We are delighted to welcome Aoibhe as a new contributor Full Twist. Aoibhe is kicking off our new series “Meet the Worlds 2013 Selection”. As the selections are announced we will introduce them to you, the readers. First up is the Japanese WAG team.
Following their Nationals and NHK Trophy, Japan announced their World’s squad first off the mark in June, probably to give the chosen women the chance the train to their full potential knowing that they will be in Antwerp this Autumn rather than leaving it to the last minute to see who is peaking exactly before the competition.
After a successful 8th place team final finish in London, they will be hoping for a successful individual competition in Antwerp (there will be no team competition). Two of their current World Championships squad are veterans of last year’s Olympics so they will not be short in leaderships and confidence in Belgium.
Asuka Teramoto, an Olympic veteran at seventeen, is probably Japan’s best All-Arounder and has a very good chance of making All-Around finals and possibly competing in Uneven Bar finals like she did in 2011. Earlier in the year, Asuka competed again in her home county at the 2013 Tokyo Word Cup. She overcame the rising American star Peyton Ernst and won the All Around. She is a very balanced athlete across all four apparatus but if she does have a stand out event, it’s probably Uneven Bars.
Now onto the fan favourite crazy trickster, Mai Murakami. It feels like Mai has been around forever so it’s hard to believe this is only her second year senior and that this year’s World Championships will be her first major international competition. Mai was eligible for London last year, but the Japanese team was to be made up of the country’s top five All-Arounders with no wiggle room for specialists, no matter how special they were. In Antwerp, Mai Murakami will be a likely Floor finalist, which is by far her strongest event. She has a mixture of very difficult tumbling (Double Double tuck, Double layout) and tough dance skills such as a quad turn. Mai is not a bad All Around gymnast either, but struggles on Bars and Beam compared to floor and vault which does hold her back somewhat.
Yu Minobe Is the oldest member of the four women squad at twenty three years of age. Yu is Probably the most experienced member of the team as a veteran of both the Beijing and London Olympics. She has a fantastic and lovely beam routine that I believe deserves more attention! Yu is the Silver medallist in the All-Around, silver medallist on Bars and gold medallist on beam at the 2013 Japanese National Championships. In July Yu competed at the Universiad where she had an impressive performance during qualifications and qualified to three event finals (floor, uneven bars and beam) she finished an impressive 5th in the floor finals after having a rock solid routine and sticking nearly every pass. She earned a 6th place finish on a hit uneven bars routine. Unfortunately, Yu finished in eighth place in beam finals after falling twice in her routine which was a shame, because she could have easily challenged for a medal.
Natsumi Sasada is the fourth and final member of the team. Like Maurakami, she was a very promising junior and gained a lot of attention, but didn’t challenge for the 2012 Olympic squad because of injuries. She’s probably most well-known for performing a Garrison mount (full twisting layout) on Balance Beam. Natsumi trains with under her mother, Yayoi Kano Sasada who was a former National Champion and competed at the World Championships five times for Japan. In May, Natsumi won her first National Championship, scoring over the fourteen marks on both Uneven Bars and Balance Beam during that competition.
Japan is sending a very strong team to Antwerp, considering two of their stars and Olympians Rie Tanaka and Koko Tsurumi are both out with injury. This team will likely fill two spots in All-Around finals as well as perhaps an Uneven bars final for Asuka Teramoto a Balance beam final for Yu Minobe and Natsumi Sasada and fingers crossed for a floor final (and hopefully medal!) for Mai Maurakami.