Gymnasts Get Together for Their Jubilee

Moscow News, #14 1983  

As expected, the main competitors among men were the Soviet and Chinese gymnasts.  True, after the first exercise Li Cher Hen (KPDR) took the lead.  However, he placed fifth overall (57.2 points). Stepan Martsinkiv from our team was in the lead with a nice margin of 0.2 points before the pommel horse -- the last exercise for the Soviet gymnasts.  But he was unlucky and fell off the horse, earning only 9.3 points.  What let him down ... excessive self-assurance, frayed nerves or something else we don't know.  In any case this mishap moved him back to the second overall place (57.5).  Bilozerchev, on the other hand, did his best and his brilliant performance brought him 9.9 points -- the best mark on the first day of the tournament -- to win him the first place overall.  Vladimir Artyomov (USSR) placed third with 57.35 points, followed by Yang Yueshan (China, 57.25).  Li Cher Hen (KPDR), Wang Yong (China) and Radik Gabitov (USSR) who scored 56.9 points each.

In our last issue, Leonid Arkaev, senior coach of the USSR team, noted Bilozerchev's skill, unusual for his age (Dmitry is 16 and he studies in the same class with Olga Bicherova, 1981 overall world champion), and advised people to pay special attention to him.  The veteran coach was not mistaken.  The Moscow schoolboy made a very favorable impression.

The competition among the girls was obviously dominated by Natalya Yurchenko, 1982 World Cup winner (coach Vladislav Rastorotsky).  This was the second year in a row that she won the main MN Prize, this time she got the biggest sum total of points in the entire history of our competition.  Natalya is especially impressive when performing technically complex exercises -- the vault, uneven bars and the beam.  In the floor exercises her acrobatics are superb, but the choreography in our opinion is below her potential.  One would like to see her perform with greater ease.

Albina Shishova, another of Rastorotsky's charges, improves her skill from competition to competition.  She was the runner up (38.35).  Obviously very soon she'll be able to rival Natalya on equal footing.  Will this mean Rastorotsky vs Rastorotsky?

Olga Mostepanova (38.0) placed third.  She was the best on the beam (9.8) but her failure on the uneven bars (she fell, earning only 9.2 as a result) prevented her from placing higher.  The 15-year-old schoolgirl from Moscow by all indications has a good chance of becoming one of our best girl gymnasts.

The other winners among the top six were Choi Zen Sir (a very big success for the young girl from KPDR), Svetlana Murzunenko (USSR, 37.55) and Simona Renciu (Romania, 37.3).

The women's competitions confirmed once again the correlation of forces in world gymnastics. The Romanian girls, on the whole, demonstrated an excellent training though there were several new names.  The young girls from China (no leaders as yet) literally absorb all the novelties.  Their technique is still far from impeccable, but that is just a matter of time.  The performance by the KPDR girls came as a surprise to some extent, especially that of Choi Zen Sir.  She has made great progress in improving her technique.  The girls from the GDR, the USA and Japan did very well, but their youth was still evident.

Now a word about girls from Morocco, Tunisia, Portugal, Algeria and some other countries.  True, today they do look worse than their rivals.  But one always has to start somewhere.  The main thing is that they come, they learn and they absorb know-how.  And that is one of our tournament's main purposes.

The finals were very interesting, as always.  The overall winners did well in the finals, too, getting the greatest number of prizes.  However, the performances Muscovites had a chance to behold at the very outset of the season (and not always performed by the stars from this or that country) made a nice impression.  Gymnastics is developing, the gymnasts' skill is growing and it seems that for them the sky is the limit.

Competent Opinion

Leonid Arkaev, senior coach of the USSR men's team:  First of all, about Bilozerchev, I'm pleased with his performance.  He did slip on the horizontal bar, but that is explainable -- he was performing an element that is new to him, and a very complex one, too.  The competitions, as in the past, justified themselves.  Both the gymnasts and the coaches had a splendid opportunity to see how well prepared they are for this responsible season.  Now about the foreign performers.  The gymnasts from China were among the main contenders for the prizes.  They are, of course, strong rivals.  However, they failed to demonstrate anything new in terms of technique.  The GDR gymnasts made a very favorable impression.  They look promising and are well prepared both technically and physically.

Lyudmila Turishcheva, deputy chief judge at the tournament, winner of all the highest titles in world gymnastics:  The USSR team played with two line ups.  The first proved its strength and skill.  Now we must take part in competitions as often as possible so as to develop assurance and stability.  Of course, I liked Yurchenko.  She performed super-complex exercises.  I'd like to wish her more artistry and the ability to show off.  The girls from the KPDR have made tangible progress (especially Choi Zen Sir).  I'd also mention Liu Jinli (China) and Dorina Unguryan (Romania).  The girls from the countries where gymnastics is just starting are not always quite up to par.  But attending such a responsible tournament including the seminars for coaches and specialists will help them gain know-how.  About judges.  The judging has been done according to new rules ever since 1980.  The development of uniform criteria for evaluating the exercises with account taken of the novelties introduced by the gymnasts is a complicated affair calling for practical work and concerted actions by the judges.  I am satisfied with the quality of judging at the tournament.  In my opinion, it was fair.

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