The first of the four 2020 AA World Cup events took place today, the American Cup held in Milwaukee Wisconsin, and another senior debut for British Gymnastics.
Step forward Jennifer Gadirova of Aylesbury Gymnastics Academy.
Jennifer came in as a replacement for Amelie Morgan who we look forward to seeing shortly when her wrist is fully recovered.
Jennifer’s trajectory has been incredibly impressive over this past year. Along with twin sister Jessica, she has always been a beautiful gymnast to watch, and over the past 12 months has joined the ranks of promising rising youngsters looking to make an impact over the next quad, especially after a successful junior World Championships, and Elite Masillia in 2019. I’m sure she will do just that, but before we see the next quad in, we finish this one, and Jennifer looks ready and determined to fight for selection onto the the biggest team opportunity available.
The field here was strong, amongst them 2017 AA World Champion Morgan Hurd of the US, and silver medalist Ellie Black of Canada, Youth Olympic and Junior European Champion Giorgia Villa of Italy, Universiade champion Hitomi Hatakeda of Japan, and European Games silver medalist Lorette Charpy of France. Also making her senior debut was Kayla DiCello of the US, reigning junior national champion, and AA bronze medalist from the 2019 Junior World Championships.
So, a big event, big crowds, big opportunity.
Starting on Vault, we have seen that she is training the Amanar and making good progress in it, but I wasn’t expecting to see it today. Sure enough, a very strong double twisting Yurchenko, high off the vault, tidy in the twist, and well landed for 14.566 (5.4D,9.166E) and the highest vault score of the day, as well as the highest E score on this piece.
On to bars, fair to say at present the weaker of her four pieces, but I feel she has strong potential here to keep building, and good swing to work with which is becoming more powerful. There was an upgrade right at the beginning of the routine, starting on the low bar now, and the E rated Van Leuween to high bar. She then had a fall on her piked Jaeger, fingers touched the bar, but she was that little bit too far away for the recatch. Wisely repeating the skill for the E value, and the same bar release requirement, Jennifer successfully caught her Jaeger on the second attempt.
The rest of the routine remains the same for now, Pak to low bar, top turn, shoot to high bar, giant full, blind in to a very tidy double front with a small step. A shame about the fall of course, but as I say potential here, and I think we’ll see her continue to build this routine.
11.366 (4.7D, 6.666E)
On to her third piece, and beam is of course a great test of nerve, an indicator of how a gymnast may handle high pressure competition at the big events. It is one thing to be good at beam, it is quite another to be good at competing beam.
There isn’t footage of her beam from her last competition at Elite Masillia in November, but from Junior Worlds, she has no fewer than four upgrades here. With everything awarded for perfect connections, this is a big 6.2 routine, her pervious routine was from a 5.1 max, that’s a huge jump. Today she was awarded a 5.8, still the second highest D score. A glance behind her to check the beam, something we see from gymnasts of all ages and experience, then opening with flick to chest stand mount, legs squeezed together. Sharp, flowing, and intricate low beam work to fulfil the requirement, fully split needle scale to stand. Change to change half linked, split positions well hit. There was a little pause for adjustment before the back tuck which is where she lost 0.2 of her difficulty in connection bonus, but a strong opening series.
Full commitment to the very difficult change to ring, where she hit the position well, front leg above horizontal, back arched, back foot to head height, and head released.
Safely through the full spin, the side on choreographic sequence that follows, her head and eyes are up, showing the judges confidence in her performance. Flick layout layout, strong throughout, a small adjustment on landing which she firmly controlled. Her calmness in dealing with the error I found very impressive.
Free walkover to split jump straddle jump, very well performed, she was unfortunate to have the tiniest back foot shuffle after the free walkover which broke the series losing her the other 0.2. I say broke the series, it didn’t, as she didn’t hesitate to join her jumps, but connection judging is incredibly tight.
Finishing with the big full in dismount, only the second ever GB gymnast to compete this skill after Kelly Simm, and what a routine this was. Jennifer exuded confidence on this piece by working quickly, with sharp intricate movements linking her skills, little pause, and an air of belief in her abilities. All the qualities of a great beam worker.
Second on this piece with 13.933 (5.8D, 8.133E) this is world final level scoring, and she rightly looked absolutely delighted with herself.
Finishing on floor, and a demonstration in performance quality, artistry, emoting, and looking like you’re having the best time out there.
Jennifer opened with her new big double double, she has so much time in the air here that she’s almost kicking it out. Its no surprise that she’s training her twisting doubles in the straight position, and I expect we could well see one aded to this routine by the summer. Change to ring through to split full, she really presses through her foot as she takes off, lifting her into the air, giving her time to hit those beautiful split positions. Front full walk out, accelerating through the roundoff flick into a tidy double tuck. Clean and precise on the split jump full, again giving herself the height and time to complete the skill. Change full, again very well executed, and finishing with a tidy two and a half twist, with the smallest of paces.
This routine is such high quality. Clean efficient tumbling, extended leaps fully rotated, hitting the required positions with time to come in to land, and of course the quality of performance. Credit to Nicole Artisry for her work on this routine, it really does capture the mood of the music perfectly. Credit too of course to Jennifer for fully embracing a routine that just screams to be enthusiastically performed.
13.700 (5.3D,8.4E) the highest floor score of the day, and again the highest E score.
So Jennifer Gadirova was given her opportunity on the international stage, and she certainly took it. Fourth AA with a fall, first on vault and floor, second on beam in such an established field. Still only fifteen years old, not sixteen until much later in the year, what a future this young gymnast promises. Tokyo or not, and off of one senior performance only, it is too soon to say, but Jennifer is an exciting talent, a big stage performer, and I hope a name we’ll be seeing for many years to come. Congratulations to coaches Josh Richardson and Molly Richardson at Aylesbury Gymnastics, one of their two new senior gymnasts is off to the best of starts, and we look forward to seeing Jessica as she also starts her senior career.
The AA world cups allow countries to qualify a gymnast as an individual to the Tokyo Olympics, for this to happen, the country has to finish in the top three AA points wise when all four events have taken place. Jennifer has earned GB 50 points for being the third placed nation (US finished in the top two places, but can only take points for one gymnast), Birmingham, Stuttgart, and Tokyo remain.
Congratulations to Morgan Hurd on taking the title today, to Kayla DiCello on silver, and Hitomi Hatakeda on bronze. Special mention also to Lorette Charpy for dealing with the bars giving way on her while she was competing, causing her to hit her feet hard, then composing herself outstandingly to repeat her routine once they were fixed!