There is nothing secret about the Secret US Classic (so named for it’s sponsor). Plenty of bloggers are on site, Gym Examiner is giving live updates, USA Gymnastics and Gymnastike are posting podium training videos and the seniors will be live-streamed and broadcast on Universal Sports. It’s enough to make a gymnastics fan do cartwheels of joy! As we gear up for the competition tomorrow, here are the rumors and things we can expect from the U.S. Secret Classic.
All Around Competitors
After so many gymnasts announcing that they would just be doing a few events, I began to despair about the all around for this meet. But it is looking like it might e a great competition after all. In fact, it might give us a preview of that coveted second all around spot for the Olympic team. Gabby Douglas is apparently doing the all around after all according to an article in the Des Moines Register. Aly Raisman will be competing all around, as will Kyla Ross and Anna Li. Chellsie Memmel still has to qualify to nationals so she will be competing all-around as well. Many others may join in the fray, but we will have to wait and see. Either way, it should be be a great competition!
According to camp videos and podium training videos, we have upgrades galore – and not surprisingly most of them are on bars. Anna Li, Brandie Jay, McKenzie Wofford and Wieber all have upgrades on bars from the last time we have seen them. Sabrina Vega has upgrades on beam, McKayla Maroney has upgraded her second vault and has minor upgrades other places.
Despite a US reputation, we might be in for a real treat on floor. Sarah Finnegan is absolutely delightful to watch on floor – her poise and style are light, elegant and refreshing to see. Anna Li will be debuting her new routine as well. Is it a floor routine or a heart pulling, dramatic and breathtaking dance piece? I am not sure! It is incredible though and a treat to watch. And of course we will be treated to the beautiful lines of Nastia Liukin as she returns to competition on beam and Kyla Ross.
We will finally see a few more pieces toward completing the puzzle of our US Olympic team. It should be a great weekend!
Romanian coach Octavian Bellu hugs Larisa Iordache and Diana Bulimar. Credit: Grace Chiu/Graceclick.ca for Examiner.com
In the 2000 Olympics, Russia came in with a dominant team. They were expected to take home the gold. In 2004 Olympics the USA came into the Olympics as the gold medal favorites. In both Olympics, Romania took home the gold. As the more dominant teams around them faltered here and there, Romania “killed it with consistency,” taking home the Olympic team gold over teams with more difficulty and loftier expectations.
After 2004, both the Romanian and Russian gymnastics programs declined, due to the loss of their longtime coaches. Instead of battling for gold, in 2008 they were battling for the bronze. Once again, Russia was expected to take it. Once again, Romania went home with the bronze.
In 2010 Romania brought back former coaches from their glory days. Many people began to say, “Watch out for Romania in 2012. Give them time and they will be right back in the mix.” But in 2011, Romania left the World Championships without a single medal. It began to look doubtful that they could really make up enough ground for 2012.
If we have learned anything from the past however, we know that is never wise to doubt Romania in an Olympic year. Their stellar performance and win at the European Championships show them to be back in the mix. They competed in the way that only Romanians seem to have mastered: consistent, beautiful and out to win. They still have a ways to go to challenge for the gold. But they are now on everyone’s radar to challenge for the silver. Sure, Russia has a lot more to give than they did at the European Championships. If Russia competes like we know they can, Romania has a lot of work to do to be in a position to beat them again. Sure, America is way ahead of them on difficulty and has hopefully learned to compete with a fierceness and consistency of their own. But as Russia learned in 2000 and 2008 and the USA learned in 2004, “Octavian Belu can never be ruled out in an Olympic year, never. There is only one certainty in gymnastics: he is cannier than you.” (Stoi!).