Saturday, May 22, 2010


One of my favorite things about all the gymnastics coverage on Youtube is the documentaries.  On the days when my bandwith is still good- I gobble up any new entries on the doco front. I'll even watch pieces that aren't in English sometimes, if it means getting a look inside a Chinese or Spanish gym.  The old Soviet ones are particularly incredible with their rare glimpses of those spectacular gymnasts doing the hard yards in those ramshackle old gyms.  I love the daily process of gymnastics- seeing how people train and are trained.  I like the personal stories, the overtly poignant shots of the little 'uns, the melodrama, and the fun.  I love it.

We tend to see a few of the Russian ones, some french docos and even a couple of Australian ones, but only recently did I find the British shows that are available on Youtube.  Two particular shows I thought were great were a TV program on gymnast Jennifer Pinches made back in 2005, called A Different Life- a show that clearly features children whose lives are somehow out of the ordinary, and another one on Annika Reeder from 1995-6, called the Olympic Diaries, which follows her in the period before the 1996 Olympics, her first Olympics.  Both are really interesting snapshots of two very different gymnasts in two very different periods for British gymnasts.


Annika Reeder was a fiercely talented British gymnast from the nineties.  She snapped up a Commonwealth Gold medal on floor (as well as a team gold) at the tender age of fourteen, in 1994.  In her long and illustrious career she attended five World Championshsips and two Olympic Games.  The 2000 Olympic Games, which she attended as team captain was a disastrous time for Annika.  Though her biggest aim was to compete in the all-around final of an Olympic Games, her attempt was thwarted by the vault fiasco and an injury from crashing on the apparatus prevented her from finishing the Olympics.
Hailing from Essex, Annika had a move named after her in the Code of Points and was one of Britain's most successful gymnasts.  I believe she now coaches.

The Annika doco is quite interesting, though at times vaguely depressing, and narrated by that very British kind of voiceover guy.  It is fascinating hearing Anika talk about her school mates and their attitude towards her near the beginning, and particularly her confusion about wether to leave school and having to weigh the risks of losing her education vs possibly not making the Olympics.  It all seems quite  confusing for her.  Her facial expressions as she and her Mum go through GSCE applications are hilarious!
It's also sad that she gets lonely going to the Paris International.  I am sure she enjoyed the 2000 Olympics better when she got to travel with a team.

I love, too, when she performs her 'floor' for her Mum in the lounge room!

Top Quotes:

"I'm not Miss Brainy, I'm not meant to know everyfink!"


"There's no such thing as luck in leotards!"


Jenny Pinches has been a noteworthy up and coming junior for the British team for some years now. She was the English junior champion in 2007 and was sent to Bejing as part of the "Ambition Delegation" of young athletes to experience the Olympics. She won uneven bars and came second on beam at last year's AYOF competition in Australia.  She was also training a standing full twisting tuck on beam last year.  She came second all-around at this year's British Championships in the junior division.  We still have her senior career to look forward to.
The Jennifer show is fun.  She's a real cutie and young and spontaneous.  She makes those hilariously obvious, but also very astute observations that only kids seem to make.

Top quotes:

"My favorite event is floor, because you can't hardly fall off the floor!


"Well done. Beth.  You did as well as you could possibly do!" (If she wasn't so darn sweet- you'd think it was a backhanded compliment!)

Jennifer is still young enough- and not media trained like a US gymnast- so hers is a refreshing, honest voice of a kid who still has bags of enthusiasm for the sport. It is hilarious watching her watch Beth Tweddle on bars too!

There is also a really fat, really cute cat! And her brothers are funny too. Well worth the watch.

I have linked to the docos first parts. Just click on their title above if you want to watch them and it will take you to Part 1 of each respectively. You can follow the links to the subsequent parts.


1 comment:

  1. Great post! If you're ever bored, there's another interesting documentary featuring some great hopes for British gymnastics (Lizzie Beddoe, Jessica Hogg, Venus Romaeo and briefly Angel Romaeo), focusing mainly on the Romaeos. It differs from the others as the Romaeo family caused quite a lot of controversy after the documentary amongst the Brit gym community for coming across rather pushy/ extreme. There are 2 different versions up on Youtube- not sure if they were in 2 different episodes or what. There are different sports featured as well but you can skip over those bits pretty easily as well if you don't want to watch them.