Chellsie Memmel on state of U.S. women’s gymnastics: “I see a lot of good things and I think we’re in a good place.”

Plus, Alec Yoder announces retirement and a look back at the 1992 women's uneven bars final

By Scott Bregman
Picture by John Cheng/USA Gymnastics

U.S. women’s gymnastics technical lead Chellsie Memmel liked a lot of what she saw at her first domestic competition since becoming part of a new three-pronged leadership team at the top of a program that has long been a powerhouse in the sport.

“I see a lot of good things and I think we are in a good place,” said Memmel after competition at last month’s U.S. Classic in Salt Lake City. “We can keep working and moving forward and be where we want to be, especially for worlds.”

That doesn’t mean she doesn’t see areas for improvement, though, as the U.S. looks to become the first women's team to win six-straight world titles later this year after having struck gold in 2011, 2014, 2015, 2018 and 2019. 

Memmel, the 2005 world all-around champion and a 2008 Olympic silver medallist, was laser focused on improvement in one event in particular.

“Beam is a little rough,” she admitted. “It’s been a little rough actually at the first Classic, Pan Ams, here, so we definitely have work to do on beam.”

Known for her consistency as a gymnast, especially in high pressure situations, Memmel says she thinks all the U.S. squad needs is some fine-tuning.

“I just think we need to have more numbers, more attention to detail. I think a little bit of that is lacking, just that attention to the finishes,” she said. “It’s going to happen in the gyms. We only see them at [national team training] camps so often for four days. But if we can set that expectation there, and then, they can bring it home with them, I think that’ll be good.”

Another point of emphasis for Memmel, an internationally rated judge since 2013, is artistry deductions that seemed to have caught the U.S. team off guard at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in 2021.

“I know a lot of [the coaches] do read the code, but I still would like to go through the code and show them the checklist that is in the back of what the judges go off of after every routine,” she said. “We have a completely separate sheet that it is written out and you make a check if they if they [meet the artistry requirements] or they don't.

“Do they have good posture? Do they have extension? Is their footwork good?” Memmel continued. “So, it's not just like we're kind of guessing, we can see it in black and white and we can take that deduction if they met that expectation or not.”

Memmel will get another chance to see the team at next week’s U.S. championships in Tampa, Florida, where reigning Olympic floor champion Jade Carey and Olympic team silver medallist Jordan Chiles are slated to compete.

Tokyo Olympian, Youth Olympic Games medallist Alec Yoder announces retirement

2014 Youth Olympic Games all-around bronze medallist Alec Yoder announced his retirement from gymnastics on Tuesday (9 August). The 25-year-old competed as a pommel horse specialist at last year’s Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and finished sixth in the final.

“The last 20 years in this sport have given me more opportunities than I could have ever dreamed,” he wrote in a post shared on his social media channels. “I will always love this sport, but above all else, the relationships that this sport has given me has been, and will always be, the most special part of this journey.”

Yoder was an accomplished collegiate gymnast, having represented Ohio State University where he won the NCAA pommel horse title in 2019 and helped his team to second (2017) and third (2016) place finishes. He was also a member of the 2018 U.S. world championships team.

From the vault…

This week, we take a look back at Chinese gymnast Lu Li, who claimed the uneven bars title at the Olympic Games in Barcelona in 1992. Lu scored a perfect 10.0, one of two awarded throughout those Games, to claim the gold medal.

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