5/22/2015

It's Morning in Tashkent, and a Day of New Beginnings

The World Cup event in Tashkent always seems more interesting than other World Cup events because, generally, both Asian and European gymnasts attend it. This year is no different, although the teams of Azerbaijan and Ukraine are not participating. Still, we have Russia, Belarus, Israel, but also South Korea, Uzbekistan and Japan!

I feel very disappointed that we cannot watch live and can't wait for the results to start trickling in. It's already morning in Tashkent right now, as a I write, and so comforting to know that while I impatiently wait for news about my favorite gymnasts, other fans can actually enjoy real the performance.

Today is also the birthday of a wonderful friend of mine, who has watched many gymnastics routines with me. So, May 23 can only bring luck to our favorite athletes, right?

Speaking of favorites, the top Bulgarian gymnast, Neviana Vladinova, got very solid scores with hoop and ball. I think the stars may finally start aligning for her to show her best at the international carpet. Here is a video from her training with ball in Tashkent; her lines look very, very clean, and the routine is beginning to flow effortlessly:




This routine to Bulgarian music strikes a sensitive cord for all fans because it reminds us of other famous routines with ball performed by our gymnasts of the "golden era" of the 80s and early 90s. Neviana is dancing in their footsteps in the sense that she is the most innovative and expressive gymnast we currently have, and one that has really worked on introducing her own style and elements.

When I examine Neviana's progress in the last two years, I find myself thinking that she truly sets an example of how to push the boundaries of one's own abilities, and how to relentlessly pursue a dream. As the Olympics in Rio seem closer and closer on the horizon, we can close our eyes for the minor imperfections and absorb the bigger picture. The bigger picture that I see with Neviana is a very mature and confident gymnast, who, now more than ever, deserves a spot among the world's top 8.

5/17/2015

Three Promising Gymnasts from Three Promising Countries

In my regular life and work, that is, the time when I am not watching gymnastics or writing about it, I try very hard to give positive feedback to younger people whose work I have to review. I have found that, very often, we focus on the errors, or, we only praise very advanced performance, but we fail to identify individuals who shine bright but are not at their top performance yet.  That's why I would like to devote this post to three gymnasts, who do not make the headline, but who are showing beautiful lines and expression. I expect to see all 3 of them advance in the next couple of years.

Sabina Ashirbayeva from Kazakhstan shows the flexibility and elegant lines we have have seen from Yussupova and Alibaeva in the past, in line with an elegant Kazakhstan tradition. My favorite routine from her this season are the clubs:



Lilit Harutuynyan, also with clubs, is by far the best rhythmic gymnast Armenia has shown in the last couple of decades. I have picked this routine, because I am flattered that she has chosen Bulgarian music. Although the pirouettes leave a lot to be desired, there is some interesting work with the clubs:



Finally, Nikoleta Dulgheru from Moldova has a beautiful ribbon routine to French music, which I love watching.Although Moldova has not had gymnasts in the world elite, I am sure they have many other talents. Nikoleta's best performance so far was at the Grand Prix tournament in Holon:



I hope you have had time to watch and enjoy these routines and to dream and imagine how these young gymnasts will delight us in the future.