Top New Senior Elites To Watch For In 2018

Each new year brings a new class of seniors in the elite gymnastics world — gymnasts who turn 16 in the year, making them eligible to compete for more major international competitions such as the world championships. 

In 2018, we will see a number of impressive junior elites turn senior. We’ve identified some of the key women to watch in the next year. 

Maile O’Keefe | USA

Maile O’Keefe is the current reigning junior national champion for the USA. At last year’s nationals, she not only placed first in the all-around, but also came second on vault, beam, and floor. O’Keefe also has a fair amount of international experience having competed at International Gymnix in Canada, the City of Jesolo Trophy in Italy, and Junior Japan in 2017. She came first in the all-around at both Junior Japan and International Gymnix, and second in the all-around in Jesolo. 

O’Keefe is so dominant in U.S. gymnastics that her scores in junior competitions have rivaled many of those in the senior field. At nationals, her total all-around score placed her just behind Ragan Smith in the senior field. One of O’Keefe’s best events is beam, where she competed with a 6.1 D-score in 2017. 

Check out her routine below from the International Gymnix competition: 


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Maile O'Keefe - Beam, USA - 2017 International Gymnix  - Junior Cup


Ana Padurariu | Canada

Ana Padurariu has been one of Canada’s top gymnasts out of both the junior and senior fields. She took first place in the all-around and on every event at Elite Canada in 2017. In addition to competing at International Gymnix last year — where she placed second in the all-around — Padurariu also competed internationally at the City of Jesolo Trophy, where she took fifth in the all-around and first on beam. 

Check out her gorgeous beam routine from Jesolo below: 


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Ana Padurariu - Beam (14.25-1st), Canada - 2017 City of Jesolo Trophy - Event Finals


Emma Malabuyo | USA

Emma Malabuyo has been right up there with O’Keefe as one of the top all-around gymnasts in the USA at the moment. She came second in the all-around at 2017 nationals and first on floor. Malabuyo has also had her fair share of international exposure. She took first place on floor at Junior Japan as well as first at the City of Jesolo Trophy.

Floor is undoubtedly Malabuyo’s best event, and she charms with her choreography. Check out her routine from the U.S. Classic, where she scored a 14.3:


Video via USA Gymnastics

Angelina Simakova | Russia

One of Russia’s star juniors last year was Angelina Simakova, who debuted in 2017 at the WOGA Classic, where she took first place in the all-around, as well as first on beam and floor. Most recently, Simakova competed at Elite Gym Massilia in France, where she once again took first in the Masters all-around, beating Padurariu and Melanie De Jesus Dos Santos. She also placed first in the beam and floor finals. 

Simakova is a particularly strong vaulter for the Russians. At Junior Japan, she competed two vaults: a front handspring front pike 1.5, and a front handspring front pike full. Her combined score of 14.433 got her first place at this meet. 

Check out her routines below: 


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Angelina Simakova - Vault (14.433-1st), Russia - Event Finals, 2017 International Junior Japan

Gabby Perea | USA

Gabby Perea is yet another strong all-around gymnast for USA. She took first place in the all-around at the 2017 City of Jesolo Trophy, totaling a huge 57.225, one of the highest all-around scores recorded in the world in 2017 from both juniors and seniors. Perea also took first on vault and bars in Jesolo and second on beam. At International Gymnix, she came second in the all-around, and took the gold medals on bars and beam, and the silver on floor.

Perea’s strongest event is bars, where she has one of the most difficult routines in the world. At nationals in 2017, she managed to compete with a 6.5 D-score, thanks to some huge combinations. 

Check out her routine from that competition below.


Video via USA Gymnastics

Chen Yile | China

Chen Yile is an up-and-coming gymnast for China, who has already shown that she is capable of great things, especially on bars and beam. At the 2017 Junior Japan competition, Chen placed third in the all-around (behind O’Keefe and Malabuyo) and first on bars, scoring a 14.166. She does beautifully pirouetting work in her bar routine.

Check out her routine below from the Junior Japan competition: 


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Chen Yile - Bars (14.166-1st), China - Event Finals, 2017 International Junior Japan

Kara Eaker | USA

Kara Eaker is one of the best beam workers in the world at the moment, and she is turning senior in 2018. Although she does not have any international experience yet, Eaker has showed beautiful gymnastics on the domestic stage and has had a quick rise to the elite world from the J.O. level, where she competed in 2016. At 2017 nationals, she placed first on beam with a huge 15.15. 

Eaker competes tough combinations on beam with nearly flawless execution. 

Check out her routine from Nationals below:


Video via USA Gymnastics

Li Qi | China

Another notable beamer is Li Qi from China, who is capable of competing with a 6.6 D-score. At the Junior Japan meet, she scored a 15.25 on the event in the all-around competition. Her routine includes a switch leap mount and beautiful mixed combinations, such as her switch leap to sheep jump to back handspring, and front aerial to split jump to Onodi to double stag. 

Check out her solid routine below from Junior Japan: 


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Li Qi - Beam, China - AA Competition, 2017 International Junior Japan


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Adeline Kenlin, USA

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Dear USA Gymnastics Community:I am writing to tell you that USA Gymnastics President and CEO Kerry Perry informed our Board of Directors last night that she will resign effective immediately. On behalf of the board, I want to thank Kerry for her leadership under very difficult circumstances. As you know, USA Gymnastics has been in the midst of a difficult and painful transition to ensure that the safety and interests of our athletes remain at the heart of our mission. While much as been accomplished over the past several months to stabilize the organization, we still face tremendous challenges as we all work to achieve fundamental changes to move our sport forward. We look forward to bringing in new leadership to build on the progress to date, and the board will immediately begin the search for an interim CEO. In the meantime, it has established a management committee to provide organizational oversight to maintain continuity in the day-to-day operations until an interim CEO is named. Additionally, the board is in the process of forming a search committee made up of board members, as well as athletes and others from the gymnastics and NGB community, to find our next permanent leader. Board member and Olympian Brent Lang, president and CEO of Vocera, will chair the committee. We will keep you informed as we work through our urgent leadership issues. I want to assure you that this board is determined to take the necessary steps to support a safe and competitive environment where every athlete can grow, learn life lessons, have fun and succeed. We know the last few years have been very difficult for everyone involved with USA Gymnastics, and we thank you for your patience and support through these challenging days. The athletes, parents, coaches, judges, volunteers, gym owners and USA Gymnastics staff are the heart and soul of USA Gymnastics, and we will do everything in our power to ensure that our athletes and everyone involved with our great sport and movement achieve their fullest potential. Sincerely,Karen GolzChair, Board of DirectorsUSA Gymnastics