Fabian Hambuechen's new gymnastics discipline: Trampoline

Fabian Hambuechen.

Fabian Hambuechen.

Fabian Hambuechen is retired from gymnastics. No, really, he is.

After four Olympic Games and three medals, including long-awaited gold on high bar in Rio in 2016, Germany’s gymnastics lion hung up his grips and stepped away from the sport for good. Except for that time he competed for his bundesliga team. And now he’s taken up trampoline.

There he was representing the club TV Buttelborn at a German trampoline league meet last weekend. From the video footage, Hambuechen looks like he could be competitive, though not yet competitive with the best in the world, or even with the members of the German trampoline team. But the basics are certainly all there.

“It’s just fun for me and a good way to stay in shape,” the 31-year-old said, brushing off rumors of a comeback to the international stage in a new discipline. Because, you know, he’s retired. Really.

Except that he’ll take the stage at this month’s Superstars of Gymnastics spectacle/competition on March 24 at London’s 02 Arena. And he has plans to compete at something called the Sauerkraut Cup over Easter.

For what it’s worth, Hambuchen finished fourth in the men’s trampoline competition for TV Buttelborn. “I hate fourth place,” he attested to the Burstadter Zeitung afterward. “I’ll have to get a little better for next time.”


Hancharou and Liu jump back atop podiums at Baku World Cup

Former world champions Liu Lingling and Uladzislau Hancharou re-established their supremacy in trampoline at the Baku World Cup, held February 16-17 in the Azerbaijani capital.

Hancharou, the 2016 Olympic champion and 2017 world champion, rebounded from a 2018 where he finished sixth in the world to take the first world cup title of 2018 by a decisive margin of nearly 1.5 points over 2012 Olympic gold medalist Dong Dong.

The story was similar for Liu, who won the world title on her 20th birthday in 2014 but has been overshadowed in recent years by two-time Olympic champion Rosie MacLennan, second in Baku, and her own countrywoman, the now-retired 2015 world champion and 2016 Olympic bronze medalist Li Dan.

As he did in Rio in 2016, China’s Dong Dong, the 2012 Olympic champion and one of the greatest names in the sport, continued his run of excellence in finishing second to Hancharou. A celebrity in China whose interests surpass the bounds of the trampoline hall, on the road to his fourth Olympic Games, Dong remains unrelenting in his goal of surpassing the medal count of the great Alexander Moskalenko, who won the inaugural Olympic title in trampoline in 2000 after dominating the sport throughout the 1990s.

Japanese trampolinists, part of a strong overall contingent of rising gymnastics stars from every discipline ahead of the 2020 Olympics, took both bronzes. Daiki Kishi, a new name on the men’s scene, and Chisato Doihata, already a veteran of three world championships, made sure the Japanese were represented on both trampoline podiums.

The men’s competition was a disappointment for three-time world champion Gao Lei, whose competition ended after the qualifying round. Among the familiar faces who didn’t make it into the top-eight final were 2016 Olympic silver medalist Bryony Page (11th), and Belarusian standout Hanna Hancharova (17th), who married Hancharou in 2017.

Things did go well for 2014 Olympic champion Dylan Schmidt of New Zealand, who made a successful return to the world cup circuit after tearing his ACL and finished fifth.

Results

Women’s Trampoline
1. Liu Lingling, China, 57.05
2. Rosannagh MacLennan, Canada, 56.245
3. Chisato Doihata, Japan, 55.80
4. Maryia Makharynskaya, Belarus, 54.65
5. Megu Uyama, Japan, 54.485
6. Susana Kochesok, Russia, 36.180
7. Lin Qianqi, China, 12.085
8. Irina Kundius, Russia, 6.180

Men’s Trampoline
1. Uladzislau Hancharou, Belarus, 61.59
2. Dong Dong, China, 60.32
3. Daiki Kishi, Japan, 59.365
4. Tu Xiao, China, 59.185
5. Dylan Schmidt, New Zealand, 58.83
6. Andrey Yudin, Russia, 58.81
7. Tetsuya Sotomura, Japan, 58.12
8. Aleh Rabtsau, Belarus, 30.765

Trampoline's best bounce into Baku as World Cup season begins

For the world’s top trampoline gymnasts, the 2020 Olympic Games begin this weekend.

In 2015, in an attempt to spice up a world cup series with often lackluster attendance, the International Gymnastics Federation hit on an idea: tie Olympic qualification to the world cups, thereby forcing top contenders to attend. Results from the next six trampoline world cup events -- the four in 2019 and the first two of 2020 -- will be used to determine who qualifies for the Tokyo Olympics.

If the lineup for the first FIG Trampoline Gymnastics World Cup of 2019 this week in Baku, Azerbaijan, is any indication, the tactic has worked a treat. World and Olympic medalists abound on the Baku roster. With only four world cup events in Trampoline scheduled this year, each assumes an importance of Olympic proportions, so it’s no surprise to see the field in Baku stacked with talent and medals -- from last fall’s World Championships in St. Petersburg and well before.

Reigning Olympic champions Rosie MacLennan of Canada and Uladzislau Hancharou of Belarus are set to bounce for the women’s and men’s individual titles, but neither gold is likely to come easily. The men’s field includes 2016 Olympic bronze medalist and three-time world men’s gold medalist Gao Lei, 2012 Olympic champion Dong Dong and 2008 silver medalist and difficulty king Jason Burnett of Canada, 2014 world champion Tu Xiao of China and world medalists Andrey Yudin of Russia and Yasuhiro Ueyama of Japan.

2014 Youth Olympic Games champion Dylan Schmidt of New Zealand is back after recovering from a knee injury that kept him out of last year’s worlds, and 2014 Youth Olympic bronze medalist Pedro Ferreira is among an always strong Portuguese contingent. After a number of fourth place finishes on the world level, France’s Allan Morante will also be seeking a Baku breakthrough.

Hancharou himself, the undisputed best in the world from 2016 and 2017, will attempt to regain the top spot after a rough final left him just sixth in last year’s world standings. His wife, Belarus’s Hanna Hancharova, a Rio Olympian and top-10 competitor from the last Olympic cycle, will be in the hunt in the women’s competition.

MacLennan, 30, has been the undisputed queen of Trampoline since winning Canada’s only gold medal at the 2012 Olympics. After a neck injury sidelined her post-Rio, the 16-time world medalist literally bounced back at the end of 2018 to capture her second women’s individual crown at the world championships in Russia.

The pack chasing her has only grown in recent years, and now includes surprise 2016 Olympic silver medalist Bryony Page of Great Britain, Japan’s new synchro world champions Megu Uyama and Hikari Mori, 2014 Youth Olympic champion and reigning world silver medalist Zhu Xueying of China and 2018 world bronze medalist Yana Pavlova of Russia, without factoring in veterans Kat Driscoll of Great Britain and Marine Jurbert of France.

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