Spring Comes to the Gymnastics Platform

Moscow News, #14, 1981   This title probably provides the most compact and accurate description of the tournament and those who were entered.  In gymnastics, the beginning of the four-year Olympic cycle has meant that national teams are being renewed and young athletes are now getting their first taste of top competition.  And this was clearly in evidence in the Moskovskiye Novosti competitioin -- the first major tournament of the international gymnastics season.

Yuri Korolyov (overall titlist at last year's European junior championship), a typical representative of the young generation, topped the field of 43 gymnasts who competed for the men's main prize.  He grabbed the lead with the first exercise and never lost sight of it, chalking up a very admirable sum total of 58.2 points.

Last year, Korolyov appeared in the tournament, but out of competition.  His result this year is 2 points better.  He is the only gymnast who received three 9.8s for his performance.

The 18-year-old Korolyov was a whopping 1.1 points ahead of Fyodor Kulaksizov, 23, and 1.15 points ahead of Sergei Khizhnyakov, 22 (both USSR).  Stepan Martsinkiv, also of the USSR, was fourth with 56.5 points.  Behind him were Haruyasu Tagushi (Japan, 56.05) and Jiri Tabak (Czechoslovakia, 55.8).

These are the purely technical results.  But they represent some fascinating routines and individual elements performed by some of the gymnasts.  Because the season is just underway, it is impossible to fully judge the true strength of a certain gymnast, but it is obvious that the gymnasts from the GDR, Cuba, the KPDR, Bulgaria, Hungary and Czechoslovakia are classy, skilled athletes.

Alla Mysnik, 14 (USSR), found her toughest competition to be her own teammates.  Like Korolyov, she led from beginning to end, accumulating a tidy 38.35 points.  The five to follow here were Natalya Ilyenko (USSR) with 37.6 points; Tatyana Frolova (USSR) with 37.1; Ira Bregina (USSR) with 36.95; Cheryl Weatherstone (GBR) with 36.3; and Martina Polcrova (Czechoslovakia) with 36.2.

The Soviet girls dominated the gymnastics platform (altogether 35 girls took part in the competition).  Their exercises (competitions were held only in the voluntary program) were fairly complex, and some elements were performed in competition for the first time.  True, there were a couple of hitches here and there, but newness was always encouraged by the judges.

The newcomers to our national team put in a strong showing, once more making it apparent that the big names have depth behind them.  The performances of the women from abroad -- also without the big names -- helped created the general picture of progress made by various schools of gymnastics.

When we evaluate the performance of the gymnasts from the 23 countries in the latest Moskovskiye Novosti three-day competition, it can be said over and over again that the spring tournament in Moscow is excellent schooling for young gymnasts and a splendid opportunity for federation leaders to test their ideas early in the season by entering any gymnast they like in a major competition.  The tournament has repeatedly shown that thanks to the efforts of the International Gymnastics Federation, gymnastics has recently been making extremely rapid progress in countries where the sport was practically unknown.

Competent Opinion

Leonid Arkayev, senior coach, USSR men's team:  I think the competition was a success.  The men's event, as always, has thrust a new talent to the fore whom we can consider in our training plans for the 1984 Olympics.  He is the competition winner, Yuri Korolyov.

Let me say that as usual, the tournament will help us in our training for the upcoming European and world championships.  This competition is highly respected by the members of our team, and I can sense this in my work.

As far as the performers from abroad are concerned, the one who impressed first was Matsumoto of Japan.  He has all the methods in modern gymnastics down pat; the only thing he lacks is good physical training.  I would also like to mention the Cuban gymnasts, who are making excellent progress.  I have a feeling they'll be giving us some real competition very soon.

Aman Shaniyazov, senior coach, USSR women's team:  We're in the first stage of the new Olympic cycle, which is why most of the countries brought their backup strength in whom they pin their hopes to Moscow.  We did likewise, entering our most gifted young gymnasts.  On the whole I'm pleased with them.  What we first have to do now is to make the routines more complicated, getting them to the level where original elements figure in all the exercises.  From among the girls from abroad, Zoya Grancharova (Bulgaria), Choi Men Hi (KPDR), Annett Lindner (GDR) and Cheryl Weatherstone were most impressive.

Our Miss Prefers Russian

For the first time in eight years both journalists and spectators agreed unanimously on the most attractive and charming female gymnast to be selected Miss Moskovskiye Novosti-81.  They chose Joanna Sime, a schoolgirl from Great Britain.  To our astonishment, Joanna answered our first question in Russian and, anticipating our next, said: "At the 1978 world championship in Strasbourg I made friends with Soviet gymnasts Alexander Dityatin and Lena Mukhina.  That was the time I decided to learn Russian and to -- come hell or high water -- visit Moscow and Leningrad, about which my new friends told me so much.  My favorite school subject is Russian literature, and my favorite books are Turgenev's First Love and Lermontov's A Hero of Our Times.  I learned Russian from them.

"It is a pity I have to leave Moscow, new friends and this friendship tournament.  I'm taking an Olympic Misha and a Russian samovar back to Westwood.  They'll remind me of this touching encounter."

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