BEIJING WAG PROFILES - Japan's Team

7:17 AM

Japan's MAG and WAG teams have been selected (see IG article for more). Readers will remember earlier that I mentioned the team that I would like to see: Oshima, Uemura, Tsurumi, Mukumoto, Takaseki, Minobe or Yamagishi. And now for the team that will be representing Japan: Kyoko Oshima, Miki Uemura, Yu Minobe, Koko Tsurumi, Yuko Shintake, and Mayu Kuroda (the event specialist). Not bad, if I may say so myself - four out of six is not too bad. I'm not too sure on the alternates, but word has it that Momoko Ozawa is the first alternate and some are saying He Xuemei as the second? I'll let you know.

THE TEAM:

Miki Uemura - I loved her floor routine in 2006 and think she's rather classy. 22 year-old Miki was 2nd in the overall standings with a combined score of 175.700. Her highest scores were on the balance beam with a 15.250 on the first day. At the 2007 World Championships Uemura was 41st AA (55.900), 26th on beam (14.900), 85th on floor (13.150), and 58th on bars (14.200). At the 61st Japanese National Championships in October last year Miki was one of three to tie for 2nd place (Keiko Mukumoto and Manami Ishizaka were the other two) scoring 58.150, she was also the vault champion (competing a Yurchenko full and a tucked Omelianchik). Uemura was also a member of the 12th placed Japanese team at the 2006 World Championships in Aarhus, where she was 48th AA (55.475), 51st on beam (14.275), 118th on floor (12.950), and 30th on uneven bars (14.450). Miki's scores from the NHK Cup were: Vault (day 1: 14.600, day 2: 14.550), Uneven Bars (13.550, 14.800), Beam (15.250, 15.100) and Floor (14.750, 14.650). According to the interview on IG Miki "still can't believe that I'll go and participate in the Olympics. I don't want to be nervous and I want to perform calmly."

Koko Tsurumi - The 15 year-old two time (2006 and 2007) National Champion, finished 15th in the All Around at the Worlds last year (57.525) and was 18th on beam (15.175), 39th on floor (14.000) and 29th on uneven bars (14.850). A the National Championships in 2007 Koko won the All-Around with a score of 59.500 and was the bars and floor Champion. She had a disappointing NHK Cup this year and the following was reported on International Gymnast:

Tsurumi, the 2007 NHK Cup champion, sat down her uneven bars dismount. On balance beam, she balked after front flip, layout and wasn't able to continue to a planned second layout. She tried a few seconds later another back handspring layout, layout and fell, and was crying after routine.

"During this NHK Cup, I had so many failures," said Tsurumi, the youngest member of the team at 15. "I have to think deeply about what caused them and train a lot to do my best at the Olympics to make the team final."

She finished 4th in the overall Selection results with a 173.950 and the scores can be broken down as follows: Vault (13.700, 13.900), Uneven Bars (14.400, 14.550), Balance Beam (15.650, 14.550) and Floor (14.300, 14.500).


Yu Minobe is one of the two on this squad that I am unfamiliar with. Yu was 8th AA at last year's Japanese Nationals with a score of 57.450 and was the co-worker of the Beam event final with Setsubai Takaseki (He Xuemei, the former Chinese Olympian). At this event Minobe, performed round-off to layout mount, Onodi, round-off to layout on beam, and ring jump from switch, and double pike dismount. She was 3rd AA in the Olympic selection trials with a combined score of 174.475. Her individual results were: Vault: 13.550 on both days; Uneven Bars (15.000, 14.500); Balance Beam (15.650, 14.700); Floor (14.700, 14.650). I feel she will be a definite asset to this team - especially her consistency. From IG- "I've been always around seventh or eighth, and needed one more step to get onto the team," said Minobe, whose younger sister Sayuri finished 11th. "Finally I got it and I'm so glad. I'll train a lot and want to do my best in Beijing."


Kyoko Oshima - Has successfully made her 2nd Olympics, and has done it in-style as the highest qualifier with a combined all-around score of 176.325. Kyoko will be celebrating her 22nd Birthday just days before the Games begin (5th August). According to the General Interest section on FIG, she got involved with gymnastics as she was excited by the flying trapeze in a circus. Her international results list is impressive: The 2005 World Championships in Melbourne were a success for her qualifying 10th for the AA final, yet finishing in 19th place (34.236), he was 11th on beam, 19th on floor, and 17th on bars. At the Athens Olympic, she finished 51st AA. In Aarhus for the World Championships in 2006, Kyoko was 34th AA (56.475), 49th on beam (14.325), 21st on floor (14.525) and 62nd on bars (13.850). At the 2007 Worlds in Stuttgart, Oshima was 172nd AA (41.525), 56th on floor (13.700) and 43rd on Bars (14.575). Kyoko had somewhat of a disappointing Nationals last year, only managing 11th AA. She ha made a remarkable comeback at these selection trials winning the AA with a combined score of 176.325. The breakdown of her scores is: Vault (14.600, 14.400); Uneven Bars: 14.750, 14.700; Balance Beam: 15.000, 15.050 and Floor 15.000, 15.100. Talking to IG she said "I'm proud of myself to attend the Olympics again and I'm very happy," said Oshima, who will turn 22 three days before the Opening Ceremonies in Beijing. "In Athens I participated as an individual competitor but this time I can go with the team. We'll unite and our goal is to proceed to the team final."

Yuko Shintake - I'm told that she is a beautiful floor worker. At last year's Japanese Nationals, Yuko was 5th in the AA with a 58.050. She also managed 5th in the overall standings for the Olympic selection with a combined total of 173.800. The breakdown of Shintake's scores for this are as follows: Vault: 14.350, 14.400; Uneven Bars: 14.550, 14.600; Balance Beam: 15.300, 15.400 and Floor: 13.850, 14.100.

Mayu Kuroda is a fantastic bars worker - making the event finals in 2005 and 2006 where she was 4th both times! She was born on the 20th of February, 1989, and has been a member of 3 World Championship teams. At the 2005 Worlds in Melbourne, Mayu was 66th AA (2 events) and was 15th on Beam and qualified 6th to the Uneven Bars final where she eventually finished 4th (9.525). At the Aarhus World Championships Mayu qualified in 25th place (57.325) to the AA final, and ended up 15th with a 57.975. She was 19th on beam (15.075), 70th on floor (13.675) and she qualified 10th to the Uneven Bars final with a 15.175 and finished 4th with a 15.400. At last year's World's Kuroda finished 191st AA (29.925), 43rd on beam (14.525) and 14th on Bars with a 15.400. She led the 2007 Japanese Nationals All Around Competition right up until the last rotation where she faltered on her last and weakest event - vault to place 7th. She has qualified to this Olympic team based on her individual apparatus scores. She was 6th in the AA qualification with a combined score of 171.600. Her scores were: vault: 13.050, 13.000; uneven bars: 15.650, 15.600; Balance Beam: 15.250, 15.400 and on floor: 13.600 and 12.850. She was the top event specialist from those ranked in places 6-12, having scored 12 points on bars and 4 points for beam. See below for the complete ranking of specialists. Talking to IG, Mayu said "I was selected because I met the criterion for the event specialist and I want to fill this role for the (team)".

COMPLETE RESULTS:
Women's Olympic Selection Results
(50% Secondary Trials + 100% NHK Cup)

1. Kyoko Oshima 176.325
2. Miki Uemura 175.700
3. Yu Minobe 174.475
4. Koko Tsurumi 173.950
5. Yuko Shintake 173.800
6. Mayu Kuroda 171.600
7. Momoko Ozawa 169.950
8. Rie Tanaka 167.025
9. Erica Lynn Danko* 167.000 -junior
10. Setsubai Takaseki (He Xuemei) 166.700
11. Sayuri Minobe 166.175
12. Manami Ishizaka 165.500
13. Akiho Sato* 163.575 -junior
14. Haruhi Uchimura 163.350
15. Yuma Imanishi 162.750
16. Serina Takeuchi 160.150
17. Sakiko Okabe 160.075
18. Kana Yamawaki 158.425
19. Tomomi Ejima 157.475
20. Chinami Otaki 157.225 -junior
21. Nanaho Hidaka* 157.050
22. Shizuka Tozawa 155.325

RANKING OF THE EVENT SPECIALISTS:
1. Mayu Kuroda
2. Momoko Ozawa
3. Erica Lynn Danko - Junior Not Eligible
4. Setsubai Takaseki (He Xuemei)
5. Rie Tanaka
6. Sayuri Minobe
7. Manami Ishizaka



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