Following the WAG Team Final medal presentation a press conference was held with the three winning teams, China, USA and Great Britain.
The press conference began with a quick session with silver medallists China, who really had little to reveal or information to give. The team were joined on stage by the Team coach and a translator.
They opened with a brief statement from the Team coach explaining that he was happy with the teams performance. When asked by the Associated Press what the difference is between China and the USA he responded by saying that the main difference in that China are weak on Floor and Vault in comparison to the USA but that their strongest event is Bars and Beam. He feels following the 2014 World Championships and with this years new team members they have done well.
When asked for her opinion, team captain Shang Chunsong simply said that she felt they performed “much better than in qualification”.
AP continued by asking Mao Yi, as her first time competing at a World Championships, what did she think of her performance and what her chances might be to join the Olympic team next year. To which she responded that she was very happy to be a member of the World Championships team, happy to have won a silver medal. She said she is not as experienced as other teams members but will practice and train more and hope to have a chance to be on the Olympic team next year.
In terms of qualification, the Head Coach was asked about China qualifying in fourth place (due to multiple falls) and now finishing in second with a silver medal, what they did to improve on their qualification ranking and how did they improve. He responded by saying that [keeping] their mental [focus] is most important. After qualification the team and coaches met and looked at the conditions [of how they performed] and that key team members must compete as they train. Shang reacted by saying “I think that we had less mistakes in the final than in qualification”. Also highlighting “it is very important to be relaxed and to compete as we normally train”.
USA entered the room as China’s press conference was being held, an elated Martha Karolyi able to heard from the hallway as USA approached.
Opening comments were welcomed from Martha who passed on the position, allowing Aimee Banghart Boorman to respond “Being down on the floor today with these wonderful ladies, it was a great experience, they’ve been working so hard. They sacrifice a lot to get to this level of excellence and they brought it out on the floor today and showed what they’ve been practising.So I’m really proud of them, all of their coaches are incredibly proud of them.
So often we hear about the Team Captain on the USA Worlds team, but when asked for a reaction from the team captain, the girls all looked at one another unsure of who it was. Aly Raisman responded “I’ll take it”, followed up by giggles from the team and press. “I guess on behalf of my team mates I think that we all want to say that it’s only us out there but it takes a village, you know, it’s our coaches, our families and of course Martha who is our team co-ordinator and none of it would have been possible without them. I’m very proud of my team mates, I think that we did a great job out there tonight. We did our best and we had a lot of fun.”
Jessica from GymCastic asked Simone Biles about the comments she had made earlier in the week regarding mistakes in qualification, where she suggested that perhaps the gymnasts needed a mental break in order to retain focus. Biles responded by saying “the other day we got to go on a walk to keep our minds off gymnastics and just to get some fresh air because I think we were all really stressing ourselves out up in the room but other than that we just went on the walk and had our usual giggles and stuff and then we just went back to practice and did what we needed to do so that we could do what we did tonight”.
Following team qualification Aly Raisman described that she felt heart broken over her performance, she was asked did winning the gold medal redeem this. Aly, a confident speaker, responded “yes definitely. I mean that’s life, you can’t have a day all of the time. You know, like I said, I’m very proud of my team mates and very thankful that they were all very supportive of me, you know, we work together as a team. I’m thankful for my coach Mihai and Sylvie who’s not here and you know, again, Martha because they calmed me down, I think I was just a little bit too hyper but it’s all a learning experience. I’m looking forward to going home and figuring everything out, so hopefully I’ll be on that team next year”.
Maggie Nichols was the only All Around USA gymnast at the Team competition, she was asked about her experience. “It was an honour to compete on all 4 events. I just wanted to help Team USA win the gold medal. I just had an awesome time competing on all 4 events, it was just such an honour”.
As Martha looked on and listened carefully from the front row, the girls were asked what she had said to them in the mixed zone following the competition. Once again Raisman was the spokes person “That she loved us!”, cue a lot of giggles and laughing from Martha, the gymnasts and the team. “We said we love you too! But she also said not to forget all of the hard work that we’ve put into it. We can celebrate now but also have to remember when we go back home, all of the hard work that we put into it. Then she said that she was glad that we didn’t go on strike. We made a joke that we work out so much that we were gonna go on strike so we were making a joke that we didn’t go on strike so it was all worth it”.
An issue many fans had was the fact that neither Brenna Dowell or MyKayla Skinner were not named as part of the start list. Questions began as to whether the gymnasts would receive a team medal, even though they didn’t compete in the Team Final. Neither gymnast was named on the start list, even as not competing. It was noticed also that neither was present on the floor during competition. Jessica from GymCastic bravely asked the question that no one was willing to ask to Skinner and Dowell. Had they been told why they were not on the floor tonight during the competition? USAG’s Vice President of Communications Leslie King intercepted stating that it wasn’t for the gymnasts to answer and Martha would happily discuss this with her, only to be to later by King that that’s just the way it was. No solid answer or explanation was given, no words were spoken with Karolyi regarding the matter.
Finally the team was asked how they were going to celebrate, to which Raisman responded that they would be allowed to see their families this evening and Rhonda joked “we can’t tell you that as everyone would show up!”.
Each press conference concluded with a presentation of a photograph marking each teams reaction when their final ranking was known.
More tomorrow from the press conference with Great Britain.
Image via Getty Images.