Despite sweeping all six gold medals at the recent Asian Games, the Chinese women's team needs serious improvement, head coach Lu Shanzhen said.
Jiang Yuyuan (China)
"Despite the so-called 'grand slam' of the Asian Games gold medals, we should keep a clear head," Lu wrote in his blog. "The success at the games is only the beginning. The Chinese team has a long way to go toward the 2012 OIympics!"
The Chinese women grabbed all the gold medals and half the silvers at the Asian Games in Guangzhou, where Sui Lu won the all-around, balance beam and floor exercise titles. Huang Qiushuang won vault, and Olympic champion He Kexin was untouchable on uneven bars. China took silver medals from Huang in the all-around and uneven bars, and Deng Linlin on balance beam.
However, the competition revealed glaring problems for the Chinese women, Lu wrote. Team captain Jiang Yuyuan, who won the all-around silver at October's world championships, missed three events in the team competition and did not advance to any finals. Huang was also inconsistent, falling on bars in the all-around final and floor exercise in the apparatus final.
"The Asian Games results don't really represent how powerful our team is. Despite the joy in taking all the golds, we can't ignore the many problems, such as the inconsistency of Jiang Yuyuan and Huang Qiushuang," Lu wrote. "Jiang Yuyuan was not at her best in the team competition, and although we can understand an error, as an elite athlete she should not be allowing multiple mistakes. And as the women's team captain, her performance is critical in stabilizing the team."
Huang hit all four events in the team competition to qualify first to the all-around final, and arguably should have won, Lu said.
"Huang Qiushuang was wildly inconsistent at this meet," he said. "In the all-around final, in fact, she had a better chance of Sui than winning. "In the competition she is always unstable... she needs psychological counseling and guidance to learn how to control herself."
Although Huang won vault, the Chinese have a lot of work to do on that event. Huang benefited from the absence of North Korea, banned until October 2012, as well as a mistake from Korea's Jo Hyun Joo in the final.
"The Asian Games served as a warning, that especially on vault we need to make great efforts to improve," Lu wrote.
Lu acknowledged that the Chinese women did not have to be at their best, as they had little competition for gold in Guangzhou. But that scenario is unique to the Asian Games. The same team that won the Asian Games took third behind Russia and the U.S. at the world championships.
"The Asian Games had a relatively relaxed atmosphere without pressure," he said. "As long as the there were no major mistakes they would take gold, which affected the attitude of our gymnasts. At the world championships and Olympic Games, with teams from the United States and Europe, the question is if our gymnasts can withstand that kind of tension and stress and compete with high morale, confidence and peace of mind."
External Link: Chinese Gymnastics Association