After placing first on uneven bars and third on balance beam at the recent American Classic, 22-year-old UCLA graduate Anna Li told IG that her performances there were right on track as she prepares for the upcoming U.S. championships and world championships.
Former UCLA star Anna Li is a contender for the U.S. world team this year.
"I had so much fun at the Classic," said Li, who last competed at the U.S. Championships in 2005. "The week of training camp at the (Karolyi) Ranch prior was great leading up to the meet, so I felt pretty prepared."
Li, who scored 15.15 on bars (6.2 Difficulty) and 14.00 on balance beam at the American Classic, said she relished the opportunity to compete again.
"I was so excited to be in a 'pressure' environment and I was excited to compete again," she said. "I'm not sure what others thought about how I did, but I don't think I was surprised because I had been training to prepare for qualifiers and the Classic, so I knew where I stood going into the competition."
Li, who competed for UCLA from 2007-2010, said U.S. national team coordinator Marta Karolyi offered words of encouragement following her performance at the Classic.
"Marta has been very supportive of my training since the first (U.S. team training) camp I went to," said Li, who is focusing on uneven bars and balance beam this year. "She told me she was proud of my improvements and just reminded me to continue what I've been doing."
Following her UCLA career, Li trained at All Olympia Gymnastics Center in Los Angeles. She returned to Illinois this spring to train at Legacy Elite Gymnastics Club in Naperville, Ill. Li's parents, Wu Jiani and Li Yuejiu, opened the gym last year. Her father was a two-time world champion, and both her parents won team medals with China at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.
Li is now training for the CoverGirl Classic on July 23 in Chicago. The competition is another qualifying meet for the Visa (U.S.) Championships, which take place Aug. 17-20 in St. Paul.
"I'll be focusing on continuing to make the (bars) routine I did (at the American Classic) even more consistent, as well as continue to work on my upgrades," Li said. "Hopefully I can add the upgrades into the routine and make the new routine consistent as well!"
Li said she is optimistic about her chances to make the U.S. team for the world championships in Tokyo in October, despite competition from many gymnasts who are still in their teens.
"As for being an older gymnast compared with the majority, I know that all of my 20-plus years of this sport and my NCAA career have helped me with a lot of competition experience and overall mental game," Li told IG. "I'm truly enjoying the journey right now."