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Bouncebackability the key to trampoline triumph

By HE QI in Hangzhou | China Daily | Updated: 2023-10-05 09:24
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China's Zhu Xueying competes in the women's trampoline gymnastics final on Monday. GAO ERQIANG/CHINA DAILY

When the error count quickly adds up in trampoline competitions, mental fortitude can often trump gymnastic ability as the key to winning the championship. Just ask Team China's Yan Langyu.

Executing a pristine and daring routine that belied his nerves, Yan bounced, flipped and twisted to gold in the men's trampoline final at Huanglong Sports Centre Gymnasium on Tuesday.

It was a remarkable turnaround for Yan considering he sat bottom of the rankings after a mistake in his first routine. Luckily, the 24-year-old kept his cool and was able to adjust his mindset to earn the highest score in his second routine.

"I was listening to music all the time," said Yan, who, after his shaky first attempt, could be seen wandering alone in the competition waiting area with his headphones on.

"I couldn't even tell you what song was playing. I was just thinking about how my second routine could take me to the final."

Yan admitted he is not a particularly avid music fan in his daily life, but found blasting some tunes through his headphones was the best way to alleviate the pressure during the competition.

"I just wanted the sound of music to drown out the outside noise. I was afraid of being overawed by my thoughts as I wandered," Yan said.

"It's been quite a nerve-wracking competition for me. I haven't thought about anything else. My coach simply told me to focus on executing the moves well. I only thought about success," he added.

Japan's Reina Satake and Pirmammad Aliyev of Kazakhstan were among several athletes to fall off the trampoline, in the women's and men's finals, respectively.

Another to falter was 17-year-old Chinese gymnast Wang Zisai, who was ranked first after the men's qualification round, but failed to complete a routine and was eliminated in the final.

"It's really about competing with yourself. If you're not able to stay calm, you won't be able to produce your best, which the competition has shown today," Yan said of teammate Wang's errors.

Jordanian Bashar Alturk, who finished sixth in the men's final, said: "Trampoline is like a lottery. You work so hard and then, on the day, it can all go wrong. You've just got to hold your nerve.

"I was nervous being in front of all these people. As athletes, we train hard, and when you're in an arena like this, a packed-out arena, you definitely get nervous. You can feel it in your heart. What an experience.

"You've just got to use the nerves to the best of your ability and see where you land. You've just got to focus."

For six of the athletes who did manage to do just that — and execute stunning routines — glory was the reward.

China's Zhu Xueying claimed gold in the women's final on Monday, with her teammate Hu Yicheng pocketing silver and Viktoriya Butolina of Kazakhstan taking bronze.

In the men's competition, Danil Mussabayev of Kazakhstan had to settle for silver behind Yan, with Hiroto Yamada of Japan securing bronze.

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