Just three months from the beginning of a completely new cycle, and time to look back over the last four years at what what the 2013-2016 quad brought for the British Juniors. There are a couple of smaller competitions left this year, but the major work is now done, and for those progressing to senior ranks in 2017, the work to upgrade for this next huge step in their careers is well underway.
Junior gymnasts are those turing 14, and those turning 15 in the year of competition, so throughout this past quad, those born 1999 through to 2002.
In my opinion, this has been the strongest quad of junior gymnasts Great Britain has ever produced, the junior results were the most successful yet, and for those that have graduated to senior ranks already, they have made their mark with some of the best ever results at British senior level.
There are too many competitions, and too many excellent performances by outstanding gymnasts to mention them all, but these are the highlights of the junior quad.
Originally this was to be one post, but it was getting so long I have split into two. In this first half, the first I look at 2013 and 2014.
2013 British junior medalists, L-R Amy Tinkler, Tyesha Mattis, Ellie Downie.
Some very familiar names to begin this review, In January 2013 the team of Amy Tinkler, Tyesha Mattis, Catherine Lyons, and Teal Grindle travelled to Sydney for the Australian Youth Olympic Festival. A young team, Catherine and Teal were Espoirs (but as this was a junior competition, are included in this review) at the time, Amy and Tyesha first year juniors. The team took the silver medal behind China, Tyesha took AA and vault gold, vaulting a double twisting Yurchenko, very rare from a first year junior, and at the time still relatively rare from British gymnasts full stop. Tyesha also took bronze on bars and floor.
Teal took silver AA, and gold on beam with very well performed routine. Still just twelve years old at the time of competition, her confidence in performance level was extremely encouraging.
Amy took gold on floor, and silver on vault, three years before she would become an Olympic floor medalist, the big tumbles and enormous potential are right there to see. This is actually her team final routine:
Catherine, also still just twelve at the time placed fourth on both floor and beam, rightfully gaining attention for her beautiful clean, expressive work.
A very impressive start to the year, and I clearly remember that it was the first time that many worldwide fans had seen the up and coming British gymnasts, and there was quite the buzz about them, which continues to this day.
At the British Championships, The AA medals went to the young up and coming juniors, it is worth remembering that these girls were a year younger that many of their competitors. Gold to Tyesha Mattis 55.05, silver to Amy Tinkler 53.80, Bronze to Ellie Downie 51.550. Their domination continued into the apparatus finals where they took ten of a possible twelve medals, with Ellie taking the vault title, Amy bars and floor, and Tyesha beam.
Tyesha’s winning beam:
Ellie’s winning vault:
Amy’s winning floor, note the tumbles, and the way her skill set on this piece has developed over the last three years. It’s essentially the same composition, but upgraded. The double straight now has a full twist, and the full in is now a double double. Amy has used the one and a half to double tuck this year as opposed to the two and a half, but I think that she had been working toward the one and a half to triple. The double pike finish was also already in. We will be seeing something different from Amy next year though, as she will need a forward salto within a tumble under the new code, but there will be more about this in a focus on the new code post toward the end of the year.
The other major competition of 2013 for the juniors was EYOF (European Youth Olympic Festival). The team of Tyesha, Ellie, and Amy travelled to Utrecht in The Netherlands, and did very well to place second to Russia who fielded two second year and one first year juniors. In the AA Tyesha placed third, but it is worth noting that at this competition there was a difficulty cap at E level skills. As a first year junior, Tyesha landed a huge double double (The first British WAG of any age to ever compete this skill), a full in, a triple twist, and a double tuck, but as the double double is an H , she lost 0.3 in actual D score. Missing the gold by just 0.1, as neither the gold or silver medalist counted any skills over an E, Tyesha would have won this competition if allowed her full difficulty. Tyesha also took home the bronze on vault.
Ellie placed 4th AA, I don’t recall, but by the scores it looks as though she may have had a fall on beam which kept her out of the medals. Ellie debuted her double twisting Yurchenko here, which helped her to the vault title.
Amy didn’t compete in the AA final. Having had a fall on bars, and her feet hitting the mat, she was down on score there, and out due to the two per country rule. Amy did hit her standing full on beam, and debuted her double twisting Yurchenko, as well as making the floor final where she finished 6th.
There was so much to be admired from these young gymnasts through the year, but I think the progression on vault was what stood out the most. Three double twisting Yurchenkos from three first year juniors, higher difficulty that that of their senior counterparts in the 2012 Olympic team final.
The first ever British WAG junior European team medalists: Rhyannon Jones, Catherine Lyons, Teal Grindle, Amy Tinkler, Ellie Downie.
After the success of 2013, 2014 was set to be even better for the British juniors. The already very strong trio from the previous year were joined in the junior ranks by exciting new talents, among them Catherine Lyons, and Teal Grindle.
As ever, the year kicked off with the English championships, Tyesha took the AA title despite a fall on beam. She also took gold on vault, silver on bars, and bronze on beam. Catherine placed second, including gold on beam shared gold on floor, and Amy took bronze despite problems on bars. Amy also took bronze on vault, silver on beam, and shared the floor gold with Catherine. Ellie was fourth with gold on vault, and bronze on floor. Problems on bars and beam kept her out of the AA medals, however, Ellie performed her double Arabian beam dismount beautifully here, again enormous difficulty for a junior.
Two weeks later at the British Championships, there was no Ellie this time, but all of the others fighting for places on the junior European team were there competing. The AA title went to Amy, silver to Teal, and bronze to Catherine despite a fall on bars. Tyesha had a tough day falling once on bars, twice on beam, and once floor, but still finished in sixth.
Apparatus finals, Tyesha had qualified to vault bars and floor despite errors, and she took both the vault and bars titles. Teal took the beam title, and bronze on floor, Catherine took the floor title, and beam silver. Rhyannon Jones took silver on bars, Amy silver on vault, bronze on beam, and silver on floor.
Amy’s floor on her way to the AA title
Tyesha’s winning bars
Teal’s winning beam
Catherine’s winning floor
Approximately six weeks away from the junior European Championships, and it was looking as though Great Britain would be fielding the strongest team of juniors that they ever had, and the strongest team of juniors GB has ever produced. I’m sure I wasn’t alone in thinking that a team of Tyesha, Amy, Ellie, Catherine, and Teal could push Russia for the title, and come home with multiple individual medals. It was not quite to be however, the British Championships sadly marked the last time we saw Tyesha compete AA, as she has continued to battle with injury from this point. A huge shame, you can see her enormous talent from the videos, and I understand she was landing her Amanar vaults before the injuries took hold. I will say this though, she is a real fighter, she came back on two pieces in 2015 and took the British senior bars and beam titles, she then planned to compete AA at the beginning of 2016, and was injured again on floor. She is training still though, and has recently put some clips of her beam and bars work up on Instagram. Still only seventeen in a sport where women are competing at elite level for longer and longer, do not count her out.
So with Tyesha out, Rhyannon Jones was awarded with a place on the Junior European team. Well deserved after her results at the British championships, (5th AA, 2nd UB, 5th BB, 4th FX). Rhyannon headed to Sofia Bulgaria alongside Amy, Ellie, Catherine, and Teal, to take on the best in Europe.
It was simply the most successful outing by a British Junior team in Europe to date. Team silver, the first team medal, the first AA medal, bronze to Ellie, the first vault medals, gold to Ellie and bronze to Amy, and the first floor gold and silver, gold to Catherine, silver to Amy. On top of the medals, Catherine placed 4th AA, Ellie made the bars final and placed 5th, Teal and Catherine made the beam final placing 4th and 5th respectively. An outstanding performance from the team, Two European champions, two silvers, two bronze, and a new standard set.
There are so many routines from the championships worth watching, I have selected just one from each of the girls.
Rhyannon floor Team Competition
Teal’s Beam Apparatus Finals
Ellie’s Vault Apparatus Finals
Amy’s Floor Apparatus Finals
Catherine’s Floor Apparatus Finals
The 2014 junior Europeans was also the last time we saw Teal at full strength. Training well after Europeans, and progressing with new skills, Teal then needed shoulder surgery for cysts, cartilage damage, and a label tear, then a long recovery keeping her out of competition for over a year. Teal did return to compete for GB at the Olympic Hopes Cup in December 2015 helping the team to the gold medal with her scores on vault, beam, and floor. In spring this year, Teal had shoulder surgery once more repairing a major cartilage tear, she then had pioneering shoulder treatment, as initial investigation showed that she needed more work done. Teal continues her rehabilitation, and at still only sixteen, we very much hope to see her be able to return and have the chance to fill her enormous potential.
In August, Ellie headed to Nanjing China having been selected for the Youth Olympic Games. Despite a fall on her opening piked double Arabian on floor, Ellie took the bronze AA behind Russia’s Seda Tutkhalyen, and Brazil’s Flavia Saraiva. In apparatus finals, she also picked up two bronzes, one on beam and one on floor, and the silver on vault. A strong end to a great junior career for Ellie, into the seniors in 2015, she will of course feature in my senior quad review.
Ellie’s Beam Apparatus Finals
Ellie’s Floor Apparatus Finals
September saw Catherine head to Yokohama Japan along with Georgia Mae Fenton, for the International Japan Junior. A highly prestigious event with top juniors worldwide attending, the girls were still both Espoir gymnasts, and competing against juniors up to two years older than them. Catherine placed 8th AA, Georgia competed on bars and beam only, making bars final where she finished 7th. Catherine made bars, beam, and floor finals, finishing 6th on bars, 4th on beam, and 7th on floor. I can’t find Georgia’s bars at the moment which is a real shame, but will add them if I do.
Catherine’s AA beam
Amy finished her junior career with a trip to the Top Gym competition in Charleroi Belgium to take on some very strong competition including AA junior European Champion Angelina Melnikova. Amy was the second highest scorer on vault, and the top scorer on floor, but a fall and an error on bars, and and fall on beam kept her out of the medals. Even though not the perfect ending to her junior career in terms of the AA, her floor and vault results were excellent, showing again how strong a gymnast she was. Like Ellie, Amy was hugely successful at junior level, and will also of course feature heavily in the second half of the senior quad review.
Amy’s floor from Top Gym, highest scorer on this piece.
So half way through the quad, and so much more to come, in my next post, British juniors 2015 and 2016.