Big-Time Gymnastics
Three Days Galore at Luzhniki

Moscow News, #14, 1984  

The three-day-long gymnastics festival provided great pleasure to the gymnasts and the spectators -- all those fond of this wonderful sport.  The consensus of all the participants from abroad is that the competition was a success.  Each one had a chance to learn something useful for oneself.  Of course, every athlete thrives, if not for victory, then at least for the best possible result for himself.  But there's nothing to cry about if somebody didn't perform quite as well as he or she wished.

Leonid Arkaev and Andrei Rodionenko, senior coaches of the USSR men's and women's teams, had produced such strong lineups (men - Korolyov, Artyomov, Tumilovich, Kokorin; women - Kolesnikova, Shushunova, Baraksanova, Omelyanchik) that nobody had any doubts as to who would be the winner.  In both foursomes one of the gymnasts was bound to win.

Kim Cher Nam (KPDR) was in the lead after the first event in the combined exercises, but then Korolyov outstripped him and led to the very end.  Korolyov was especially good on the pommel horse where he got 9.9 points, which, it became clear later on, secured him the winning of the prize.  We must single out Korolyov's major success.  On top of the MN Prize he also won five other MN prizes for the separate events.  The trio of medal winners demonstrated they were in good shape for the time of the year.

Vera Kolesnikova won the main prize for women (she was a stand-in on our team at the world championships in Budapest last year).  Hers was a confident victory, performing uniformly in all events (her marks were 9.7; 9.65; 9.75; 9.9).  This stability of performance secured her success in competing against rivals who were on a par with her in skill.  Baraksanova and Shushunova, her chief rivals, made errors on the balance beam (their marks were 9.3 and 9.4, respectively).  They got the silver and bronze medals.  The leaders showed that they are intensively preparing for the season.  Even their errors on the beam were made during the performance of complex elements and not in simple situations.

The most impressive gymnasts from abroad (who didn't include the best performers) were from China (both men and women), the GDR (both men and women), the KPDR (men), Romania (women), and Cuba (men and women).  The Japanese gymnasts were less noticeable at the competition.

The skill of gymnasts from India, Syria, Morocco, Tunisia and other countries is improving with every day.  The latest tournament showed that they have achieved tangible successes in the last few years.

Experts Say

Leonid Arkaev, chief coach of the USSR men's team:  I am quite content with our gymnasts' performance, content, that is, taking into account that it is the season's outset.  The rough elements still in evidence will be polished up in training.  We still have time, thought we can't postpone anything until "tomorrow", so to speak, any more.  The main thing for me now is to see in action as many potential nominees to the USSR Olympic team as possible, and see other teams, too.  The performance of the gymnasts from China, the KPDR, Japan and Cuba were interesting to watch.  Their performance shows that their schools are basically good.  Now they are among our main rivals.  I think that the MN Prize, held so early in the season, quite justifies itself.  We must add to this its importance as a competition where know-how is exchanged and athletes make their first steps on the international arena.  Any country, irrespective of how well developed the sport is in it, turns out finding something of benefit for itself here.

Lidia Ivanova, state coach of the USSR Sports Committee, Merited Master of Sport:  The MN Prize is a very beneficial competition.  The gymnasts are offered, early in the season, to check up upon themselves and see their rivals in action.  First of all, I'd like to mention some of our girls.  Vera Kolesnikova merits greetings both for her victory and her uniform performance.  Stable results will help her make the Olympic team.  Elena Shushunova has been plagued by injuries since her successful last season.  This was practically her first performance after a prolonged interval.  She didn't cope with everything, but the things she did manage made us look at her as a nominee to the national team of six in my opinion.  Irina Baraksanova is charming.  She is the audience's favorite.  Her daring and spontaneity cannot leave people unmoved in spite of her age (b. 1969).  She can express whatever she has planned.  She has amazing maturity of movement.  A personality of this kind is a very valuable asset.  Her mistake on the balance beam is very annoying.  All coaches should learn from these annoying "little bits."  Firstly, they must display more concern for psychological training.  As for the girls from abroad, the gymnasts from Romania and the GDR, of course, stand out among the rest.  The Chinese girls introduced a style all their own.  They are unique in the floor exercises, displaying an extreme gentleness of movement.  The MN Prize is an extremely good school for many of the foreign girl gymnasts.  It offers an excellent opportunity for checking up on one's own skill, getting to know what's new in gymnastics, and strengthening sports relations.

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