Stretching Out: From Tianjin to Nanning, Looking Back and Ahead
(4 votes, average 3.25 out of 5)

The 45th World Artistic Gymnastics Championships will begin on Oct. 3 in Nanning, China. The last time China played host to the Worlds was 1999 in Tianjin. Does time change everything? Fifteen years later, here are 15 thoughts to ponder.

1) Will Nanning be as smoggy as Tianjin was?

2) Will the highest U.S. all-arounders place fourth for the men (Blaine Wilson) and eighth for the women (Elise Ray)?

Note: Wilson should have tied Jordan Jovtchev for the bronze, but the crazy score truncation (to three decimal places) trimmed their totals to 57.211 and 57.212, respectively. They both actually scored 57.2125. Is that not the silliest rule ever in the history of any sport in the universe? It wasn't used to break ties, because ties actually occurred at those Worlds. (And Ray should have tied Huang Mandan for seventh.)

3) Will some of the Chinese spectators applaud when a Japanese gymnast falls? Many did in 1999.

4) Will a woman either named Produnova or who performs a Produnova finish fourth in the vault finals? (Yes, Yelena Produnova got beat by Yelena Zamolodchikova, Simona Amanar and Maria Olaru. And yes, this could happen in Nanning, but not to Produnova, obviously.)

5) Will silk scarves and ties still cost about $1.00?

6) Trivia Question: Will the 1999 all-around and parallel bars silver medalist be able to repeat those accomplishments in Nanning? (Answer below, but think about it first.)

7) Will the women's individual results reveal three first-time world all-around medalists on the podium? Remember Maria Olaru, Viktoria Karpenko and Yelena Zamolodchikova?

8) Will India place last in both the men's and women's competitions again? (Probably not. They have improved.)

9) Will the U.S. place sixth in both the men's and women's team finals? (Dare we even think it?)

10) Will China and Romania dominate the men's and women's team competitions, winning both the qualifications and the team finals?

11) Will the top three men's individual qualifiers crash and burn in the all-around final and place 10th, 11th and 12th, in reverse order. That's what happened to Yang Wei, Huang Xu, and Alexei Bondarenko in Tianjin. (I still remember seeing a depressed Bondarenko standing alone outside the arena after that meet; he really needed a hug or something.)

12) Could anyone predict that Svetlana Khorkina, the defending all-around champion, would finish 12th, and then go on to become the only woman to win the title three times? She was always all or nothing in the all-around, right?

13) Could anyone predict that Ivan Ivankov, the defending men's champion, would fail to win his third world all-around title and finish last? With an ailing hip flexor, he couldn't get through his high bar routine and scratched the next five events.

14) Will Nanning streets be jam-packed with hordes of bicyclists and tiny cars, all battling for the right of way?

15) Will every first-time visitor to the Great Wall of China wonder the same thing: "How in the heck did they build a 5,500-mile wall this cool more than 2,000 years ago?!"

Trivia Answer: Naoya Tsukahara, who represented his native Japan in 1999 and now, at age 37, competes for Australia. He was really good in the last millennium — now that's a phrase we rarely use in gymnastics reporting. He definitely inspired younger gymnasts in Japan.

"He is my gymnastics idol. When I was 15, I decided to move to his gym in Tokyo from my parents' gym in Nagasaki," Kohei Uchimura told IG in 2010.

Ever heard of him?

Comments (3)add comment

Alex Liang said:

It's pronounce NUN-Ning
Can I just get this off my chest? The host city 南宁 is pronounced NUNning not Nan to rhyme with ban, man or fan. It is NUN, to rhyme with fun, gun and bun. Just so you Americans know! 南 = South in Chinese and whilst it has been romanized as Nan, it is pronounced Nun. Let's see how many commentators get this right!
September 30, 2014
Votes: -1

Lu Haixiao said:

I disagree
I have friends who live there, and they pronounce it Nanning. I have never heard anyone pronounce it Nun-ning in official Mandarin. Is it a local dialect?
September 30, 2014
Votes: +5

Carleton said:

It's not as closed as "nun" but more like a soft "naan" - almost like a Jamaican way of saying "man". Definitely does not rhyme with the American way of pronouncing man, fan, or ban.

Also Nanning is on the other side of the country. Bringing up the Great Wall of China is like hosting Worlds in Texas and mentioning the Statue of Liberty.
October 01, 2014
Votes: +0

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