics is a comedy, not a drama

Chinese Nationals – Women’s Qualification

The first two days of Chinese Nationals are in the books, competitions which serve as qualification for the all-around and event finals (a format that really helps with the mission of trying to pretend this is just worlds, what, shut up, I don’t know), but also serve as the provincial team final.

I don’t have much to say about the team competition results because, for those of us outside China, we have little to no affiliation or reference point for a particular team—sort of like at L10 Nationals in the US when it’s like, “Region 5 is the winner!!!!” and you’re like, “…OK?”.

But…Jiangsu won the men’s team title and Guangdong won the women’s team title. The Guangdong women’s team features Liu Tingting and Chen Yile, but it was a closely fought race to beat Beijing, the team led by Tang Xijing and Qi Qi.


In women’s qualification, the leader heading into the all-around final is Liu Tingting with a 56.000, followed closely by Guan Chenchen with a 55.900—big first-day results for both women.

Significantly, favorite Ou Yushan suffered a lower extremity injury of some description in training and did not compete here, while Li Shijia was limited to only bars. Both Ou and Li will be in the primary handful of Olympic contenders, so their absences in the all-around here mean that other aspirants for the top tier really need to place well because this field is not as deep as it will be (…right…?) come actual Olympic selection. If you can’t place well here, then…it’s only going to get harder.

Liu Tingting fully showed up on day 1, advancing in 2nd place to the bars final, 4th place to the beam final, and 3rd place to the floor final in addition to her AA result.

Continuing to show a competitive floor score (13.450) is particularly important for Liu, even if her D is not really what you’d want, in making her case as a useful athlete for a four-member team. Floor is not absolutely essential for her—you could see, for instance, a Chinese team where she does UB/BB complemented by Qi Qi on VT/FX, with Ou Yushan and Tang Xijing in the all-around—but having floor boosts her argument and makes her less reliant on some other athlete being able to complement her on a team.

Speaking of Tang Xijing, she qualified in a somewhat disappointing 6th place into the all-around after a miss on beam, though after what happened at worlds, perhaps she’s just developing an identity as someone who effs up the first day and then nails the second day, Bridget Sloan-style. Time will tell.

Someone hoping Tang doesn’t “pull a worlds” in the AA final is Guan Chenchen, who rode a spectaculactaculacular beam routine to the 2nd-place all-around spot. Expectations weren’t super high for Guan’s all-around placements coming into this year because she doesn’t always have the other events, but that doesn’t super matter when you’re getting 15.400 on beam for a 7.1 D score.

Qi Qi will also be pleased with her fifth-place qualification performance because while she, too, is never going to get some huge bars score, she qualified in first place on both of her important events, vault and floor—reasserting her competitiveness as either an Olympic team member in the scenario outlined above, or in a +1 role.

In the +1 department, Fan Yilin already has an Olympic spot from the apparatus world cups sewn up and confirmed her position as the best bars worker in China by scoring 15.200 and qualifying to the final in first place, nearly half a point better than anyone else. FYL things.

Qualifying in third place into the all-around final was Wei Xiaoyuan, who recorded excellent numbers on both bars and beam (14.400 and 14.700). She’s not to be ignored in the Olympic hunt, and is someone who really needs to take advantage of the absences of Ou and Li SJ and put up a statement result. Because Wei didn’t have the scores on vault and floor, she’s sort of in the tough position right now of having to beat Liu Tingting at her own game, but she did outscore Liu on beam—not an easy feat.

In other developments for familiar names, Chen Yile competed on only vault and beam here—and a beam fall meant she did not advance to any finals—while Zhang Jin qualified down in 8th place after a miss on beam.

On the positive side of the coin, Lu Yufei had a glorious time of it on the first day, qualifying in a surprising 4th place into the AA, ahead of Tang and Qi Qi (!), thanks to an impressive 14.700 on bars.

Shang Chunsong, competing in an early session, had a mostly successful day all things considered, advancing to the all-around final as well as the floor final with a 13.650, trailing only Qi Qi on that event.

A rough bars routine spoiled Shang’s day in the all-around a little bit—she had missed her Shang in the touch, and then over-corrected in competition to catch close, which sort of threw her off, breaking connection into the Pak and then falling on the subsequent Shaposh. Even with that low-for-Shang bars score, she made it into the AA final in 16th place.

In “China what is this fresh nonsense” news, Li Qi performed a very impressive beam routine to qualify third on that event but will not be permitted to compete in the event final because she did not do well enough in China’s all-sport physical testing requirements.

Hi, that’s stupid and I hate it.

Meanwhile Martha is like, “You mean I could have used Ranch Physical Abilities Testing Nonsense to disqualify people from nationals this WHOLE TIME??????”

Making the gymternet rounds as the standout floor performer of the day was Deng Yalan—although I will say this video misses the best part from the live stream I was watching, when the word SLAY just rolled across the screen in English in all caps. I mean not wrong.


The previous day brought us men’s qualification. Xiao Ruoteng qualified into the AA final comfortably in first place with an 87.650 performance that featured the world’s smallest little bun on top of his head as well as an upgraded Kas 2.5—a 6.0 start. It was…not nearly as terrifying as you thought it was going to be.

Sun Wei and Deng Shudi followed him in the all-around with solid performances and established a large gap between themselves and everyone else. Meanwhile, 2017 world silver medalist Lin Chaopan placed down in 5th. I always think Lin is going to start to be passed up by others, but then he’ll pull out something like that qualification floor performance at worlds. We’ll see if he can manage a feat like that tomorrow. Zou Jingyuan did not compete the all-around and did not score as expected on PH after…a dismount situation, but he did “it was fine” his way to a PB score that no one else could ever dream of.

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