'MN' Prize Participants Set the Pace

By Anatoly Ivanov

Moscow News, #21, 1986   Soviet gymnasts Svetlana Boginskaya, 13, and Alexander Kolyvanov, 14, have won the 5th European Junior Gymnastics Championship held in Karlsruhe (West Germany).

The junior European championships have been held since 1978.  Soviet gymnasts have been first at all the previous championships -- Bogdan Makuts, Yuri Korolyov, Dmitry Bilozerchev, Sergei Gusev and now Kolyvanov.  In the distaff category, the Romanian girls won the first three tournaments -- Emilia Eberle and Ecaterina Szabo (twice).  After that the Soviet girls took over -- Irina Baraksanova and Yelena Zabrodina shared victory and now it's Boginskaya.

The championship is held without exercises in the compulsory program.  The gymnasts compete only in the voluntary program and in separate events of the combined exercises.  The specialists note that the girls are boldly tackling difficult combinations and their techniques have improved.  However, some of them still lack stability in performing difficult elements.

We saw Boginskaya, who is from Minsk, in late March when she competed for the MN Prize.  She was not actually entered for the competition, which probably explains why only specialists noticed her.  The same applied to Olga Strazheva and Alevtina Pryakhina (they were second and third in Karlsruhe).

Svetlana notched up a substantial total of points -- 39.525, which means that she performed uniformly well, without any mishaps.  The coaches had singled out the talented gymnast a long time ago, putting her on the national team already several years ago.  She did quite well at tournaments in Hungary and Japan and at the gymnastic competition held with the Friendship tournament of athletes of socialist countries.

Much was written about Strazheva in April when the USSR Cup was held.  The 14-year-old girl managed at the time to end up third overall.  Further developments showed that her success was no accident.  This time round she was the runner-up at the European championship, totaling 39.175 points, which speaks for itself.

Pryakhina's final result of 39.025 could have been higher if it were not for an error in coming off the beam.  Even though she did get quite a good mark for the exercise -- 9.45 -- when competition is very stiff and there are not so many exercises to do, even a trivial error means a lot.  Last December Alevtina was the first in the world to perform a double backward salto with two pirouettes in floor exercises.  She did this at national competitions.  She performed the same element at this international tournament.

No one could offer any real competition against our boys -- Kolyvanov (57.450) and his teammates Vladimir Shchepochkin (57.4) and Vladimir Novikov (57.0).  The three boys, who took part in the 1986 MN Prize, made a clean sweep of the medals in the combined exercises.

Regarding Kolyvanov, one cannot but recollect the MN Prize.  Alexander led till the last exercise.  Then he only got 8.85 on the rings and finished fourth overall.  However, he proved to be stubborn.  Slightly over a month later he was first overall, beating the boys who had better marks than he had in Moscow.  The gymnast is very young (even though the word 'very' is probably inappropriate according to current standard) and, judging by everything, he may become an excellent gymnast.

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The team (men and women) meet between US and Soviet gymnasts held in the USA could be called as a sort of a dress rehearsal for the Goodwill Games due in Moscow in July.  The meet in the USA was dominated by our gymnasts both in the team and individual scoring.  The Soviet boys took the first five, and girls -- the first four places.

Among other recent events worth mentioning is the success of the USSR women's team, led by Oksana Omelyanchik, 1985 overall world champion, in Tokyo.  Oksana was first overall and our girls won in the team scoring and in all the separate events of combined exercises.  Oksana won three and Yelena Shevchenko won one of them.


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