Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Merry Christmas Montage

Check out this montage by fb07montages for festive!

Happy Christmas Everyone! :)

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

We have a tie!

Well, my 'Favourite 90s World Beam Champions' has ended with a tie! Shannon Miller and Mo Huilan tied for first place with 30% of the vote each. Nipping in third was Dina Kochetkova with 12% of the votes.Five great things about Mo Huilan....

1. That amazing one armed handstand lower to staddle! I can't even imagine how many hours she spent perfecting that!

2. A sky high layout!

3. Gorgeous leaps in combination. I loved her stag leap.
4. She was just so adorable, how could anyone not love her?

5. Like all the Chinese, beautiful polish and flexibility.Five great things about Shannon Miller...

1. Beautiful handstand positions
2. Her two layouts in combination without a hint of the bent knees we see so much of today

3. She was so consistent and barely ever fell4. A difficult and stuck dismount

5. Like Mo, she had a beautifully polished routine with permanently pointed toes

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Lilia Podkopayeva - 1995 World All Around Champion

Honestly, I thought that with such a vast number of readers being from the US, that Shannon Miller would win my 'Favourite 90s All Around Champion' poll.
Personally, I did vote for Lilia but I thought I would be over ruled! It turns out I was wrong, with Lilia storming the competition with over half the votes. Shannon Miller came in second with 20%, while Kim Zmeskal snatched third with 11%.
So, why is LiliPod so endearing?

First off, she was tremendously talented, taking five European and World medals prior to the 1995 World Championships. Throughout her career, she took 17 World, Olympic and European medals!

She was a true all arounder, with no weak event. Throughout her career, she earned medals on all the apparatus individually at either Worlds or the '96 Olympics.

She invented a number of fabulous skills, including a Double front with a half twist on floor and her very own Podkopayeva vault.

She was modest and gracious, even when she didn't win. Leonid Arkaev named her as the gymnast he would miss working with the most!

She was the full package, powerful and yet beautifully balletic.

She made you smile when she came out onto the floor with her charming routines!

At this competition, she was widely considered an underdog, but remained consistent to beat the favourites Lavinia Milosovici and Svetlana Khorkina.

Monday, 8 December 2008

British University Gymnastics

As I'm constantly hearing about NCAA gymnastics in the USA, I figured I would shed some like on the world of University Gymnastics within the UK.

All University sport in the UK operate through an organisation called BUCS (British Universities & Colleges Sport). BUCS ranks Universities overall and for individual sports on a points base system.

In gymnastics, the points are decided at the annual BUCS competition. (Yes, just one competition and that's it!). Although there are a couple of other competitions in the year. Gymnasts can compete in Grade 1 or grade 2.

Grade 1

Grade 1 operates under the FIG code of points and gymnasts can only enter individually (there is no team event). Gymnasts compete on all four events and only all around medals are awarded. There are no individual apparatus finals. Last year, four gymnasts entered into the women's category, while eight entered into the men's category.

The women's champion was Nina Dearman of Manchester University, who finished with a score of 53.500. Nina is also a member of the English National Squad. Unfortunately, I couldn't find any recent pictures or videos of Nina!
In 2005, Beth Tweddle was the all around BUCS champion!

The men's champion was Steven Jehu, of Leeds Met University who finished with a score of 86.400, who went on to represent Britain at the World Student Games in Bangkok. Steven has now graduated and hopes to compete in London 2012, so look out for him!

Grade 2

Grade 2 operates under a modified version of the difficulty+execution code of points. Only skills of B value or under count towards the final score. B skills are awarded a value of 0.5, A skills 0.3 and some Uncoded skills, 0.1. There are also special requirements on all apparatus except vault, which are given a value of 0.5. There are no connection values and only the top 8 skills are counted on beam and the top 9 on floor or bars.

Gymnasts compete on three apparatus only and all around, apparatus and team medals are awarded. Gymnasts competing in grade 1 must also compete in grade 2 to represent their team but are not eligible to win individual medals.

Last year, the winning team on the women's side was Loughborough, the all around champion was Vikki Johns of Leeds University.

Here are some example routines from grade two from the girls at Leeds Metropolitan University

The vast majority of gymnasts compete in grade 2, with 68 entries last year, including 14 teams. Sadly, gymnastics in Universities is very badly funded in most universities, with the vast majority not having their own gyms. The only Universities with their own gyms (that I know of) are Loughborough, UWIC and Leeds Metroploitan (correct me if I'm wrong). Further problems include a lack of sponsorship, scholarships and publicity.

Loughborough Gymnastics Centre

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Vanessa Ferrari

'I was ready to compete against anyone. I am not afraid of anyone and I will win'
(when asked how she felt when she heard Chellsie Memmel had
withdrawn from the 2006 world all around competition)

... I guess she was right!

Friday, 5 December 2008

10 Reasons...

Why Steliana Nistor is my favourite Romanian of the past quad.
10. She always looked well turned out but not overdone. Very business like.

9. Personally, I really liked her floor exercise, in fact it was one of my favourites in Beijing, including choreography and tumbling

8. For me, Steliana had a great body type, not all skin and bone, but not over the top muscle, just right!

7. Steliana was the oldest Romanian on the team, but remained their brightest all around stars for the entire quad. Even when she was injured, she wasn't beaten to the all around finals by a younger member of the team.

6. She was the leader of the Romanian pack and the one who was full of personality.You could tell by the way she interacted with them, she's a bit of a chatter box.

5. The girl had guts! She fought through many injuries to be at Beijing because the team needed her there, and she gave it her all. I was so glad when she and the Romanian's got bronze because to see all Steliana's effort go unrecognised would have been heart breaking.

4. Unlike most of the Romanians, she was an all around gymnast that was solid on all four events, including uneven bars.3. She is clever too! She taught herself English and took her exams just before Beijing, attaining very good results. I can't imagine preparing for my final year whilst also preparing for the Olympics! Madness!

2. You could see her attitude in the way she performed, even if she was having an off day, she would not be beaten. Her routines all showed her personality and were unique just in the way she delivered them

1. Most likely arriving from the point above - her consistency. Pavlova could learn a thing or two from Nistor, she barely ever fell! In fact, I can't remember the last time she did fall.

Here's to Stela!

Romanian Gymnastics

I recently stumbled across this documentary, aired just after the 2008 Europeans.It includes many Romanian gymnasts including Izbasa, Nistor, Patrascu, Druncea, Grigore, Tarmijan etc. It talks about the environment at Deva as well as the girls individually. Check it out, it's worth a watch. It's in Romanian with English subtitles.
Here's part 1:

Monday, 1 December 2008

1993 World Qualifying Competition

I've been watching the 1993 World Qualifying Competition...
Here's some of the highlights:

He Xuemei's Balance Beam Routine.
She mounts with a press to handstand into a heely turn and goes on to perform a straight back with a full as well as a (very high and straight) straight back. She does a beautiful jump into scale and like all the Chinese, shows great flexibility and control. She qualified to the beam finals but unfortunatley fell on her full twist and stumbled back on her dismount.
She competed in the 1992 Olympics but sadly didn't qualify to any finals. Apparently, she moved to Japan and competed for them at the Asian Games in 2006 aged 29 (!) under the name Setsubai Takaseki.

Mini Lilia Podkopayeva's Floor Routine
Sure, she fell, but there was definatley an air of what was to come here. She already had nice dance and clean lines.

Luisa Protocarrero's Beam Routine
This was jam packed with interesting and beautiful skills. I loved her flexibility. Unfortunatley, she seemed to be having an off day with quite a few wobbles and thus, didn't qualify for the beam finals. Here she is in the all around final, where she performed better:

Shannon Miller.. On every piece of appratus.
She really was on form here. I wish we still saw execution like hers. I was less impressed with her in 92 and 96, but here she was beautiful, a truly deserving world all around champion.
Here she is on floor:

There's also a few interviews and training footage, it's worth a watch

Who's Your Favourite?

1991 Kim Zmeskal
Shannon Miller - 1993/4

Lilia Podkopayeva 1995

Svetlana Khorkina1997

Maria Olaru 1999

Be sure to vote!

Top Gym

Well, Jordyn Weiber wiped the floor with the other competitors at this weekends Tom Gym tournament, winning the all around, bars and beam titles. Past champions from the USA to make a splash at top gym include Shawn Johnson, Ivanna Hong and Carly Patterson. In 2005,Shawn took the all round, vault and floor titles while Ivanna Hong took beam and bars.
In 2000, Carly Patterson took silver in the all around and bronze on the balance beam.
It looks like we may be hearing much more about Jordyn Weiber in the coming years.Larisa Iordache also made a splash, with this floor exercise, look out for the third pass!