10 minutes with: Anna Li (USA)


Full Twist contributor Anna Rose Johnson caught up with Anna Li to discuss coaching, judging, and her favorite competition memories.

Anna Li has had an illustrious career in the sport of gymnastics. After competing at 2004 and 2005 Visa Championships, she began a successful collegiate career at UCLA. She capped off her college experience by helping her team win the 2010 NCAA Championships. Anna decided to take the road less traveled and returned to elite gymnastics in 2011, and she was named as one of three U.S. alternates at the 2012 Olympics. Anna now coaches at Legacy Elite Gymnastics with her parents Yuejiu Li and Jiani Wu.


            FT: What have you been up to lately?

            AL: I’ve mainly been coaching full time. I do some other work on the side, but mainly [I] coach full time at Legacy Elite Gymnastics in Carol Stream, IL. I judged Classics and Championships as well. I do a lot of choreography, but all in all—still involved in the Gymnastics World!


            FT: What is it like to judge at the P&G Championships?

            AL: It’s fun. I enjoy it. It’s a much different perspective and view. From being an athlete on the floor, and now coaching and judging, I think I’ve covered every view of the spectrum!


            FT: What’s a typical day like for you now?

            AL: In the summer schedule, I’d be in the gym from about 8:30 am- 5 pm. When everyone’s back in school, I have the mornings open and then I’m in the gym from around Noon-9:30 pm! During the competition season it gets really crazy and last season I was coaching in the gym about 60 hours/week! So even though I’m not training anymore, I’m still living in the gym!


            FT: What are some of your favorite memories from competition?

            AL: My favorite memories were the last 3 years of my gymnastics career. I went all out with no regrets. It’s the journey that I enjoyed. I kept surprising myself at how far I had come. I kept making baby steps until I realized in 2010 I helped lead my UCLA team to an NCAA Championship! I just remember being in shock when it finally happened. Then when I decided to make my comeback in the elite world, no one believed I was serious, but I made a commitment! I moved back home to train at Legacy Elite with my parents to do everything I could to see how far I could go. All the memories are so vivid [and] clear from the first time I stepped into the National training center, to the first competition back on podium. The other two main memories that are my favorite were hearing my name being called for 2011 Worlds and 2012 Olympics. It wasn’t the end result that was so exciting, it was knowing that I had done everything I possibly could day by day. Just making it on the National Team, then a World Team, and making it to Olympic Trials, then going to London, this was all just a dream come true!


            FT: What was your favorite skill to compete?

            AL: That’s a tough question! For bars, being the first and only girl to do a rybalko on an uneven bar and connecting it to a jaeger to pak salt was a fun combination. I absolutely love shaposh halves, full twisting Tkatchevs, twisting out of double layouts, there were so many skills I never got to compete! Tkatchev to Geingers, Tkatchev half to Yezhova, It was fun to play around with every skill on bars! I hated having to be limited for a competitive bar routine!


            FT: Do you encourage other NCAA gymnasts to give elite a try?

            AL: I think the elite code is extremely tough and much different than it was back in 2004, where it was more common to be able to do NCAA and Elite. If any NCAA gymnast wants to try elite, of course you should try, if that’s your dream!


            FT: Have you considered making a comeback in gymnastics?

            AL: I’ve already made my comeback—haha! I’m an old dog for this sport as a female gymnast. I wish this sport was something that I could be a professional athlete at for a longer time like other sports. I absolutely love it and still have the passion for it. But now I just help other young gymnasts reach their goals in College Scholarships and Elite dreams 🙂

Special thanks to Anna for chatting with Full Twist!

Image via Getty Images.

One Comment

  1. MartaFIRE says:

    Anna Li being named to the Olympic team was insane. No way she deserved it.

    Marta plays games and ruins lives and then gives spots to one event gymnasts.

    Can we fire Marta and get a real head cord?

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