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Juniors Turning Senior in 2015

2015 will be an exciting year for gymnastics. There are many up and coming and highly touted juniors from around the world that will be joining the senior ranks and will be age eligible to represent their country at the World Championships or Olympic Games.

Many of whom, the world has been waiting on for what seems like an eternity to join the senior ranks.

I've put together a list of some of the most anticipated athletes and put together a small biography about each one.
Note: There is a lot of juniors, and I couldn't mention each individual because that would take more time than I really have.

Seda Tutkhalyan, Russia. Date of Birth July 15, 1999

This little spitfire grabbed international attention when she took the all-around gold at the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China earlier this year. Seda was born in Armenia and raised in Russia. Like her elder stateswoman, Aliya Mustafina, her father is Gurgen is a former world champion in wrestling. She has an older brother that currently competes in Sambo for Belarus.

 She was the second winner of this event, the first being her compatriot, Viktoria Komova in 2010 in Singapore.

Additionally, she was a part of the junior European Championship team that won the gold. In Nanjing, she also won gold on the uneven bars and a silver on floor exercise. She was the Russian junior national champion in 2013.

Nia Dennis, United States. Date of Birth February 23, 1999

Nia grabbed the attention of the world when she debuted her near perfect standing Arabian on beam at the 2013 US Secret Classic. Since then, Nia has been climbing the ranks of USA gymnastics, become a standout junior and 2016 Olympic hopeful.

She's made an international debut this year at the City of Jesolo Cup, winning a team gold and silvers in the all around and on bars. She also competed with Team USA at the Pacific Rim Championships bringing home another team gold, silver in the all-around and vault.

Bailie Key, United States. Born March 15, 1999

Young Bailie Key is trained by Kim Zmeskal, the first US world champion, and her husband, Chris Burdette at Texas Dreams Gymnastics in where else? Texas! Bailie won last year's US Secret classic and from then, went on to win literally everything. Literally. After making nearly a clean sweep of the P&G Championships in 2013, Bailie and teammate Laurie Hernandez went to the Junior Japan International and Bailie won everything. Seriously, everything.

Then she went on to compete at the Mexican Open last fall. Won team and all around again.  Spring came and she went to the City of Jesolo Cup and won team, all-around and got gold on almost every event but beam, where she got silver. Little later that spring, she went with the team to the Pacific Rim Championships. Won almost everything but bars and beam where she scored silvers on both events. She sat out this year's Secret Classic and P&G Championships due to a minor injury.

Elissa Downie, Great Britain. Date of Birth, July 20, 1999

Elissa, better known as "Ellie" to gym fans is the younger sister of British uneven bars european champion, Beckie Downie. She's a strong all-around contender for Britain and is also a strong vaulter. On beam, she has a standing Arabian that rivals Nia Dennis's and on floor she performs a piked double Arabian and a tucked double Arabian.

The young british dynamo made her international debut in 2013 at the WOGA Classic and took home a team bronze and a silver on vault. That summer, Ellie and the junior Britains went to Urecht, The Netherlands to compete in the European Youth Olympic Festival. Ellie and the Junior British team took home a silver medal in the team final and Ellie took home an individual medal for the vault.

Ellie continued her meteoric rise into the Spring of 2014. At the European Championships, the junior British team took a silver in the team final. Ellie won the bronze in the all-around and won gold on vault and placed fifth on the uneven bars.

That summer, Ellie represented Great Britain at the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China.  Ellie took home three bronze medals for the all-around, beam and floor and won silver on the vault.

Maria Bondareva, Russia, Born November 28, 1999

Maria Bondareva and her compatriot and namesake, Maria Kharenkova led the junior Russian team to a gold medal finish at the 2013 European Youth Olympic Festival.

She's been on the international scene as a junior since 2012, starting with the International Gymnix where she won the all-around competition and the City of Jesolo Trophy taking home a bronze medal with the team. She repeated her all-around success at Gymnix in 2013, tying with teammate, Anastasia Dmitrieva.

At the European Youth Olympic Festival she helped the Russian team take home the gold medal for the team final. Additionally, she took home a gold medal on the beam. In 2014, she continued the success of the junior Russians by helping them win a Junior European championship gold medal in the team final.

Andreea Iridon, Romania, Date of Birth,  November 23, 1999.

Little Romanian beam dynamo  Andreea Iridon is a tiny firecracker with an attitude to boot. On beam, she has a portion of her routine where she is low on the beam and she turns around and points to the judges as if to say "watch me win, judges!"

Andreea made her international debut at a Friendly meet between the US, Romania and Germany. She placed third with the Romanian team and tenth in the all around. She later competed in a junior meet in France, winning the uneven bars title and a team gold medal. In the summer, she traveled to Urecht for the European Youth Olympic Festival. There, she won the bronze medal in the team competition and bronze on beam. At the Junior Japan International, she won silver on the uneven bars.

At the European Championships, she helped the Romanian team to a bronze medal in the team final. Individually, she won the gold medal on the beam and a silver on the floor exercise.

Rebecca Andrade, Brazil. Date of Birth May 8, 1999

Rebecca is one of the talented Brazilian juniors who will lead the way for Brazil for 2016 when the Olympics will be held in their home country. Transported head coach, Alexander Alexandrov has spoken highly of the juniors and it's easy to see why.

Rebecca has been competing internationally since 2012, but gained the attention of gym fans world wide when she leaked a video of her training an Amanar online.  She's much like the Bailie Key of Brazil, winning six all-around titles since 2012, every where from National Championships in her home country to the WOGA classic this past February.  Rebecca scored a 58.050 at the Brazilian Junior Nationals recently, winning her an all-around gold. Had she competed at the World Championships in Nanning, China this year, she would have placed fourth ahead of Aliya Mustafina  by 0.135. Aliya scored 57.915 in the all-around after falling on floor.  She would have finished behind Kyla Ross, who won bronze, only 0.182 behind. Maybe she could have beaten Kyla.

Flavia Saraiva, Brazil. Date of Birth September 30, 1999.

Flavia will turn 16 on the same day Aliya Mustafina turns 21. While Rebecca will be able to get her drivers' license, Aliya will be able to hit the bars and casinos if she decided to take a vacation to Vegas.

Flavia, like her compatriot Rebecca Andrade, is another promising junior on the junior national Brazilian team. She made her international debut in 2013 but made waves in 2014 when she replaced an injured Rebecca to compete at the Youth Olympic Games. She placed second in the all-around final behind Russia's Seda Tutkhalyan, only missing the gold by 0.20, with a 54.700 to Seda's 54.900. She also took home a silver on beam and a gold for floor exercise. Recently, she competed at the Brazilian junior nationals, taking silver in the all-around behind Rebecca Andrade.

Wang Yan, China. Date of Birth, October 30, 1999

Don't let that tiny exterior fool you.  This tiny, fierce Chinese gymnast with a bitch face that would scare the Russian's into submission, is a ball of power.  She won the vault title at the Nanjing Youth Olympic Games with a Tsukahara double full and Rudi. Additionally, she took home the bronze on bars and another gold medal on the balance beam.

Wang has racked up titles on the national and international scene. She recently won the junior all-around title at the Asian Games. She also took home silver with the junior Chinese team and silver on the vault.

On beam, she has difficulty that could rival any senior currently competing (unless Larisa Iordache breaks out two fulls). Wang has a 6.4 start value and her routine includes a barani and a back-handspring to two foot layout connection.

Iosra Abdelaziz, Italy. Date of Birth, December 7, 1999.
Iosra won the silver medal in the Youth Olympic Games this summer.

With gorgeous long lines and beautiful amplitude, she's going to be one to look out for to compete for uneven bars titles in the next two years.

Amy Tinkler, Great Britain. Date of Birth, October 27, 1999.

Amy is rising through the British junior ranks as another dynamic floor worker along with Ellie Downie, Tyesha Mattis and Catherine Lyons.

Amy debuted internationally at the Australian Youth Olympic Festival and won gold on floor exercise and silver on vault and with the team in the team finals. Later at the European Youth Olympic festival, she helped the junior Britons win another team silver. individually, Amy placed sixth on floor exercise.

In February, Amy went to Texas to compete at the WOGA Classic. There, she won a gold on vault and scored two silvers in the all-around and on floor exercise. Amy was selected for the junior European championship team in the spring. The junior British team matched their result of the senior British girls and took home a silver in the team final. Individually, Amy took home a silver on floor and a bronze on vault.

Like her senior compatriot, Claudia Fragapane, she puts just as much effort into her dance as she does her tumbling. She opens with a double layout and then does a full in for her second tumbling pass.

Laura Jurca, Romania. Date of Birth, September 14, 1999

Little Laura is a reverse Roxana Popa. She was born in Munich, Germany, but competes for Romania. Her parents still reside in Switzerland and she is a member of  the Swiss Gymnastics Club, STV Lenzburg.

She made her international debut in 2013 at the International Gymnix where she placed seventh with the Romanian team.  Later that year, she competed at the European Youth Olympic Festival and scored a bronze medal with the Romanian team and a silver on vault.

In 2014, she competed at the City of Jesolo Trophy in March, winning the silver medal with the Romanian team, a bronze on vault and a silver on floor. In the spring, she was named to the junior European championships team where she scored a bronze medal with the team in the team final. Individually, she  took home two silver medals in the all-around and for the vault and placed fifth on floor.

In the summer, she competed at the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China and placed seventh in the all-around and bars, fourth on vault and floor and eighth on beam.

She's known for her cheeky beam routine where she does the "Swim." Yes, the swim as in that dance move from the sixties where one plugs their nose and waves their free arm up and down.

Authors note: I would like to give thanks to Catherine at Beautiful Gymnastics for her fantastic comprehensive list and to the Gymternet Clan members for their contributions.

A complete list - via Beautiful Gymnastics.

  • Bailie Key USA
  • Nia Dennis USA 
  • Alexis Vasquez USA
  • Vanasia Bradley USA
  • Megan Skaggs USA*
  • Nadia Cho USA* 
  • Maria Bondareva RUSSIA
  • Anastasia Dmitrieva RUSSIA
  • Seda Tutkhalyan RUSSIA*
  • Yulia Biryulya RUSSIA
  • *Polina Spirina RUSSIA
  • *Raisa Batyrova RUSSIA*
  •  Madalina Blendea ROMANIA
  • Andreea Iridon ROMANIA
  • Laura Jurca ROMANIA
  • Kim Janas GERMANY*
  • Elizabet Vasileva BULGARIA*
  •   Rebeca Andrade BRAZIL
  • Flavia Saraiva BRAZIL* 
  • Ivanka Victory COSTA RICA*
  • Ellie Downie BRITAIN
  • Tyesha Mattis BRITAIN
  • *Amy Tinkler BRITAIN*
  •  Dana de Groot NETHERLANDS*
  • Mara Titarsolej NETHERLANDS* 
  • Darcy Norman AUSTRALIA* 
  • Sae Miyakawa JAPAN* 
  • Aiko Sugihara JAPAN* 
  • Yuan Xiaoyang CHINA
  • Liu Zhilin CHINA
  • Mei Jie CHINA 
  • Wang Yan CHINA* 
  • Fan Yilin CHINA
  • Liu Ying CHINA
  • Xu Chujun CHINA*
  • Qin Chang CHINA*
  • Zhu Xiaofang CHINA*
  • Zhang Yan CHINA*
  • Li Haiming CHINA* 


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