We’re baaaaaaaaaack from the World Rope Skipping Championships in Shanghai.
And I have sooooooo much to tell you.
It wasn’t quite the social media detox I’d been expecting – I got a VPN that meant I could still access Facebook and Instagram – so I’ve been posting a few updates along the way.
But, just in case you missed them, I’m going to work my way through the good, the bad and the ugly.
As I’m a chronic chatterbox, it may take me a few days to fill you in. I’ll start with the skipping news.
Team Teal were in Shanghai to compete in the Junior World division, which is open to 12-14-year-olds. They were in the Female Team category and pretty stoked to be heading there in the Aussie team uniform.
Unfortunately the uniform was completely unsuited to Shanghai, which was gripped by a stupefyingly heatwave. Ohhhhhhhh was it hot. The sort of hot that makes it arduous to walk, let alone skip.
The venue itself – the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics Gymnasium – was air-conditioned, but many of the training areas were not. At one point the kids were rehearsing their routines in an outdoor covered area as the sweat poured down.
The heat also made sightseeing a little tricky, as there wasn’t much energy left for it once training was over. Aside from a night visit to The Bund and a trip to an underground, air-conditioned market, the youngest saw virtually none of the sights of Shanghai. Her days were usually spent shuttling from our suburban hotel to the gymnasium to either train or watch other teammates compete.
Lunch and dinner were provided at the venue, which also proved challenging for some competitors, as it was very authentically Chinese, with no English spoken to explain what dishes were and no opportunity to pick and choose your food, everything was just scooped onto your plastic tray, which meant a lot was thrown away afterwards.
After initial complaints from the kids, a “foreigner canteen” was opened that featured popcorn chicken, hot dogs and cold french fries each day. Pretty soon they weren’t eating much more than some rice, shallot bread or noodles each meal.
I had some OK dishes there – I’m a pretty adventurous eater – but towards the end I couldn’t face much more than noodles, rice and greens.
There were no snacks or drinks available at the venue either – other than a friendly coffee cart with UHT milk – and it was a long, hot walk to leave the university grounds to find refreshments.
As for the competition itself, it was FIERCE. China has made skipping part of the school curriculum, so there are some amazing athletes coming up through the ranks.
Gold, Silver and Bronze overall went to Hong Kong, China and Hong Kong respectively in the kids’ division. Gold and Silver also went to Hong Kong in Double Dutch three-person, with an Aussie team taking out Bronze.
Team Teal gave it their best shot in all their events – four-person speed, double dutch speed, freestyle four-person, pairs, three-person double dutch and four-person double dutch – but they struggled with the heat, tonsillitis, injury and even a rope breaking during their four-person freestyle.
However, I’m very proud to say they came 6th in the world for double dutch three-person and would have scored even higher if the youngest’s sweaty hands hadn’t slipped from under her during her opening back flip. (Or whatever the technical skipping term is for that trick.) Also, the kids achieved a personal best of 310 in their single rope speed relay.
Go Team Teal!
But they were a bit gutted by the fact that performance anxiety meant their routines didn’t run as smoothly as they usually do in Australia.
Still, they recovered quickly and within an hour of finishing their final event they were laughing and performing double dutch tricks with the demonstration ropes at a light-up rope stall that was set-up underneath the venue.
They also made friends with a Swedish team in their age group and had a blast exchanging koala souvenirs for badges and pins and hats and other trinkets that other competitors had brought along to swap.
Watching Team Australia march out onto the floor on the Friday night opening ceremony was another proud moment for all the parents and supporters in the audience.
Some of the fastest skippers in the world also took part in a speed-off for the dazzled crowd. At one point it was incredible to watch five speed skippers go through their paces in a long rope.
At the Masters events on the Monday, Australia took out two medals, including Luke Boon scoring Gold for Triple Unders and Lilly Barker winning Bronze for three-minute speed.
Both competitors collapsed immediately following their events, with Luke having to be carried from the floor. Fortunately Luke and Lilly recovered and were on the podium to receive their medals later that night.
There were some stunning performances throughout the long day of Masters competition – the Japanese rope spinning skills had the crowd roaring.
China’s speed Skipping was also incredible – Xiaolin Cen, for example, scored Male Masters Gold for both 30 second and three minute with 113 and 568 respectively.
The Gold freestyle medals went to Klaas Van Mechelen from Belgium and Anna Uhl from Germany. There were gasps, cheers and wild applause for both routines.
The audience also threw their support behind the single Russian competitor, who performed a unique, ballet-inspired routine.
I’ve become quite the skipping obsessive now, speed skipping horrifies me a bit because it seems so hard on the competitors bodies, but I love watching the creativity in the Double Dutch routines.
There are already mutterings about whether we should head to Norway for World Jump Rope next year. I’m going to wait and see how the youngest’s sore ankle and my bank account recover from Shanghai first!
Song of the day: David Bowie “China Girl”