Trampoline: Jumping for joy in Nanjing
Dylan Schmidt of New Zealand won his country’s first ever Olympic trampoline medal while the Chinese trampolinist Zhu Xueying hopes to use her gold in Nanjing as a springboard to success in Rio 2016.
Zhu Xueying takes a big leap forward
Local favourite Zhu Xueying got herself back on track after a bad start in the women’s trampoline competition to take gold. And she now hopes to emulate her success at the YOG on the senior Olympic stage at Rio 2016.
Zhu, the Asian junior champion, seemed to have lost any chance of a medal after a catastrophic start to the competition. However she made a strong comeback in her second routine, which put her firmly back in front going into the final, where she went on to score an impressive 55.425 points. Her score put her in first place, ahead of Rana Nakano of Japan and Maria Zakharchuk of Russia who took silver and bronze respectively.
“This victory in Nanjing really motivates me,” the 16-year-old said afterwards. “Now I’m aiming for gold in the Olympic Games in 2016.” The crowd went wild when it was announced that the Chinese trampolinist had won, and a beaming Zhu blew them kisses to thank them for their support.
“My public really encouraged me,” she continued. “The spectators clapped their hands and chanted my name. I’m so glad I could live up to their expectations.”
“It was really nerve-wracking waiting for the judges to put my total score up on the screen. I can’t even explain what I felt when the judges finally announced that I’d won,” she added. “It means a lot to me to win gold at the Youth Olympic Games in my own country.”
Rana Nakano’s silver medal was particularly impressive considering that she was only in seventh place after her first qualification routine. “I’m really relieved that I could get back on track in the second round,” she said. “I practiced my programme a lot and I’m glad that it went perfectly.”
Maria Zakharchuk, who finished fourth in the European Junior Championships, said she was satisfied with her bronze medal. “I gave my best and I worked really hard. It’s great to be able to win a medal for my country at the Youth Olympic Games.”
Historic victory for Schmidt
Seventeen-year-old Dylan Schmidt became the first ever athlete from New Zealand to win an Olympic trampoline medal, as he jumped to YOG gold on 22 August. The Kiwi’s final score was 57.340, putting him just 0.405 points in front of Liu Changxin of China.
“It’s pretty cool,” he said. “There aren’t really any words to describe how I feel right now. It’s pretty crazy. Honestly, I didn’t think that I’d do it, but I trained really hard, I’m just over the moon.”
“This is what I’ve always wanted.There aren’t many trampoline specialists [in New Zealand] who have really done well at an international level and it’s pretty cool to be there. I thought Liu had won,” he admitted.
Schmidt was down in fourth place after qualification. He kept the best for last, however, and his final routine had the highest score for both difficulty (15.400) and execution (24.600).
“Going into the final, sometimes not going in first is a good thing, because when you go in first, you have to retain that position," he said. "But going in fourth, you have something to strive for. I like that pressure, I like having to do even better."
His mother Jen, who was there watching, was blown away by her son’s performance. “I don’t know what to say!” she exclaimed. “I’ve seen how hard he trains day and night and I know he deserves gold. He had a dream, a desire and a project. You only see a few minutes of work here but I’ve seen him sweating it out every day of the year. I’m a proud mum today.”
As for Liu Changxin, he was left disappointed by his performance. “I wasn’t good. Silver isn’t good enough,” he said after. “I made a mistake in my last skill, I didn’t get high enough. I’m going to need to work on my confidence.”
The bronze medal went to Pedro Ribeiro Ferreira from Portugal, with a score of 56.040 points. “Winning a medal is really important for me,” he said delightedly. “I managed to stay focused for the whole competition which was key.”