US Athletes Prepare for Return to Competition at friendly “Friendship and Solidarity Competition”
The world was watching as six U.S. gymnasts took part in a competition on Sunday, November 8th in Tokyo. The Friendship and Solidarity event was hosted by the International Gymnastics Federation and held at the Yoyogi National Gymnasium. The competition, which implemented strict COVID-19 safety protocols that could serve as a foundation for the Tokyo Summer Olympic Games, also featured gymnasts from China, Japan, and Russia.
This friendly competition allowed athletes to choose which events they wanted to participate in. Only the three highest scores recorded per event, per team were included in the teams’ overall scores.
American gymnasts eMjae Frazier, Shilese Jones, and Paul Juda competed with Team Solidarity, and with their international teammates, outscored Team Friendship and U.S. gymnasts Sophia Butler, Yul Moldauer, and Shane Wiskus by a score of 423.600 to 421.300.
The Russian men proved to be strong competitors earning individual top scores on the floor, vault, still rings, and All Around. For the American men, Shane Wiskus earned the third-highest score for the men on the floor exercise. Yul Modauer’s best performance was on the pommel horse and Paul Juda earned his highest score on vault. The American women all gave their strongest performances on vault and Shilese Jones’s double-twisting Yurchenko earned a score of 14.800 - the highest score earned by any gymnast in the competition. Russian gymnast, Angelina Melnikova, topped uneven bars, floor, and All Around while earning the second-highest score on each of the other two events.
With the input of athletes, out of an abundance of caution, U.S. officials canceled the 2020 premier event season in May in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. While the Friendship and Solidarity event was an exciting way for U.S. gymnasts to return to a competition environment, they will continue to work toward the 2021 season and the Tokyo Olympic Games.