Soldatova Dominates, Linoy Shines for Israel, the Ukrainian Teams Needs New Decisions

The Grand Prix in Eliat, Israel, brought no surprises but it did confirm that Linoy Ashram from Israel now takes the stage with an absolutely bright and original light of her own. She is fast, she is clean, her jumps are "explosive," and.... she actually moves with the music. Linoy is the best gymnast in Israel right now. The judges will, eventually, recognize this.

In the meantime, for several years now, the Ukraine has chosen to trust Viktoria Mazur, and Viktoria Mazur, who is an absolutely elegant, talented, beautiful girl, has never really had a competition where she did not make at least one completely disastrous mistakes. This time it was worse because, in the spirit of very poor decision-making, she went and picked up the "reserve" apparatus, while her hoop was still on the carpet and she actually thought she should perform with one hoop, while the other one is lying in the middle of the carpet.  It would have been one thing to lose the original hoop outside the carpet but not going after it when it is 2 steps away? I have never seen this. 

Here she is, holding one hoop and the other is right there. It would be like an artistic gymnast getting off the beam and going on another one.

If she had been inexperienced, I would still think it is highly unusual, where by "unusual, " I mean: not logical at all. But she did it and  she has been in competition for about 5 years now.

Either she needs to get some additional training that works with her psychological stamina, teaches how to react to the unexpected and how to avoid disasters like this, or, honestly, in all of the Ukraine, there has to be another elegant, talented gymnast like her.

The judges were not impressed:

Really, there is no excuse for someone who was born with quite obvious physical advantages over others to keep making poor decisions at every competition.

And, then, speaking of decisions, I still feel sad that Soldatova did not go to the Olympics. She is beautiful in everything she does, a true spectacle of a gymnast, with strength, grace, and passion all at once. I can't get enough of her. She brings more amplitude and more amazement every time she performs.

Of course, I always root for the underdogs, too, and, in this case,  Elizaveta Gamalejeva from Latvia is a great choice for a gymnast who keeps getting better, though still shy of the top spots. She did a very expressive ball routine where, for the first time, I think the music choice did justice to her personal charm and presence on the carpet. If she had cleaner lines, she would get higher scores, but I can tell she loves what she does. And that is always inspiring.


Eleonora Kezhova to Lead the French Team

Former Bulgarian rhythmic group member and bronze medalist from the 2004 Olympics, Eleonora Kezhova (pictured in the middle) will be coaching the French group this year. Eleonora has many years of experience as a group competitor and is also a silver medalist from the 2003 World Championship.  She was born in 1985 in Sofia and trained with club "Iliana."

It is not the first time that the French team has worked with Bulgarian coaches. For many years, the Kotzevi family worked with French gymnast, including the best French gymnast to date, Eva Serrano. In recent years, the silver medalist from the 1988 Olympics, Adriana Dunavska coached the group and created a beautiful routine to Sylvie Vartan's song "La Maritza."

Good luck in your new endeavor, Eleonora, have a wonderful time in France!


Tsvetelina Discharged from Hospital, Group Captain Shares Thoughts on Retirement

Tsvetelina Stoyanova has left the hospital on September 5 after her accident in mid-June. Her teammates from the group visited her and she congratulated them on winning an Olympic bronze.

All members of the current Bulgarian group are considering retirement with the exception of Lubomira Kazanova, who replaced Tsveti after the accident and made it possible for the team to win medals both at the European Championship in Israel and at the Olympics.

"We went through a lot of difficulties and what happened with Tsveti Stoyanova was one of the challenges. We still don't realize that gymnastics is now no longer a permanent part of our lives. You lie in bed and think of training camps, but they are in the past. You don't know what lies ahead. We have time to think. We are grateful to all of Bulgaria for supporting us for 8 years. Our fans gave us strength, " shared the captain, Mihaela Maevska.

Mihaela at the European Championship in Holon