Gymnastics Premiere at the Olympiisky

By Alexander Butsenin

Moscow News, no. 13, 1987   Our office and the USSR Gymnastics Federation welcome the participants in and guests of the 14th international gymnastics competitions for the MN Prize (March 27-29).  MN prizes will go to the overall winners and the winners in separate events * Over 150 gymnasts from 33 countries are expected to compete.  They come from Australia, Austria, Bulgaria, Hungary, the UK, Vietnam, the GDR, Greece, Denmark, Spain, Iraq, Italy, Canada, Cyprus, the KPDR, the PRC, Cuba, Morocco, Mongolia, Norway, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Syria, the USA, Tunisia, Finland, France, West Germany, Czechoslovakia, Japan and the USSR * Gymnasts from Australia and Peru will be competing for the MN Prize for the first time * The MN Prize is the first major tournament in the world calendar of gymnastics competitions.  A considerably smaller number of gymnasts took part in the recent American Cup * During the tournament a seminar will be arranged for coaches from abroad at which Soviet sports experts will share their know-how * The MN Prize is to be held for the third time at the Olympiisky sports complex where everything is ready for the competition * The European men's and women's gymnastics will be held in the Olympiisky in May * The competitors will also be awarded prizes by the V/O Mezhdunarodnaya Kniga; the All-Union Book Lovers Society; the Olympiisky sports complex; by the Chunichi Shimbun newspaper, and the World Gymnastics magazine * Olga Mostepanova and Dmitry Bilozerchev, two well-known Soviet gymnasts, are now training to perform in our national teams * The International Gymnastics Federation has given permission to girls of 14 to perform at this year's world championships in the Netherlands.  The age limit for girls at the 1988 Olympics has been established at over 15.

All the above topics and others connected with the development of gymnastics were discussed in our office at the meeting of the competition sponsors with journalists.  Taking part in the talk were Vladimir Kirillov, deputy chief of the gymnastics administration of the USSR Sports Committee; Andrei Radionenko, senior coach of the USSR women's team; Valery Kerdemelidi, chief competition judge; and Leonid Pivovarov, deputy general director of the Olympiisky sports complex.

What will be the trends in the pre-Olympic year in gymnastics?  The MN Prize, which opens the season, will undoubtedly provide an answer to this question.  Experts are predicting an intensifying of the trend towards making the programs more and more complex.

It will become more difficult, but not for its own sake.  The elements, exercises, etc., that have already been mastered by the gymnasts are now in the process of being perfected.  And great importance is ascribed to beauty and artistry of performance.

Andrei Radionenko believes that not only the coaches and gymnasts of our country are working in this direction, but those in the leading gymnastics countries are, too.  The latest proof of this was the recent open American Cup competitions.  The majority of gymnasts demonstrated difficult and new programs.

As for the forecast for the season, it was noted at the meeting that our main rivals in competition for the medals at the most prestigious tournaments will be the gymnasts from the PRC, the USA and the GDR -- among men, and of Romania, the GDR, the USA, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia and the PRC -- among women.

Valery Kerdemelidi told journalists that girls of 14 are to be permitted to perform at the forthcoming world championships to provide the opportunity for possible candidates to go to the 1988 Olympics, where the age limit has been set at no younger than 15 for the girls.  Journalists wanted to know if there was a possible age limit of girl gymnasts and the expediency of subjecting a young organism to adult strains.

Vladimir Kirillov said that research and practical know-how show that the process of gymnastics growing younger is not infinite.  On the contrary, the growth of achievements in this sport is connected with increased duration of performance by mature masters.

Kirillov also said that the Gymnastics Administration and the Federation are putting emphasis in their work not only on training high-class gymnasts, but also on drawing into gymnastics on a broader scale children of kindergarten age, and pupils at general secondary schools.  This is done not for the sake of bigger sports results, but to foster in children an interest in taking up sport and building up the foundation of a healthy organism in them.  This will include the development of such spin-offs of this sport as aerobics, sports dancing and trampolining.

It was stressed at the meeting that today the foremost task of the MN Prize is to get the greatest possible number of children involved in sport.  In particular, they will be sold tickets at a discount and the trainees of sports schools are invited to come to the competitions free of charge.  We are glad to receive our guests.

   Our Team

Valery Lyukin (b. 1966, Alma-Ata) who performs a highly complex voluntary program.  He is especially good in the floor exercises, on the long and pommel horse, and on the horizontal bar.  He was fourth overall at the 1986 Spartakiade of Soviet Nations.
Ravil Adeev (1968, Cherkessk), who is a good overall performer, but his best results are in the pommel horse and horizontal bar.  Last year he came second overall at the MN Prize.
Vladimir Novikov (1967, Alma-Ata).  First overall in 1986 MN Prize.
Maxim Dyomkin (1966, Leningrad). Won the pommel horse in the 1986 Spartakiade of Soviet Nations.  He performs complex routines on the rings and pommel horse.
Yelena Shevchenko (1971, Moscow). First overall at the 1986 Spartakiade of Soviet Nations. Her favorites are the floor exercises and the vault.
Svetlana Baitova (1972, Mogilev). 1986 USSR overall champion.  Good in all exercises, but excels on the asymmetrical bars and the beam.
Olga Strazheva (1972, Zaporozhye). Second overall at the 1986 Spartakiade of Soviet Nations, and second at the 1987 USA Cup.
Alevtina Pryakhina (1972, Moscow). Third overall at the 1986 European youth championships, and is especially good in the floor exercises.  In the 1986 Chunichi Cup she won this event.
Yelena Gurova (1972, Moscow). Third overall in the 1986 Spartakiade of Soviet Nations.

According to the coaches of the USSR national teams, all the above-listed gymnasts did very well last year.  They all have complex, modern programs and each one of them expects to qualify for the national team to take part in the season's three main official tournaments -- the European championship (May), the Universiade (July) and the world championship (October).


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