Everything Was Excellent!

Moscow News, #33, 1983    The Tournament competitions in gymnastics have confirmed the leadership of the 18-year-old student from Rostov-on-Don, Natalya Yurchenko, and the 16-year-old Moscow schoolboy, Dmitry Bilozerchev.  Why are the leaders so strong?  World championship gymnast teams have six athletes each.  Who is vying for them?  These and other questions were answered in the course of the 8-day competitions in the Palace of Sports in Luzhniki.

Yurchenko, by winning all six gold medals, has achieved a success which is rare for the gymnastic world.  She and her coach Vladislav Rastorotsky are worthy of every praise.  Excellent technique, an original free program, and high spirits and confidence all throughout the competitions have won her the victory.  Natalya's duel with Olga Bicherova, 1981 overall world champion, was awaited with impatience.  Regretfully, Olga could not perform because of a light foot injury.

Natalya Ilienko of Alma Ata was second best overall winner.  Natalya is the 1981 floor exercises world champion and a member of the winning team at that championship.  This time her performance was more spirited than ever before.  Yet one can't but wish her most sporting fervor.

Yelena Shushunova (3rd) competed in a merry and challenging manner, provoking stormy applause and high marks with her floor exercises.  This Leningrad schoolgirl left a most favorable impression.

These are the prize holders.  Following them are Anzhela Shchennikova, Oksana Omelyanchik, Irina Baraksanova -- young, promising gymnasts but so far lacking stability in the complexity of competitions.  Yelena Polevaya, Olga Mostepanova, and Tatyana Frolova are more experienced and also eager for a spot on the national team.  The coaches will have a lot of things to do to select the team to take it to Budapest for the 22nd world championship next October.

Each of the hopefuls has exercises which are complex enough, and they have a lot of drive, too.  But it is reliability that rates supreme now, i.e., immaculate performance.  Alas, this is lacking with some.  The only way to the top lies through repeatedly polishing the program and introducing personal features into the seemingly dry compulsory exercises.

Dmitry Bilozerchev (coach Alexander Alexandrov) is a paragon of combined complexity and reliability.  How has the 16-year-old schoolboy come to possess all this?  Talent?  His coming to the platform 24 times without a single failure is hard to believe, but a fact.  He won four gold medals and scored a phenomenal overall sum total of 117.1 points.  All this at the age which is not the experts best choice for utmost success.  Dmitry is ahead of 1981 overall world champion Yuri Korolyov, overall silver medallist, by 1.875 points, and 3.550 points ahead of the experienced bronze medallist Artur Akopyan.

We shall not dwell on the details of the prizewinners' performance or on that of Vladimir Artyomov, Alexander Pogorelov, Bogdan Makuts or other fine athletes.  As with the girls' team, clear-cut and stable performance is most important for them, too.

The Tournament competitions have afforded a look at over 200 of the best male and female gymnasts from various parts of the country.  They left a happy picture of athletes daring and coaches searching, the desire for perfection, and the competitive sport.

Guests from abroad performed too.  They came to Moscow from 12 countries.  The best were absent, however, which is quite understandable, since Budapest is near and no one is going to open up beforehand.  Besides, the world championship being important in itself as a most authoritative event, it will put the finger on Olympic participants.  The Luzhniki competitions resulted in medals being given for some events to gymnasts from Cuba, the GDR, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Czechoslovakia.  As to the guests opinion of the Tournament's organization and general atmosphere, it is unanimous:  '"Everything was excellent!"

This page was created on October 19, 2001.
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