Photo credit John Cheng
It’s been just over four months since we last saw the British seniors compete, back in October at the world championships Amy Tinkler was an integral part of the bronze medal winning team with superb performances on floor and vault in the team final helping to secure Britain’s first ever team medal. Amy also made the AA final qualifying in 8th place, a superb championship to finish a superb first year in the senior ranks.
In being given the American Cup assignment, Amy was given the first international call up of the year, what had Amy spent the last fours month doing? The short answer is working incredibly hard doing everything she can to claim one of those five spots for Rio.
Did she have a perfect competition? No, and it would have been strange if she had as we’re in March at the very beginning of the process, not July heading for the team announcement. What she did was come out with eight upgrades, hit all of them, and suggest there is room and plans for even more. In short it was exactly what you want to see, a huge statement of intent, and massive potential for some huge scores as the year progresses.
Before we get onto the gymnastics, I have to say big credit to the leotard designers for GB, another beautiful leotard to add to the collection, something different, stylish, and classy, can we see this one a lot this year please!
On to the competition!
Beginning on vault, Amy opened with her double twisting Yurchenko. As ever it was great onto the vault, big block moving through vertical, fully completed double twist, and the best distance of all the DTY’s by quite a way. She took a large step on landing, but that was the biggest error on a great opening piece. 14.833 (5.8 D 9.033 E) is a good score for this vault with the landing fault.
In my opinion Amy was scored reasonably, but both American gymnasts on this piece did not vault as well, and received higher E scores. I feel that Maggie had better height, but crossed her feet from the off, was bending one leg at the beginning of the second twist, piked down, and covered half the distance, and had a smaller hop on landing, yet scored 0.2 more in E score. Gabby stuck her vault, but had quite a leg separation on, twisted straight off the table, didn’t lift any higher, and had a heavy pike down covering half the distance Amy did, and scored a 9.30 E score.
It would have made no difference at all to the end result to have had the scores more in line, so it’s no case of sour grapes, I’m just saying what I see, feel free to judge for yourselves.
All 5.8 D vaults.
Amy 9.033 E
Maggie 9.233 E
Gabby 9.300 E
Moving on to bars, Amy had the first of her new upgrades to test out, a Maloney directly to Tkatchev. The same opening as 2015, toe full linked to toe on and off, straight to Maloney, Amy then made the Tkatchev, first upgrade successfully done. Pak to the low bar, Van Leuween back to high bar, then blind in, top out, and finishing with her usual excellent full out dismount.
13.833 (5.70 D 8.133 E)
It will be interesting to see the development of this routine over the year, as it stands, it’s a 5.7 D thanks to the 0.2 connection bonus she received for the Maloney straight to Tkatchev, last year it was a 5.6 as she received 0.1 bonus for the Maloney to Pak. If the Markelov goes back in at the end after the blind turn, and it looked like she had the energy there for it, it becomes a 5.90 routine.
There is also the option to switch the toe full and the toe on and off at the start, linking the toe full to the Maloney gives another 0.1 connection bonus making it a 6.0 routine, but not losing the counting C skill in the toe on. Link the Pak to the Van Leuween and there’s another 0.2, so a potential 6.2, get enough swing from the Tkatchev to link the Pak and it’s a 6.3. That would be a huge routine in terms of connection, and as Amy’s weakest piece I doubt we will see all of them. I think more likely is around a 6.0 routine, then work on the small leg separations through the routine to really lift her E score and get the routine consitently toward the mid 14.30+ range.
Was anyone expecting that? I know I wasn’t! The biggest change to Amy’s program came on beam, where she has reworked the routine to raise her D score to 6.2 which is 0.5 higher than four months ago.
First change, the A leap on to the end of the beam is replaced by a C difficulty jump to split mount. Next, the split full has gone, which I personally think is the right choice, as leaps are Amy’s weakest point on beam, and it was her most deductible skill. The already exciting gainer layout layout is upgraded with another layout added. Such an exciting and rare series that drew deserved appreciation from the partisan crowd. Not only that, but a 0.3 bonus for the whole series, up from 0.1 she was getting for the two layouts.
Next change, the free walkover is now linked to the sissone and the full spin, she wasn’t awarded the connection for the extra 0.1 today, but it’s very nearly there. The free cartwheel stays but moves to an earlier point in the routine, the she also kept the as change half and the change to sissone.
Finally the big new skill, the upgrade I was expecting at some point was the standing full, the back tuck has looked like a place holder for this skill, and sure enough she brought the big F difficulty back for the first time in three years. A huge skill right at the end of the routine, yes there would have been a landing position deduction on the day, but how impressive to bring all the upgrades out at once, and end with such a big one.
Big triple twist to finish, and Amy understandably looked delighted with herself. I’ve said before that she’s a big time competitor, and beam perfomances like this are exactly what the selectors are looking for.
I don’t know, but I think this will likely be the routine for 2016, 0.5 of upgrades is a lot, she’s actually taken 0.1 off her dance total, but it was without doubt the right choice as arco is where her strengths lie, and she’s gained 0.3 counting the full, plus 0.3 total in bonus. The only other skill Amy has used in the past is the double spin, but again not for a few years now.
I imagine with everything in place, the work now will be on cleaning up to boost the E score. What is impressive is that even with 0.5 higher difficulty, Amy actually just scored higher on E score than she did with her easier routine at worlds. She is capable of even clearer work, having scored mid 14’s twice last year with her lower difficulty. Upping both is very difficult, especially first time out, and with the skills in place, Amy now has time to work on hitting her positions in her leaps, and really extending through her legs throughout the entire exercise. This is a big scoring routine when she’s settled into both the difficulty and the execution.
I take absolutely nothing away from this outstanding effort though, travelling half way across the world and hitting four upgrades in your first competitive outing of the year shows exactly the kind of attack and determination this piece needs. Very well done Amy.
14.20 (6.1 D 8.1 E)
Finally on to floor, Amy came to her final piece in 4th place just behind Ellie Black of Canada. Finishing on one of both gymnasts’ strongest events, everything was set up for an exciting finale.
This is definitely a routine under construction, as Amy went for a 0.1 lower D score than in 2015. The 2015 routine was excellent, but this one is heading for even better, and for now we can only speculate as to which direction.
An interesting upgrade with the double spin to start with, it’s only a B value element, and Amy doesn’t count it in her dance elements. There is 0.1 bonus for B+B spins, so we shall see. I did actually wonder whether Amy would keep the single spin in the routine, but given that her Popa jump is strong, I thought she might have a go at the one and a half here giving her a D dance element to count, either that or try putting one after the split full in her leap series.
The tumbling was where things were most interesting Amy brought back the full twisting double layout she used at the very beginning of last year, she then tumbled back with the full in. Her 2015 opener of double double then double straight was H then F difficulty, this was H then E. Obviously there would be no point downgrading when she was doing both tumbles so well, so the logical guess is that the plan is full twisting double straight, then back with the double double. H then H for 1.6 in the opening two tumbles would be fantastic.
The same leap series, change leg through to split full, Popa to straddle half. Onto the third tumble and another change. No change in value here, the one and a half to two and a half twist is worth the same as the one and a half to double tuck. It didn’t come off today, but I have no doubt at all Amy can easily land this tumble. Why she’s changed it is a different question, the two and a half is usually landed very well, Amy doesn’t bounce out of the area, or have to take a large controlling step, so who knows. What could go after the one and a half, if not the two and a half? Well there are myriad possibilities, and it all depends on what she’s tried in training. Triple twist? Full in? It may of course have just been a case of trying something different out to see how it goes.
13.066 (5.90 D 7.166 E)
So after the unfortunate fall on the third tumble, Amy finished with an excellent double pike, and her competition was over. 4th place in the American cup is an excellent achievement, but the real story here was how exciting Amy’s potential for this year is by what we were shown. 55.932 with a fall and clearly more to come, this AA total was only 0.718 beind Amy at her very best in 2015, I have a feeling she’s be flying past her previous PB as the year progresses.
Congratulations to all gymnasts and coaches, to Gabby Douglas, Maggie Nichols and Ellie Black for taking the top three spots. Full results available here:
Next weekend we get to see Claudia and Kelly at the Glasgow World Cup, and we should be seeing everyone else who is competition fit at the British Teams as they are an official Olympic trial according to the selection process. We will then have a much better idea of how winter training has gone for the entire GB squad, I can’t wait.