The Japanese National Championships are being held this weekend, from April 6-8. For the team, this is considered the first trial on the way to the 2012 Olympic Games. Many fans of the sport believe that it is too early to start selecting the team for London, especially considering that so many athletes are injured and could potentially be back in shape in time for the Games.
The following are the results after the first two days of competition, via the International Gymnast Forum:
1 Rie Tanaka 56.200
2 Yuu Minobe 56.150
3 Asuka Teramoto 55.550
4 Yuko Shintake 55.200
5 Natsumi Sasada 53.750
6 Yumi Iizuka 53.400
7 Wakana Inoue 53.150
8 Mai Yamagishi 53.050
9 Koko Tsurumi 52.850
The results are somewhat surprising because Koko Tsurumi has traditionally been the top-scoring Japanese gymnast. In 2008, she even qualified to the Olympic event final on the balance beam. Although she counted a fall and lost the chance to medal, it was a major accomplishment for the Japanese women, as historically, they have never been considered a real threat in the sport.
Tsurumi has been recovering from wrist surgery in January, so this may account for her underwhelming results. Fans hope that she will not be taken out of the running for an Olympic spot in London. They hope that she will show improvement, especially because for the past five months, she trained under 2008 Olympic silver medalist Shawn Johnson’s coach in Iowa.
According to sources at the competition, Tsurumi is unfortunately not the only Japanese gymnast nursing an injury this weekend. Frequently injured national team member Natsumi Sasada had some sort of accident in training and ripped her nail completely off her toe. Because of her injuries, she seems to be having trouble performing lately and had a rough meet at the high school championships last weekend. She placed fifth overall in this competition.
Bronze medal winner Asuka Teramoto, recently pulled out of the high school championships because of a foot injury. Although she still seemed in pain at this competition, she managed to do relatively well considering the circumstances.
First-year senior gymnast Mai Murakami had to deal with an elbow injury for most of 2011. Photo via her Facebook fan page.
Mai Murakami was expected to make an impact in her first year of senior competition but was held back by an elbow injury and a growth spurt.