Rumor: Hong to train at WOGA in 2009
Posted December 7, 2008on:
Rumor has it that after all the drama of the past months, and suggestions of transfers to AOGC and Chow’s, it appears that Ivana Hong has finally made her choice …
… and it is WOGA, training in Valeri Liukin’s group with Nastia Liukin and Rebecca Bross.
Honestly, I’m somewhat disappointed by the choice. Putting family and gymnastics politics aside (I’m sure that will be discussed elsewhere), I think that WOGA doesn’t complement Hong’s current strengths nearly as well as Chow’s, my first choice for Hong.
Firstly, I think it might have been useful to train in a gym in which elites train in a larger group — Shawn Johnson currently trains will all of the optional-level athletes. Hong is known as the consummate perfectionist, and I think it might have revived her love for the sport and muted the perfectionism a bit to be in a larger group with other gymnasts. There’s nothing like a little perspective.
Second, it is widely known that Johnson trains minimal hours a week for an elite gymnast — only 24 hours, compared to many other gymnasts’ tallies approaching 40. Again, perhaps a more “normal” schedule would have been good.
Thirdly, and most importantly, I think that Chow’s gymnastics style would have suited Hong. She is already known for her grace, elegance and lines. She lacks power and, in some cases, really big skills. Naturally, WOGA will be a great place for Hong to improve her bars routine, which has been a sticking point for her despite the previously mentioned clean lines and good form. But overall I would have liked to see Hong’s assets complemented by the power and difficulty of a Johnson-type style. It would be like taking Johnson and handing her over to WOGA for a bit more focus on flexibility and bars.
Anyway, naturally, we all wish Hong the best at WOGA. I certainly hope it will get her out of the funk she’s been in. You’ll recall that at the 2007 Nationals she was pegged as one of the next big things, and I don’t think that was a totally unrealistic prediction. Her gymnastics is absolutely gorgeous, and she clearly has the work ethic to achieve something big. I hope to see her back in competition at 2009 Nationals!