Posts Tagged ‘Ri Jong Song’

North Korea Vaults to New Heights

Tuesday, September 1st, 2009

Over the years, North Korea has produced many fantastic gymnasts. Kim Gwang Suk scored a Perfect 10 on the uneven bars on her way to the gold medal at the 1991 World Championships. This was the last Perfect 10 the world will ever see at a World Championships due to the current open-ended Code of Points.

The highlight of Kim’s routine was the Tkatchev-Counter Kim combination at 0:11 and the lightning-fast 1.5 pirouette to Jaeger at 0:24.

Kim Gwang Suk, Uneven Bars, 1991 World Championships

Olympic champion Pae Gil Su competed in the same era, dominating the field on the pommel horse. Pae exhibited a smooth swing and difficult one-pommel work late in the routine. It was very touching to see the South Koreans waving flags as he dismounted the apparatus.

Pae Gil Su, Pommel Horse, 1992 Olympic Games

Pae was accomplished on high bar as well. Here he performs a Def at 0:19, a Gaylord at 0:26, a full-twisting layout Jaeger at 0:34, and the whole spectacle is topped off with a really cool dismount (it’s a surprise!).

Pae Gil Su, High Bar, 1991 Universiade

More recently, North Korean gymnasts have surprised the world with great success on vault and uneven bars. At the 2003 World Championships and the 2004 Olympic Games, Kang Yun Mi (vault) and Pyon Kwang Sun (uneven bars) scored well in their respective event finals. Kang returned home from the 2003 Worlds with the silver medal.

Kang Yun Mi, Vault, 2003 World Championships

The following year, Ri Jong Song managed to pack many difficult skills into the floor routine he prepared for the Athens Olympics. He started with a triple-twisting double back, ended with a double-twisting double layout, and added some interesting choreography in between (particularly at 0:30). It’s a pity he just missed the event final!

Ri Jong Song, Floor Exercise, 2004 Olympic Games

Current competitors include Hong Su Jong and her younger sister Hong Un Jong, and male teammates Ri Se Gwang and Ri Jong Song. All four qualified to event finals at the 2007 World Championships, with Hong Su Jong earning the silver medal on vault and Ri Se Gwang winning bronze on the same event. Though the men were absent from Beijing, Hong Un Jong represented her country well by out-vaulting the likes of Oksana Chusovitina, Cheng Fei and Alicia Sacramone for the Olympic gold medal.

Hong Un Jong, Vault, 2008 Olympic Games

And now for the vault that inspired this blog! Ri Se Gwang’s name set message boards abuzz after his Kasamatsu full-in back-out was captured on film. This skill was awarded a massive 7.2 A score, giving him a great chance at the gold medal at the upcoming World Championships, even with a landing similar to this one.

Ri Se Gwang, Vault, 2009 Universiade