Posts Tagged ‘Viktoria Komova’

A New Quadrennium

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

It’s always interesting to see how things pan out in a post-Olympic year. Sometimes the stars lose their brilliance, while the new kids on the block step up to prove their mettle. It’s always sad to see favourites retire, and sometimes you don’t even realize how much you like a gymnast until they’re gone.

Take Sandra Izbasa (ROM), for example. Unless Bellu and Bitang can lure her back, it looks as though she is finished with international competition. I feel like she’s been on the scene forever, but she’s really only 22 years old. She won floor at the 2008 Olympics with near-perfect tumbling runs and overcame serious injuries before grabbing gold on vault and placing 5th all around at the 2012 Olympics. Her floor routine was one of the most captivating in London, and it made me realize just how much I appreciate her presence.

Sandra Izbasa (ROM), 2012 Olympic Games, Floor Exercise Apparatus Final

Aw man, if only she hadn’t fallen on the last skill of her career!

Other stars are continuing on in the sport, and it remains to be seen how they will fare against the new crop of gymnasts. Viktoria Komova (RUS) displays what I think is the best combination of grace, form, difficulty and power the world has ever seen. I hope she’ll be able to maintain the same level of magic in the coming years.

Viktoria Komova (RUS), 2010 Youth Olympic Games, Floor Exercise

Kohei Uchimura (JPN) was carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders and didn’t seem to be in peak form at the 2012 Olympic Games. Of course, despite putting his hands down on floor, he still managed to win the all around by a whopping 1.659, the same margin that separated gymnasts 2 through 13. Usually I find myself rooting for the underdog, but I know I’ll always hope for King Kohei to maintain his throne. Looks like there are some new tricks up his sleeve:

Kohei Uchimura (JPN), Kovacs-Kolman-Kolman Combo

Now that Nikolai Kuksenkov has left the Ukrainian team in favour of Team Russia, it will be interesting to see how that shakes up standings on the international scene. Coach Igor Korobchinsky may deny it, but that is quite a blow to Ukraine.

Nikolai Kuksenkov (UKR), 2011 World Championships, High Bar

One gymnast I’ve been excited to see on the senior international stage is Katelyn Ohashi (USA) and she’s finally old enough!

Katelyn Ohashi (USA), 2011 National Championships, Balance Beam

Mykayla Skinner (USA) recently busted out a laid out double-double on floor. It’s been over a quarter of a century since a woman first showcased a full-twisting double layout, so this was a long time coming. Skinner may be selected for the 2013 Worlds team based on her floor tumbling alone!

Should be another great quadrennium. I hope it’s as exciting as the last!

2012 Olympic Games – Women’s All Around

Sunday, August 5th, 2012

The day we’ve all been waiting for – the day the new queen of gymnastics would be crowned! With many more potential winners here than in the Beijing All Around finals, this competition promised to be exciting from beginning to end. Early favourite Viktoria Komova (RUS) and new star Gabby Douglas (USA) were neck and neck all afternoon long, but in the end it was Douglas who reigned supreme.

Gabby Douglas (USA), 2012 Olympic Games, Team Final Balance Beam

Douglas and Komova each started the meet with an Amanar, with Komova suffering a wonky landing that ended up off the landing mat. When all was said and done, this error could have been enough to cost her the gold medal. Even the floor routine of her life (15.100) was not enough to catch up with Douglas, who had 4 fantastic performances to clinch the top prize.

Viktoria Komova (RUS), 2012 Olympic Games, All Around Floor Exercise

I really wanted these two on the podium along with Aliya Mustafina (RUS), so it was a major bummer when Mustafina fell from the beam after her Arabian landed a little crooked (my sister said she nailed it in the one-touch warm-up). After the fall, it seemed that the rest of the routine wasn’t quite a crisp as usual. It really was an uphill battle for Mustafina right from the beginning, since she started 0.7 behind the top contenders on vault; she performed a Baitova, as opposed to the Amanar she used to compete before her untimely knee injury at the 2011 European Championships. But in the end, the fall didn’t cost her a spot on the podium, as she would have been in the bronze medal position either way!

Aliya Mustafina (RUS), 2012 Olympic Games, Uneven Bars Apparatus Finals

I do feel very sorry for Alexandra Raisman (USA) who tied for 3rd but lost the bronze medal due to the tie-breaking procedure. That has got to be disappointing, especially after her uncharacteristically wobbly balance beam routine and after leaving out her punch layout front on floor. Sandra Izbasa (ROM), on the other hand, was fabulous on her 3 best events and probably would have been Olympic Champion if her bars had been on par. Dominique Pegg (CAN) rounded out a superb competition by hitting 4-for-4 (with some small wobbles on beam) for 17th, with a floor performance that started with a high-flying double layout. Poor Hannah Whelan (GBR) lost all hope of a Top 10 finish after crashing her Yurchenko-double-full for 0.000.

In the end, the results were as they should be. Congrats to Gabby Douglas! Over the past year, she has improved not only her gymnastics, but especially her consistency and her mental game. Congratulations are also in order for Viktoria Komova, who showed that she can fight right to the end, and to Aliya Mustafina, who displayed excellent sportsmanship with a positive attitude throughout the competition and in her support for her younger teammate.

Russia Reigns

Monday, May 3rd, 2010

Russia reigned supreme at the European Championships held this week in Birmingham, England. Junior gymnasts from this country won every single gold available, with Larisa Iordache of Romania tying for top honours on the floor exercise. Viktoria Komova and Anastasia Grishina packed a 1-2 punch in the all-around, and they even managed to split apparatus golds between them. Both have loads of difficulty and a style very much reminiscent of the Soviet greats that came before. Indeed, Komova is the daughter of 1986 Goodwill Games champion Vera Kolesnikova.

Viktoria Komova (RUS), 2010 European Championships, Balance Beam

The Russians all entered their beginning poses on floor exercise with a flourish. Grishina’s superior technique is evident at 0:27 with her floaty leg-up double turn to double stag jump and at 0:35 with her triple twist.

Anastasia Grishina (RUS), 2010 European Championships, Floor Exercise

Sometimes I ask myself why I love it so much when the Russian gymnasts succeed. I think the main reason is that the Soviets from years past are the very epitome of what gymnastics should be, and I want that tradition to be passed along to the new crop of gymnasts. Unfortunately, the other former Soviet republics are struggling; former powerhouses such as Belarus have fallen off the gymnastics map. The results of the Ukrainian gymnasts at these European Championships are particularly upsetting given their rich legacy in the sport. They managed just one bronze from senior Natalia Kononenko on the uneven bars, and no junior gymnasts qualified to event finals at all. (Is it true that two of the Ukrainian junior gymnasts come from gyms where they still train on wooden balance beams?!).

Natalia Kononenko (UKR), 2010 European Championships, Uneven Bars

What a tricky routine, performed with fantastic form! It was lucky for Kononenko that she hung on to the bronze, as Youna Dufournet (FRA) would have bumped her to fourth place had her coach not accidentally touched her following her Def.

Another reason I want the Russians to achieve great results is that the routines they display show the winning combination of artistry and difficulty in a time when many gymnasts simply forgo choreography.

Viktoria Komova (RUS), 2010 European Championships, Floor Exercise

I really appreciate all that Beth Tweddle has done for British gymnastics, but she should have to show more than just spectacular tumbling to earn gold medals on floor exercise (2009 Worlds and now 2010 Europeans). Anyway, there’s no disputing that her uneven bars are among the best in the world. Unbelievable!

Beth Tweddle (GBR), 2010 European Championships, Uneven Bars

I hope these European Championships mark the start of an upward trend in Russian gymnastics. Komova and Grishina have proven they have what it takes to lead Russia to great success in the future. Davai!