China began its campaign in the 14th Asian Junior Gymnastics Championships with a bang, sweeping both girls individual and team all-around golds at the Nimibtur Gymnasium inside the sprawling Thai National Stadium Sports Complex here on Tuesday.
Anchored by newcomer Chen Yile, who tallied an individual high of 55.00 points, the Chinese captured the team championship with an imposing score of 161.10 points in the tournament sanctioned and organized by the Asian Gymnastics Union.
They finished nearly eight points ahead of runner-up Japan (153.35), which narrowly took the silver over bronze medalist South Korea (153.00).
Japanese Chiaki Hatakeda and Mana Oguchi settled for the individual all-around silver and bronze medal with scores of 51.90 and 51.70 points, respectively, in the competition using the $50,000 computerized scoring system of the Gymnastics Association of Thailand.
AGU Secretary General Mohammad Saeed of Qatar awarded the team medals while Syrian’s Rima Kizilgun, the Women’s Artistic Gymnastics Technical Committee President, did the same for the individual winners.
“I am very happy because this is my first international tournament and I was able to win golds,” said Chen,15, who began her gymnastics career at the tender age of eight years old, through an interpreter of her surprisingly strong performance.
Chen was a picture of precocious poise and precision on the uneven bars for the highest individual score of 14.05 points. Her other scores were 13.75 in the vault, 13.80 in the balance beam and 13.40 in the floor exercise.
The Guangzou City native can boost her gold-medal collection as she and teammate Zhu Ruiyu, who finished sixth overall with 50.85 points, will advance to the individual apparatus finals of the Asian Juniors on Thursday.
“We hope we can continue our strong performance in the boys competitions tomorrow (Wednesday),” said a Chinese team spokesperson.
Scheduled on Wednesday will be the juniors boys individual and all-around finals.
Among the gymnasts to watch is Filipino Carlos Yulo, who has been training intensively for nearly a year in the Japan national gymnastics training center in Tokyo.
Known as the “Tiny Twister,” Yulo bagged a gold medal in the rings on top of two silvers and a bronze medal in the prestigious Voronin Cup held in Moscow, Russia last December.
ASIAN JUNIORS GIRLS TEAM GOLD MEDALISTS: Members of the Chinese team, led by girls individual all-around individual champion Chen Yile (fourth from left), proudly display the gold medals they won for winning the team all-around event in the 14th Asian Juniors Artistic Gymnastics Championships. (team China pix)
ASIAN JUNIORS SILVER MEDALISTS: Japanese team members display their silver medals for placing second in the team ll-around event in the 14th Asian Juniors Artistic Gymnastics Championships.