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Li 'Truly Enjoying Journey' in Elite Comeback
(9 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

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."

Comments (10)add comment
..., Low-rated comment [Show]

Love Gym... said:

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No Kelly, I think you're the only one who is tired of comebacks. Anna Li has the potential to score high on bars and that is exactly what the U.S. needs. As for your list... I don't know when Sam Peszek or Bridget Sloan were trying for a comeback, and Zamarippa was doing great until she tore her Achilles. We'll see whether Shawn or Chellsie make it back.

Plus, what about the successful comeback of Alicia Sacramone in 2010? Or Mohini Bhardwaj in 2004? And Catalina Ponor looks amazing too.
 
July 12, 2011
Votes: +21

DowisK said:

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Wow Kelly that is a little harsh, I love a good comback story, I know that the comeback is nothing knew to the sport of gymnastics, but instead of blasting these young women for giving it another go, we should be supporting and encouraging them. Many comeback stories have been great and successful ones, Dominique Dawas made the Olympic Team in 2000 after taking time off, Mohini in 2004 after a great NCAA career, Amy Chow, Svetlana B. the list is endless. So, if these young women feel that they are not finished with this sport then we should not condem them for continuing to do something that they love, true gymnastics fans stand up and applaud them.
 
July 12, 2011
Votes: +13
..., Low-rated comment [Show]

Anonymous said:

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Wow, Kelly, who peed in your Cheerios? Yes, some comebacks are unsuccessful, but it takes a helluva alot of courage to come back and put yourself on the line again after being away from the elite scene for so long. To say nothing of the difficulties these older athletes face - finding financial support and having to deal with an older, beat-up body are just two. Your comments were incredibly sad to me.
 
July 12, 2011
Votes: +10

daniel hawk said:

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Kelly, how dare you talk bad about hopes and dreams of any gumnast, careless of the situation and story. I have known Anna since i was a little boy since we grew up in the same gym as children and seeing her train in the gym when i visited her recently, i know she is going to do it. Yes, she has her troubles with injuries but when she comes back and wins a few more medals, everything you just said will slap you right back in the face. Especially when her story is reflected on truths that are actually happening, and not just a story of what she wants to do. Go get everything your heart desires anna, because comments like that I know only drives you harder to your goal.
 
July 12, 2011
Votes: +10

Anonymous said:

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I LOVE comeback stories! Go Anna! She's better now that she ever was before. And even if she wasn't, any sort of come back is awesome! She'll be out there competing in front of TV cameras and challenging herself in a sport she loves, while you sit on your computer and criticize, Kelly!
 
July 12, 2011
Votes: +6

Flip C said:

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Li's return to the elite scene isn't just notable because her "name or previous experience" as Kelly's comment suggested. She's being given a legitimate contender status because she fills a serious void on uneven bars where the US has been relatively weak since 2008. There are a lot of people who are picking Li to be on the 2011 squad if she lives up to her potential. As for the others that Kelly mentioned... If Memmel can return to her previous form on bars, she could be a contender, too. In 2010, Zamarippa was being looked at for her contribution on vault. Peszek isn't attempting a comeback (yet) as far as I know, and technically Sloan never retired from elite to begin with-- she's just been too injured to compete at her best. If any argument was to be made about a gymnast coasting on her reputation right now, it's probably Johnson. But given her popularity after 2008, I think it's pretty understandable that she's getting a lot attention.
 
July 12, 2011
Votes: +2

GymMom said:

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I've watched Anna Li @ UCLA and she has serious talent and energy! I wouldn't call this a comeback, just a continuation of a great career, I'm pleased to have her as a role model for my budding gymnast, work hard get into good college, then continue on to US team and compete in worlds! Also as someone mentioned, the team needs less all around and more specialists, which Li is definitely a specialist on bars, she scored 10.0 in the PAC 10 championships and I believe in the NCAA championships as well. GO ANNA!
 
July 13, 2011
Votes: +3

maryd said:

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I agree with most of the comments above - these comebacks are so exciting and more power to all of those making another go-round. You know it can't be easy for those aging gracefully. Anna Li is awesome and I think she'd be a huge asset on bars for the US.
 
July 13, 2011
Votes: +2

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