Laura Zeng

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Laura Zeng
Full nameLaura Yihan Zeng
Country represented United States
Born (1999-10-14) October 14, 1999 (age 19)
Hartford, Connecticut, United States
HometownLibertyville, Illinois
DisciplineRhythmic gymnastics
ClubNorth Shore Rhythmics
Head coach(es)Natalia Klimouk
Assistant coach(es)Angelina Yovcheva
World ranking8 (2018 Worlds) [1]
6 (2017 Worlds) [2]
11 (
2016 Olympics)[3]
8 (
2015 Worlds) [1]

Laura Yihan Zeng (born October 14, 1999) is an American individual rhythmic gymnast. She is a 2016 Rio Olympian, the 2015 Pan American Games all-around champion and the 2014 Youth Olympic all-around bronze medalist[4]. She is also a multi-time medalist in world-cup competitions. At the national level, she is the four-time (2015–18) U.S. national all-around champion and two-time (2013-14) U.S. junior all-around national champion[5].

Personal life[edit]

Laura Zeng was born in Hartford, Connecticut and raised in Libertyville, Illinois where she attended Libertyville High School[6]. Her parents were immigrants from People's Republic of China, and her Chinese name is 曽昳晗(zeng yi-Han). After first studying Chinese dance and ballet, Zeng started rhythmic gymnastics at age 7 after her friend told her about it. Her older sister, Yecca Zeng (曾瞱昕) is a fashion designer at Victoria Secret[7]. Her favorite motto is: "Work hard and work smart". She doesn't seem to have a particularly favorite rhythmic gymnast as a role model[8]. She represented team USA in 2016 Rio Olympics Games as sole individual rhythmic gymnast when she was a high school sophomore[9]. In 2018, Laura graduated from high school as a Finalist of National Merit Scholar and is committed to Yale University. She continues her training at her home gym of the North Shore Rhythmic Gymnastics Center for 2020 Tokyo Olympics Games, taking gap years from college.

Career[edit]

Junior[edit]

Zeng appeared in international competitions in 2012, she won the gold in ribbon and silver in all-around at the 2012 Junior Pacific Rim Championships behind Canada's Patricia Bezzoubenko and won bronze in all-around at the 2012 Junior World Cup in Sofia, Bulgaria. In 2013, Zeng competed at the Gymnastik Schmiden International winning gold in all-around, hoop, clubs, ribbon and bronze in ball. She also won bronze medal as one-person team at junior World Cup at Lisbon. She won her first junior title at the 2013 US Junior National championships.

In 2014, Zeng started her season competing at the 2014 Rhythmic Challenge winning the all-around and the four event finals. She competed at the World Cup series in Lisboa, Pesaro and Minsk, she won numerous bronze and silver medals in the all-around, event finals and team competitions. At the 2014 Junior Pan American Championships, Zeng swept all gold medals (all-around, hoop, ball, clubs, ribbon) and won USA a spot in the 2014 Youth Olympic Games; Later on, Zeng defended her junior title at the 2014 US Junior National championships, placing 1st (all-around, hoop, ball), 2nd (clubs), 3rd (ribbon). Zeng was selected as the sole representative of United States at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China. She placed second in the qualification[10] and went on to take the all-around bronze in the finals with a total score of 56.750, just two hundredths behind Belarus’ Mariya Trubach who took the silver medal[11]. Zeng’s medal marks the first rhythmic gymnastics medal for the U.S. at an Olympic or Youth Olympic Games.

Senior[edit]

2015: Olympic Games Qualification[edit]

In February 2015, Zeng made her senior and international debut competing at the 2015 Moscow Grand Prix finishing 21st in the all-around. In March 6-7, Laura won 2015 Challenge Championship participated only by USA national team members. In March 27–29, Zeng competed at the 2015 Lisboa World Cup finishing 14th in the all-around. In April 10–12, she placed 11th in all-around among 56 competitors with a score of 68.40 at 2015 Pesaro World Cup in Italy. She also made Ribbon finals. In May 8–10, she competed at the Corbeil-Essonnes International Rhythmic Gymnastics Tournament and finished 3rd in all-around behind Russians Arina Averina and Dina Averina, she qualified to 3 event finals and won silver in clubs, bronze in ball and placed 4th in ribbon.

In June 25–27, Zeng won the all-around title as a first year senior in USA Nationals 2015 ahead of Jasmine Kerber. In apparatus finals, she won in Hoop, Clubs, and Ribbon titles. At the 2015 Pan American Games in July 15-20, Zeng swept the gold in the all-around with a total score of 64.575 points and all the apparatus finals[12], becoming the second American to win the all-around and all the apparatus finals at the Pan American Games since Mary Sanders in 2003[13][14]. Zeng was the most decorated athlete for the Pan Am Toronto [15]. In August 14–16, Zeng finished 15th in the all-around at the 2015 Sofia World Cup behind Spanish veteran gymnast Carolina Rodriguez with a score of 68.750. At the 2015 World Cup Final in Kazan, Zeng finished 10th in the all-around and qualified in ball finals finishing in 8th place. In September 9–13, Zeng competed in her first World Championships in Stuttgart and ranked 11th in qualifications. Zeng qualified to 1 apparatus final finishing 7th in Clubs ahead of Korean Son Yeon-Jae. In the all-around finals; Zeng finished 8th with a total of 70.416 points, the highest finish for an American rhythmic gymnast, bettering the 10th place from Mary Sanders in the 2003 World Championships.[16] As a result, Zeng qualifies USA an individual spot in 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

2016: Olympic Games in Rio[edit]

In March 17–20 of 2016 Olympic season, Zeng competed at the 2016 Lisboa World Cup where she finished 7th in the all-around with a total of 70.150 points and qualified to 3 event finals placing 8th in clubs, hoop and 5th in ball. On April 1–3, Zeng competed at the 2016 Pesaro World Cup where she finished 19th in the all-around and qualified to clubs final finishing in 7th place[17]. On May 20–22, Zeng competed at the 2016 Minsk World Cup finishing 7th in the all-around with a total of 70.850 points, she qualified to 3 apparatus finals where she became the first American in history to win a medal in a World Cup series taking 2 bronze medals (hoop: 18.050, ribbon: 18.050) and placed 4th in ball[18]. Besides, this marked only the third time a country from the Americas finished on the podium at the FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics World Cup, after Canada in 1990 and Brazil in 2013. Later, Zeng also won her second consecutive Nationals all-around title. On July 8–10, Zeng then finished 11th in the all-around at the 2016 Kazan World Cup with a total of 70.900 points, she qualified to 3 apparatus finals in hoop (6th), clubs (5th) and ribbon (5th). On July 22–24, culminating the World Cup of the season in 2016 Baku World Cup, Zeng finished 11th in the all-around with a total of 70.350 points behind Azerbeijian's Marina Durunda, Zeng qualified to 3 apparatus finals placing 5th in hoop, clubs and 6th in ribbon. On August 19–20, Zeng competed at the 2016 Summer Olympics held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She finished 11th in the qualifications behind France's Kseniya Moustafaeva, narrowly missing the Top 10 in the rhythmic gymnastics individual all-around final. Zeng’s finish is the best for U.S. rhythmic gymnast since Valerie Zimring tied for 11th at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.[19]

2017: New Code in Post-Rio-Olympic-Games[edit]

In 2017 season, Zeng's first international competition after the Rio Olympic Games was at the 2017 Pesaro World Cup, and she finished 4th in all-around behind Belarus' Katsiaryna Halkina. She qualified all four event finals and earned her third and fourth career bronze medals for hoop and clubs in a World Cup series. She also finished 7th in ball and ribbon[20]. She then participated at the MTM Ljubljana International Tournament, Zeng earned 68.150 points and won the all-around gold medal. In event finals, She also took gold in clubs, hoop and ribbon and a bronze medal for ball[21]. On June 2–4, Zeng competed at the 2017 World Challenge Guadalajara Cup finishing 10th in the all-around, she qualified in 2 apparatus finals: placed 6th in ball and 5th in ribbon. At the 2017 USA Nationals held in June 27 – July 2, Zeng secured her third consecutive senior National all-around title. Zeng competed at the quadrennial 2017 World Games which was held in Wrocław, Poland from July 20–30, she qualified in 3 apparatus finals finishing 5th in clubs and 7th in ball and ribbon. On August 11-13, Zeng competed at the 2017 Kazan World Challenge Cup finishing 11th in the all-around behind Italy's Alexandra Agiurgiuculese. On Aug 30 - Sep 1 at the 2017 World Championships in Pesaro, Italy, Zeng finished 6th in the all-around besting her own 8th in 2015 Worlds as the best American gymnast record. She also made three apparatus finals where she finished fifth in clubs and ribbon and sixth in ball finals, which also marks the American records for both event finals participation and placement.

2018: Continued Code Changes for Open Difficulties[edit]

On April 27-29 in 2018 season, Zeng competed in Baku World Cup, where she finished 5th in the all-around with a score of 64.55 behind Bulgaria's Katrin Taseva. Zeng won a bronze medal in the hoop final, she also qualified in clubs and ball finals; finishing in fifth and eighth separately. In July 2018, Zeng competed and won USA Nationals AA title, which she has done in four consecutive years. She is the first USA gymnast to accomplish the feat in 40 years since Sue Soffe did it in 1979[22][23]. In preparation for World Championship, Zeng participated in Minsk World Challenge Cup (8/17-19), and Kazan World Challenge Cup (8/24-26). She finished in all-around 14th and 9th separately with scores of 66.400 and 69.150. On Sept. 10-14 2018 World Championships, Zeng was tenth in all-around qualification with best 3 of 4 routines. In the AA finals, Zeng finished eighth with a score of 73.250. She didn't make any event finals but was reserves for hoop, ball and clubs. This was third straight world championships when Zeng made top ten in the all-around. On Sept. 29-Oct 1, Zeng competed Pan American Championships with teammates Lily Muzuno and Nastasya Generalova. Zeng won AA gold with a score of 71.80 ahead of Mexcico's Marina Malpica. USA also won team gold to secure full team for 2019 Pan American Games. Zeng also swept four event golds in finals.

Achievements[edit]

  • First American rhythmic gymnast to win a medal (bronze) at a World Cup series (Minsk 2016, Pesaro 2017, Baku 2018).
  • First American rhythmic gymnast to win a medal in Youth Olympic Games (Nanjing 2014).
  • 2013–2018 USA all-around national champion (2013-14 junior, 2015-18 senior).
  • Swept all five gold medals in Toronto Pan American Games in 2015. She was the most decorated athlete for the game.
  • In Rio Olympic Games in 2016, she finished 11th, which tied the best performance by an American in an Olympics, missing finals by 1/10th point.
  • She holds the best finish in a World Championship by an American ever. She was 6th in the 2017 World Championships in Pesaro, besting her own record of 8th in the 2015 World Championships in Stuttgart.
  • First American rhythmic gymnast to qualify for three event finals in a world championship (clubs, ribbon, and ball in 2017 Worlds).
  • She holds best event finals finish by an American in a world championship (5th in ribbon and ball in 2017 Worlds).
  • She holds the best team finish in a World Championship by any American team ever. She, along with Evita and Camilla, finished 7th in the 2018 World Championships in Sofia.

Routine music information[edit]

Year Apparatus Music title [24]
2018 Hoop Magic Monkey Juice by Younger Brother
Ball They Don't Care About Us by Michael Jackson
Clubs Funky Monkey by Siedah Garrett, Carlinhos Brown, MichaelMutt, Davi Vieira
Ribbon Kairos by Derek Hough ft., Lindsey Stirling
2017 Hoop Earth Song by Michael Jackson
Ball Si Un Jour by Natasha Marsh
Clubs Games of Throne Title Theme by Ramin Djawadi
Ribbon Divine Moments Of Truth (Original Mix) by Shpongle
2016 Hoop Sonata No. 14 in C-Sharp Minor for Piano, Op.27:2 (Moonlight): 3. Presto Agitato by Jeno Jando, Georgii Cherkin
Ball Feeling Good by Jennifer Hudson
Clubs Boléro by Maurice Ravel
Ribbon Chez Les Yéyé (Boogalox Re-Work) by Serge Gainsbourg
2015 Hoop Sonata No. 14 in C-Sharp Minor for Piano, Op.27:2 (Moonlight): 3. Presto Agitato by Jeno Jando, Georgii Cherkin
Ball Tango by Dianne Reeves
Clubs Hip Hip Chin Chin by Club Des Belugas
Ribbon Zambra by Ojos De Brujo, Juno Reactor

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "FIG World standings for rhythmic gymnastics" (PDF). International Federation of Gymnastics. Retrieved April 14, 2015.
  2. ^ "FIG World standings for rhythmic gymnastics". International Federation of Gymnastics. Retrieved 30 August 2017.
  3. ^ "FIG World standings for rhythmic gymnastics" (PDF). International Federation of Gymnastics. Retrieved April 14, 2016.
  4. ^ "For Laura Zeng, Youth Olympic Medal Was Just One Step On Rhythmic Gymnastics Ladder". Team USA. June 24, 2014.
  5. ^ "Libertyville's Laura Zeng repeats at USA Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships". Libertyville Suntimes.
  6. ^ Team USA: "Laura Zeng" retrieved July 18, 2016
  7. ^ "Libertyville, Lincolnshire gymnasts find winning rhythm". Daily Herald. September 12, 2013.
  8. ^ "Who is... Laura Zeng". NBC Olympics. March 22, 2016.
  9. ^ "Libertyville's Laura Zeng honored after return from Rio". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved August 31, 2016.
  10. ^ "Passion keeps Rhythmic gymnast Laura Zeng spinning towards success". International Federation of Gymnastics. August 26, 2014.
  11. ^ "Laura Zeng Hopes To Lead Rhythmic Revolution". TEAM USA. August 27, 2014.
  12. ^ "Five gold medals for Laura Zeng in rhythmic gymnastics at Pan Am Games". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved July 24, 2015.
  13. ^ "Zeng completes gold medal sweep at Pan Ams". USA Gymnastics. July 20, 2015.
  14. ^ "Local rhythmic gymnasts make history in sport". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved December 5, 2015.
  15. ^ "Mikulak, Zeng nominated for Team USA's Best of July Award". August 3, 2015.
  16. ^ "Libertyville's Laura Zeng appears headed for 2016 Summer Olympics". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved September 25, 2015.
  17. ^ "Kudryavtseva the boss in Pesaro". International Federation of Gymnastics. April 4, 2016.
  18. ^ "Zeng wins two bronze medals at Minsk World Cup". NBC Olympics. May 22, 2016.
  19. ^ "Zeng finishes 11th in rhythmic gymnastics at 2016 Olympic Games". USA Gymnastics. August 19, 2016.
  20. ^ "Zeng wins two bronze at Pesaro World Cup". USA Gymnastics.
  21. ^ "Zeng wins four gold medals at MTM Ljubljana International Tournament". USA Gymnastics.
  22. ^ "Zeng's good luck rituals deliver fourth straight all-around title". USA Gymnastics. July 7, 2018.
  23. ^ "Unstoppable Laura Zeng Is First Rhythmic Gymnast To Win 4 U.S. All-Around Titles In Nearly 40 Years". Team USA. July 8, 2018.
  24. ^ "Zeng RG music list". rgforum.


External links[edit]