ON THE SAME weekend
last April, University of Michigan gymnasts Sam Mikulak and Kylee
Botterman made NCAA gymnastics
history. It was the first time that the
men’s and women’s NCAA all-around
champions came from the same school.
Both victories also came in Ohio—
Mikulak’s in Columbus, Botterman’s in
Cleveland—which meant that plenty of
Wolverine fans could make the trip(s).
As a team, Michigan finished fifth
(men) and sixth (women), so there is still
some work to do for the Wolverines to
make history again!
with the full-in back-out she used in
2004. But with such a high personal
standards, Ponor was extremely disappointed not to win a medal in Tokyo.
A YEAR BEFORE the Olympics, 2009
world vault silver medalist Ariella
Käslin of Switzerland announced her
retirement at age 23. About the same
time, 2010 U.S. world team member
Mattie Larson retired from elite to
begin her NCAA career as a UCLA
BROTHER AND SISTER have made previous world teams (Brazilian siblings
Daniele and Diego Hypolito), and
twins have too (Americans Paul and
Morgan Hamm, North Koreans Hong
Su Jong and Hong Un Jong). But
the Tanaka trio that competed for
Japan in Tokyo may be a first. Rie, 24,
did all four events for the women’s
team, while brothers Kazuhito, 26,
and Yusuke, 21, did five events each
for the men.
1976 OLYMPIC CHAMPION Nadia
Comaneci turned 50 on Nov. 12, and
celebrated in grand style in Doha,
Qatar, where she was presented with a
Asked if she was concerned about hitting such a big milestone, Nadia said
no. “I just stopped counting at 40,” she
AT THE VISA championships last
August, Katelyn Ohashi scored 60.95
and 60.00 to run away with the junior
all-around title. Both scores would have
been good enough to win the 2011
world all-around gold in Tokyo.
Valeri Liukin, her coach at WOGA,
says Ohashi has it all, and few are
debating his claim. He also envisions
her dominating the 2016 Olympics,
since she is too young for 2012. “It
does feel like [it’s a long wait], but the
years go by fast,” she said.
THE WOMEN’S ALL-AROUND at the
Tokyo world championships was dominated by 16-year-olds: Jordyn Wieber,
Viktoria Komova and Yao Jinnan.
That’s also the order in which they finished, with more than 1.0 separating
Yao from fourth.
The talented trio was evenly matched,
and each could have won the gold.
Wieber and Komova had minor errors,
while Yao had a costly fall at beam.
Komova also won the uneven bars
title, while another senior
rookie, McKayla Maroney,
claimed the gold on vault.
With the current rules
requiring high levels of difficulty, it is likely that
future champions will
rarely be much older than
UNLESS YOU HAVE been
marooned on a deserted
island since the last Olympics, you probably already
know that Japan’s Kohei
Uchimura is a pretty
awesome gymnast. Last October he
became the first man to win three world
all-around titles, and while he’s had the
luxury of competing in annual world
championships when some of his predecessors did not, King Kohei was virtually conceded victory by most of his peers
prior to each of his three crowns. The
results further proved his relative greatness. From 2009-11, his average winning margin was 2.653.
PERHAPS NO OTHER comeback story
was quicker than that of 2004 Olympian Catalina Ponor, who won three
golds in Athens. Invited in late 2010 to
join the team, Ponor was given four
months to get back in shape. She did,
and officially joined the Romanian team
in the spring.
At 24, Ponor was more than just
another team member at worlds. She
qualified to the beam final, dismounting
ON A CHINESE team that can’t
seem to find an identity, Sui Lu
may have quietly established herself as irreplaceable. And that’s with
only two good events.
The 19-year-old Hunan native has
made the last three world floor
finals (socks and all!), finishing
third (2009), fifth (’ 10) and second
(’ 11). This last medal was preceded by her first individual gold,
which came on beam and produced
the most lopsided event victory in
Tokyo. Sui won by 0.633, posting
the top D- ( 6. 6) and E-scores
AT THE 2008 Beijing
Olympics, Vietnam made news,
both good and bad. Do Thi Ngan
Thuong received the final Wild Card
berth to the games, making her the
first Vietnamese gymnastics Olympian.
But after testing positive for
furosemide (a diuretic), she was
expelled from the Olympics, her
results nullified. (The IOC med-
ical commission chairman
believed the infraction was inad-
Fast-forward to 2011 and
Vietnam made news again, but
not by accident this time.
Phan Thi Ha Thanh
became her country’s first
world finalist—and medal-
ist. She won the bronze