The Superhero Gymnasts from Team Egypt

The African continent is very under-represented in gymnastics, especially in the types of gymnastics where females compete, like rhythmic. This is not news. What is also not news is that, in the beginning of each season, very few of the teams, even from countries with  a great gymnastics tradition, are ready to show their group routines. Only three groups went to Grand Prix Moscow in the winter of 2017 and some teams will not showcase their new work until late spring. Among the first to be ready to perform this year were the athletes from Russia, the Bulgarians, and...unexpectedly.. Egypt! It was very brave of team Egypt to perform at an early season event, which most teams in the world often miss including medal winners such as Italy, Spain, Belarus, Israel, Greece, China and Ukraine, who have all have had claims for top spots at the world level.

When we consider how many long decades of training, tradition and podium standings countries like Russia and Bulgaria have, for this team to have come out as the third team in the event was absolutely superhero material. In fairness, all three teams made mistakes but Egypt showed that it is never too late, nor to early, to start something new if you have passion, and have courage.

When I was watching triple-world champion Petrova compete in the 1990s, I became aware that some gymnasts from Egypt had come to train at the "Gerena" gym with legendary coach Neshka Robeva  from Bylgaria and her team at the time. Many years passed and though we have seen individual gymnasts from Egypt, I think building both a senior and a junior group is a spectacular achievement for their country. The routines they showed had complexity and potential, especially for a team that is so young and new to the big scene.

My impression from Egypt was that the hoop routine was well crafted to show the gymnasts' abilities but they were somewhat more nervous in performing it than in the mixed routine with ropes and balls, which they just did with smiles on their faces. I enjoyed the music in this routine very much and the general positive mood that the team radiated to the audience. I also thought the leotards and the make up were looking great for a brand new group. It is very challenging to use rope in a senior routine because it has been a while since we have seen rope included in the program for both individuals and groups. This team did a great job for a start of the season, which is, for them, also a start of a new endeavor altogether.