Sunday, October 31, 2010

"I WANT OLYMPIC GOLD....."



Prosport asked Octavian Belu his thoughts on the Romanian results in Rotterdam.  He told them he believed they should not be considered in of themselves, but rather as hope for the future.  He, of course, is looking toward Tokyo next year and getting the girls ready for more difficulty and harder work.  He also admitted that he was not just in the stands during the World Championships.  This, anyone working there already knew, as he was very much present and in action in the training halls.  he simply did not wish to accompany them onto the floor- he did do a great deal of calling from the stands, however!
Ana porgras was also interviewed, saying that she simply thought of everything she had done to work for the medal before mounting the beam.  She is satisfied, but they are looking at upping her difficulty everywhere for the future.
Now?  "I want Olympic gold" she said.  Well honey, so does everyone!  For Porgras, the biggest task will be upping her difficulty whilst remaining uninjured. Let's hope she can.

SEITZ AND HAMBUECHEN win swiss cup



As you all probably all know by now, the Swiss Cup was on this weekend.  The Swiss Cup has a strange format where two representatives, male and female, from each country compete together. It is like the Hopman Cup of gymnastics. In each round they comepte in one event each.
Germany's pair, Fabian Hambuechen and Elisabeth Seitz managed to defeat Italy to win.  Teams from Romania, China, Ukraine and Great Britain were also defeated along the way.  Many teams, according to International Gymnast, lost in the early rounds due to mistakes from their top gymnasts.
In each round, the gymnasts pick which event they will compete in.  Seitz, unsurprisingly selected uneven bars, but chose not to perform her Def.  Switzerland came thirds.  This means that if you fall, you are pretty much out of the competition.
For full coverage, including training notes and videos, check out the Gymnastics Examiner's coverage.

DEEPLY SHALLOW.....

The University of Iowa have gone and gotten themselves in trouble by NCAA officials for allowing to potential basketball recruits to meet US stars Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore.  Because Kutcher donates money to the basketball team, he is considered a representative of the University's athletic interests.  But guess who has also been known to go to the games?!  Apparently, according to one of the players, Kutcher loves to talk, so Shawn would have had a good time!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

THE TCG WORLDS AWARDS FOR 2010

It's time to cap off what I really thought was a spectacular Worlds WAG competition with TCG's personal Rotterdam Awards.


The Skill




Winner:

Charlotte Mackie- congratulations to her for performing and nailing the one-armed Onodi! 

Runners Up:

Nabieva and Mustafina- The Amanars.  They were messy, but they were landed and they were spectacular.

Elisabeth Seitz- The Def.  Awesome.

Kristina Vaculik- The Rufolva. It may have nearly broken her arm, but gosh it is beautiful when she does it!


The Team Clown















Winner:

Nicole Hibbert- The whole British team were a fun, relaxed gang.  But the standout for a laugh was definitely Hibbert. From her rallying, old lady cries of "Come on, sweetheart" to her team mates, to her dancing in training to her incessant cracking of jokes and pulling of faces- she was always a lot of fun.  Hibbert may cite team mate and Worlds room mate Danusia Francis as the funny one, but Hibbert gave us her fair share of the laughs in Rotterdam.





Runners up:





Yang Yilin- I have to say I never had any idea what a clown Yang Yilin could be.  I don't know if it is only now that she is older and a bit more relaxed, but it seemed the girl was always giggling or making a joke in training and even during competition,  She was fun to watch.  And when she had to scratch beam in prelims, she thought it was hilarious!



Sandra Izbasa- Another great clown- especially in training.  From constantly cracking jokes to rolling over and playing dead after missed tumbles, she was always a training highlight. If you can repeatedly make Octavian Belu laugh, you must be doing something right!

The Comeback Queen





Winner:
Jade Barbosa-  Jade Barbosa has been very quiet the past couple of years, mostly, it seems, occupied with injuries and training issues.  But it seems she has been quietly achieving to, because when it most counted, Jade barbosa quietly entered those vault finals, and quietly knocked out two fabulous vaults to earn herself another World bronze to join her 2007 AA one.  It was a wonderful moment





Runners up:


Vanessa Ferrari- Ferrari has done a fabulous job staying near the top since her 2006 heyday despite a lot of injuries.  But this year, despite having a slightly less comparable difficulty, her consistency and execution was fabulous.  It was incredible to see her nail her final floor performance.



Alicia Sacramone- I know there are many who would think Sacramone should win this category- and maybe they are right.  But although Sacramone's comeback was stellar, it wasn't a surprise- she had already proved herself back home before coming to Rotterdam.  It was still fabulous, however, to watch on a world stage.



Gabi Dragoi- is nominated for this category for her performance in the team finals.  Those two 14+ scores were very important for Romania and Dragoi has had to fight hard for her comeback.  Very impressive when it was most needed.


Most Improved













Winner:
Jessica Lopez- Jessica Lopez has waited until the ripe old age of twenty-four (although you wouldn't believe it to look at her) to reach what may not even be her peak in gymnastics.  Lopez's top ten AA performance was a far cry from the nervous gymnasts who had the goods, but not the nerve to qualify for the AA in London last year.  This year Lopez came with the skills, the steadiness and the grit to take her place at the top of the world in gymnastics.  And the fact her eye is firmly on improving on that result is even more impressive.



Runners up:



Elisabeth Seitz- who cannot admire a kid who goes out, sees great skills and decides to do them for herself?  If it wasn't for Seitz's utter enthusiasm and drive we wouldn't have seen her throw a DTY, she would not have made the AA competition, something she was so pleased about, and we certainly wouldn't have seen her perform the only Def in the the entire competition.  Her bars meltdown was a sign of her youth and her experience, but even being in that final was a sign of her desire to always get bigger and better.



Aly Raisman- Aly had a bit of a rough patch in the middle of the year after her amazing US debut.  But at Worlds she proved what a solid, consistent and emotionally tougher gymnasts she is starting to be.  She was a staple of the team competition, and despite a fall on bars in the AA, she came back hard and competed beautifully for the rest of the AA and in floor finals.




The Couch Gymnast Prize for Elegance



Winner:

Ana Dementieva-  This little kid is another Russian in possession of a truckload of natural verve and elegance.  Luckily, being Russian, her choreography has also been tailored to showcase this gift, with floor and beams sets featuring beautifully selected leaps and turns.  The fact that she performs these routines with a look of pure joy certainly helps.


Runners-up:




Ana Porgras-  It's hard not to put this gymnast in top spot.  She has natural elegance ppzing from every pore- unfathomable from a Romanian.  But something to savour every time she competes.



Huang Qiushuang- Is truly a delightful gymnast to watch.  She makes bars elegant and on floor she shines brightest among a team of charismatic and graceful floor workers.



Out of Nowhere Girl












Winner:

Imogen Cairns- I cannot say enough about Imogen Cairns.  The girl is fabulous.  She didn't really come out of nowhere.  She cam out of Delhi, where she had won two golds.  But as a team reserve, she did, in a way, come from nowehere. I spoke to her the day she arrived 
in Rotterdam and she was tired, happy and ready to sit back and work and be reserve for another GBR team.  But that wasn't to be.  Illness and issues led to her taking a key three-event role on the GBR teams for prelims, with strong, steady performances that earned her a spot in the vault finals and a whole lot of respect from this blogger.  



Runners up:



Danielle Hypolito- I know she still has skills on her big events and that despite her age, she still trains hard, but who saw a spot in the all-around coming?  i certainly didn't.  Hypolito was a rock for Brazil in Rotterdam and so deserving of that spot in the finals.



Rie Tanaka- who saw this 23-year-old coming?  It was supposed to be all about the return of Koko Tsurumi.  But Koko let her nerves and pressures get to her.  Instead it was Rie Tanaka who was the shining light of the Japanese team in the qualifications and, consequently, the all-around.  Her charisma and sense of the fun of gymnastics was so inspiring to watch.





The Specialist













Winner:
Ana Porgras- I did not see Ana Porgras put a foot wrong on beam at Worlds.  It was almost as if she didn't really know how to fall off anymore.  She is lovely on bars, and even floor- but the balance beam belonged to her like it did for no other gymnast this year.



Runners up:



Elisabetta Preziosa- Specializing in, well, flexibility, who can't love Elisabetta Preziosa's beam mount, or her general bendy elegance?  Being preternaturally flexible, she puts it to great use, creating elegant and unique moves on beam and floor.



He Kexin- Oh how you have to admire this girl's adjustment to her growth and her sustained ability do terrific bar work!  She did, however, prove that she also has a gift for performance for floor.  It was certainly sad to see her go down on what can only be described as her event, the uneven bars.  It was so depressing to hear that the first thing she said to the Chinese reporters in the mixed zone was "I'm sorry!" to her nation.



Team Leader






Winner:
Beth Tweddle- Her leadership was so evident on the floor.  It may have helped that she was only doing two events and had more time for her GBR girls than other leaders had, but Beth Tweddle not only tried to lead by example, remaining relaxed between events, and constantly, verbally encouraging the girls, but you could also see it in the way they went to her for advice on what to do next, or just to talk about what they had just done on the apparatus or their nerves.  She was always there for them.  There are so many individual stars in gymnastics, it is really lovely to see so many of these older girls take responsibility for their junior team mates.






Runners up:



Sandra Izbasa- Sandra Izbasa seemed a warm and positive team leader in Rotterdam, particularly in training where she had no end of advice and encouragement for her younger team mates.  She also seemed to be key in maintaining a mood of hardworking cheer among within the group.



Alicia Sacramone-  While I saw Alicia Sacramone play leader to a degree- she was always hollering for her team mates, and handing out the hugs and laughs, Sacramone's leadership was more evident in her team mates constant, verbal praise of her to the media- particularly Sloan.  Her daily influence and encouragement is foremost in their minds and that has to mean something.



Lived Up to the Hype Kid




Winner:

Aliya Mustafina- Here, finally, is a Russian gymnast who lived up to the hype of her junior years.  She did not burn out, did not suffer an untimely injury and nor did she stop improving.  She is as good and elegant, if not more so, as when gymnastics fans first started raving about her.  It was such a treat to have such a deserving and brilliant AA champion performance.  She was worth the wait.


Runners up:



Tatiana Nabieva- the kid was talked up big as a junior Russian gymnast.  She may not have quite lived up to the hype, but she is still as spectacular in some ways as she has promised, delivering huge skills and tough gymnastics.



Team Russia- Yep, this category is all about Russia!  People have been hyping the return of Russia ever since the incredible spate of juniors started rising up the ranks several years ago.  And guess what?  They were right




The Coach















Winner:
Mihai Brestyan- I loved watching this big man run the US show during the team competition.  He is very, very good at it.  He is calm, wise and warmly strict, just what some personalities need on the floor. And talking to him about hids gymnasts afterward proved how good he is at maintaining perspective on the sport and their performances.  He is a commanding, but kind coach and I sincerely admire him



Runners-up:






Nilson Savage- I am a big fan of this coach and his gymnast.  He is so happy and excited to be taking this journey with jessica lopez, and despite his other myriad commitments, he is so commited to taking her on this journey for as long as she needs.



Alexander Alexandrov- What can you say?  The man has done an incredible job lifting the Russian programs back to the top. And the personalities he manages every day?  Total and utter kudos to him!


The Happy Camper





The Winner:


Mackenzie Caquatto-  Aside from when she was performing, it was rare not to see a smile on this girl's face during and between competitions.  Despite some obvious pain issues, she was full of smiles and laughter through the whole competition.  The fact that she delivered stable, solid gymnastics whenever required probably helped give her a lot to smile about.




Runners-up:






Raluca Haidu- who could not enjoy the infectiously cute smile of little Romanian, Raluca Haidu?  The fact that she was so liberal with them, despite her obvious nerves was sweet to see.  She was always cheerful in training and happy on the floor.



Elsa Garcia- Ever sweet, ever elegant and always smiling, Elsa Garcia is so much fun to have around as a leader for the Mexicans.


The quiet Achiever





Winner:

Kristina Vaculik- Kristina Vaculik did not apear in any event finals, nor did she make the AA, missing by inches.  But what Kristina Vaculik did do, despite a severely injured arm, a case of strep-throat and being out of form after a couple of weeks of orientation at Stanford was carry a largely nervous, inexperienced and injured Canadian team to their qualification for the Olympic games.  She did this quietly, and with little kudos, but her talent and dedication to her sport were evident in her  willingness to look past the pain of her injury and compete beautifully for her coutnry.


Runners up:






Roni Rabinovitz- The Israeli gymnast did more than she could have hoped for during worlds, hitting great routines and showing what she is capable of in her signature event; floor.  She may not have the difficulty to be up there with the World's best yet, but she sure proved why she is Israel's best.



Hannah Whelan- quietly and dutifully went about her business at Worlds, so much so that many, perhaps, didn't notice how good she is at what she does.  I know it took me a while.  She is one of GBR's more elegant gymnasts and, more importantly, one of their most stable young competitors.  She was throughly deserving of her top twenty AA finish.

The Untimely Injury





The winner (or loser, in this case):


Chelsea Davis- it was very hard to see this gymnast taken out of the game with injury yet again.  It was especially hard considering how fabulously consistent and steady she had been in training all week.  With that twenty-twenty vision that comes with hindsight, she may have been the better choice for the team line-up than Larson, but we will never know if that choice would have been made by Martha.

Runners up:



Dominique Pegg-  Suffering from a  confounding foot injury that stems no actual known moment of trauma, Pegg had hoped to do bars at this championships.  This was not to be.  it was sad to see this dynamic little gymnast miss out, particularly as she would have been a strong addition to a tenuous Canadian line-up.



Team Venzuela- The Venezuelans succumbed to a host of untimely injuries this year, particularly in team qualifications, where two of the first performers on floor had to be carried off the podium.  It was so sad to see a team who had been so fun and exciting to watch during podium training literally hobbled by injuries when they most needed to put to put up their best gymnastics.

The Save
winner:


Alicia Sacramone- Look above.  A picture speaks a thousand words.  She. didn't. fall.



Runner up:

Rebecca Bross- she wavered, she bent at the hips, she turned into a handstand and yet she couldn't stop herself falling from beam.  The fall took seconds, but it seemed to take hours.





Psyched themselves Out



Winner:

Ksenia Afanasyeva: After Mustafina didn't quite deliver on floor, this could have been Afanasyeva's gold medal in the bag.  But then she did what she always seemed to manage to do, make a hash of what could have finally been her moment in the sun.  Sad.  it will probably be her last worlds too.

Runners-up



Yana Demyanchuk- she delivered her usual speedy but accurate beam work to qualify for the beam final.  She pulled out a good strong routine only to completely screw up her landing.


Mexico- they looked fabulous and happy in podium training and then just went and psyched themselves out in prelims.  They were nervous, tentative and forgot to enjoy themselves and it showed in the results





Mattie Larson- Yep, both commenters were right, and thanks,  I can't believe I actually forgot Mattie Larson in this category.  Once is unfortunate.  Twice has to be called a choke.  I still put Afanasyeva ahead as SURELY, she could have learned something by now.  But Mattie's psyche out was horrible and depressing.

TCG's Happy Happy Award

Winner:




Lauren Mitchell.  Duh!  Floor gold!!!

Runners Up: 

Beth Tweddle-  I love Beth and her coach and I am always so happy to see them succeed.



Emily Little-  I just thought this just-out-of-juniors Aussie kid did a fabulous job for Australia at both Delhi and Rotterdam.  She has good clean difficult skills and she performed them like she was in her gym at home most of the time.  Total kudos to her for not letting her nerves get the better of her.


Thanks girls for a fun and exciting Worlds competition!