Posts Tagged ‘Svetlana Khorkina’

Uchimura and Mustafina Win Worlds!

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

Another World Championships has come and gone, and all is right with the (gymnastics) world! The Russian ladies (Ksenia Afanasyeva, Anna Dementieva, Yekaterina Kurbatova, Aliya Mustafina, Tatiana Nabieva, Ksenia Semyonova) finally won the team gold for the first time since the collapse of the Soviet Union. It’s hard to believe it took them 18 years to stand atop the podium, especially thinking back to the 2000 Olympic team that was jam packed with so many heavy hitters: Svetlana Khorkina, Yelena Produnova, Yelena Zamolodchikova and Yekaterina Lobaznyuk. Mustafina undoubtedly played a huge role in their win, with incredible scores on all four events. The question loomed: could she sweep all six golds?

On the men’s side, the Chinese team (Chen Yibing, Feng Zhe, Lu Bo, Teng Haibin, Yan Mingyong, Zhang Chenglong) reigned victorious once again! I was pleased to see Teng back in top form after injuries, having put his troubles from the 2004 Olympic Games behind him. They managed to stay ahead of an elegant Japanese team and a surging German team led by Philipp Boy.

The FIG has put together some amazing montages that capture the excitement in Ahoy Rotterdam.

Women’s Team Final, 2010 World Championships

Men’s Team Final, 2010 World Championships

Defending champion Kohei Uchimura (JPN) and new senior Aliya Mustafina (RUS) dominated every phase of the competition and rightfully ended up with the All Around crowns. They both showed unwavering confidence and flashes of brilliance. Uchimura is only the second gymnast in history to defend the World title, but at this rate it seems the entire quadrennium must surely belong to him! He defeated silver medalist Philipp Boy (GER) by a whopping 2.283. American Jonathan Horton grabbed the bronze medal by just 0.033 over Ukrainian Mykola Kuksenkov.

Kohei Uchimura (JPN), All Around, 2010 World Championships

Perfect gymnastics alert! Just about everything he does is textbook perfect, with added flair and cool confidence. I don’t even know what young gymnasts should study most…the triple twist at 1:12, the Yurchenko-2.5 at 4:50 or the gorgeous Kovacs that opens to vertical at 7:38.

The women’s all around medals were more cut and dried; Mustafina won by 1.034 over Jiang Yuyuan (CHN) and Rebecca Bross (USA) was another point behind in the bronze medal position.

Aliya Mustafina (RUS), Vault, Apparatus Finals, 2010 World Championships

Aliya Mustafina (RUS), Uneven Bars, Qualifications, 2010 World Championships

Aliya Mustafina (RUS), Balance Beam, All Around, 2010 World Championships

Aliya Mustafina (RUS), Floor Exercise, Apparatus Finals, 2010 World Championships

This routine is one beautiful element after another. She gets so much height on her Arabian double front, and her triple turn is amazing. I love the little piece of choreography starting at 1:03 and leading into the final tumbling pass. That little step out of bounds after the triple twist was Mustafina’s second largest error in 16 routines. Not bad for a newbie!

This hauntingly lovely music, Hijo de le luna, has been in my head ever since she first performed in the preliminary round! I’m not sure how I feel about floor music with vocals but this is the perfect music for Mustafina, worthy of a world champion.

I’ll highlight the apparatus winners next time, but for now I’d like to pay homage to a wonderful coach, Boris Pilkin. When national team coaches told him he was wasting his time, doubting that the tall Khorkina could achieve much success, Pilkin stood by his protégée and turned her into one of the best gymnasts ever. His ability to teach proper technique and to invent new skills allowed Khorkina to be celebrated in the international spotlight for an entire decade, winning numerous Olympic and World medals for Mother Russia. He passed away in the night at the age of 82, just hours after watching the Russian women claim their first gold medal.

Pic Picks

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

Last week I celebrated the first anniversary of Gymbits! I thought I would mark the occasion by picking out some of my favourite photos that I’ve collected throughout the years. I originally wanted to do a Top 10, but I simply couldn’t narrow it down. So here are 29 of my favourite pictures!

Shun Fujimoto (JPN) poured his heart and soul into the team competition at the 1976 Olympic Games, concealing his fractured kneecap while earning a 9.7 on Rings. Japan would not have won the gold medal without his clutch performances.

Olga Korbut (URS) was the first gymnast with the acrobatic style that epitomizes the sport today. She captured hearts with her smiles and her tears at the 1972 Olympic Games.

Four years later, Nadia Comaneci (ROM) showed that she was perfection personified with her seven Perfect 10s. Korbut and Comaneci put gymnastics in the spotlight at the 1976 Olympics, and it has been a main event at the Olympic Games ever since.

Korbut looks on as Comaneci’s score of 10.0 registers on the scoreboard as a 1.00.

Yelena Mukhina (URS) continues the string of Soviet dominance by winning the 1978 World Championships…but at what cost?

Svetlana Boginskaya’s career spanned three Olympic Games where she represented the Soviet Union, the Unified Team and Belarus. This gymnast is remembered for her unique style and her passion for the sport.

The classic Romanian style was demonstrated by their stars of the 1980s, Daniela Silivas (shown) and Aurelia Dobre.

Some of the most difficult skills of the 1980s were performed by Tatiana Groshkova. Groshkova, Natalia Frolova and Lyudmila Stovbchataya highlight the depth of the Soviet team, as these excellent gymnasts never managed to represent their country at a World Championships or Olympic Games.

Yang Bo (CHN) demonstrates exquisite form on her signature skill on the balance beam. A very similar photo appeared on the cover of the book released by the FIG, Gymnastics: The Art of Sport.

Vitaly Scherbo (CIS) was the Michael Phelps of the 1992 Olympic Games, winning 6 gold medals. At the following Games, he won 4 bronze medals.

Lilia Podkopayeva (UKR) is one of my favourite gymnasts ever. The 1996 Olympic all-around champion combined perfect form with tricky skills. I chose this photo because I was fortunate enough to be present when it was captured.

I like this photo of Dina Kochetkova (RUS) because of the colours, lighting and angles. I really miss the Fab Four of the mid-1990s: Kochetkova, Svetlana Khorkina, Yelena Grosheva and Oksana Fabrichnova.

Yelena Zamolodchikova (RUS) had a gymnastics career that spanned many years, and she had an excellent fighting attitude and accepted her role as a leader for younger teammates. She is particularly known for her vaulting.

No photo compilation would be complete without The Queen, Svetlana Khorkina (RUS). Her elegance and her innovative skills allowed her to win 3 all-around titles at the World Championships.

This photo captures Americans Nastia Liukin and Chellsie Memmel as they realize they have tied for the top spot at the 2005 World Championships. You can tell by the expressions on their faces which gymnast was relegated to all-around silver due to a mathematical rounding issue.

Despite the 2005 disappointment, Liukin went on to win the 2008 Olympic Games and ended up modelling for Max Azria.

Li Ya (CHN) shows off unique skills on uneven bars.

Pang Panpan (CHN) was not on the world stage nearly long enough, but she does feature in two fantastic photos.

Liang Chow produced a well-rounded gymnast in Shawn Johnson (USA) while training significantly fewer hours than the competition. He seems like such a kind coach who truly wants the best for his athlete.

Johnson sports a leotard with her name in Chinese on the sleeve.

The stoic Yang Wei (CHN) lets loose with a wide grin after finally winning an all-around gold medal at the 2006 World Championships.

Yang’s team wins top honours in front of the hometown crowd at the 2008 Olympic Games. This team dominated the standings in almost every event.

I love this photo of Anna Pavlova (RUS).

I was overjoyed to discover that the rumour was true: Li Ning (CHN) had indeed been selected as the athlete to light the Olympic Torch high above the Bird’s Nest in Beijing. It was an exciting moment as he “ran” around the stadium high in the air with the fiery torch. Li Ning, winner of 6 medals at the 1984 Olympic Games, is perhaps now best known as an entrepreneur for his sports apparel company.

Other Chinese gymnasts who were part of the Opening Ceremony included Li Xiaoshuang, the 1996 Olympic All-Around Champion, and his Olympic teammate Huang Liping, who took the oath on behalf of all the judges and officials.

A Body Worlds 2 exhibit of a gymnast on rings.

Let’s end on a funny note! Kellie and aevera of GGMB posted many hilarious pictures following Kanye West’s outburst at the 2009 Video Music Awards. I’ll post two of my faves here.

(I’m sorry I am unable to credit the photographers. Please tell me if you captured one of the photos and would like to receive credit.)

Raise the Bar

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

Vault isn’t the only culprit when it comes to equipment problems (see “The Faulty Vault”). There have been quite a few incidents on uneven bars in which a cable has snapped during a routine and the entire apparatus has collapsed. Fortunately in all three cases I found, no one was injured…just a little bit shaken up!

Ludmilla Tourischeva’s fall is perhaps the best known case of such an occurrence. During the 1975 World Cup, the bars fell just as the Soviet gymnast completed her routine. It didn’t seem to faze her in the slightest, and she ended up winning the event.

Natalie Foley, an NCAA gymnast who competed for Stanford, pulled the cables loose as she prepared

for a Shaposhnikova a few years ago.

An equipment failure happened again just last year, this time to Naoual Ouazzani Chahdi, a junior gymnast competing in the 2008 Dutch Trials for the upcoming European Championships.

When the bars are set properly, however, this event can be beautiful one. Feast your eyes upon the next video, and watch how the apparatus has changed throughout the years. The uneven bars started out as men’s parallel bars, with one bar set higher than the other. Note how the wooden oval-shaped bars extend beyond the posts! As years go by, the bars become rounder and more flexible, and they are set further apart as the gymnasts’ skill levels increase. The elements performed on the event have changed drastically, and some of the composition from past decades make me chuckle (0:20).

Uneven Bars Developments (1950s to 2005)

No mention of the uneven bars would be complete without a shout out to the most decorated champion of all time, “The Queen,” Russian Svetlana Khorkina. She managed to win two uneven bars titles at the Olympic Games, five at the World Championships and six at the European Championships.

What are your favourite skills or routines of all time? Please post a Comment!

The Faulty Vault

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

Quick, who were the Olympic All-Around Champions in 2000? Alexei Nemov and, um, Simona Amanar? It always takes me an extra second to remember that Amanar’s name is officially at the top of the list. With 50% of the field competing on a vault that was set 5 cm too low, the playing field was hardly fair. American Elise Ray suffered a scary crash when she missed the vault entirely in warm-ups, and then proceeded to fall on both vaults during the biggest competition of her life. “It really scared me. I felt something was wrong but I didn’t know what it was. I was so disappointed. It carried over to the next three events. I can’t believe a setting could be wrong at the Olympic Games.” (source: International GYMNAST magazine, November 2000)

Five of the gymnasts from the affected rotations did decide to take another attempt: Elise Ray (who by then had already fallen off the balance beam), Sara Moro (ESP), Galina Tyryk (UKR), Lisa Mason (GBR) and Jana Komrskova (CZE).

Svetlana Khorkina of Russia, a gold medal contender, crashed on vault in the first rotation and then found herself in the wrong mental mindset before her best event: the uneven bars. She then fell on a Stalder-Tkatchev on an event where she was already a 4-time World Champion and the defending Olympic Champion. It was only after the disastrous bars routine that Khorkina was advised of the equipment error in her previous rotation. She chose not to repeat the vault.

After seeing several mistakes on vault during the preliminary rounds, one cannot help but wonder if perhaps the vault was set to the wrong height at this time as well. There were several crashes not characteristic of an Olympic Games to which the gymnasts have devoted years of their training. Here is a montage posted by maloneystibiarod. You’ll notice that every single one of these gymnasts underrotates the vault due to insufficient block off the horse.

2000 Sydney Olympic Gymnastics Vault Crashes – Was the vault too low in prelims?

0:05 to 0:16 Elise Ray misses her hands in warm-ups

0:17 to 0:26 Her competition vaults

0:27 to 0:34 Svetlana Khorkina’s timing is off

0:35 to 0:37 The vault height is reset

0:41 to 0:51 Allana Slater (AUS) shows horrendous technique, form and execution (totally atypical of her usual gymnastics!). She was the first gymnast to notice the incorrect vault setting.

0:52 to 1:00 Liu Xuan (CHN) underrotated her Yurchenko-1.5 and could have seriously injured her knees

1:01 to 1:03 Brooke Walker (AUS) actually overrotated her vault

1:04 to 1:20 Chinese Kui Yuanyuan’s Olympic Games were over after this vault

1:21 to 1:33 Slater’s second vault is even worse than the first. She’s lucky she wasn’t hurt (and that the judges didn’t give her a 0.000 for not having her feet touch the ground first!)

1:34 to 2:24 Kristen Maloney (USA) hurts her leg on the first vault but prepares for her second vault like a trooper.

In addition to the vaulting error, there was of course the whole fiasco surrounding Andreea Raducan, the Romanian stripped of her All-Around Gold after pseudoephedrine from cold medicine was found in her system. I don’t think most gymnastics fans would believe that this substance could possibly have given her an advantage over the competition. In fact, it is no longer listed as banned substance by the IOC, and yet her name has been removed from Olympic All-Around records. It’s a pity that due to the faulty vault setting and the pseudoephedrine scandal, Amanar’s Olympic win will always have a large asterisk beside it.

Here’s a great montage posted by mfinger that pretty much sums up the All-Around event at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games: some great gymnastics, some botched vaults, some unexpected errors on floor…and China’s first medal in the All-Around, courtesy of Liu Xuan!

Sydney – Khorki, Zamo and Karpenko’s disaster

0:04 Simona Amanar (ROM)

0:22 Yelena Zamolodchikova (RUS)

0:34 Andreea Raducan (ROM)

0:48 Svetlana Khorkina (RUS)

1:14 Standings after the first rotation: Khorkina in the lead

1:17 Amanar

1:25 Zamolodchikova

1:43 Raducan

1:54 Khorkina

2:15 Adjusting the vault to the proper height

2:20 Viktoria Karpenko (UKR)

2:46 Standings after the second rotation: Zamolodchikova in the lead

2:48 Raducan

2:57 Khorkina

3:15 Karpenko

3:34 Amanar

3:51 Karpenko

4:31 Raducan

Interesting side notes: Raducan was one of the gymnasts to vault on the incorrect setting during the All-Around, but she still managed to score 9.706! Even though her Gold medal was taken from her, she was allowed to keep her Silver vault medal a couple of days later, as the pseudoephedrine had cleared her system by this point.