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Competing With Simone Biles on Equal Footing, Rising American Gymnast Receives Unlikely Support All the Way From Russia

Published 09/20/2023, 9:11 AM EDT

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US atmosphere is charged with anticipation as world selection trials are on way. Doing justice to her recent wins in Xfinitiy and US Hydration Core Classic, Simone Biles earned the top spot on the table at the end of day 1. Alongside, Biles also secured her spot in the six member US team for the World Artistic Gymnastics Championships to be held in Antwerp at the end of this month. However, rest of the team is yet to be decided and chances are ample. This very excitement of the event now seems to have crossed the limits of the border.

The first day world selection trials in Katy, Texas saw support pouring in from another continent. An Olympic Champion from Russia was seen cheering a young American gymnast ahead of the event. Interestingly, the 20-year-old gymnast has already created ripples with her flawless moves like the double-twisting double back and double layout. And it is not without reason that she is seen as a competitor to Simone Biles.

New-found support for Simone Biles’ competitor

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On September 19th, 2023, a Twitter account named, “nina” added a new tweet with a picture from behind. According to the accompanying picture, standing there is accomplished Russian figure skater Alina Zagitova supporting Leanne Wong. The caption reads, “Olympic ⛸️ Champion Alina Zagitova supporting Leanne Wong’s Bowtique ahead of US world trials”. The shoe emoji signifies the skating shoes.

Zagitova is considered one of the finest ever figure skaters of Russia. The list of her accolades is nothing short of impressive. She is her country’s first ever skater to achieve the feat of winning Olympic gold, the World Figure Skating Championships, European Figure Skating Championships and the Grand Prix of Figure skating.

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Her support for the young gymnastics prodigy, Wong, has once again brought forward the mutual respect of the sportspersons for each other. How did Wong perform in front of her cross-continent supporter?

What is Leanne Up to in the First Day of Trials?

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The clock struck 7:00 PM as the gymnastics trials commenced, and Leanne Wong took to the beam. Observers noted her clean and solid performances. With only minor imperfections like a slight knee form in her flight series and a less-than-perfect ring. As she moved through her routine, the audience witnessed a graceful side aerial. Followed by, switch leap to wolf jump, and wolf jump full to split jump. Her balance beam dismount of 2.5 twists was executed & earned her a score of 13.350.

Additionally, Rotation after rotation, Leanne Wong continued to impress her fans. On the uneven bars, she executed a straddle Jaeger, toe full, and a clean Maloney to Pak combination. Her amazing performance was marked by slight form breaks. By the end of the first day of trials, Leanne Wong had achieved a total score of 54.850, securing the 5th position.

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Watch this story: Simone Biles Relaxes Herself. Feeding Baby Biles After Visiting Her ‘Dream Home With the Love of Her Life

In essence, Simone Biles may have earned the automatic all-around spot, but Leanne Wong’s dedication and unwavering determination were evident throughout the competition. Her journey in the world of gymnastics is far from over, and with the unexpected support from an Olympic champion, the gymnastics world is in for an exciting ride.

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Written by:

Harshita Chawla

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Harshita Chawla is a US Sports writer at Essentially Sports. Having contributed to college magazine as a sports writer, she comes with a staunch knowledge in content creation for the sports industry. Along with this, Harshita is a huge fan of Gymnastics queen Simone Biles and has a penchant for writing about her favorite athlete.
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Edited by:

BHUJAYA RAY CHOWDHURY