Bilozerchev is the Best Gymnast in Europe

By Anatoly Ivanov

Moscow News, No. 23, 1985   Three Soviet gymnasts were superb at the 16th European men's gymnastics championships that were held in Oslo on June 1-2.  They made a clean sweep of the medals.  Dmitry Bilozerchev was first with 58.45 points; Valentin Mogilny came second -- 57.60, and Vladimir Gogoladze placed third -- 57.40.  Gymnasts from 25 countries took part in the competition.

Bilozerchev, 18, has, in spite of his age, several brilliant victories to his credit (coach Alexander Alexandrov).  1983 was especially memorable for him.  He began the year by winning the Moscow News Prize.  He followed up by winning the European championship in Varna, the Tournament of Soviet Nations and the world championship in Budapest.  And last year the main events for our athletes were the Friendship-84 tournaments (because of the unacceptable conditions and demands posed by the US authorities and the Olympic sponsors and lack of security guarantees, a number of countries didn't send their delegations to Los Angeles).  Dmitry was again the best both in the individual and team scoring.  After that we did not see him for a long time in performance.  He had to treat an injury to his knee.  This April he dared to try his ability at the national championship.  As the result, he placed 7th overall, losing over 2.5 points to Yuri Balabanov, the new overall national champion.  And still Leonid Arkayev, senior coach of the USSR team, did take Dmitry to Oslo and Dmitry won the European title the second time.

Mogilny is 19.  He lives in the city of Leninsk-Kuznetsky and is a student.  Viktor Astafyev is his coach.  Valentin goes in for gymnastics since he was 8.  This year he was the third overall at the MN Prize and three weeks later was sixth overall at the USSR championship.  Valentin used to win USSR championships for youth.  His features are clear cut lines and elegance.  As for his skill -- it was highly appraised by the judges in Oslo and doesn't need any more recommendations.

Gogoladze, 18, the bronze medal winner, continues to bring joy to his fans.  He is a student at the Tbilisi University and goes in for gymnastics for 10 years now, with coach Albert Kvetenadze.  Only last year he performed as a junior, and his best achievement was the silver medal in combined events at the European championship.  In this season he started to perform on the adult platform and immediately found himself among the leaders:  runner-up at the MN Prize, first place in Riga, silver medal in combined events in the national championship in April and now his success in Oslo.  Vladimir is a gymnast who happily combines athleticism with elegance.  His movements are not so sharp and awkward as many other gymnasts'.  Everything he performs he seemingly does with the greatest of ease.  But it is precisely this outward ease backed by excellent physical form without which the winning of medals is impossible.

The competition in Oslo confirmed once again the high prestige of the Soviet school of gymnastics.  Only the athletes from the GDR were near to winning medals, but not the gold medal.  Bilozerchev emerged into the lead already at the second exercise and didn't let go of the lead to the very end.  He also had the highest evaluation on the first day -- 9.9 points in the parallel bars.  The GDR gymnasts placed from the 4th to the 6th places -- S. Kroll, U. Hoffmann and H. Behrendt.

I must say that the skill of the majority of gymnasts improved, but we can't discount also that greater complexity of the routines mars the purity of performance.  And what is needed is stability, to achieve which not only time is needed.

On the second day, the gymnasts vied for prizes in six events of the combined exercises.  The winner in floor exercises, rings, parallel bars, and pommel horse was Bilozerchev.  He also shared the first place for the horizontal bar with Zoltan Borkai (Hungary).  Silvio Kroll (GDR) was the best for the first time in long horse.

It is hard to overestimate Bilozerchev's performance.  He won six out of the seven possible gold medals, plus a silver one.  An impressive success.  It was a real triumph of the young gymnast.

European championships are held once in two years, ever since 1955.  The first winner was Boris Shakhlin, a Soviet gymnast, now a judge of international category and member of the men's technical committee of the International Gymnastics Federation.  All told, Soviet gymnasts were first 11 times at 16 championships.  They were: Yuri Titov (1959), Mikhail Voronin (1967 and 1969), Viktor Klimenko (1971 and 1973), Nikolai Andrianov (1975) and Dmitry Bilozerchev (1983 and 1985).

What is scheduled for gymnasts in this season?  The main tournaments (not including the various prizes) are the Universiade in Japan (July 29-August 4); the 30th USSR Cup (September 24-October 1) and lastly, the 23rd world championship in Canada (November 3-10).


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