Thursday, September 11, 2008

I Miss You!!

A List Dedicated to the girls who left the sport before I was ready to see them go…..

I’ve already said how much I missed Queen Khorky at Bejing. I really really do. I’m not sure, though, if it is that I miss her , or the drama that surrounded everything she did.
The funny thing was, a lot of the time it was the commentators, not her, that actually created most of the drama. She would pull one face, or call out one word to her coach, and it was all like, “Look at the passion! The fire! All hail the diva!” It was quite hilarious, even though she did admit she loved the diva tag. She had bags of personality to spare.

Catalina Ponor. I did like her beam work, though I know a lot of people criticise it these days. I also liked her clean, powerful vaulting more even if she wasn't up there with the best. But to tell the truth, I mostly miss Cata because she was a bit glamorous and mature compared to all the CHILDREN in the sport. Also, I love how she got caught sneaking out to a party before the Melbourne worlds. That is about as bad as you get from most gymnasts!

Sabina Cojocar. While I am very happy for her that she is trying to have a singing career and might not have to resort to selling her medals in order to survive like some Romanian gymnasts have in the past, I am so sad she was ruined by the ill-treatment of a disease so early in a brilliantly promising career. And it makes me sick to think it might be the terrible treatment of her coaches that might have had something to do with it.

Isabelle Severino. Loved her. Loved her. Loved her!
Like Cata, she added a bit of much needed sophistication to the sport. Also, she was a blessed dilettante among so many one-eyed, single minded little gymnasts. She left the sport, had a life and came back with worldly experience.
And she had style. She had flair. She used the White Stripes in her floor music!
But my favorite thing of all was her sportswomanship. When she unexpectedly found herself in the Beam finals a couple of year’s back she was so great. And after she finished her routine, she went and chatted to and congratulated every gymnast after theirs. She built a sense of camaraderie among the finalists and was not afraid to openly admire others work.
I suppose that because she wasn’t really expecting to medal that, unlike the others, she had the mental space and maturity to do that. Whatever reason, it was great.
Now she’s gone. Stupid, stupid Achilles tendon!

Dina Kochetkova. I always maintain that Dina Kochetkova was an unsung gymnastics hero. If you watch competitions from her era, most of the time you will find that she ranked in the top five, if not better, of everything she ever competed in. But you rarely got to see footage of her competing. The camera was always elsewhere. It drives me crazy! I've commented on it on Youtube too out of sheer frustration. Mostly because, when you did get to see her, she was such a terrific, graceful and skilful gymnast. She was one that even when she was there I missed her!

Hollie Dikes. We are so used to losing gymnasts in this sport because they are thwarted early by injury or age or lack of improvement, not just because they give up. Maybe that is why it was so heartbreaking to see Hollie leave the sport. Her gymnastics was just gorgeous, and she had so much talent, but she just walked away. Though I respect any decision a sportsperson makes over their life and body, it was sad to see such an athlete retire when it looked like she could go on to do amazing things.

Alicia Sacramone. I know she hasn’t quite retired yet, but I miss her already. She was just so much fun. I like most of the American team, but they get a lot of media attention, and frankly, sometimes they are just a little dull. I don’t really blame them. When all you do is train all day every day, then do your homework and then sleep, you don’t have that much to talk about. And I certainly wasn’t that interesting, even with a life, at sixteen. But A-Sac was fun and funny. She had a great way of relating in interviews, a sense of humour and the knock-out story, true or not, was pretty damn hilarious. And of course I am going to miss her GIGANTIC vaults with their pristine form. Oh, couldn’t she have got a medal at Beijing!?!

Monette Russo. In what seems to be the beginning or our Aussie theme of losing our great All-Around hopes to injury before they get a chance to show their best stuff at the Olympics, Netty was knocked out by a broken bone. Though she had her day at Worlds in 2005, it was depressing she didn't get to show off in Athens. She was a lovely gymnast and so steady.
Also, I have a particular soft spot for her because, years ago, a scriptwriter friend of mine was looking to make a documentary for one of our TV channels over here. I suggested she do one on Australian Gymnastics because of the rapid improvement of our team due to Peggy Liddick, foreign coaches coming in and the introduction of a more American style training camp process. My friend decided it was a good idea, and I got to go through all the junior gymnast profiles to see who I thought looked to be a promising gymnast for her to follow in the years up to Anaheim and Athens for her research, knowing more about the sport than her. And I chose Netty- who ended up being our greatest gymnast ever! Yay!
Of course, as is the nature of state funded doco’s, it fell through, but I had an eye trained on Monette from that moment on and it was great to see an Aust gymnast have such a wonderful career. I wish injury hadn’t taken her so early.


  1. This is a really great blog!
    Keep it up!

  2. I totally agree with you on so many things! I loved that Khorkina and was it Latynina (?) in the audience at AA in Beijing were shown approving of Nastia's win also! (although I couldn't help thinking they were saying She's Russian you idiots, not REALLY American!) You rock! So glad I found this blog! :) Robin in Virginia

  3. Thanks for the nice comments guys. It's encouraging to know that people are reading it. I've had another blog (not about gym) and sometimes it feels like you are writing to no one. Bt hearing that you like it makes me want to keep going!!

  4. Vanessa Atler! She had so much more to give, so much more potential, and yet was passed over a gymnast who, *at her current best,* couldn't score as well as Ness *at her worst.* In the current system, Nessa would have been like A-Sac - appreciated for her amazing talent on three events, without having to deal with bars. The difference is, Ness did challenge for AA titles, even with her problems on bars. I truly believe she would have made a *major* difference in the 2000 Olys.

  5. Tracee Talevara

    Shawn Johnson (she's not coming back after the AA theft).

    Jennifer Sey. (Just kidding.)

  6. Shawn Johnson IS coming back.

    But she probably won't do will with the new code.