JIANI WU: Because he’s a way older athlete, I was way younger. And he’s so short, and I’m so tall. [JESSICA LAUGHS] And I was beautiful and young, and I’m from Shanghai, he’s from way north, so nobody ever, ever would have think that we would have paired together. [JESSICA LAUGHS] So it was really kind of easy to hide. [LAUGHTER]
[EXPRESS YOURSELF INTRO MUSIC]
JESSICA: Today, growing up in China with Jiani Wu. This is episode 125 for October 21, 2014. I’m Jessica, from Masters-Gymnastics, and I’m your host of the number one gymnastics podcast in the entire world. Remember, we are running our contest, the song contest. We are going to make playlist out of all of your fantastic ideas for floor music that has never before been used, as far as you know. All you have to do is send us the name of artist and the song title. Send it to Gymcastic@gmail.com, and we will choose the wiJIANI WU: Because he’s a way older athlete, I was way younger. And he’s so short, and I’m so tall. [JESSICA LAUGHS] And I was beautiful and young, and I’m from Shanghai, he’s from way north, so nobody ever, ever would have think that we would have paired together. [JESSICA LAUGHS] So it was really kind of easy to hide. [LAUGHTER]
[EXPRESS YOURSELF INTRO MUSIC]
JESSICA: Today, growing up in China with Jiani Wu. This is episode 125 for October 21, 2014. I’m Jessica, from Masters-Gymnastics, and I’m your host of the number one gymnastics podcast in the entire world. Remember, we are running our contest, the song contest. We are going to make playlist out of all of your fantastic ideas for floor music that has never before been used, as far as you know. All you have to do is send us the name of artist and the song title. Send it to Gymcastic@gmail.com, and we will choose the winners at random. Your music can even have lyrics in it. It does not have to be lyric-free. The prizes include a whole box of chalk from the P&G Championships, a shirt from the P&G Championships, and official water bottle from P&G Championships, an official towel with a carrying case. You will look so awesome going into gym carrying that around. The deadline is November 1, so get those in as fast as you can.
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JESSICA: Today’s interview with World and Olympic medalist Jiani Wu is brought to you by TumblTrak. Years ago, I coached for this women who was in her mid-to-late 50s, and I noticed that she started doing, like, a billion back handsprings every night after the kids went home. And she kept doing it, and kept doing it. And I finally, I asked her, like, “Why are you doing all these back handsprings at the end of the night?” And she told me that every year on her birthday she does the number of back handsprings that are equal to her age. So she was doing conditioning for her birthday back handsprings. So this year, I decided that that was what I was going to do. 40 flips for my 40th birthday. So thank goodness the gym that I go to has a TumblTrak. Because my body was not going to do 40 flips, all on the floor, all in one night. I had so much fun, you guys. I could not stop giggling. I danced around in between my turns. I took giant…a couple of giant flops onto my back, just because that’s fun. I got in all 40, I got them all done, thanks to my beloved TumblTrak. Find out more about how you can do more reps with less stress all year round at tumbltrak.com. That’s T-U-M-B-L-T-R-A-K.com. TumblTrak. Do it again.
[CHANGE OF SUBJECT BLIP]
JESSICA: Jiani Wu was born in Shanghai, China. This was back when China was a closed society, kind of like Cuba is now. She was one of the first athletes ever allowed to go outside of the country and compete. She was invited to the national training center by mistake–which you’ll hear all about, it’s crazy–but she kept her spot in the national training center anyways because she was that awesome. And she made the national team by the time she was 11. She would have been on the 1980 Olympic team that competed in Moscow–well, I guess technically she was, but, China boycotted. So instead she got to take on awesome trip which you will hear about in this interview. She was five time Chinese national champion. She’s a world championship bronze medalist on beam in 1981, and in 1984 she competed at the Olympic Games in Los Angeles and won a bronze medal with her team. She and her husband own Legacy Elite Gymnastics outside of Chicago. They have coached world silver medalist Mackenzie Caquatto, and Pan American Games triple gold medalist Bridgette Caquatto. They are both now national champions at the University of Florida. And of course they coach their daughter, 2012 Olympic alternate Anna Li.
Okay, first thing we have to discuss is Gabby Perea. Because you were so excited during her bar routine, and her bar routine is so amazing. So, tell us about why you’re so excited at Classics.
JIANI WU: Okay, one, it’s because she was a very young junior and we are kind of injured before we get into this meet. We know we’re not going to Championships this year because she pulled her hamstring three weeks before. So, and so at least was healthy enough she could do one event. But it was just in the home town. So we were excited for that. At least she can do one event. And the reason we were so excited for her is because at America’s Classic, which is three weeks before, she pulled her hamstring. We did a really good competition except for bars. Because this is a big bar routine for this little age. You know, she’s only 12. And so, it’s a pretty big skill for her, and putting it together, it’s really challenging. So we kind of share the [INAUDIBLE] for quite a bit of time. And then she didn’t do well in the American Classics. And so, since we got a chance to compete at the US Secret Classic, and she could only do one event, so we really wanted her to do well. And to build her confidence back so we know she could do this bar routine. And that’s why we were so excited. [LAUGHS]
JESSICA: Definitely. I was watching you, I was like, “Oh my God. Danell Leyva’s dad, like, Yin Alveraz has nothing on you now.” That was so awesome to see you so excited and jumping around.
JIANI WU: Yeah. I just think, because she’s worked hard for this and we know this is her last routine for this year, this season, you know, we just have to retrain, rebuild, and rest her hamstring to build up for next year. So we really wanted to do well, especially knowing that she didn’t do well at the last meet on this event. And we really want her to hit, to end on a good note for this year. Even if she only does one event. That’s why we were very excited when she made it.
JESSICA: Yeah, and it was awesome. She did a great job. And I loved Yuejiu afterwards, just with his arms open, like, “Yes! You did it!”
JIANI WU: [LAUGHS] Yeah.
JESSICA: A big hug.
JIANI WU: Yeah, we were excited.
JESSICA: So, okay, let’s go back in time now and talk about where you grew up and about your gymnastics training back in China. So, you know, the story that we get, as you know, because you’ve watched all the gymnastics on TV all the years that you’ve lived here, is they always say on American TV that “The Chinese are picked from the cradle and ripped from their parents’ arms, and start training when they’re still in diapers!” You know. I’m exaggerating. But you know.
JIANI WU: [LAUGHS] That’s right.
JESSICA: [LAUGHS] So tell us how it was for you. When did you start gymnastics, and when did you go to the training center?
JIANI WU: Okay. I started gymnastics when I was like, seven years old. And I was first grade. And they come to, for that gym at that time, it’s not that popular with the gymnastics. Everything is just starting with our country. And for our age of gymnastics, there were little clubs to go to. There were a couple of, like, in the city–not even the city, it’s called, it’s a recreation place. But it’s still in a government building, so it’s only, every city only has field clubs like this, for space training gymnastics, diving, and acrobatics. So all the space is for that. So when they come to school, like elementary school to take the kids. So they take about, I’d say, 30-40 kids. They just look, look your height, look at your weight, look at your…try to do some kicks, try to show some running. It’s a very, very basic test. And okay, “You, you, you, you, you. You guys come to the training center.” That place for testing, training. Sort of like trial training. So after three months of the trial training, I got accepted there, and they sent probably 20 of them home [LAUGHS] for that. And they were just training us, just like we go to regular school. After school we go walk to the–there’s not much, like, car, driving, so we walking for about a half hour after school to that place. We’re training for 2-3 hours, like two times a week. Then they added three times a week. And by the time a year and a half the training, and they kicked some people out to go home again, at about a year. And then they kept me, I think, because I was pretty flexible. And I was little. And so it’s good. But by the time a year and a half later on, train more, and then Shanghai, that’s where I’m from, the city team come to this place to pick like gymnastics was the first pick, and then diving, and then acrobatics. They all pick from these basic training. That time we’re training really basic gymnastics.
JIANI WU: And they just told me, you’re a great spotter, you can learn twisting, you can do tumbling, bars, like casts, very basic stuff. And at first gymnastics team didn’t pick me because I wasn’t as strong. I didn’t have that much skill, and I wasn’t that strong. And so they did not pick for me gymnastics. [JESSICA GASPS] Actually, the acrobatics saw me, and they wanted me on top. The hand-hand acrobatics on top.
JIANI WU: Because I was flexible, and beautiful, and could add to it. And then because the Chinese Shanghai gymnastics and acrobats train in the same gym. In the CDP. And now they heard the acrobats want me, and they say, “No, we don’t want to give up.” So they decided that they want me. That’s how I go to the Shanghai City team for training with one of my other friends. And after training for another year, so that would be three years of gymnastics. So, most leave the national team before, when they come to city, state, province to pick kids. They already take the kids who compete, already have some kind of result in the competition in the juniors. But this somehow, that generation, we had, they decided to take one group as some kind of talent to go to training center early for training.
JIANI WU: So we’re pretty much the first group, as young kids. To already go to training center to live there, training. And when they come to pick, the national team comes through, they didn’t pick me. Because I wasn’t that strong again, like I wasn’t that strong, steady, powerful kid.
JIANI WU: I was just pretty, flexible, beautiful. So, they pick my teammate. And somehow when they come to pick, when they go back, when they send the invitation down, the name, they got them mixed up, me with my friend’s name.
JESSICA: [GASPS] No way!
JIANI WU: So, yeah. I was just kind of lucky. So they already told me, and then they realized I was the wrong kid. Then they feel bad, and they said, “Okay, we’ll take both kids to try.” That’s how I got into national training.
JESSICA: Oh my God! That’s crazy!
JIANI WU: Yeah. And then, when we’re in the training center for three months, they, most the people, most the coaches, “Oh, we need to send her back. Because she really can’t keep up her strength.” The power, the talent that they look for. Because I really wasn’t that powerful at the time. And Anna or Nastia when they’re young, I’m not powerful, so I’m washing out. I don’t have skill. And it’s, and a couple of times they want to send me back. But one of my coach, which, right now, she’s an Australian coach. She’s [INAUDIBLE], she’s still coaching there, I don’t know where exactly. [LAUGHS] And she used to say, “This kid worked so hard, I want to keep her, she’s a great kid.” A couple of times like that, they’re like, “Okay, we’re going to keep her. We’ll let her try.” So then I have, fractured my foot. So they really want to send me home because, “There you go, she can’t train anymore.” You know, she’s hurt. So my coach carried me to the gym every day for a full month without my foot. I did conditioning because that’s all I can do, all conditioning. For the whole month. And then after that, they test the squad, I’m on the top. [LAUGHTER] So after the intersquad. So then of course, some people say, “Oh, she’s just lucky, she just got this far.” And then I went to the early Championships, which is now late in August and October, and I remember it was like in April-May. It’s not even, it’s kind of a regional meet, it’s only a couple, you know. So they call it a regional meet. And I won again. And they said, “Oh, that didn’t count, because that’s not everybody.” [JESSICA LAUGHS] And by the end of the, the eighties, the national championships, I won. And–[LAUGHS] And that’s why they kept me. Because they kept wanting to send me home. I just keep working. I don’t understand. I just keep working, worked hard. Never complained, never seen. And I’m the one who’s national champion. My team mate actually eventually went home. [JESSICA GASPS] [INAUDIBLE]
JESSICA: Oh my God, that’s crazy!
JIANI WU: That’s how my story is to get into gymnastics and to catch them. They’re from 80 on, I’ll do pretty, real well.
JESSICA: So would you have been considered for the 1980 Olympic team had China not boycotted.
JIANI WU: Yes, I am. We came to America. We came to America to Hartford for the 30 country friendship meet. I was on that team.
JESSICA: Awesome. So what was that experience like? Because I remember watching videos of you from that time, and when you came to the US, people were freaking out over your bar routine. Like, they were gasping like they had never seen anything like that before. What did you think, and what did you think of the people?
JIANI WU: Well, I, I loved it. Because we’re so sheltered in only training, and our country just opened up to championships like in ’79. ’78. Somewhere in there. Really late. So we’re from shelter, so when I come out of the country to compete, come to America, I was amazed how loud it is here. So loud. Because we train so quietly. Our national competitions, when you’re done with a routine, people clap. That’s it. You know?
JIANI WU: You never hear the vocal, that loud. And we briefly had a hard time. But I’m a sort of competitor. Like, it’s very–I always perform better at a meet. Because I’m not strong, I was really quiet, so the adrenaline kicks in and I do better, because I had more power. So it didn’t really bother me, for that competition was so loud. So incredible, people were screaming, yelling, fans that were so–enjoyed it, I loved it! [JESSICA LAUGHS]
JESSICA: Awesome. So, was anything different because China didn’t compete for so long. We had no idea what was going on there, and all of a sudden you guys emerged and were just incredible. Was there a difference between how you competed and how you guys trained, like in ’78 before you knew for sure that you were going to go to the World Championships and the Olympics, and then after that when you were definitely knew that the Olympics and World Championships in ’84 and ’83 were on the table for you? Did training change, or did everything stay the same?
JIANI WU: Everything stayed the same. Except the only thing that changed is we tried to make the noise in the gym when we work out.
JESSICA: Ah ha.
JIANI WU: It was so funny. Because, after coming from America in ’80 and even ’79 World Championships, which I was young for that one. I started in ’80. And when they come home, “Oh my God, the audience, especially when you come to America”–that’s where World Championships were, in America in ’79, in Texas. “They were so loud!” But before we compete at the ’81 World Championships we were like, having people hold can and put coins in it or a little horn, and the coach would literally, everybody would in the gym, in the squad, would make noise in the gym. While we’re trying to intersquad in the gym. They tried to make that sound so loud…
JIANI WU: …to break up your focus. That’s the only thing that I noticed was different in our training. That’s why we’re young too, you know. That’s how we know the difference. And of course the training number increased, because that’s how we were brought up. You know, you get a number in the training, so to be consistent, and, and not much different how we’re training, because we always kind of know if we watch Nadia Comaneci in 1976, we know that, but we’re not allowed to do that. But at first, I know gymnastics from Nadia Comaneci. Who–1976. When I started gymnastics was 1977. And that’s the only people I kind of in my mind, I know. Gymnastics. I don’t even know what it is. [LAUGHTER] But, but it’s just the training, the only thing that was different was to try to make loud noise in your competition.
JESSICA: No wonder that never bothered you, then. Because I remember in ’84, you were, like, on beam and literally it’s so loud, I was like, “Oh my God, is the camera shaking right now?” Like, how is she doing her routine? But it makes sense. Because you were used to that, because they added that in training.
JIANI WU: Yeah, we had done it. [LAUGHS] We practiced that, trying to distract you. You had people try to go up and make noise. I think about it, it was so funny, my time really make, any possible thing could happen in the meet and then do in the practice.
JESSICA: So what was daily life like when you were training at the training. Like, what time did you get up in the morning, what were your morning workouts like, what was school like, all that stuff. Like, a day in the life.
JIANI WU: Well, when I was, yeah, when I went to the city team, we go in on Sunday night, and you go out to go to school. We’re not, we can walk to the public school, actually. When I started gymnastics. That Shanghai team. And we walked to the school in the morning and after the training. And that’s what I was in Shanghai. But when I go to the actual training center, we have three days off four day training. Every morning at six o’clock we have morning training. So three hour training when you have all day training. We go six in the morning to 7:30 or 8. And then we got breakfast, you rest for a little bit, and then you go back at nine in the morning. And you train until about 12:30 and then you go lunch and have a nap. We were always brought up with a nap.
JESSICA: Nap is fantastic. I love naps, I think they’re very important. [LAUGHS]
JIANI WU: And we don’t have [INAUDIBLE] yet. And then about 2:30 or 3, it depends. Normally 2:30 you go to the evening session til 6:30 or 7, depending how good that day you are. Or you end. Never a set day or time to be done. And then in the evening you had do your rest, and homework, and reading, and be social for a little bit. And then every other day you get up in the morning and go to school. You get up at six in the morning. You go to morning Shanghai like running, conditioning, handstand, back. We always did that every morning, every single morning. And then you go to school from 8:30 to 12. And then you go nap again.
JIANI WU: And then you go to afterwards to afternoon training. So every other day, one full day training, one half day training. You pick half day or full.
JESSICA: Oh, that’s nice. I like that. Okay, so tell me about beam. Because I’m sure you guys do, you did some kind of magic on beam that no one else in the world does, that everyone should implement. Because beam was just so easy for you, you were just always so incredibly consistent on beam. Did you guys do things like learn how to walk on your hands every single direction on beam, or, you know, have people trying to shove you off while you were doing a series? [JIANI WU LAUGHS] Like, how did you get so good at beam?
JIANI WU: Well, I did have a good coach. It still comes down…well, of course each kid’s different. I am, I love beam. And I’m not afraid of beam. That’s the key. I hear the kids that do well on beam, you’re not afraid of beam. The key to not being afraid of beam is, we do lots and lots of basic travel, basic training in gymnastics. Because we’re not here in America, where you’re every level, level 3, level 4. So when you start gymnastics, parents want to see results in competition. We don’t that back at our home.
JIANI WU: We’re just training with basics. You have a lot of the first two, three years where you’re not competing at all. You just train basics. You have time to fill up lots and lots of basic complex. Lots of repeating back handsprings. Handstand drills. Like, I think–you could complex on beam hours and hours…
JIANI WU: That’s how much we had beam work. And we’re not rushing, like you want to compete right away. I want to go to the next level, and I want–level 7, level 8, we don’t have that. And so in basic training instead the goal is the skills, because we don’t have to level like in the US. And it’s the JO program–we don’t have.
JESSICA: So what happens–just, you train to be an elite, and that’s it, nothing else?
JIANI WU: Yeah. That’s–now, a little bit more, have–they still have a…like a juniors. Not really junior, and like a child. Child, then junior, then senior. Pretty much these. Now in the–you have a team. Like how you’re still in the beginning. The gymnastics in the first two years, three years, they do have small competitions now more than before at that time. So they have a little bit of age group that competes, like a children’s level, that’s it. And so now they have some of that. And then you have the seniors that they hand pick at that time. They’re not club, anybody can go anywhere you want. Now they have skills–I think China wants to go that direction, like America. So you have a more popular gymnastics. Because they have many people doing gymnastics at compete, like Americans…
JIANI WU: JO program. Yeah, no. So because they hand pick to good, if they’re no good, you’re just done. [LAUGHS] And then you move on. And so it, it doesn’t have the popularity of gymnastics like Americans or ten different levels to go. And college scholarships and things like that. So you pretty much just train for that direction and, so that’s a big difference. That’s how America gets stronger and stronger, because more and more other countries have less people doing gymnastics.
JIANI WU: In the system. So they tried to change the way it went, I don’t know. Because you want more people to do it, so there’s more talent. So whenever they found the talent, and that’s the [INAUDIBLE] push to develop.
JESSICA: Interesting. So was there ever a time, at any time when you felt like, “I’m so burnt out, I want to quit this”? Or did you love it the whole time, every minute of it?
JIANI WU: Oh no. We had a burn out time too. You go in there, especially when you’re…I think a couple of stages. One is when you start to develop a little bit…
JIANI WU: …and your body changes, you know, that can really kick in. And this the stage where you struggle with skills, the skills are not easy and you’ve got to go every day. And they’re not making any difference, whether you training was adjusting anything. Because at that time it’s not as high tech as now. You know, you really try to watch good nutrition, go to bed. We don’t–our gym at that time, you could be thin, and work. So it’s not even too much of a–they just weigh you, and not teach you how to nutrition. Not like now.
JIANI WU: It’s really different. But, you know. So there were times definitely that were hard, I was struggling, hard not getting skills, it’s so hard. And then you always know what your goal is. And to our generation, it is a good future for you, for your family too. Now it’s completely different. The family, they’re, most of them have a little bit wealthy and so they don’t have to use the sport for their future anymore. Because people can do business now. Our gym at that time, nobody did business. And so it was kind of a job.
JESSICA: So did you…
JIANI WU: The whole country changed, a bit different. And also, I, we at the time, feel we have a better future when we’re in doing gymnastics.
JESSICA: And did you ever, like…
JIANI WU: And then…
JESSICA: Did your parents ever say, like, “You’re definitely going to stay in this?” Or you just knew, like, “This is my way out for everybody in my family. Me and everybody, to make things better, so I’m going to stick with it.”
JIANI WU: It kind of was that, because our parents were never really involved. When I went to the training center for the how many years there, I probably see them four times. And so then they completely, completely not involved at all–how we do it, what we do, whether we have injury or not. My parents really don’t know. If we don’t tell them, can’t tell them, nobody will tell them.
JIANI WU: Unless of course it’s so serious, the injury, for you have to be done with gymnastics. They don’t know when I’ve broken a foot, they don’t know my back’s fractured. They don’t know. We’re just training, and if they call the doctor trainers, and they take care of it. So we, it’s easier for us to write a letter, because we don’t have a cell phone at that time. No phone. You have to use a public phone to try to make a phone call in the training center. And it’s not that easy, so we just got lazy and tired and we don’t even write a letter that much anymore. [LAUGHTER] Now the kids get–you know, this guy said their cell phones, they–it’s completely different. [LAUGHS]
JESSICA: Was this in the days when there was no cars either? Like, everyone walked or rode a bike everywhere?
JIANI WU: Yeah. Except I don’t know how to ride a bike that well. [LAUGHTER]
JESSICA: You were…
JIANI WU: You would have laughed at me.
JESSICA: That’s shocking!
JIANI WU: I know! Because I think I was young…it was different, I was so young and went to the training center. So I wouldn’t have the trainer teaching me, back when I started gymnastics, I would always, we would always, gymnastics. We had school, and then go to training center, just training. Of course, we’d play around, we’d learn a little bit ourselves, but never brave enough to go ride on a street. I was so scared. So, I’m the only one of the Chinese people who doesn’t ride a bike. That’s okay, hm?
JIANI WU: Anna’s not too good either. She just got her bike now, she’s not riding. [LAUGHTER]
JESSICA: [LAUGHING] Oh my God. So one thing you talked about was getting burnt out, you know, in that time when your body’s changing and…
JIANI WU: One of the ages, yeah. And the other time is when you have that injury and they try to say–the ’83 is a life, it was a rough year because… From ’80, ’81, ’82, was kind of my peak time, when I was doing very well. ’83, I have so much injury. I have stress fracture, I have stress fracture in my foot, all the metatarsals in my feet, and like, just quite a bit of injury. I have a hard time to keep up. And that time I was so ready, wanted to be done. But I think that my husband at that time was kind of encouraging me, because we’d met the boys team. And a kind of secretly started dating.
JESSICA: Oooh, secret romance!
JIANI WU: So he actually really helped me with that ’83-’84, that time to get through and try to pick up on the major team. Because otherwise I almost want to give up. Because I was in so much pain, so hard. Just eh. It was not a pretty time. But I worked through it. [LAUGHS QUIETLY]
JESSICA: I would never know from watching your routines, like in ’84. Because the yurchenko loop–which we all know should be named after you, because you were the first one to do it–
JIANI WU: Yeah.
JESSICA: –Internationally, but I guess your coaches…
JIANI WU: Yeah, right.
JESSICA: …didn’t turn that stuff in.
JIANI WU: Right.
JESSICA: It looked the same, as easy as it was five years before when you would do it.
JIANI WU: Oh, I don’t feel that easy. [LAUGHTER] Because my back was so broken at that time already. I could really… especially ’83, I really had a hard time. We used to have a compulsory, and we would have to do double feet, like a jam for the kip to high bar. I cannot train that skill to compete at competition time. ’83, the compulsory, because my back so bad. But yeah, by ’84 summer even, we did intersquad, which is a small competition, the small competition of the early season. I was in 23rd place.
JESSICA: Oh God.
JIANI WU: I feel like, yeah. I almost gave up at that time. And then, of course, my husband was like, “I’m still fighting it, you have to keep going, we both need to go there.” Like, “Let’s both make it.” So like kind of a little bit of motivation, that type of motivation to keep me going. [LAUGHTER] And we’re both saying it. Both, because he’s so old and everybody wants him to be done. To give up that spot. And he fought the whole time to listen too. Because that whole, his generation he’s the only one left in 1984. He made it to there.
JESSICA: So he would have been like 29, 28?
JIANI WU: Yeah, he’s old. Yeah, yeah.
JESSICA: You would have never known that! He looked like a little spritely dude with his triple backs and everything.
JIANI WU: Right, right, yeah.
JESSICA: So, how was the Olympics framed for you guys in China at the time? Was it, “It’s going to be us against the US and their crazy democracy!” Or was it, “This is going to be a great thing for China, we’ll show…” You know, for us everything was presented as us versus them and communists versus the United States. How was it for you guys there?
JIANI WU: Well, for us, because the way we’re brought up, we just want go out to represent China and just go and get medals. Have our flag fly and throw rice into the competition side. That’s the only thing in our mind is to do that. And I at the time just thought, not really… I think everybody’s personality is different, I can’t say I was young, I was 18. But our mind is only know doing gymnastics. So it never even, really for me, myself–I can’t talk for somebody else–it meant I don’t even think the politics and all that stuff. I don’t think about that. I just want to focus on myself and my gymnastics and go out there and enjoy it and do my best gymnastics for my country. And we all, we noticed there was lots of safety stuff, that they would talk about, like never go out by yourself, you don’t peak through the windows out. But that’s kind of safety stuff, and we always, I remember, they always talked about. But then I thought when going out of the country you do that…
JESSICA: So they told you, like, the United States was super dangerous, like, Los Angeles was really dangerous, you had to be careful?
JIANI WU: Not, not even saying just Los Angeles, because America is dangerous. They just said the Olympics, because you guys are China’s best athletes, so they wanted to protect us, so you had to be always following the safety rules. And with our gymnastics we were young, people listened and they followed rules. [LAUGHS] You don’t really be out. That’s the least, to me. I really, I was really at that time very immature with the real life out there. I don’t know that, besides just gymnastics.
JIANI WU: Some other people probably, they think a little more, you know? But I, I just–I know every time that I come to America I love it.
JIANI WU: [LAUGHS] I can’t realize at that time at all that I would end up live here. [LAUGHTER]
JESSICA: So what was the whole Olympic experience like for you? Was it what you hoped or were you just the whole time thinking, “Oh my God, everything hurts so much, just let me make it through this?” Or were you able to appreciate it and take it all in at any point?
JIANI WU: Well, definitely I was just very happy I didn’t give up. At the time I really, ’83, after ’83 I really wanted to give up because I, I really, it’s so hard on the body. But nobody makes us stop. It’s not my coach making me have to make me have to do this, not my parents make me. It’s–you already know, you’re so close. The first time we got boycotted, we didn’t really experience the whole Olympics. We still would represent a country to go out and compete, and we won that in ’82. And then finally we’re that close to the Olympics. Because when you’re training gymnastics, you know the Olympics, that’s the goal, you want to go. And you know it’s already right there. And you kind of automatically, you kind of really try push through, really try to go. So it’s definitely not… I really think it’s, I’m glad I went through and I made it there. And that’s why there’s no regret, or why things like bodies do so much for this. And I think if I could do it again, I would do it again. I know I still have some kind injury pain, stuff like that, but that’s still, I like to do it. I finished. I reached my goal to get there, and there’s now the fact that you make a gold medal, a silver medal, bronze medal, whatever it is. For your just being there! And it’s the best thing ever…
JIANI WU: …when you stand up on the floor, it doesn’t matter what country you represent. You are on an Olympic floor. That is the best feeling ever.
[YOU’RE A GRAND OLD FLAG INSTRUMENTAL PLAYS]
JESSICA: You used this really patriotic music, which I don’t even know the name of, but maybe you know the name of it?
JIANI WU: Yeah! It’s America, and–we really did pick that. And my teammate and I made this routine.
JESSICA: Oh really?!
JIANI WU: Yeah.
JESSICA: I have to say your choreography was incredibly on point. [JIANI WU LAUGHS] I mean, when it starts, like “Dah dah dah dah for the red, white, and blue…” you did the march from side to side.
JIANI WU: Yeah, yeah.
JESSICA: I was like, “Oh my God, it’s perfect!” And the crowd totally got into it. I mean, it totally worked!
JIANI WU: Yeah. That’s the reason we picked it, that’s the reason we picked this music, because it’s American. And we want the audience to like it. [LAUGHS] That’s the motive, the reason I picked this music.
JESSICA: It totally worked.
JIANI WU: They loved it.
JIANI WU: And now coaches pick to help us and read it because we’re older, we’re really want to do our routine and then we did it and everyone loved it.
JESSICA: That is so cool!
JIANI WU: I was glad we performed there. Yeah, yeah. And that was exciting, yeah. [LAUGHTER]
JESSICA: So when you came back and you won the team medal, bronze, at the ’84 Olympics, was this–I mean, and you’d already won a medal at Worlds in ’81, the team and the beam medal that you won. Were you a huge celebrity then when you came back? Or is that even a thing? Or was it after the Olympics it was like, you’re famous.
JIANI WU: Oh, I’m already kind of famous since 1980. Since–because I was national champion already. And then I went to Hartford with the–because, even though we didn’t compete in the Olympics, it’s a big thing where we won the team title at Hartford, Connecticut, right?
JIANI WU: Yeah. We were home, I think huge celebrating already because we knew our team’s strong, we won a gold, went home. And then in ’82 I was really sure at the Asian Game too. And I–I’m was pretty famous back there in the gymnastics field and also China. The early ’80s is kind of more popular where people have a tv at home. So we are on tv a lot.
JIANI WU: And so actually we’re really really famous back then. Already. Before even going to the Olympics.
JESSICA: And did it change your day-to-day live because you, you were at the training center, so did it really change things for you? Or were you constantly doing interviews? How did it affect you when you went back? Was there a parade in your honor, were people there waiting for you when you got off the plane?
JIANI WU: No. That time, we’re still–the coaches and the administrators with the national team, they’re the ones who had to schedule it all. It had to be approved by them before we could do anything. So we’re not supposed to just go out any time to do this. No. They all have to schedule it through by them.
JESSICA: Ah ha.
JIANI WU: Yeah. And then after the ’84 Olympics–because I was injured trying to warm up. So when I come home, I pretty much want to be done.
JIANI WU: Anyway, so yeah. It’s a little bit different. And I went back to the city team. Just kind of hang out for a bit, they still wanted me to be competing for a few years. And I didn’t. Because we’re trying to plan to be with my husband. So that I could just be done. If I, if I have to say, if I’m not injured at that meet, I’d probably hang around for another meet, for another year. Going out on the second team. So you get to go to a small meet to go out of the country. I never really got a chance to do that, because I was on the first team and usually you only prepare for the Worlds, the big events, not the small meets. So we don’t get to go out of country that much. Go out of country. But the second team gets to go more fun places. So I was kind of planning on doing another year, if I’m not injured.
JESSICA: How did it work with you–we hear about different countries, and especially the communist countries, take care of their athletes. Basically you’ve been a professional all of your life, so you win a medal or whatever, you get a pension, you get a house or whatever. Did you have some kind of money to take care of you? Or did you not need that because it was a totally different society and you were taken care of, or how did it work?
JIANI WU: Yeah, the whole society is different now, it’s different. Now it’s all money. They all have a bonus, money, everything. Our time, we still have one beautiful big certificate [LAUGHTER] and some, I think remember I got a Vantec [ph] stereo. And today, a stereo from one of a company, or like so–because it just started. Like, the China country just started to have to open up a bit. And we so we got a really, really, really small portion of the money. Like, you cannot compare anything right now. I think at that time we’re so excited. [LAUGHTER]
JESSICA: Like, “A stereo! Yes!” [LAUGHS]
JIANI WU: It was! It was beautiful. I remember I put it in my dorm. I love it! And all the other gymnasts come, “Wow! It’s huge!”
JESSICA: [LAUGHS] That’s so cool! I love that.
JIANI WU: Yeah. And it had a little name on it, like a, to congratulate you for your ’84 win. So that’s funny. And now, it’s pathetic. [INAUDIBLE] [LAUGHS]
JESSICA: [LAUGHS] That’s so cool! So did you–
JIANI WU: Like a boom box, it’s like a boom box.
JESSICA: Yeah, yeah.
JIANI WU: Yeah.
JESSICA: I remember those! We’ll have to put a picture up for some of our listeners who don’t know what we’re talking about, but I totally remember it. So, did you have–you had a secret romance happening this whole time. So tell us how this romance first began! We have to hear the story.
JIANI WU: Oh my gosh. Oh, okay. Well, because we know, they don’t allow the dating. And if they do find out one you gets sent home.
JESSICA: [GASPS] Oh!
JIANI WU: Yeah. So we’re not, and nobody really really really would have suspected that we had one. Because he’s way older, I’m way younger. And he’s so short, and I’m so tall. [JESSICA LAUGHS] And I was beautiful and young, and I’m from Shanghai, and he’s from way north. So nobody ever, ever would have thought we would have paired together. So it was kind of easy to hide. [LAUGHTER] So… so then before the Olympics we were kind of going to get together, started dating. Not really dating, [INAUDIBLE]. We don’t go out on dates–there’s no…
JESSICA: You can’t go out anywhere together.
JIANI WU: No, yeah. And so we will just see each other. In gym, he’s at the gym, he’s a little different, but we have to keep it a secret. He even kept the secret to his coach. Even, even though he’s older, he’s allowed to date. But he should [INAUDIBLE] our dates, meet a girl he’s not training with. So. So then right after the Olympic Games, he told his coach. Right at the village, he did. And when it opened up, everybody was shocked. [LAUGHTER]
JESSICA: And then how’s it–wait. You guys weren’t allowed to date anyone? Not just, it wasn’t just you couldn’t date other gymnasts in the…?
JIANI WU: When you’re on the national training center for gymnastics, in that time, you’re not allowed to date.
JESSICA: Oh my God! So was he your first kiss ever? [JIANI WU LAUGHS] Is that top secret? Never mind! You don’t have to answer! [LAUGHS]
JIANI WU: No…You do kind of secretly date sometimes here and there.
JESSICA: Good. Good. I’m glad, I’m glad. I’m glad. That’s what Boginskaya told us too, at their training center. You know, these…
JIANI WU: Yeah. Yeah, we had a lot of fun. Yeah, we were, he didn’t really know that much, he was trying to teach me. You know, we’re on the same floor, only our rooms are separate in the dorm, the door. [JESSICA LAUGHS] But–
JESSICA: Good, good, I’m glad. That’s more like normal kids, that’s good. So how–
JIANI WU: Yeah, that part–I think I remember one time we were, when we were, when you’re was this age, well you do that. [LAUGHTER]
JESSICA: Exactly, exactly. [LAUGHS] So how soon after you came back did you guys get engaged? Or do you get engaged there? Is that a thing? Or did you just decide to get married?
JIANI WU: Not really, we don’t have that. We just verbally say it. We don’t really–Now they do, before there really wasn’t much engagement, like a ceremony. No, we just know we were dating, and we just knew that we wanted to get the wedding set. [LAUGHS]
JESSICA: And how did it happen that you guys ended up in the United States? Did you have to, like, sneak out the middle of the night in snow and cross the border, like Nadia did–
JIANI WU: No, no, no, no. Nadia was a bit different. We are not–actually, my husband, when we were finished training, I went back to school actually, back to junior high and a college, a sports college school. And he actually got invited to coach the Canada team, the Canada national team. He was there for two years. He was coaching at the ’87 Worlds?
JESSICA: That’s so long! Two years, ugh!
JIANI WU: Yeah. After the first year, he did so well that he actually agreed to have that team invite me. So we hurried up and go home, got married–he hurried up and came home, and we got married. And then we both moved to Canada.
JESSICA: Oh, good, good, good.
JIANI WU: I was in Canada about a year. And then when we, they still wanted to keep us there, but we had to wait for our green cards. So we actually went to third country to wait for green cards. That’s how I came to America. We went to America, Mississippi, by one of my friends who was working there. In Mississippi. We were there a half year waiting for Canada green cards.
JESSICA: Oh my God.
JIANI WU: After a half year, our green cards still did not come down, and people know us in America. So they start inviting us to clinics and giving camps, stuff like that. And how–Howard sometimes, do you know him? He used to, was coaching [INAUDIBLE] Gymnastics. With Carly, actually, at that time. So anyway, so he invited back to LA and to get a whole, whole month clinic, camp and clinic, and then people started offering us jobs. Then we decided, “Okay, we’ll [INAUDIBLE].” He offered us this job, and then we’re, okay, “A half year, we still haven’t gotten our green card. We’re going to stay. [LAUGHTER] We’ll take jobs here.” So. And we told our friends, “Pack all our stuff and ship it over from Canada.”
JESSICA: So you never went back to Canada?
JIANI WU: That’s how we came here.
JESSICA: That was it.
JIANI WU: We never went back to Canada. That was it. Yeah.
JIANI WU: And then we’re here.
JESSICA: So what was the hardest thing about getting used to coaching American gymnasts? And basically, a gymnastics system where it’s voluntary, and it’s for money, and they kind of have to have fun. And–I mean, it’s so different. How did you get used to that?
JIANI WU: Okay. First, I’m honest here. At first our language is not even that well. And it’s only very simple words. So, we’re not coaching in Vegas, and when I started coaching in Vegas we thought we were just coaching. And we don’t anything about American system for club has to make money, club has to go to competitions. Club has–every club at the competition gets all the kids a new leo, we didn’t understand that part at all. So we were just coaching the kids. Then–and we don’t know how to coach American gymnastics at that time. And the club was really wanting to get recreation team.
JIANI WU: You know, I don’t think that they have elite kids before. So with coaching, we’re working so hard with them, and many of the kids went from level 8 to elite in one year.
JIANI WU: My husband and I trained. And guess what? They quit. We’re shocked. “What happened? Why?” [LAUGHS] I thought they do better, what happened? [JESSICA LAUGHS] I didn’t understand the system here that time. We worked them hard. They’re afraid of skill on bars? We stand underneath the bars for hours until they go. We’re not just going to let you get off. So these first kids out here, they don’t know that.
JIANI WU: [LAUGHS] We kind of trained them the way how we trained.
JIANI WU: And then we’re slowly learning, “Oh, we have to deal with the parents!” [JESSICA LAUGHS] “They have to be happy too!” [LAUGHTER] That part’s different. It’s that part that is a challenge for me. To adjust, to learning it, it took quite a bit of time. To learn that part.
JESSICA: Yes. And how did it, for you both training Anna through elite, and then she went to college, and then she went back to elite, for Andy too, who–oh my God, the two of them! They look so much like you. When they’re both 12, they look exactly like you. I cannot believe it.
JIANI WU: Yeah.
JESSICA: Like, their movements, everything. They even have the same injury, the weird metatarsal fracture that Anna had–
JIANI WU: Right.
JESSICA: That you had the same thing.
JIANI WU: Yeah.
JESSICA: How–do you think you were more lenient on them because they were kids, and you want them to have fun? Or do you think you were harder on them, because you knew their potential? How was it for you, and how was is it still coaching Andy?
JIANI WU: Well, with Anna, it’s our first child, we both agreed, “My kid’s not going to gymnastics at all.” So we don’t want her to do gymnastics. So–when we just come to America, we really don’t have much money or anything. So, we carry Anna everywhere. So when she’s 17 days, we brought her to the gym. So she did grow up in the gym, but we never wanted her to do the training. Until she was five years old, and she saw people getting uniforms. She says, “I really wanted to wear these, I wanted that.” [JESSICA LAUGHS] So she wanted to be training. She–“I want to.” I was shocked, “She did not say that.” So–and that’s why she said she wanted to start training. [JESSICA LAUGHS] And then she the one always hard on herself. Never get [INAUDIBLE]. She really wanted it. So, she was the one, we didn’t training as unique child, we never did. And so we’re just going to train her as the level going, she’s a five, she’s doing it, until she’s twelve, she says, “Mom, I’m bored. Can I try elite?” I was like, “Oh, I guess.” [JESSICA LAUGHS] So that’s how she climbed the levels, became an elite, later I was bad too, and she tried–she was in high school, and then she did a couple years, and all the injuries so, and we really didn’t do that successful elite until she go to college–wanted to go to college. I really wanted the college, and then she finished college and she wants to do again. And I–my husband were strongly against. Because we know she had injuries, here there. A lot injury, and then one or two…but she just, really, she comes to the gym. And we fought a couple of times, and really didn’t help. And definitely was, [INAUDIBLE] help her get back into shape. More, she wants to.
JIANI WU: And then we kind of finally give in. And then that’s where she, she went all the way. So that’s, that’s amazing. That’s what determination and her, her commitment, made it for herself, you know? Nobody ever can make her do that. And she complete herself for that. We’re just helping. And now my younger one is a little different. She is a different personality. She loves life, she’s just social, she’s happy, she’s everything. Kind of very easy, to her she’s just happy. And then–I didn’t bring her to gym until she was four years old. ‘Cause I don’t want her to do it too. [LAUGHTER] And the first day she walks in the gym when she’s four years old, she loves it. [LAUGHS] But she never really determined to the top of it, elite, she just loves gymnastics. And then she’s really talented, she’s beautiful, and she just enjoys the sport. She even now training, she’s training level 10 now, she’s still, she loves gymnastics. Just loves gymnastics. So she’s not the hard one. Like Anna always looking up, so we’d be pretty stressed, because we’re trying to help her. You know, help her get the goal.
JIANI WU: But this kid, kind of oh my, she just enjoys, she loves gymnastics. Plays gymnastics. [LAUGHS]
JESSICA: And so why didn’t you want them to do gymnastics?
JIANI WU: Why don’t I want them?
JIANI WU: It’s just, I know the whole–I like them to do gymnastics as fun, not serious, competitive gymnastics.
JIANI WU: Because the way we’re brought up, how we trained through the injuries, stuff like that, I don’t want my kids to do that. But when I realized that, come here, US, and the kids did all start with the interest, the fun, to recreation, start. That’s okay for gymnastics. That’s how they start, because–so I figure it’s more healthier this way than when we trained. Now China’s four-year-olds will start training, I mean really pretty much serious training.
JIANI WU: And I, I–we both go through so much, and the way how we deal with injuries, and I don’t want to go through it with that part, that’s [INAUDIBLE]. But here, now I have all my friends start having kids in gymnastics now, just because it’s fun, and it’s overall exercise. And it’s more–each…I don’t know how to say the word–is…It’s not just years of training, like when I was young.
JESSICA: It can just be for fitness and for enjoyment, not just competition.
JIANI WU: Yeah. Right, right, that’s really good. And all the JO programs build up until you are training elite. And that’s different, you know? And then people do that and go for it.
JIANI WU: And I know my younger one, she is–she’s kind of [INAUIDBLE] or a glory, so she’s probably not in the elite route. But if she wanted to learn more skills and then do level 10, then we’ll come to do it. Because she’s getting a full scholarship–that’s the best thing ever for us.
JESSICA: Yeah, definitely.
JIANI WU: Yeah.
JESSICA: So, there’s two–I have a two part question for you about China’s potential, and then I have a gymnastics urban legend that I want you to tell us if this is true or not. And I’m going to start with this one because it leads into the next question. So, the urban legend is that–it’s Gymnastics Mythbusters that we do on this, so it’s the mythbuster question. The legend is that in China they don’t have the girls do leg conditioning. Like squats, and squat with weights or stuff like that because there’s a fear that their legs will build up too strong and bulky. And so they don’t do leg conditioning. Is this true, or was it true in your time?
JIANI WU: No. That’s not true. I did all leg conditioning that’s possible. [JESSICA LAUGHS] To help with tumbling. [LAUGHTER] I had a weight vest, I had weight ankle weights, I had arm weights, whatever the weights they could put on you, I wear that and do all types of conditioning. [JESSICA LAUGHS] Squats, run and hop, all. Even the kids now, they do all leg conditioning.
JESSICA: That’s what I thought. I thought that was the craziest thing I’ve ever heard in my life. Okay–
JIANI WU: Right. And you know what? It will be a little different type of conditioning than the maybe the American way. Like, in the club, the conditioning that we do with my club, that’s what we do in our country.
JIANI WU: We do it too. Yeah. We definitely do conditioning legs. Otherwise–
JESSICA: You gotta have the power!
JIANI WU: –we’re weak. Yeah, yeah. We do conditioning. Actually, we do way more conditioning, just don’t get stronger every year. I’m kind of kidding around, some of the American culture–“How are you guys training the legs like this?” You know, I try and do that. And they just tell me, go eat pizza and hamburger. [LAUGHTER]
JESSICA: Oh, we were just talking about that the other day. We were watching the juniors and how they try to vault, but they just don’t have any butt yet, so they don’t get very high.
JIANI WU: Yeah.
JESSICA: Their little tiny butts, there’s no muscle in there yet. [LAUGHTER]
JIANI WU: That was a joke though. I said, “How do you get the legs so strong like that?” And they said, “Go eat pizza and hamburger!” [LAUGHTER] And so we have no butt and legs! [LAUGHTER]
JESSICA: Okay, so the second part of this question is then: How do you think China can produce more vault and floor gymnasts, like Cheng Fei, because she was so amazing! And we just don’t see–it seems like the potential’s totally there, but I don’t know if it’s the training, or the like of hamburgers, or what. [LAUGHTER] What does China need to do, in your opinion?
JIANI WU: Well I guess it’s–well, now, it’s… I can’t say how exactly now, because I’m not there. You know? My husband was there for a little bit. We–they are really focused on bars and beam more, because no matter how late you train the girls, unless you’ve really got the natural talent, stuff like that, so. You just have to follow–you do see conditioning. And they should have more power than the other. And that’s very hard to completely change the leg power. You know? Like, like Anna-type issues. She never had leg-type power.
JIANI WU: You can’t do double full, two and half vault. So why you waste your time on that, when you can do more bars/beam? [LAUGHS]
JESSICA: That is very true. [LAUGSH]
JIANI WU: You can still train, still use, you still want a full team every year. You do the best to try to average out, even out, for the five-six kids on the floor. For the team. But just overall, there’s not much time on–they definitely spend more time on bars than that section.
JESSICA: Were there any skills–like, we know that the yurchenko loop, you were the first to compete it in the Worlds, or international competition. Was there anything else that you trained that wasn’t named after you, or that we never saw, but you were training it in the background, but it never made it to competition?
JIANI WU: For me, myself? I did, I did lots on beam. And bars, often I’d try the stuff you beat or straddle, called Wu?
JIANI WU: In an eagle catch? So I could do that. And beam–actually, I was–that time, the competition in the ’80s, I was doing a full twisting chest roll…
JIANI WU: And I already did a full twisting chest roll sideways.
JIANI WU: Sideways. I did sideways back handspring, two feet to hands, two feet and do another back handspring, back hip circle. So I had a connection on beam for that. I–except, I didn’t compete that because of my back. I trained the skill, but I couldn’t do it anymore.
JESSICA: Yeah. Oh my God!
JIANI WU: Yeah, I did a sideways two feet back handspring connected to a back handspring back hip circle.
JESSICA: That’s crazy!
JIANI WU: Yeah. I was–see, we don’t have a video of that because we didn’t have cell phones like this to take video right away.
JESSICA: [LAUGHS] Yeah.
JIANI WU: I wish I had that! [LAUGHS] And I did a full twisting chest roll in ’80, 1980.
JESSICA: Oh my God, that’s so cool.
JIANI WU: Before anybody else, yeah.
JESSICA: Yeah, it looked–when you did that skill, when you just did the regular korbut, like…
JIANI WU: Right!
JESSICA: Back then…
JIANI WU: I did like–I did a back walkover, back handspring, two feet full twist to chest roll down.
JESSICA: Oh my God, so cool. It totally makes sense, because it’s so high when you just do the plain chest roll, it’s just–
JIANI WU: Yeah.
JESSICA: It just makes sense that you could do those.
JIANI WU: Yeah. I can work beam. I had all the skills
JESSICA: [LAUGHS] That is totally true.
JIANI WU: I did a sideways round off off board to back handspring on beam to back hip circle.
JESSICA: Oh, that’s so cool! I’d love to see that.
JIANI WU: But I never competed all these hard skills. Yeah. We didn’t need them–there’s already ten you want to hit.
JESSICA: Right, exactly. Oh, that’s so cool.
JIANI WU: Yeah, yeah.
JESSICA: So, the final thing I wanted to ask you: Now that you’re a coach and you’ve had this perspective from East to West, and you’ve had this experience of having your own daughters do gymnastics and bringing one all the way to the Olympic team as an alternate, what have you–what is your coaching philosophy now that you have all this experience? What do you want the parents and gymnasts to know, how do you want them to feel when they’re done with their gymnastics careers with you?
JIANI WU: Well, it’s–really like with Anna, it’s really going to depend, because everybody’s ability is different. And I give all the kids a chance to try, to train elite if they wanted to. If the kids and the parents think, you know, you don’t have enough potential, talent to even try that. But even for some kids, have the goal. I give them a chance. Even if they’re only training 8 or 9 right now. So they have a goal, I tell them to go for it. And then, by the time that they get to level 9 or level 10 and try the elite, they will know their bodies. If it’s going to make it or not make it, then they’re going to make decisions. That’s their own decision, not from a coach’s, and then they will realize, “Okay. I’ll just go to college with scholarship.” I don’t have to do–so, it’s pretty much I want to get every kid to the capability their best they can do. That’s my philosophy.
JIANI WU: For everybody, for anybody.
JESSICA: Do you have special soft spot for the kids who are not the strongest, most powerful, maybe–like your husband, he was not chosen for gymnastics with those awesome legs that he had. And you, you know, they kept wanting to send you home. Do you feel like you have a soft spot for the kid who’s not the prototype, but wants to do it and has the drive?
JIANI WU: Yeah. I do. I still give the kids a chance, to try. Even, sometimes deep down you know she probably will never get there. But if they have the drive and the mind, they want to do it, give them a try! So they’ll do the best their body can do.
JIANI WU: You know, if you tell them right now, they’re only level 7, you just completely kill them, and then they’ll probably never get to level 9.
JIANI WU: Because they’ve already give up. And I do give all the kids a try, and that’s why I feel–that’s why my gym, I do have a big team. And the whole team, overall, is doing well, not just a couple of elite kids. And my level 10, 8, 9, we’re winning all the state, you know, because we work with every kid.
JIANI WU: And we make sure–yeah. That’s why.
JESSICA: Jiani, thank you for spending all this time. And you’re running your own gym, and coaching everyone, and I just want to tell you how much I appreciate you taking all this time to sit down and talk with me. And our listeners are going to really enjoy this, listening to your story.
JIANI WU: Oh! Well, you’re welcome. Thanks for having me, because I’m trying to get all my facts, going through my life again. [LAUGHTER] To see what–you don’t really think you remember until you’ve got to talk about this. It’s kind of–I do–[INAUDIBLE]
JIANI WU: –life, when you’re young. We have so many other stories, too. My husband, I keep joking that we should write a book.
JESSICA: [OVER JIANI] Yes, yes, yes! Write a book! Write a book! Write a book! Please, please, please, please, please, write a book! Thank you so much, Jiani.
JIANI WU: You’re welcome.
JESSICA: Some little tidbits about Legacy Elite, where Jiani coaches, the gym that she owns. They are currently hiring, so if you know someone who want to learn the fantastic secrets of Chinese gymnastics, that is the gym that they should apply at, go work. The other thing is that they are hosting their winter classic this year in January, and it is a Nastia Cup Qualifier, so that’s a big deal. So if your gym wants to be eligible for Nastia Cup meets, this is a meet you can go to. Details are on their website, and they’re on our website as well.
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