Gymnasts Hold a Big Meet

By Yevgeny Lanfang

Moscow News, No. 40, 1982   Seventeen-year-old Natalya Yurchenko of Rostov-on-Don (76.75 points) and Bogdan Makuts of Lvov (115.65 points) are the country's overall champions in gymnastics for 1982.

Albina Shishova (76.05) and Olga Mostepanova (75.075) won second and third place, respectively, among women, and among men it was Pavel Sut (114.525) and Yuri Korolyov (114.4).  The championship, in which 160 athletes participated, was held in Chelyabinsk.

Unless we consider the European youth championship, our gymnasts had few competitions this year.  The athletes had an opportunity to get some breathing room, so to speak, to polish up the obligatory programs, and to devise something original for the free exercises.  The results of the recent championship will be used to form a team which will appear in Zagreb at the next World Cup in a month.

Next year big trials are in store for the sportsmen: the European and world championships and the Tournament of Soviet Nations.  The end of March will witness the 10th International Moskovskiye Novosti (Moscow News) Tournament.

Natalya Yurchenko, coached by Vladislav Rastorotsky, can be called the indisputable leader of the season in women's gymnastics.  In the spring Natalya won our newspaper's main prize, in the summer the USSR Cup, and now at the end of September she has become overall champion.

Of the distinguished athletes, only Olga Bicherova and Yelena Davydova did not appear in Chelyabinsk.  The coaches and specialists received an opportunity to review the entire flower of women's gymnastics today.  One should say that the picture as it appears now is rather motley.  There are no eminent gymnasts such as Filatova, Zakharova, Polevaya and Ilyenko among the prizewinners in the all-around competitions and on separate gymnastic apparatus.  At the same time, as in the contests for the Cup, second place was won by 16-year-old Shishova (also from Rostov and coached by Rastorotsky).  Third place was taken by 14-year-old Muscovite Mostepanova (her coach is Vladimir Aksyonov who at one time trained Elvira Saadi).  At the continent's youth championship she was third overall and now she has shown the same result at the "adult" competition.

The tournament demonstrated that the exercises continue to become more complicated.  This is not merely a demand of the coaches in search of points or simply trick-making.  No, this is an imperative of the time.  The main thing is that the novelties should be organically interwoven into the fiber of the exercise and not appear as if forced out.  So far not everyone is able to perform the most difficult elements in a clear and stable way.  Time, patience and purposefulness are needed, lacking in the young so far.

Women deserve a special reproach in free exercises.  They have a lot of acrobatics, but contain less plastic movement and gracefulness, that is, what so distinguished Soviet women on the international arena: high technique and a "soul-inspired flight."  This can be rectified, but it will be painstaking work.  It is always much more difficult to retrain than train.

All the "stars" were represented in the men's championship.  True, some of them did not continue to the end of the competition for various reasons (mainly injuries), such as, for example, Alexander Dityatin, Alexander Tkachov and Artur Akopyan.

All the three male prizewinners are titled gymnasts.  Makuts was the World Cup winner, the Moscow News contest main prize winner, and world champion in team scoring in 1979 and 1981.  He is the champion of the Moscow Olympics (also in team events).  Pavel Sut of Minsk is the world champion (on the 1981 team).  Yuri Korolyov of Vladimir distinguished himself at the world championship in Moscow where, besides victory in the overall championship, he received gold awards in free exercises and for the team victory.  They are all young and will gladden us with their skill for more than simply one year.  To all appearances, they were not sitting idle in the "year of quiet gymnastics."  They demonstrated new elements on the platform of Chelyabinsk.

Without minimizing the merits of the eminent masters, special mention must be made of 15-year-old Muscovite Dmitry Bilozerchev.  When he became the overall champion at the junior championship in Ankara (in June) and won another five gold medals in different kinds of competitions, this came as a surprise.  But now he holds the general fifth place among the masters and performs the most difficult elements (and how he performs them!).  All of this cannot but be a source of rejoice. Specialists have also noticed Yuri Balabanov and Vladimir Artemyev of Minsk, Radik Gabitov of Chelyabinsk, and others.  In short, the men's national team has reserves.

This page was created on April 13, 2002.
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