Posts Tagged ‘Oksana Chusovitina’

2017 World Championships

Sunday, November 12th, 2017



I have so many fantastic memories from the 2017 World Championships that I don’t even know where to start! It was my first time going to a Worlds, and one of the most exciting things was just seeing the gymnasts in real life. I chatted with Yvonne Tousek and Cristina Bontas (both super friendly!), and got my picture taken with Daniela Silivas, Dominique Moceanu, Ekaterina Lobaznyuk, Amy Tinkler and Brittany Rogers. We saw sooooo many gymnasts roaming the stadium too…everyone from Marian Dragulescu to Ragan Smith on crutches to Svetlana Khorkina.

Here are some of my favourite things from the Montreal Worlds, in no particular order:

I loved the dramatic music and the way each gymnast was introduced with a burst of dry ice (is that what that was?!) and 10 flames. Poor Weng Hao (CHN), Artur Dalaloyan (RUS) and Zou Jingyuan (CHN) didn’t get the flames because they were standing too far off to the side, and no one wants to see a gymnast get singed eyebrows.

Belyavsky

Nadia Comaneci (ROU) was interviewed on stage each of the four days of finals (she even did her famous floor pose!), and Max Whitlock (GBR) came out on the floor on the final day to talk about winning Pommels. The organizing committee definitely kept the crowd entertained, not only with the fun intros, but also by having the “present cam” and by having the audience vote for their choice of “rotation” music.

I think I have a new favourite! Elena Eremina (RUS)! She is such a beautiful gymnast, and she looks cheerful and sweet. I never paid much attention until I saw her on YouTube looking overjoyed that teammate Angelina Melnikova had won floor at the 2017 European Championships…a final she herself was also competing in. It’s great she came away from her first Worlds with a silver and a bronze, but I would have preferred to see her win Uneven Bars!

Oksana Chusovitina (UZB) was absolutely amazing on Vault. She competed a layout front full (a bit piked) and a Tsukahara-1.5 with among the best form seen in the final. I wish she could have snuck in for a medal. Similarly, the very enthusiastic Jorge Vega Lopez was phenomenal and it would have been cool to see him bring some hardware back to Guatemala.

Zou was unbelievable on Parallel Bars. He has absolute control over his body and has mastered this event. He and Oleg Verniaiev (UKR) ended up miles ahead of a strong field of finalists. I was also thrilled to see Hidetaka Miyachi (JPN) on High Bar. His double-twisting layout Kovacs is out of this world!!! It was such a shame when he missed the tucked version….

Kenzo Shirai (JPN) was on fire!!! He is absolutely phenomenal on Floor and Vault. His twisting is indescribable; his quadruple twist looks like a triple, his triple-twisting Yurchenko looks like a double…and he does it all with immaculate form (and a smile on his face! OK, not really). He won Floor by a margin 1,100 times greater than the margin by which he won Vault.

It was fun seeing the Twitter exchange between Morgan Hurd (USA) and JK Rowling!Hurd Rowling

Surprise medallists…at least, surprises to me! Tim Srbic (CRO) nailed his full-twisting double layout to stand atop the High Bar podium. Almost, not a huge shock, but it’s always kinda cool when a newby like Hurd steps up and wins gold (in the All Around , no less!). I breathed a sigh of relief when Mai Murakami (JPN) finally got a gold medal after ending up in 4th in the All Around AND on Beam.

Brooklyn Moors (CAN) totally deserved the Longines Award for Elegance. What a gorgeous floor routine, complete with a Podkopayeva mount.

Yul Moldauer (USA) was a picture of consistency. He’s such a neat and tidy gymnast. I love Shirai, but I would have been cool with Moldauer winning the Longines Award.

Whoa – only 2 gymnasts managed to score in the 13s on Beam in the All-Around finals: Tabea Alt (GER) and Eremina. And by that, I mean that the 13s were the HIGHEST scores!

Nina Derwael: Belgium’s first medal! She’s been scooping up Uneven Bars medals at various meets for years now, so it as great to see her win bronze at her first World Championship!

Ellie Black (CAN) was a total crowd favourite. It was deafening in the stands before, during and after each of her routines. For her to finish 2nd AA (just 0.1 out of 1st!) was thrilling for the home crowd.

DISAPPOINTMENTS:

This didn’t turn into the Kohei Uchimura (JPN)-Oleg Verniaiev (UKR) showdown that I was hoping for. I can’t even describe how sad I was when I heard that Uchimura was injured and I realized I wouldn’t see him compete in Montreal. I didn’t even see him in the stadium, and he was the one I was most excited to see. :-(

All the other injuries: Larisa Iordache (ROU), Ragan Smith (USA), Yang Hak Seon (KOR), Vanessa Ferrari (ITA)….  It’s so sad when that happens after all their hard work (not to mention the severe thinning of the field when top contenders are forced to withdraw).

Russian David Belyavsky’s heartbreak on High Bar was awful; the Men’s AA was truly a highlight – a real nail-biter! It was so sad for all the gymnasts who fell, especially Randy Leru (CUB) who looked devastated after he sat down his gorgeous double-twisting double layout off High Bar in the event final. It was also a major bummer for his teammate, Manrique Larduet, to come away from these Worlds without a medal.

I wanted to see Lieke and Sanne Wevers (NED) (I did see them in the crowd a few times!), Eythora Thorsdottir (NED) and Catalina Ponor (ROU), but unfortunately they didn’t make finals.

Weng’s Pommels was simply sublime, but a slight glitch on the dismount and a lower D-score was enough to leave him in 6th. It was kind of fun booing with everyone else when his score came up and we realized he was not in the medals.

(Oh! The video doesn’t do the routine justice. In real life, his body line was gorgeous…here, it just looks REALLY GOOD.)

So all in all, it was a great meet and I had an amazing time with my sister in Montreal. We left the city with fabulous memories. I hope another competition of this calibre come to this corner of the world in the near future.

2015 World Championships

Thursday, November 19th, 2015

The dust has settled on another Worlds, and by all accounts it was a fantastic event. Glasgow sure put on a show! Many dreams of qualifying to the Rio Olympic Games were fulfilled, while others were shattered. After two weeks of incredible gymnastics, it’s hard to choose just a few favourite moments, but here we go….

Kohei Uchimura (JPN) wins his 6th straight Worlds (7 years in a row counting the 2012 Olympics). If he wins in Rio next year too, he will have dominated two entire quads. Simply amazing!

I love the Dutch team! So much elegance and beauty, and they must be over the moon to have qualified directly to Rio by placing 8th. The icing on the cake was surely Sanne Wevers‘s silver medal on beam. Sanne’s twin, Lieke, and Eythora Thorsdottir were both delightful on floor.

Oksana Chusovitina (UZB) just keeps going and going. I really hope she can earn a spot to her 7th Olympics at the Test Event. Debuting a double front vault at age 40 is unfathomable, yet she managed to do it!

Simone Biles (USA) is in a league of her own. She is able to build up enormous D scores, and her E scores are fabulous too. Her tumbling is out of this world and her signature Biles (double layout half-out) never ceases to amaze me. Sae Miyakawa (JPN) also has phenomenal tumbling, but I don’t love the rest of her routine.

Manrique Larduet (CUB) earned an Olympic spot by winning bronze on the very last event, high bar. Phew! How silly is it that his silver medal in the All Around didn’t do the trick?! The FIG must be breathing a sigh of relief, because not qualifying after being second in the world to Uchimura would have been a big egg on their collective face!

I love how Ellie Black (CAN) throws every trick in the book on beam! She has now qualified to an apparatus final every year for 4 straight years now: vault at the 2012 Olympic Games, floor at the 2013 Worlds, and beam in both 2014 and 2015. She has also improved her All Around ranking each year: 13th in 2013, 9th in 2014 and 7th this year.

What were your favourite moments from the Glasgow Worlds?

Age Is Just A Number

Sunday, October 19th, 2008

On the heels of the controversy surrounding the ages of the Chinese gymnasts in Beijing, I have decided to do an about-face and turn my attention to those at the other end of the spectrum: the gymnasts who continue to compete despite the common belief that gymnastics is a young person’s sport.

I recently discovered footage of a 63-year-old Japanese gymnast named Wakamatsu. His love for the sport shines through in his inspirational performances on all six events, competing against much younger teammates. He swings giants on the high bar with ease and he even attempts an iron cross on rings!

Wakamatsu, All Events

After discovering Wakamatsu’s talents, I delved deeper into the subject of older gymnasts and my attention was drawn to a 50-year-old female gymnast known as gymmako, who is seen swinging giants and catching Giengers and Jaegers on the uneven bars. She is also working on a half-in half-out dismount, twisting in both directions!

gymmako, Gienger

Even within the Elite gymnastics scene, the ages of top athletes are ever rising. The average age of the female gymnasts at the 2008 Beijing Olympics was 18.6, a far cry from the 1992 Barcelona Olympics when Svetlana Boginskaya was considered over-the-hill at age 19! I used to snicker at the fact that Larisa Latynina had already given birth to two children when she won so many of her World and Olympic medals, but even in recent years there have been three mothers on the competition floor: Leyanet Gonzalez, Suzanne Harmes and Oksana Chusovitina.

Although I can’t say Chusovitina’s gymnastics style makes her one of my favourites, I do have tremendous respect for her tenacity and her ability to remain at the top of her sport. Starting in 1990, she has competed for the USSR, the CIS, Uzbekistan and now Germany, all the while amassing an impressive medal collection. Her powerful tumbling and vaulting raised the bar in international competition. Chusovitina’s first World title on the floor exercise was won in 1991 before many of her current rivals were even born! One of the highlights in Beijing was seeing this 33-year-old place 9th in the All-Around and win the Silver medal on vault…in her FIFTH Olympic Games. Fantastic!

Oksana Chusovitina Montage

Update:

And that’s not all. At the 2012 Cottbus World Cup, Johanna Quaas (GER) performed a demonstration on floor and parallel bars at the age of 86. Yes, 86! She has a lightness to her movement, and she demonstrates front and back rolls, a handstand roll, cat leap, scissor leap and even headstand on floor. On the parallel bars she showed rolling elements, balances, and even a strength element. Fantastic!

Johanna Quaas, Parallel Bars

Johanna Quaas, Floor

Also, it’s interesting to note that Oksana Chusovitina (GER) and Jordan Jovtchev (BUL) are competing in the 2012 Olympic Games as we speak, and both have qualified to an apparatus final (vault for Chusovitina and rings for Jovtchev). I wish them the best of luck! Tune in for another update in 2016…!