SINGAPORE – Game face on as she somersaulted, flipped and leapt through her routines at the OCBC Arena on Friday, China’s Qiu Qiyuan quickly reverted to teenager-mode off the mat as she took wefies with her South Korean rivals.
But the 16-year-old clearly meant business at the Asian Artistic Gymnastics Championships, clinching the individual all-around title with a score of 54.932 in just her second overseas senior competition. Compatriot Zhang Qingying (53.965) and South Korea’s Shin Sol-yi (53.499) were second and third respectively.
It has been a good year for the teen, who also won the uneven bars gold at the 2023 Baku World Cup in March.
Despite her triumphs, she admitted that there were still jitters competing against older and more experienced opponents.
The Fujian native said: “I’m still nervous, after all, this is my second competition. This time is different from the Baku World Cup – the World Cup is a single event, this is all-around, each has its own pressure, the feeling is different.
“The single event is only one event, but the all-around has three more events… more demanding.”
Qiu picked up gymnastics when she was four and has steadily risen through the ranks, progressing from her school team to provincial level, before getting the call up to the national set-up.
With two individual titles in two senior international competitions, she is hungry for more.
She said: “It’s my goal to be on a bigger stage, such as the World Championships and the Olympics.”
Qiu picked up a second gold on Day 2 of the Asian Championships as China also won women’s team event for the fourth straight edition after scoring 163.529 on Friday. South Korea (160.095) and Chinese Taipei (147.397) rounded up the podium.
Having already qualified for September’s World Championships, China did not send their best, but that has not stopped them from dominating the competition.
They have won three out of four titles, with the men’s team clinching a fourth consecutive gold on Thursday.
Also joining the China and Japan women’s teams at the 2023 world championships are South Korea and Chinese Taipei, who finished second and third respectively.
It was double delight for Singapore as Nadine Nathan and Emma Yap both made the cut for the world event – the main qualifier for the 2024 Paris Olympics – as they finished 12th and 16th respectively in the field of 57.