Champions Competed for Our Prizes

Moscow News, #14, 1982  

* The 9th Moscow News Prize tournament, March 26-28, 1982, Palace of Sport, Lenin Central Stadium * Natalya Yurchenko and Alexander Pogorelov (both USSR) -- winners of the main prizes of our newspaper * Taking part were 96 gymnasts (43 women and 53 men) from 25 countries: Bulgaria, Great Britain, Hungary, the GDR, India, Spain, Italy, the PRC, the KPDR, Cuba, Morocco, Mongolia, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, San Marino, the USA, Finland, France, Czechoslovakia, Switzerland, Yugoslavia, Japan and the USSR * Gymnasts from India, China and San Marino took part in the tournament for the first time * The prizes of our newspaper in the separate events of the combined exercises were won by: women - vault - Natalya Yurchenko; asymmetrical bars - Natalya Yurchenko; beam - Boriana Stoyanova (Bulgaria); floor exercises - Yelena Shushunova (USSR); men - floor exercises - Alexander Pogorelov; pommel horse - Alexander Pogorelov and Wang Yong (PRC); rings - Li Su Kil and Han Gan Sen (both KPDR); long horse - Thorsten Mettke (GDR); parallel bars - Li Su Kil; horizontal bar - Alexander Pogorelov * The silver and bronze medals in the combined exercises and in the separate events went to the gymnasts: from the USSR - 5 silver and 1 bronze; the PRC - 3 and 2; Bulgaria - 2 silver; the GDR - 1 and 3; the KPDR - 3 bronze; Japan and Cuba - 1 bronze medal each * Over 250 sports writers, press photographers, radio and TV commentators covered the tournament * Heli Liukkonen (Finland) was voted the most charming and elegant girl for the "Miss Moscow News-82" title * V/O Mezhdunarodnaya Kniga awarded prizes to Boriana Stoyanova (Bulgaria) and Li Chol Hon (KPDR) for the best performance by a foreign gymnast in the combined exercises * The Japanese newspaper Chunichi Shimbun gave its prize to Alexander Pogorelov who was the best in the combined exercises * The "Olympic Hopeful Starts" - separate finals - were held for the gymnasts who paced from 8th to 16th in the separate events.  Everybody liked this novelty.

Parade of Rising Stars

Such are the results of the international competitions for our newspaper's prize.  We are happy that a large number of gymnasts from abroad again came to us.  Of course, the skill of many of them cannot be compared to the excellence of the participants in the world championship.  But at our tournament we often witness the first steps made by future stars.

The appearance of the gymnasts from the PRC (they did not include the Chinese participants in the world championships), of course, made the competition more intense.  Proof are the medals won by the guests.  The girls from Bulgaria are making progress.  Stoyanova is the first girl gymnast from abroad to ever win a medal in the combined exercises at our tournament.  Li Chol Hon was the first gymnast from the Korean People's Democratic Republic to win a medal in the combined exercises (before that medals were won by gymnasts from Japan and the FRG).  This time the Japanese gymnasts did not perform as confidently as before, because the team was composed of young gymnasts, lacking adequate experience.  Both men and women gymnasts from the GDR were impressive as usual.  Their performances showed dispositions of skills of big masters.  The KPDR gymnasts improved their class.  If in the past they excelled in the rings, now they won besides the double victory in their favorite rings, also in the pommel horse (men) and in the beam (women).  The Cubans also won a prize.  Lazaro Amador placed third in the parallel bars.

It was the first time we met the Indian gymnasts. They have as yet to learn a lot of subtleties of gymnastics.  And taking part in a tournament like ours is the best school to do this.  We shall be happy to meet them again next year.

As for the winners, they did quite well also in the combined exercises: Natalya Yurchenko demonstrated rather good exercises in the asymmetrical bars and in the vault and Pogorelov -- in the horizontal bar, the floor, and the pommel horse.

Valery Kerdemelidi, the chief judge, cited an interesting fact at the press conference before the competition startes -- the participants in the previous Moscow News prizes have later won 18 gold Olympic medals.

And Even At 12 It Is Too Late

The Winners of the Main Prizes Speak

Natalya Yurchenko:  This was the third time I vied for the Moscow News Prize and the first time I managed to win it.  Vladislav Rastorotsky, my coach, who used to coach the Olympic champions Lyudmila Turishcheva and Natalya Shaposhnikova, says that a complex and beautiful program and a confident performance are needed for victory.  And it was this confidence enabling a gymnast to reveal her possibilities that came to me at the very start of the tournament.  I came to Rostov-on-Don from Norilsk when I was 12. This is a rather late age to go in for gymnastics seriously.  The coaches usually pick out girls of 5, but Rastorotsky did take me on.  And he did not step up the intensity of training, worked calmly, did not hurry to introduce stunts and gradually brought me up to most complex elements.  Now my coach and I intend to compete for a place in the USSR team which is to perform at the world championship in a year's time.

Alexander Pogorelov:  Sveta, my sister, loves ballroom dances and wanted me to dance with her.  But as soon as I visited the gymnastics gym for the first time I was immediately charmed by this sport.  True, very few people believed that the age of 12 was not too late to start going in for gymnastics.  Only two people were firmly assured that it was possible -- Lev Polzikov, my first coach in Volgograd, and Vyacheslav Boiko, who is coaching me now in Moscow.  It was the first time I managed to perform my program precisely as I had planned it.

The Opinions of the Olympic Champions

Yuri Titov, President, International Gymnastics Federation; Chief, Gymnastics Administration, USSR State Committee for Physical Culture and Sports:  The tournament was an excellent school for young gymnasts.  The platform, the rules, international judges, the whole atmosphere corresponded to championships of the biggest caliber.  And this is an important factor.  In the course of three days we saw the nearest nominees for the national teams of various countries.  The Moscow News Prize opened the season of such major competitions.  They include the Chunichi Cup (Japan), the Ennia Cup (Netherlands), the Paris Cup, the All Stars and Coca-Cola tournaments in Great Britain, the competitions in Varna (Bulgaria) and Cottbus (GDR).  The Asian gymnasts will compete at the Asian Games and gymnasts from Central America -- at the Central American Games.  The best gymnasts from the USSR, Japan, the GDR, the PRC, the USA, Romania, Bulgaria and Italy will compete before the participants in the International Olympic Committee session in Italy.  This season there will also be the junior European championship in Turkey (June) and the World Cup for adults in Yugoslavia (October).

Lyudmila Turishcheva, deputy chief judge at our tournament:  I'm so happy for Natalya Yurchenko.  She has achieved one of her goals at long last -- winning a very honorable prize.  Natalya is a well-known gymnast, with many good results to her credit, but her plans were frustrated sometimes by injuries.  The girls' performances left a nice impression.  The young gymnasts demonstrated a rather high class.  Their routines conform to the new demands.  Complex elements and interesting links were also in the routines of girl gymnasts, above all, from Bulgaria, the GDR, Czechoslovakia and, of course, of our girls.

Nikolai Andrianov, coach of the USSR youth national team:  The Moscow News Prize tournament has shown that the road chosen in men's gymnastics is the road of complicating further programs, perfecting elements and seeking for new ones.  And one can notice the gymnasts' aspiration for making their routines expressive.  The exercises on the horizontal bar show most vividly their achievements.  They work more and more often in the supportless phase and find interesting concluding elements.  No wonder the competition on the horizontal bar became the highlight of the tournament, and the cascade of original elements performed with one hand, the instantaneous switch over from "Tkachov's transfer" to "Delchev's salto" speak of the entrants' high skill.  The gymnasts did rather well also in other events, such as, the parallel bars and the floor exercises.  Alexander Pogorelov's victory was well merited, and he now has all the chances of making the national team which will go to the world championship.  In any case, the Moscow News Prize winners of the past won quite often the gold medals at the European and world championships and at the Olympic Games.  Of the foreign gymnasts I liked best the men from the KPDR, the GDR and China.  I expected the Japanese to do better.


This was the assessment of the Moscow News Prize tournament by foreign journalists. 

"This was my happiest year.  I became a Master of Sport and won the silver medal in the combined exercises here," Boriana Stoyanova, a gymnast from Bulgaria, said at the press conference.  "Now I can think of the world championship.  In any case, the competition imparted confidence to me."

"Our gymnasts are constant participants in the tournament," said Haruo Kadowaki, director of the Japan Gymnastic Association.  "Here we learn the specifics and trends of the forthcoming season and take a look at experienced and young gymnasts."

"Together with my coach we were testing new elements," said Hayley Price, a gymnast from Great Britain.  "We'll have to amend the program at home and make it more complex.  Natalya Yurchenko's victory did not surprise me.  Her routines are distinguished for complexity, clean performance and artistry.  I am well acquainted with Soviet girl gymnasts because before the world championship I spent a month in Moscow, training at the Central Army Club gym."

"This is the first time I came to the Moscow News Prize," said Jean-Louis Bourbon, head of the French delegation.  "It was well organized and discovered two talented gymnasts -- Natalya Yurchenko and Alexander Pogorelov."

"In my opinion, the gymnasts from abroad have never before won so many medals at the tournament as they did this time," said Leszek Gorski, a Polish gymnast.  "This is evidence of the strength of the guests.  And the prizes were so splendid that everyone wanted to win them."

"The American gymnasts are training harder than ever before," said Dan Connelly, coach of the USA team.  "In two years' time they will be performing at home at the Olympics.  Naturally, we couldn't miss such a representative tournament.  Our coaches are now following with keen attention the performances of Soviet men gymnasts who are now in the lead, and the Soviet women have always been the pacesetters.  By the way, it was thanks to Olga Korbut that the popularity of gymnastics in the USA had soared to unprecedented heights."

"I didn't perform in this Palace of Sports at the 1980 Olympics," said Maurizio Zonzini, a gymnast from San Marino.  "Instead of the gymnastics platform I got onto the operating table for an appendicitis.  The Moscow doctors put me into shape very quickly.  After that I took part in the world championship and now didn't miss this opportunity to visit Moscow once more and, the more so, to perform on the Olympic platform."

"We are grateful for the Soviet Gymnastics Federation for the invitation to take part in this tournament," Yeh Shaowei from the Chinese gymnastics team said.  "After the well-organized world championship in Moscow we came here once more with pleasure and brought some promising gymnasts.  The tournament was held on a high level."

"Everything at the tournament was organized at the highest possible level," Gurdial Singh, an international judge from India says.  "Even though very young gymnasts came to Moscow, they demonstrated very many interesting and original elements.  Our gymnasts have not as yet taken part in international competitions of such a high level.  Therefore, they have acquired experience in performance so needed in training for the Asian Games.  We hope to be invited for the next year's tournament.  So I wish to say: 'Till we meet again soon!'"

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