By Patricia Duffy
Leanne Wong Wows with Rare Combination of True Artistry and Power
Photos by Lloyd Smith
112.250. It’s a significant number to say the least, seeing as the junior women’s 2018 U.S. All-Around Champion would have competed for a podium spot had she earned that mark in the senior division. It’s a two-day tally that could rival the best in the world, and Leanne Wong did it–scoring big, that is–while conveying an artistry scarcely seen stateside in recent years.
“We do a lot of dance work, like sometimes we use the barre, or sometimes we just dance on the floor,” Wong says of the artistic side of her training.
I guess I love looking beautiful, that’s one of the passions.
“We” is Wong and Armine Barutyan, Great American Gymnastics Center’s co-owner, coach and choreographer. Barutyan, originally from the Soviet Union Republic of Armenia, was a gymnast herself, competing for Armenia and Russia during her career.
“I guess I love looking beautiful, that’s one of the passions,” Armine says, tapping into the root of her love for choreography. “The details were always just a part of me since I was a gymnast myself. I’ve been known to have excellent form and technique, so I just continue that… to give that ability to my gymnasts so they understand the importance of it. It takes time. It takes dedication… but I think it was finally awarded.”
Awarded indeed. The 15-year-old Wong (Happy Birthday, Leanne!) enjoyed a dominant performance at championships, winning the all-around competition by more than a point while also securing gold on floor exercise, silver on vault and uneven bars, and sixth on balance beam.
Arguably more impressive? She accomplished such a performance, hitting 4-for-4, after falling on her neck just before the start of finals…
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