Posts Tagged ‘gymnasts’

A mother-daughter tribute

Monday, March 23rd, 2015

I haven’t posted lately because I’ve been busy with my little daughter who was born last summer. I’ve still kept up with the world of gymnastics, though, and while there are some exciting things that have happened during the past months, artistic gymnastics seems to be going through a bit of a dry patch, particularly on the women’s side. Gone are the days when 10 or 15 gymnasts were legitimate contenders for all around medals. Simone Biles and Kohei Uchimura are dominating right now, as they deserve to, and they appear set to continue their trends of defending their crowns in upcoming competitions. The men’s side is a lot more exciting with all the apparatus specialists, but if the FIG reduces teams to 4 members then we can say goodbye to a lot of that excitement too.

Here are some bright patches I’ve come across lately:

The mother-daughter duo of Natalia Laschenova and Sasha Tsikhanovich performed floor routines with matching choreography 26 years apart. I love it! That 1989 Soviet team is one of my all-time faves, and it’s wonderful to see Tsikhanovich’s tribute to her mother.

Natalia Laschenova (URS), 1989 World Championships, Floor Exercise, All Around

Sasha Tsikhanovich, University of Bridgeport, 2015 Floor Exercise

Kenzo Shirai, Japan’s twisting machine, was criticized in the past for winning floor titles without showing any double saltos. Well, he has been working on several new tumbling passes, including a triple twisting double layout and a whip immediate triple-double. Wow! Oh, and he also throws a front full punch front 3.5 and a whip immediate quadruple twist….

Kenzo Shirai (JPN), training

Romania looks to be back in the running for Rio with the comeback announcements of Catalina Ponor and Sandra Izbasa, and with Larisa Iordache looking great on all events. This team is more and more stylish all the time. Never count Romania out!

Larisa Iordache (ROU), 2014 Glasgow World Cup, Uneven Bars

Catalina Ponor (ROU), 2012 European Championships, Balance Beam, Qualifications

Sandra Izbasa (ROU), 2012 Olympic Games, Floor Exercise, Team Final

Diana Bulimar (ROU), 2012 Olympic Games, Floor Exercise, Team Final

Andreas Bretschneider (GER) has mastered the double twisting Kovacs on high bar! Here he is performing it in his home country. The sky’s the limit!

Andreas Bretschneider (GER), 2014 DTB Cup, High Bar

And finally, a shout out to one of the most underrated gymnasts of this era: Jessica Lopez (VEN)!

Jessica Lopez (VEN), 2014 World Championships, Uneven Bars

Jessica Lopez (VEN), 2014 Glasgow World Cup, Floor Exercise

Did anyone else think the “Aging Beauty” headline on her International GYMNAST cover was a tad bizarre? I mean, she hardly looks like she’s “aging.” She may be 29, but you’d never guess it looking at her gymnastics, and she appears more physically fit than some gymnasts half her age! Oh well…at least the cover also said she “has never looked better.”

What other cool stuff has caught your eye lately?

Gymnix 2013

Sunday, March 17th, 2013

Gymnix 2013 has come and gone for another year. Here are some of my sister’s observations:

-Romanian Andreea Munteanu stuck a very nice back-handspring to tucked-full on beam

Heaven Latimer (CAN) did a very high back-handspring, back-handspring, layout-full on beam

It was even better here in this training video:

-my favourite floor routine was the very charming Maria Bondareva‘s (RUS) performance to music from “The Artist”…age appropriate cuteness and great presentation

-a French gymnast got no distance on her double pike bars dismount and clipped her feet on the bar…quite scary but she landed without injury (in a heap but not on her head or neck)

Shallon Olsen‘s double-twisting Yurchenko was by far the best vault of the competition. Most gymnasts competed a Yurchenko-full and if they did a second vault, it was often a layout Yurchenko.

-prior to marching in for event finals, Russians Maria Bondareva and Anastasia Dmitrieva seemed to be chatting with Canadians Shallon Olsen and Aleeza Yu…I’m not sure how well they could communicate, but there were smiles and laughs aplenty!

-after the medal ceremonies, all gymnasts participated in a Flash Mob (some were more enthusiastic than others, but all seemed to know the choreography)

Laura Jurca (ROM) and Marine Boyer (FRA) both suffered injuries on floor…Jurca hurt her ankle and had to stop her routine, while Boyer gave herself some major rugburn on her final tumbling pass

Toni-Ann Williams from Jamaica showed some very difficult tumbling passes (double layout, full-twisting double back, two whips to double back) as well as a running double front dismount from beam. She will be a great addition to NCAA gymnastics next year!

-the three Romanians sported some very snazzy black leg warmers throughout the weekend

-2004 Olympian and former Gymnix competitor Amélie Plante was on hand to present awards, including one named after her

-the Japanese team displayed their trademark elegance and lovely presentation, and were hugely popular with fans, who rushed down to high five them whenever they walked by the bleachers

-the young team from Belgium showed very nice routines on all events and have tons of potential (remember, Belgium just missed out on full team qualification to the 2012 Olympics)

-the three Romanians (including the injured Laura Jurca) and the four Russians posed happily for photos after the competition



1. Russia (Maria Bondareva, Anastasia Dmitrieva, Ekaterina Sokova, Polina Spirina)

2. Canada (Brianna Clark, Heaven Latimer, Shallon Olsen, Aleeza Yu)

3. Japan (Yuna Hiraiwa, Marina Kawasaki, Sae Miyakama, Yuki Uchiyama)


1(t). Maria Bondareva (RUS) and Anastasia Dmitrieva (RUS)

3. Yuki Uchiyama (JPN)

Wish You Were Here!

Friday, July 27th, 2012

Photo courtesy of  Anirudh Koul.

On the eve of the 2012 Olympic Games with all the excitement of competition looming ahead, I can’t help but think of all the gymnasts around the world who fell short of achieving their goal of competing in London. Some just didn’t quite manage to qualify, some were left out due to politics, but many are at home nursing ill-timed injuries. France was by far the most unlucky country, taking a huge hit by losing so many of its top gymnasts. Here are some of the athletes who will be missed when preliminaries start this weekend in the North Greenwich Arena:

Samir Aït Saïd (FRA) hurt his right knee at the 2012 European Championships in Montpellier.

Thomas Bouhail (FRA) fractured his tibia and fibula in a fall from high bar, an injury which quickly led to necrosis of his leg tissue. Thank goodness his leg was saved.

Marine Brevet (FRA) dislocated her elbow while tumbling on floor.

Benoît Caranobe (FRA) suffered an ankle injury hampered his training in the lead-up to these Olympic Games.

Cheng Fei (CHN) ruptured her Achilles tendon after making a successful comeback.

Talia Chiarelli (CAN) withdrew from contention for the Olympic team with a sore back.

Nikki Chung (AUS) was unable to move forward to the Olympic Selection Camp due to an ankle and knee injury.

Julie Croket (BEL) tore her left ACL in the run-up to the Olympic Games.

Clara Della Vedova (FRA) helped her team qualify to the Games, only to hurt her Achilles tendon three months before the main event.

Anton Fokin (UZB) tore a ligament in his left knee during the London Test Event and was unable to secure a berth to the Games.

Adrian Gomes (BRA) hurt her back while in London and had to withdraw from competition.

Shawn Johnson (USA) ended her bid to participate in a second Olympic Games when it became evident that her knee would not heal in time.

Daniel Keatings (GBR), one of his country’s best gymnasts ever, must be devastated by his ill-timed ankle injury earlier this year.

Peng Peng Lee (CAN) tore her ACL on vault at the National Championships. Peng Peng could have helped Canada to one of its highest finishes ever, with a possibility of making beam and floor finals as well. If only the world could see this fantastic floor routine.

Mariya Livchikova (UKR) injured her knee on the eve of the 2011 World Championships, and as a result was unable to compete in the Test Event to earn a spot to London.

Zoe Lorenzin (AUS) was unable to move forward to the Olympic Selection Camp due to a stress fracture in her foot.

Tatiana Nabieva (RUS) managed to rise to Olympic contention, only to injure her knee before team selection.

Marine Petit (FRA) suffered a painful knee problem that kept her from trying for the Games.

Danny Rodrigues (FRA), a star on rings, hurt his biceps a month before he was to compete in the Games.

Valentine Sabatou (FRA) was to replace Marine Brevet, until she herself required a cast for her ankle.

Anastasia Sidorova (RUS) was unable to make a final push for London with her recurring back problem.

Georgia Simpson (AUS) had a severe ankle injury in the spring that prevented her from making a serious run for the Olympics.

Bridget Sloan (USA) injured her elbow on uneven bars just as she was about to embark on Night 1 of the Olympic Trials.

Lais Souza (BRA) hurt her hand while training on bars.

Eugen Spiridonov (GER) had to give up his chance for selection after injuring his shoulder.

Teng Haibin (CHN) tore muscles in his forearm just days before prelims were to begin. It’s a shame, since he was surely hoping to redeem himself after a disappointing outing in 2004.

Jeffrey Wammes (NED) gave up his fight to challenge Epke Zonderland for the lone Dutch spot after hurting his knee on floor exercise.

There are many gymnasts in London who will tough it out with less severe injuries. Larisa Iordache (ROM) has a case of plantar fasciitis that may prevent her from competing all events, McKayla Maroney (USA) has a broken big toe, Beth Tweddle (GBR) is still recovering from knee surgery, Yao Jinnan (CHN) has a torn leg muscle, and alternate Anna Li (USA) hurt herself after a fall from uneven bars and was spotted wearing a neck brace.

Let us also remember the North Korean contingent who will not display their talents in London after being banned for fudging ages. It’s such as shame, as many of the gymnasts could have been in contention for various apparatus medals.

Ri Se Gwang, Vault, 2008 World Cup Maribor

Jade Barbosa (BRA) didn’t sign the contract agreeing to wear the leotards with the logos of sponsors and is therefore ineligible for the Olympic Games. Jordan Rae (NZL), on the other hand, met the criteria for inclusion in the Olympic Games but she was not confirmed for participation by her country’s Olympic Committee (similar to the situation Veronica Wagner of Sweden found herself in 4 years ago).

Preliminary rounds of competition start tomorrow. I wish all the gymnasts of these Olympic Games a happy, healthy and fair competition…with no more injuries!!!

Top 10 Floor Routines Ever

Saturday, July 31st, 2010

When I first set out to create a Top 10 list of the best floor routines ever, I had no idea what a task it would become. How could I leave out gymnasts such as Svetlana Boginskaya, Oksana Omelianchik, Maria Filatova, Natalia Ilienko? Believe it or not, I did consider making this a Top 10 Soviet Routines from the 1980s list…well, anyway, here is a compilation of ten of my favourites. Enjoy!

10. Lauren Mitchell (AUS), 2009 World Championships

I like this routine because Mitchell presents a style unlike any other. The music is cool, and the dance matches the music very well. Mitchell shows that you don’t have to have balletic elegance to create a memorable performance. I think she should have won the gold medal.

9. Lilia Podkopayeva (UKR), 1996 Olympic Games

I have to include Podkopayeva because she’s one of my favourite gymnasts ever and her double front-half out mount is just amazing.

8. Mo Huilan (CHN), 1994 World Championships

This is one of the few “cutesy” routines that I can really appreciate. Only a gymnast like Mo could pull off a routine set to typewriter music.

7. Shannon Miller (USA), 1993 Hilton Challenge

I can’t blame Miller for using this routine for three years. It was just about perfect and it helped her win silver all-around at the 1992 Olympic Games and gold all-around at both the 1993 and 1994 World Championships.

6. Tatiana Groshkova (URS), 1989 Chunichi Cup

Groshkova must surely be the best gymnast never to snag a spot on a World or Olympic team. She mounts with a double-full-in…unbelievable!

5. Svetlana Lebedinskaya (URS), 1986 Goodwill Display

With so much competition amongst her Soviet teammates in the mid-1980s, Lebedinskaya never had a chance to make much of a name for herself internationally. It’s such a shame, because she definitely had the talent!

4. Irina Baraksanova (URS), 1985 World Championships

A typical Soviet routine that exemplifies the grace, power and musical interpretation that made her team unbeatable. Nearly any gymnast on this Soviet team could have won the all-around gold at these World Championships, but Baraksanova and Olga Mostepanova (fresh off her 40.0 win at the Friendship Games!) were withdrawn in favour of eventual co-champions Omelianchik and Yelena Shushunova…but who’s to say that was the best decision?!

3. Silvia Mitova (BUL), 1991 European Cup

This next video includes not just Mitova’s inimitable Blues for Klook routine, but also the routines of five other gymnasts who used this music after her. No matter how creative a gymnast is with the interpretation, it seems to me that it’s never a good idea to use such a well loved piece. The thing is, many of those other routines would have been perfectly good if only I could stop myself from thinking of Mitova and her wonderful choreography the entire time.

2. Anna Pavlova (RUS), 2008 Olympic Games

I just love this routine, and Pavlova performed it to perfection in the all-around. All her fourth place finishes make me sad.

1. Natalia Frolova (URS), 1986 Kraft Invitational

Hands down my favourite routine ever. I can’t believe it has been 24 years since Frolova performed this; the tumbling would be world-class even today, and the choreography is exquisite.

So what makes a floor routine great, anyway? For me, it’s the combination of captivating music and lovely choreography, with a dose of difficult tumbling on the side. I know there are so many fantastic routines that I haven’t included. Please add a comment and tell me your favourite floor routines of all time.

Next up: the Top 5 Worst Floor Routines Ever!

UPDATE: Click on Comments to see the favourite floor routines of other gym fans!