Taeja James of City of Birmingham looked as though she came for this title today. The silver medalist from 2016, it was her time to step up and on to the top of the rostrum. The strongest gymnast in the field, Taeja had upgraded since we saw her last in November at Elite Massilia, she looked prepared, confident, and more mature as if ready for her role leading the British juniors this year.
Starting on vault with a high, stretched, extended Yurchenko full that looks ready to upgrade for 13.850. Taeja also vaulted her strong Kazamatsu for 13.700, and average of 13.775, and top qualifier for the vault final.
On to bars, a lovely sharp opening cast to handstand, blind in to very high Jaeger, I wouldn’t be shocked to see this piked in time. Toe on Tkatchev caught fully stretched, toe on and off, shoot half into handstand, then shoot back to high bar. She was a little late on her giant full, and finished with a full out with a tiny hop for 13.100 (0.2 bonus for the full out dismount)
On to beam, flick to chest stand, double W turn, then a big acro upgrade, roundoff straight back. She came off the beam, but this was impressive stuff, high and stretched, she’ll have no trouble being awarded credit for this skill. She did have a tiny pause in her change to change half, so missed the connection, solid punch front, sissone W jump, side somi, and another upgrade, the triple twist to finish which was fully rotated. Even though there was a fall, this was an encouragingly confident performance from Taeja full of clean work, attack and determination. Exactly what you want to see. 13.250 (0.2 bonus for the triple twist)
Finally on to floor, clean and safe would take the title. What we got was clean, confident, powerful, expressive performance, and the result was never in doubt. One and a half to triple twist opening tumble, double tuck with a pace, double twisting straight front, and two and a half finish. Love the new routine, it really suits her. 13.750 (0.2 bonus for the two and a half twist dismount)
A true champion steps up and performs to their best whether they need to or not, and Taeja did just that.
AA total of 53.950 counting a fall, she will be pushing the immensely talented Italian and US juniors who are currently strongest. I think there will be even more to come from Taeja this year difficulty wise, and if there is, she will be right there with them.
Congratulations to Taeja, a very exciting talent looking set to fulfil her enormous potential, to coach Jody Kime and to club City of Birmingham.
It’s a big step up into the junior ranks from Espoirs, and having missed British Espoirs in December, Slough’s Amelie Morgan stepped into the biggest area, the most noise and production that she will have been part of. How did she respond? If you weren’t already, get excited about this girl.
Starting on vault with her beautifully clean full twisting Yurchenko, 13.900 the highest individual vault score of the day. Amelie also looks ready to upgrade this vault, she completes the twist easily with plenty of time to spare. A beautiful straight Yurchenko second vault for 13.250, and into the vault final.
On to bars, lovely high straddled jaeger, like Taeja, I wouldn’t be surprised to see this turn into a pike soon. Shoot half into handstand, linked to toe on and shoot to high bar. Strong giant full, and a full out dismount, lovely clean lines throughout her quality work. 12.750 (0.2 bonus)
If there was a sign of nerves today, it was on beam. Make no mistake, this was a great routine, but Amelie is an exceptional beam worker, and she wasn’t quite at her sharpest and most confident today. Interestingly she took out her jump to split mount, and just hopped on, which there is a 0.1 deduction for now, so there will have been a reason for that. She paused after her change leap, then went into the change half, and linked it to a split jump and sissone. Amelie’s, lines and flexibility are highlighted beautifully through her leaps. Free walkover, impressive side on split half jump, free cartwheel with a small wobble, then the sort of strong clean extended series we’re used to from Amelie, flick flick layout. A new split leap full which was a little short, then an upgrade of two and a half dismount where she was a little underrotated to finish. Beautiful lines throughout, soft hands and arms, clean and extended. 12.700 with a 7.7 E, for comparison, her last outing on beam earned her an 8.45 E, that’s how capable she is on this piece.
Finishing on floor, a new routine for Amelie, and just as beautiful as the last one. A gymnast in the classic mould, graceful, elegant, and fluid throughout. Double tuck to open, two and a half to punch front. Handspring double twisting straight front to finish. Amelie will likely be sent to several international events this year, judges and fans are going to love her.
53.050 total, Amelie will still be a junior in 2018 when the next junior Europeans come round, and looks set to make a huge impression.Congratulations to Amelie, to coach Ellie Jones, and to club Slough Gymnastics.
Many things made me smile about this junior competition, and one was definitely Jolie Ruckley. In December 2015 Jolie won the British AA Espoir title ahead of both Taeja and Amelie, and was set for a strong start to her junior career. Since then she has been fighting injury, and we haven’t seen her in competition up until today. Unsurprisingly while going through rehab, she hasn’t been able to forge ahead with her difficulty yet, but having not competed for nearly sixteen months, the way she took to her first junior level competition was hugely impressive.
Starting on beam, flick to chest stand mount, clean and extended through the change to sissone, and the flick layout. A small adjustment on the free cartwheel, then a very well controlled double spin. A nice change half, and a tidy double twist to finish. Classy and confident work throughout. 12.750
On to floor, and a beautifully high double tuck to open. She fell out of the triple spin at the end, but a good attempt, then a clean straight front to full twisting straight front. Double twist to finish, and I’ll be sharing this routine as soon as it becomes available as I absolutely loved the choreography, and Jolie’s interpretation of it. In the time she’s been away, I’d slightly forgotten quite how classy a floor worker she is. 12.950
I didn’t catch her vault, and it isn’t available as yet, but she had a 4.0D, so possibly the straight Yurchenko we have seen from her previously. 13.100
Finishing on bars, strong Tkatchev with good counter rotation, toe half, fwd giant topping out on top of the bar. Well controlled shoot half into handstand, shoot back to high bar, nice giant full, and finished with a double pike, a bit close to the bar, but no problem for her. 12.150
A total of 50.950 for a completely clean competition impressive under any circumstances, but even more so after the year and a bit Jolie has had. I very much hope this is the end of her injury struggles, and look forward to seeing what this talented young gymnast does next as she builds her difficulty heading toward the senior ranks. Congratulations to Jolie, to coach Tracey Skirton, and to club Cardiff Olympic.
Laura Beasley of Park Wrekin placed fourth with 50.150, a great result from her on her way back from injury, and with a clean competition she’d have taken the bronze.
Lovely high full twisting Yurchenko with a small controlled pace for 13.700.
On bars she was late with her giant full, but still linked it to the Tkatchev, unfortunately she came off, but a good combination there. Blind in to big piked Jaeger, toe on into shoot half immediate shoot to high bar. Lovely high stretched double straight dismount, Laura is a strong bar worker in the making placing eighth even with the fall. 11.650.
On beam, flick to chest stand mount, change leap to sissone, then change to side followed by a straddle jump. Free cartwheel layout series well negotiated, free walkover with a small adjustment, then safely through the one and a half dismount.13.050, and into the final in second place.
On floor, strong split leap full, high double tuck with a bounce back, punch front through to one and a half, twist, then she just fell back on her double pike at the end which was a huge shame. Powerful work with good presentation here. 11.750.
Phoebe Jacubczy of The Academy impressed in her first junior level championships, placing fifth with 49.000. A clean straight Yurchenko on vault, just a little closed in the hips but otherwise very well performed for 12.300.
On bars, she has a good strong swing as we would expect from an Academy gymnast, not huge difficulty as yet, but a nice shoot half, high shoot back to the high bar, and clean high double pike to finish. 11.850.
On beam there’s a little bit of Ruby about her in her style which was nice to see. A fall on her free cartwheel near the beginning, but safely through the change leap to split jump, then well fought on the snappy flick layout. Very clean and stuck one and a half dismount to finish. 11.650
On floor she made the final, a big high double tuck to open, one and a half to pike front, again very clean, two and a half twist linked to a spin to finish. Loved the music, loved the interpretation. 13.200.
Rounding off the top six was The Academy’s Zoe Simmons with 48.750, probably my pick for bronze before the event. On vault we saw her pike front half, high and flighty as ever, a tiny bit low in the chest on landing today but very well performed for 13.750
On bars, a clear circle to handstand, giant full, then giant into Tkatchev, where she was a bit flat on this skill today, but made it non the less. This was the first time we have seen Zoe attempt a bar change, it didn’t come off for her today as she hit her feet on the mat, but what was very impressive is that she really went for this Pak, sometime you see tentative attempts, this was high, stretched and flighty, a little too high today granted, but it’s going to be lovely when she has it consolidated. Finishing with the double front we are used to seeing from her, 9.800.
On beam, the lovely planche mount which as far as I’m aware she’s the only one competing, she was fast and snappy through the change to change quarter leaps, but unfortunately had to count a fall. Safely through the free cartwheel flick, and just a tiny adjustment on the free walkover, she then made her very difficult E valued change half with extra half turn. Tidy one and a half twist with a hop to finish.
As reigning British junior floor champion, Zoe put in another excellent performance of her bright, fun, energetic swing routine for everyone to enjoy. great double front to stag leap opener, she was a little low on landing from the double tuck, but controlled it with a pace. Clean snappy leaps, one and a half to full twisting straight front, two and a half twist to finish, great routine 13.450.
Also standing out were Rochelle Spencer-Smith of Heathrow placing seventh and making the bars final, Sapphire gymnasts Hallie Copperwheat and Megan Splain impressed in eighth and ninth, a great result for first year junior Hallie in Particular. Sapphire in general continue their reputation for strong beam workers, with both Megan, and team mate Alyieana Rahim making the final. Amelia Knight might not have had the best day overall, but she has a Van Leuween on bars, and I love her Zuchold-Schleudern which she does from the full pike circle. Another big bar worker from The Academy in the making. Ellie Russell made floor and vault finals, Ellee Cheetham impressed with secure confident beam work, British Espoir bars champion Paige Thomas only competed on bars, but competed well to qualify in third place for the final, Kelsey Ann Moore also swung well to make the final.
Nott’s Scarlett Wiliams competed on three pieces only today, and I believe is dealing with injury. She may not have put the highest difficulty out there, but her work is beautiful to watch. Christine Tse stood out for the same reasons, a gymnast you just enjoy watching.
I will be doing a specific post on floors with video after the championships, but there were some great routines here. Other than those mentioned above, Sioned Thomas and Mia Scott are fun and energetic, Erika Magapantay, Scarlett Williams, Christine Tse, and Ella Gaynor are beautifully choreographed and presented.
This is the part I don’t love so much about blogging, to cover everyone fully would probably take me right up until the English in two weeks, so I have to cut it off somewhere. Going through the videos there is work to be praised and admired from every single gymnast competing, so well done to all.