Archive for the ‘Fun’ Category

Tidbits from Women’s Prelims

Monday, July 30th, 2012

Guest blogger Gymbyte is currently in London with tickets to some of the gym.  While there, she will be contributing some behind-the-scenes happenings that television viewers may not see.  First up, women’s preliminaries, subdivisions 3, 4, & 5.

– Celine van Gerner (NED) helped Salma Mahmoud (EGY) chalk the bars. Here’s van Gerner’s floor routine form the All Around:

– Mixed Group coaches were friendly, chatting to each other and the gymnasts and helping each other prepare the apparatus.

– Mahmoud had finished bars and was warming up for beam on the side when she heard the crowd’s reaction and Egyptian Sherine El Zeiny’s floor music stop.  She looked up in concern and hurried over closer to the floor to see what was going on.

– El Zeiny injured what appeared to be her thigh after landing a double back on all fours.  She stopped her routine and was carried over to the FX rotation seating area. Her coach placed her on the empty podium (used for men’s events) and left her. Another coach (Lithuanian Laura Svilpaite’s, maybe?) put a jacket or towel next to her.

– Kim Bui (GER) noticed she was on camera and held up a water bottle with a message on it and grinned widely. I couldn’t read it but I saw the word ‘love’.

– After Russian Viktoria Komova’s final routine, Aliya Mustafina (RUS) whispered something to her; Komova’s eyes widened and her jaw dropped, then she giggled as she waved to the camera.

– Diana Bulimar (ROM) jogged around in her tracksuit and gloves during the rotations in which she didn’t compete.

– After marching to floor, the Romanians all kicked off their shoes by the side of the floor podium. Diana Bulimar ran over, gathered them all up, and ran back to put them by the floor rotation seating.

– Maria Paseka (RUS) had a good chuckle over simply touching the bar for a 0.000.

– Bela Karolyi was in the NBC commentary booth, usually standing.

– As usual, there were tons of Japanese delegates in the crowd; the Japanese girls waved and posed for photos for them. Also spotted: delegates from France, Great Britain, USA, and Slovenia.

– Prior to each session, there were video features and a performance by Britons Danusia Francis on beam, Marissa King on bars, and two others on vault and floor (Lisa Mason, I heard?). Check back later for notes from men’s team finals and women’s all-around!

Vault and Rings: The Great Divide

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

Muscles are made up of two kinds of fibres: fast-twitch and slow-twitch. Fast-twitch muscle fibres are responsible for explosive movement, while slow-twitch muscles allow for static strength and endurance. Our muscles are usually made up of about 50% fast-twitch and 50% slow-twitch fibres. Athletes who possess a greater proportion of fast-twitch muscles excel in sports such as sprinting, while those with more slow-twitch muscles excel in sports like cross-country running.

How do these different muscle types factor in to gymnastics? Well, vault, for example, requires fast-twitch muscles for the sprinting down the runway and for an explosive block off the table. Still rings, on the other hand, require slow-twitch muscles in order to hold the strength elements for a minimum of two seconds.

Men’s Gymnastics: 7.0 – 7.4 Vaults

Men’s Gymnastics: E and F Elements Rings (2011 Edit)

Have you ever noticed that the gymnasts who win medals in one of these events rarely achieve the same level of success in the other? You’d be hard-pressed to find a gymnast who qualifies to both of these apparatus finals. In fact, the last time this happened in a World Championships or an Olympic Games was in 1995 when Li Xiaoshuang qualified to both.

Can you think of a gymnast whose best two events are rings and vault? Let me know!


Monday, February 20th, 2012

It’s been too long since I last posted, and I’ve missed Gymbits! So many things have happened since I wrote my last article. Here are a few random tidbits that have crossed my radar recently:

1) Dominique Moceanu is coming out with a book in June, and I can’t wait! Sounds like it’ll be a good read with juicy details from her days training with the Karolyis. It sure is brave of her to get that stuff out there.

2) Less than half a year to go until the 2012 London Olympics and the excitement is in the air! Already there is some disappointment, though: rising Ukrainian star Maria Livchikova was injured prior to the 2011 World Championships and now has no hope of qualifying to the Olympics. The good news was the announcement back in 2011 that Kohei Uchimura (JPN) would be pre-qualified the Olympic team. Now he can just focus on training and peaking at the right time instead of bothering with the Japanese trials.

3) I am so glad the Canadian girls qualified to the Olympic Games in 10th place! This has got to be the best team we’ve had in years. With Peng Peng Lee, Kristina Vaculik, Victoria Moors, Madeline Gardiner, Charlotte Mackie, Brittany Rogers, Mikaela Gerber, Dominique Pegg, Jessica Savona, Talia Chiarelli and Bianca Dancose-Giambattisto all in the mix (am I forgetting anyone?), it’s going to be a fight for the 5 Olympic spots. Here’s Victoria’s floor routine from the London Test Event, complete with a double-double mount:

Victoria Moors (CAN), Floor Exercise Event Final, 2012 London Test Event

4) I was re-watching some of the 2011 World Championships recently and was appalled by the atrocious E-score (7.866) given to Jessica Lopez (VEN) in the qualifying round. Yes, she did flex her feet a few times and one handstand was a bit overarched, but she displayed great swing and amplitude.

Jessica Lopez (VEN), Uneven Bars Qualifying Round, 2011 World Championships

Alexandra Raisman (USA) managed to get a 7.100 E-score with flexed feet, leg separations, knee bends, two falls and a hop on the landing!

Alexandra Raisman (USA), Uneven Bars All-Around, 2011 World Championships

Let’s hope that the judges deduct fairly at the London Olympics!

5) And finally, what would I do without the GGMB (Gymnastics Gossip Message Board)?! It is the most entertaining forum out there. Heff and Betty crack me up, and I’m always amazed at the amount of knowledge the members have to offer. Now if only I’d post more often there, too….

The “Ultimate” Sport

Friday, August 5th, 2011

A few months ago I had a chance to watch Georges St-Pierre competing in an Ultimate Fighting Championship match on TV. At first I was reluctant, but it eventually piqued my interest as GSP displayed a lot more skill than I was expecting. I learned that he relies on gymnastics training to achieve dominance in his sport!

Georges St-Pierre: “I’m doing gymnastics to keep my body healthy, to change my routine, and I love gymnastics as well and it makes me a better athlete.”

Georges St-Pierre, Ultimate Fighting Championship

It got me thinking that gymnastics really is the “ultimate” sport. Take a gymnast and put him in pretty much any other sport, and he’s likely to achieve a moderate degree of success, but taking established stars in other sports and putting them in gymnastics could results in some rather awkward moments. Gymnast Amy Chow, who has an Olympic medal of each colour, has gone on to excel in not just pole vaulting but diving as well. (Oh, and she’s a paediatrician too!)

Amy Chow, Diving

Yelena Isinbayeva won the 2008 Olympic gold in pole vaulting after growing too tall for gymnastics. Isinbayeva trains in the gym, doing tucked Tsukaharas on vault, free hips and giants on bars, and even exercises on the rings! She explains: “Gymnastics gives me more coordination, more precision.”

Yelena Isinbayeva, Pole Vaulting

This reminds me of when I saw Alex Wong on So You Think You Can Dance. At the time, I remember thinking that if gymnastics can serve as the basis of sport, then ballet could well be the basis of dance. Here’s a classically trained ballet dancer who was able to learn a complicated hip hop routine in just a few days, and perform seamlessly with All Star Twitch. I couldn’t believe my eyes!

Alex Wong, Ballet

Alex Wong, Hip Hop

So You Think You Can Dance

Posted in Fun | 5 Comments »

Anything But Routine

Monday, September 13th, 2010

Okay, so last time I made a Top 10 list of my favourite floor routines ever (I kinda forgot the fantastic routine Dominique Dawes did in 1992 and 1993, but luckily RJL commented on that!). I promised that my next post would be a list of the worst floor routines ever, so here goes….

After a lot of deliberating, I decided to narrow it down to just three routines. Unfortunately, there seems to be a theme (a lot of Romanian routines from the late 1970s!).

Honourable Mention: Emilia Eberle (ROM), 1977 USA vs. Romania

I was debating whether or not I should include this floor routine. It’s definitely not my cup of tea, but it is bizarrely whimsical and the choreography matches the music quite well (though the only video I can find has been dubbed!). I don’t think I can watch the slow-mo part from 0:47-0:52 with a straight face.

3. Nadia Comaneci (ROM), 1978 World Championships

Too bad this floor routine comes courtesy of the perfect Nadia Comaneci. She deserves better than this! Was Marta Karolyi behind this floor choreography?

2. Kerri Strug (USA), 1996 American Cup

Something about this routine just rubs me the wrong way, and it ain’t the tumbling. The little move at 1:12 really has no place on an international stage, but the best part of the whole video is when the divine Svetlana Boginskaya stands up at 1:18 and does her best imitation!

1. Gabi Gheorghiu (ROM), 1978 Romanian National Championships

This routine was choreographed by none other than Marta Karolyi, and it’s got to be the worst monstrosity I’ve ever seen. What were they thinking?! I have no idea what’s going on at 1:08.

But hey, at least these routines have choreography! There have been some routines in the past few years that hardly have any due to all the tumbling and leap requirements. Jade Barbosa (BRA), Park Eun Kyung (KOR) and even current World Floor Champion Beth Tweddle (GBR) come to mind. Even if a gymnast isn’t a natural dancer, she should be able to put together a cool and unusual routine like Mari Kosuge (JPN) managed in 1991 and Gina Gogean (ROM) demonstrated in 1992. Often the powerful gymnasts are the ones who lack dance skills, and that’s why I’m so excited that the complete package that is Russian Viktoria Komova has burst on to the scene. Now that the Code of Points requires fewer skills be packed into each routine, I hope that will give the choreographers a chance to shine as they did twenty years ago.