Looking Back: New Seniors of 2014

5:27 PM Arabian Punch Front 1 Comments

Ashton Locklear and Coach Qi Han at the 2014 World Championships

It's always nice at this time of year to take a moment and reflect on this crazy sport and who managed to survive. On the list of New Seniors, there were quite a few seniors that were part of the conversation as juniors. They were toted as "the next big thing." Looking at European Championships, World Championships, and other competitions, it's interesting to note which gymnasts lived up to the hype and even some that flew under the radar.

Senior in 2014 (born in 1998)
Alexandra Eade
Lorrane dos Santos
Mariana Oliviera
Heaven Latimer
Isabela Onyshko
Kirsten Peterman
Aleeza Yu
Claire Martin
Sarah Pais
Louise Vanhille
Enus Mariani
Eythora Thorsdottir
New Zealand
Charlotte Sullivan
Andreea Munteanu
Silvia Zarzu
Maria Kharenkova
Viktoria Kuzmina
Emma Larsson
Veronica (Nica) Hults
Amelia Hundley
Polina Shchennikova

Lived Up To The Hype
There were quite a few gymnasts who did really well.  Isabela Onyshko and Aleeza Yu competed at the World Championships while Kirsten Peterman competed at Pan American Championships and was named alternate to the World team. Onyshko did well qualifying to the all around final at the Commonwealth Games. Yu was on track to be one of Canada's all around gymnasts at World Championships but unfortunately suffered a knee injury in the first rotation.

I first became aware of Charlotte Sullivan at the 2012 Pacific Rim Championships where she made the beam final shortly after the Christchurch gym in New Zealand had been destroyed by an earthquake. Although a few other Kiwi gymnasts have come into the spotlight, Sullivan attended the Commonwealth Games where she placed 16th in the all around finals. She was a member of the 2014 World Championships team that placed 22nd and competed on all 4 events.

Of the 3 Frenchwomen, I'd have to say Claire Martin had the most successful senior debut. The French team was badly hurt (literally and figuratively) by injuries. The team was probably 2 injuries away from calling Isabelle Severino out of retirement. Claire Martin did well at European Championships where she placed 7th in the balance beam event final. At Worlds, she helped France to a 13th place finish and a team berth to the 2015 World Championships. She continues to show strength on balance beam and floor, where she really shines.

Romania had to deal with the untimely injury of Diana Bulimar and it was hard to rally around a team that had a big hole to fill. Of the new seniors, both Munteanu and Zarzu did an excellent job. Munteanu particularly scored a 15.2 on beam in TF that would have won the balance beam event finals. They're a young team and have room to grow hopefully only aided by the return of Bulimar.

Kharenkova... she's a bit of a mix of living up to the hype and falling apart in my eyes. Maybe it's because I was never a true fan so I apologize. Kharenkova was the 2014 European Balance Beam Champion beating out teammate Aliya Mustafina. Unfortunately, injury kept her from being 100% at the time of World Championships where she had a disastrous routine in qualifications. She redeemed herself in team finals, however.

The Swedish team is definitely one that is one the rise. Emma Larsson has done a superb job filling the holes where needed. She's a beautiful and lively floor worker with an exciting uneven bar routine as well. There are some countries where you just hope they qualify a team to the Olympics because you don't want to deal with picking only one athlete. Sweden is definitely one of those teams!

Unfortunate Injuries
The unfortunate injuries group actually covers the entirety of the US girls that are listed here. Polina Schennikova had an elbow injury that kept her out of Nationals. Amelia Hundley had surgery earlier in the year but she never seemed to return to Hundley-form. She was able to do the all around but with a 1.5TY. Nica Hults had injuries that kept her from competing in the all-around.

Heaven Latimer is probably one of the most hyped Canadian juniors now senior because of her lovely triple series on beam that ended with a layout full. Unfortunately, she had an injury that kept her out and she returned to Canadian Nationals only on uneven bars. Hopefully she can come back to form and aid her team.

Probably the 2 most heart-breaking injuries for the gymternet were those of Enus Mariani and Eythora Thorsdottir. Both had "back issues" - Enus to the point where she was off the National Team and everything about her injury was kept very quiet. However, they're both back now and that's what counts! Italy is doing really well so Enus will need to add some difficulty but a strong all arounder, especially one who thrives on uneven bars, could only help Italy. The Dutch team has a tight group of girls but Eythora's prowess on beam and floor are sure to help. She is also a solid all arounder but those 2 events are where she stands out.

Under the Radar
Alyssa Baumann and Ashton Locklear were not on my list to say the least. Locklear had been attending camps but I guess I always brushed it off. I was wrong. I think after Bross, Ohashi, and Kocian being injured, I was very skeptical of WOGA which clearly I should not have been as they had two girls on the Worlds team (Baumann and Madison Kocian). Baumann was crucial to the USA on balance beam, where they showed a relative weakness in terms of depth compared to previous years. Baumann secured her spot as the lead off on balance beam in team finals with her 6.0D. Her qualifications score was enough for 14th place in the event.

Early on in the US domestic season, it became aware Locklear would be on the team for her uneven bar skill level and impeccable execution. Her legs go for miles and she's also managed to optimize the code with connections that, even when missed, still give her above a 6.0 difficulty. She finished the World Championships competing three solid uneven bar routines. Her effort in the event finals left her in 4th place. We've already seen video of her working a Ricna. I''m sure her uneven bars will only continue to improve and hopefully she's healthy enough to add back the other events.

You can find the list of New Seniors for 2015 and 2016 here. 2017 will start to be added this year.

What were your impressions of the 1998 group - the new seniors of 2014?

1 comment :

  1. So sad Nica had all these small, nagging injuries this year. I absolutely love her.