Finally! Two Bulgarians in Top 8 and Ready for Medals

They train side by side and are great friends. They show unique moves with every apparatus. They use bold, exciting music. They are a joy to watch. Bulgaria hasn't shown two gymnasts of such high caliber since the 1990s. But Neviana and Katrin are not hear to defend the old glory of Bulgarian gymnastics. They are here to write history.

Russia and Belarus are the only two countries in recent years who have had more than one gymnast in the top, consistently. Other countries attempted but never quite accomplished this.

For Ukraine, while Maksimenko and Rizatdinova were both equally promising, Maksimenko's career was rather short-lived. Following Maksimenko's retirement, Victoria Mazur has been struggling to prove that she can earn the same scores as her illustrious teammate Rizatdinova. Prior to Rizatdinova's rise to number one, Anna Bessonova was the only medal-winning Ukrainian for awhile.

Israel has also had fantastic gymnasts in recent years and was especially strong during the times when Risenzon and Rivkin competed together. However, after Risenzon retired, various controversies and scandals prevented Filanovsky and Rivkin from consistently placing at the top spots and Rivkin ended going to the Olympics by herself. Now, with the rise of Linoy Ashram, who is the best Israeli gymnast, in my opinion, Israel may also break new ground by having two equally promising gymnasts in finals.

For Belarus, Cherkashina and Staniouta and then, Staniouta and Halkina had many strong and exciting competitions together where they both were up for the medals.

Russia, on the other hand, has regularly had two gymnasts on the podium together at big events such as Grand Prix competitions, World Cup tournaments, European and World Championships.

As for Bulgaria, for many years, only one gymnast showed world-class results. For a long time that gymnast was Simona Peycheva. Elizabeth Paisieva, who fully deserved to be right next to Simona, had unfortunate issues with coaching changes and very harmful federation politics,  so did not quite rise to Simona's level. Then, Silvia Miteva earned spots in finals as well as some medals from big events. But a second gymnast of the her caliber was never present.

Finally, in 2017, both Katrin Taseva and Neviana Vladinova are earning scores in the upper 18s. I really would like to see them reach for medals and stand next to one another in many prestigious events. They are very different in style, but each has amazing qualities as well as the ambition and resilience needed for great achievements.


Hoop from Another World

This hoop routine has quickly become my favorite this season. In terms of apparatus handling, speed, musicality, and expression, it is in a league of its own. The hoop does not stop moving from one risky element to the next. In this performance there is one very small error, but the overall complexity of the routine is just stunning. I can't wait to see a fully clean performance so that all the original elements really shine.

This season Neviana has really stepped up and become braver than ever in showing the unique work of the Bulgarian gymnastics style. She is not only the best Bulgarian gymnast, but has earned a position as best in the world. He hoop technique is hard to match by her rivals. It's so thrilling to watch a great gymnast blossom into a truly amazing one.