Gymnastics News Weekly: 2017 world all-around champion Morgan Hurd makes it official: She's a Gator

Plus, robot judges could be the future, a dancing Shirai Kenzo and a look back at the East German team from 1988.

By Scott Bregman
Picture by 2020 Getty Images

Ending months of speculation, Morgan Hurd, the 2017 world artistic gymnastics all-around champion, has made it to Gainesville, Florida, where she will join the University of Florida’s women’s gymnastics team.

“Surprise, I’m in college,” Hurd wrote in a tweet late Sunday (26 December) evening.

The 20-year-old announced her commitment to the Gators back in 2016, but speculation began online when commenters noticed she did not mention the university in her Instagram bio.

Last month, Hurd confirmed to Olympics.com that she would be joining the UF team but said, at one point, she had considered continuing elite gymnastics.

“In the beginning of the summer [after nationals], I was really gung ho that I was going to continue elite and [my coach] Slava [Glazounov] was like, ‘Well, let's see how this summer goes,’” said Hurd. “Then, I struggled the entire summer instead, so I was like, ‘I'll go to college.’”

The Gators get their season underway on Jan. 7 with a quad-meet at home against Northern Illinois, Rutgers and Texas Women’s University.

The robot (judges) are coming!

International Gymnastics Federation president Watanabe Morinari says future gymnastics judges might look a little different with the possibility of artificial intelligence evaluating the sport.

"At this stage, it is a judging support system," Watanabe said of a computer scoring system under development by FIG partner Fujtisu, according to an interview with insidethegames. "It may be a substitute for humans in the future. But that's still the future."

Currently, the Fujitsu system works with five of the 10 artistic gymnastics apparatus. In the interview, Watanabe discussed another possibility he sees for the sport: a combined world championships featuring all of the sport's disciplines.

"It's a new opportunity," Watanabe said. "I have a dream that one day like the Olympics, the World Championships of all our disciplines; artistic, rhythmic, trampoline, acrobatic, aerobic, parkour, the World Gym for Life Challenge, and if possible, TeamGym sometime in future, will be held in the same host city in the same period of time together.”

Robots assisted with the medal ceremonies at the 2021 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Kitakyushu, Japan.
Picture by FIG, Av. de la Gare 12A, 1003 Switzerland, +41 21 321 5510, info@fig-photos.com, www.fig-photos.com

Dancing Kenzo

2016 Olympic team gold medallist Shirai Kenzo is once again putting a different twist on men’s floor exercise.

The innovative Japanese gymnast, who retired from elite competition earlier this year, posted a floor routine on Instagram Tuesday (28 December) set to music. In international competition, only women’s artistic gymnasts typically perform to music.

“I danced at the end of the year,” Shirai said in the post. “A female teacher at the same university recommended a student's floor performance, and I made a complete copy of it.

“I think it makes sense if as many people as possible can smile as much as possible by working hard on various things in this way,” he continued. “I will continue to challenge many things regardless of the type.”

From the vault...

This week, we look back at the 1988 Romanian team on the balance beam.

The squad came into the Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea, as the reigning world champions, having shocked the Soviet Union a year earlier. But at the Games, they settled for silver despite an impressive performance from Daniela Silivas, who won three individual gold medals. She led the rotation of the team with a perfect 10 on the event.

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