The Queen Retires

As fans may have heard, the two-time Olympic champion Evgenia Kanaeva has announced her retirement.  I will miss her dearly for many reasons, but mostly I will miss the supreme confidence that she radiated. She completely owned her routines and executed them with finesse and with a subtle, controlled, and perfectly natural passion. I never saw Kanaeva attempt to look like someone she is not or to interpret music that did not suit her own temper. At the same time, off the capret, she continuously appeared down-to-earth, modest, and very, very strong-willed.

I am not an aspiring gymnast, just a fan. But I have still learned a lot from Zhenya Kanaeva. Watching her perform has reinforced my belief that when you know yourself well, you can make your strenghts shine, and your weaknesses disappear. Watching her win every international competition has also made me believe that, natural born leaders, like her,  need a lot more than talent in order to succeed, and even more than hard work. What you need is a desire to accept responsibility for what you can't and cannot do. I think she always treated her work with a complete awareness of just how much was at stake. She never complained of injuries, judges, or any other factors outside her own efforts. And it only makes sense that she feels ready to retire after achieving everything an athlete could possibly attempt.

Thank you, Zhenya Kanaeva, for gracing our sport with your victorious spirit.