Photo by Grace Chiiu
Sanne Wevers Says…
How did you feel out there for podium training?
It’s good. It’s the last bit of information you’re going to have before you start the competition. Yes, it was good.
What information did you get?
Just getting used to the lights because the beam light is very different. You see a lot of shadow, but it’s fine, you can ignore it I guess [laughs]. Overall, it’s a huge arena so you want to feel the support of your team… so you sort of need to keep it a little bit closer to each other so you still manage to feel the support.
Tell us about your injury from earlier in the year…
Well actually, it was more of an overuse thing. It was sort of the whole right side of my body. It took a long time to get rid of it and be able to train again. I started in April to just do some basic stuff. In the back of my mind was this World Championships, of course and [I felt] I need to start somewhere and today is the day I start and I will see when I’m ready for it.
How much time did you take off?
After Doha… 6 or 8 months.
Did you think when you started training again that you wouldn’t make Stuttgart?
Well, it was hard to say because I really couldn’t do anything at the moment. I had to start all over again. But you also, as a gymnast, know that if you’re taking your time, you know that the skills are there. It takes a lot of basic stuff to do the big skills.
Has that affected your routine for these Championships?
Yes. I’m still not doing everything on beam yet because of my hip. I managed to get the highest possible beam score I guess for this championships and I still want to help the team.
Are you doing just one event here?
No, I’m also doing bars for the team.
What motivates you to come back after an injury and keep going?
Sometimes it’s hard when you’re really hitting rock bottom to manage to see some light. Still for me, when I go in the gym I always find some small thing to work on or something to improve. It’s really a process because I started in April and since then it just builds up bit by bit by bit. Every day is a little bit of progress and that makes you really happy. You just try to stay in the moment because if you’re just starting after injury, you just see the big mountain ahead of you. Every step is a challenge but also exciting when it’s done.
What’s it like having your sister back on the team?
Really nice. I really missed her and I’m so excited to be here together again.
What percent do you feel you are back to normal?
It’s hard to say. For me, it’s like I’m going back now and I already have this big competition coming up. But I’m also looking forward to next year. I think I still got to improve some things and can still challenge myself to do different things in training but also competition.
Will you just focus on bars and beam for Tokyo?
Yes. I haven’t done floor and vault since 2011.
What are a couple skills that you might add in between now and Tokyo on either event?
Of course, I’ve already got my dream routine written down [laughs] but that’s far ahead still! It depends a lot on my physique I guess.
Outside of gymnastics, what are your interests? What do you do when you just want to get away from the sport?
Actually, I don’t want to get away from the sport [laughs]. I read a lot and I’m always looking for better ways. That’s my obsession, this (gymnastics).
Do you study your competitors’ routines?
Not really. That’s the thing I don’t do. More like, how can I be better and what are some details I can add so I can do my gymnastics training better.
Talk about how important artistry is to your team and how much you focus on that?
Actually, it sort of became second nature for our team. If you see our juniors they are already picking it up and it’s more like a culture we got used to. We still spend a lot of time with each other and doing some small basics of acting and some basics of presenting yourself and stuff like that. I think it’s not a big focus anymore, but it needs to improve.
How nice is it that people recognize and take notice of you guys? Is that nice?
Yeah, of course. I think our team needs to take advantage of that and show the world that artistic gymnastics can still be artistic, not only gymnastics and tumbling. Because of the code the FIG made you can work with that. You can make it artistic if you want.
Roxana Popa (Spain) on her injury, recovery and longevity: “I could barely walk, run or anything. Actually when I feel tired and I feel that my legs don’t work anymore and everything on my body tells me to stop it, I say ‘Okay.’”
Quick Chat with Liang Chow
When you first made the decision to go to China, what was going through your mind and what let you to that?
The Olympic Committee of China asked me many times for the decision. I came from China and I learned gymnastics when I was five. My success today contributed to where I have learned with my students in the states. Also, I pretty much knew in my mind.
How much are you back and forth between the U.S. and China?
I went back there around seven times last year. The older you get the harder travel is, but I’m fine.
They were very sharp, confident and expressive on floor today. Is that something they’ve been working on?
Yes. This is a very young group under Liu Tingting. She has experience in the World Championship.