Thursday, April 1, 2010

THE SCANDALOUS STELLA....

Thank you to a delightful commenter who reminded me that the Stella Zakharova Cup is also on this weekend.  For those of you who don't know, Stella was a gymnast from Odessa, Ukraine, who competed for the Soviet Union.  Stella was apparently the first gymnast to have three different double somersaults in a routine!  She won a team gold at the Moscow Olympics.


(Stella on right, with Svetlana Agapova, left)


I believe she was at the center of some controversy in the Ukrainian gymnastics world some years ago for various reasons, including the fact that the gym federation would not sanction the SZ Cup, because the Boris Shaklin Cup was held the same month.  When she complained to the press, the federation wrote a letter, signed by some prominent gymnasts, asking her to leave it alone, causing a storm in a tea cup.  Stella had been president of the federation at one point, as was Ludmilla Turischeva (who supported her), but was forced to resign for 'immoral behavior'.  She was replaced by a former cyclist, Victor Korzh who has no previous experience of gymnastics.


(Stella now, featured in a Ukrainian magazine)

Stella continues to run the Cup each year in the name of her club, one of the few privately funded gymnastics club in the Ukraine, despite the fact that the Ukrainian National team do not always enter. She has the financial support of sponsors like Coca Cola, McDonalds and Samsung. Last year it hosted gymnasts from Belarus, Uzbekistan and Hungary.

And, as the commenter advised me, this year, the lithe and lovely Laura Svilpaite of Lithuania will be competing.  There will also be gymnasts from Belarus, Lithuania, Slovakia, Russia and Belgium but I cannot seem to find out exactly who is attending.

In the face of all the accusations and vitriol that flew about in the last couple of years, it is hard to know what to think about Stella and the Ukrainian gymnastics federation, but one things is for sure, if her interview with International Gymnast is anything to go by, she is passionate about gymnastics and want to return Ukraine to its former glory!


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