Three Days of Gymnastics at the Olympiisky

Moscow News, #14 1986  

Even though a record number of gymnasts competed, the leaders in world gymnastics weren't here.  The Soviet side, which usually puts up a crack team, was without its top performers.  Most spectators probably wanted to see the famous gymnasts, but the coaches had the last word.  Since this year is not so difficult, they decided to give young gymnasts a chance.  That was why the USSR team this time round included Alexander Kolyvanov, 14, from Voronezh, and some lads slightly older than him -- Novikov, Adeev and Vorobyov.  Only Li Chol Hon from the KPDR could put up any sort of competition to our boys.  Li Chol Hon is no novice at the tournament, but it was the first time that he managed to share the second-third places at the MN Prize in the combined exercises with Adeev.

Leaving the lineups aside, the competition was quite interesting.  Kolyvanov, a boy with a totally non-gymnastic frame, took the lead before the last exercise -- on the rings.  Either his nerves let him down (after all victory was within reach) or he simply did not have the necessary strength to perform a number of physically difficult elements.  He only got 8.85 points on the rings and ended up fourth overall.  Vladimir Novikov, 15, was luckier.  Gradually building up his superiority, he took the first overall.

Let's not delve deep into gymnastic techniques and details by describing all the elements.  We should point out that standards are constantly improving.  Many gymnasts now cope with the elements which only the elite could perform.  The overwhelming majority of the gymnasts lack elegance and precision of performance.  Risk is also necessary, for the judges may add points for it.  And a gymnast should primarily run risks at friendly competitions which are held in conditions near to official tournaments.  In this respect, we'd like to note Leonid Arkaev, senior coach of the USSR men's team (and, for that matter, Andrei Rodionenko, the senior coach of the women's team), who boldly fielded young gymnasts.  In the long run he proved correct in his choice.

The best foreign competitors were the Chinese.  The Japanese gymnasts produced a surprise.  Koichi Mizushima, their best entry, came 15th.  Where did the famous school, with its wealth of experience, vanish to?  The Swede Johan Jonasson appears to be making good progress.  Last year he was ninth.  This year he reached fifth.  The national teams in many countries are now busy renewing their lineups, after the Montreal world championship and with an eye on the Olympic Games.  So, the gymnasts we've seen at the MN Prize must make the headlines in a year or two.

The situation among the girls is similar.  The stars didn't compete.  Talented young gymnasts fought for the right to get on their respective nationals in the near future.  For example, everyone awaited with great interest the performance by Elena Shevchenko who, as has been said, has a program even more complicated than Shushunova's.  But Elena fell from the beam, getting 8.8 points, and from the asymmetrical bars (9.2 points), leaving her only 8th overall.  She has enough complex elements in her routines but what she needs badly is stability.

Averkova was excellent.  She managed to keep her cool and her routines were worthy of an MN Prize winner.  She has a lot to perfect, but Oxana is clearly capable of greater achievements.

Youth is youth, of course, but the girls who come from the countries where gymnastics is popular should have done better.  That's how it was at our tournament.  The leading group in the combined exercises included girls from Romania, the GDR, China, Bulgaria, the USA, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Great Britain.

It doesn't really matter that the best girl gymnasts do not include the entries from Vietnam, Mongolia, Syria, Tunisia and a number of other countries.

The finals were an amalgam of everything best that had been demonstrated on the two previous days. The finals confirmed the above as the prizes went to the gymnasts from the USSR, the PRC, the KPDR, Romania, the GDR, Bulgaria and Sweden.

The tournament is over, and all the gymnasts have been invited to come again next year.  In July the Olympiisky will play host to gymnasts from many countries at the Goodwill Games.

Gymnastics Champions

Vladimir Novikov:  I didn't develop my own rhythm of competition at once.  I didn't fare so well in the long horse, and the parallel bars were tough.  But when I came up to the horizontal bar, I regained my confidence.  There's no success without confidence.  And a victory at the MN Prize is precisely all the more valuable because it instills confidence.  Now I can look at the present season in a different way or, to be more precise, I can set higher goals for myself.  The first one is to win the gold medal at the junior European championship in early May in West Germany.  I've been active in gymnastics since age 8.  I'm a ninth-grader at a school in Alma-Ata.  My favorite subject is physics.  The victory in this tournament is my biggest achievement to date.  My ideal in gymnastics is lightness, beauty and grace in performance.

Oxana Averkova:  Last spring I was third overall at the MN Prize, behind Oxana Omelyanchik and Lena Shushunova, who won the MN Prize.  In autumn, they shared first place at the world championship in Montreal.  Before that, Lena won the European title and Oxana was third overall at the European championship.  I wish very much that this tournament would become a lucky talisman for me.  I strove to perform evenly, without any slips, and in all the events was successful.  I'm a ninth-grader at a Moscow school.  My hobby is classical music, and I also like to sew and draw.  In gymnastics, I like the risks it offers and the opportunity to learn how to overcome that which yesterday seemed insurmountable.  I hope to win the right to go to the Goodwill Games.


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