Five Gymnasts Who Can Define and Change Rhythmic Gymnastics Today

So, now that we discussed the gymnasts who did not make the final but one day will be very powerful, how about the ones who shine brightly in the top spots? Who are they and what could they do better?

1. Ganna Rizatdinova, Ukraine - her fierce look, long legs, ability to interpret any music, the speed of her pivots. Everything speaks of a winner and she can win this Olympics. But, as you may see on the picture, her hands are often free while the apparatus is on the floor or held in one spot. If she changed this, she would be unstoppable.

2. Margarita Mamun, Russia - Rita may not be as famous as her illustrious teammate Kudryavtseva, but she is more diverse and interesting to watch, more expressive. She should just focus and believe in herself. Physically, she is ready to take the world's gymnastics throne. Mentally, she is centimeters away.

3. Yana Kudryavtseva, Russia - a triple world champion at age 19 and a true innovator who creates new element and style, glides effortlessly on the carpet and just appears to look in control about 101% of the time. Of course she can win. My pet peeve: her leaps. Leaps are one of the most impressive and "superhero" moves in gymnastics and without them, routines just don't look as masterful to me.

4. Son Yeon- Jae - incapable of making a move that fails to look elegant in a classical ballet sense, Son has the most beautiful arm and head movements in the world. She is very clean and stable during most events and performs with real joy.  On this first picture, she looks as though she is a bit surprised the ball is there. This is what can change for the better: like Rizatdinova, she could add more risk and apparatus difficulty.

5. Neviana Vladinova, Bulgaria - so refreshing to see a gymnast who does not remind you of anyone else but herself; with a truly original style including very innovative moves such as elements from break-dancing in her routines, she is both statuesque and fragile, and strong and dynamic. Poised to make grand contributions to the future of our favorite sport, Neviana can work on her pirouettes and the overall fluidity of going from one element to another. It will take time, but she has made a giant leap into world class quality and has brought a lot of excitement to the Rio audience. I tried to capture the moment of her coach kissing her when the Olympic rings suddenly showed up on my screen, so here are Brani and Nevi in the sparkle of great success!

5 Gymnasts (from 4 Continents!) Who Did Not Make the Final

1. The beautiful Nicole Ruprecht from Austria - She has very clean lines, strong pirouettes, good apparatus work. We have seen Nicole in top 10, but this time she did not make the final. Best of luck and her wonderful Bulgarian coach, Luchia!

2. Danielle Prince from Austalia -  Danielle has advanced a lot and  is no doubt, Australia's strongest rhythmic gymnast of all times. Australia has a powerful tradition in artistic gymnastic and I hope that with Danielle's influence, rhythmic will become more popular there as well.

3. Kaho Minagawa from Japan -  Flexible, strong, elegant, always smiling, frequently positioned in top 10. This time she did not make the final, but if she keeps competing, she will be quite a threat at the Worlds, to everyone in top 10.

4. Elyane Boal from Cape Verde - the only African in the competition, she performed with a lot of joy and showed potential. The audience enjoyed her vibrant personality. She should continue to do her best and inspire other African girls to take up this sport.

5. Varvara Filiou, the diva from Greece -  Born to a Bulgarian mother and a Greek father, coached in Russia by a Russian coach. Varvara is everyone's favorite because she is dramatic, flirty, original and a natural born dancer. As a gymnast, she has the potential to perform many difficult elements a lot more cleanly than she did this time. Still a delight to watch!


Bulgaria Back on the Gymnastics Carpet with Strong Hope for New Beginnings

This year Neviana Vladinova and her coach Branimira Markova brought hope and joy to the hearts of thousands of gymnastics fans who like to see original and very risky routines. Neviana is showing skills that are, compared to both modern gymnasts, and the tradition of the older Bulgarian school, a true higher level of mastery. Her beautiful coach, Branimira, was world champion in the team event in 1993 alongside the European champion Yulia Baitcheva and the three-time world champion Maria Petrova. On some pictures, Branimira and Neviana look somewhat alike, but in gymnastics terms, the difficulty of what Neviana demonstrates is several times times greater.

Neviana has truly challenged herself and brought lots of attention onto the Bulgarian school and style once again. She deserves a spot in the top 8 and, in the future: medals. For now we simply wish her to be strong, inspired and calm!

Meanwhile, Tsvetelina Stoyanova's recovery is progressing well and she is working with physical therapists to increase her movement range and recover to a very large extent the quality of life she had before her accident. The rhythmic group could not have prayed for better news than this. As this amazing group steps on the carpet to fight for a medal, they should be proud of how much they have endured and how much they have achieved. The value of becoming a better athlete, a better person and a better friend beats any medal, but they are also ready to battle for any medal. This is a very important year for Bulgarian gymnastics where we plant the seeds of new success and move past hardship and disappointment.