The New One

Neue Berliner Illustrierte, 37/84   At the world championships, the best one was the elegant one.  Until now, gymnastics exercises that combined beauty and difficulty were in the shadows.  Ten thousand spectators enjoyed the artistic performances of the women gymnasts at the new Budapest Sports Hall.  Since the last world championships in Moscow in 1981, one could notice how much the sport has advanced.  New competitors have appeared on the map, and the winner has a lot to offer.  Her name is Natalia Yurchenko, the all-around world champion.  In Budapest, she dethroned the dainty Olga Bicherova, the 16-year-old former champion from Moscow.  Yurchenko, the dark-haired beauty from Rostov-on-Don, is 18.  Her repetoire was unique.  After the compulsory competition, she showed an original handwriting, an innovative style, which made her gymnastics special.

"I believe she is the synthesis between risk and beauty of composition, between tricks on the apparatus and expressive artistry," enthused the former world champion and current TV commentator Larissa Petrik.  "To win today, one must put full risk into their exercises."  Natalia Yurchenko didn't come to Budapest as an unknown.  In 1982 she won the World Cup together with Olga Bicherova.  She's a student of master trainer Vladislav Rastorotsky, who already had success with the former World Cup winner Natalia Shaposhnikova and the former Olympic champion Ludmila Turischeva.  The coach thinks that, in comparison with his former stars, his current pupil is very talented and is in a better position to perform complicated elements.  He sees a big difference.  "Formerly it took a year to learn a new element.  Today it doesn't take such a long time.  We have a slightly new training system, but the result is the same.  We go step by step.  Those who can't keep up find themselves hopelessly behind."

The new world champion loves risk.  The high point of her beam routine is a flick flack crosswise on the apparatus.  She performs a vault that takes the spectators' breath away.  From the run up, she does a round-off onto the board.  The first flight phase is a salto backwards to the apparatus, and after the support sequence another salto with full twist.  Unfortunately, in event finals she injured herself and could not add another medal to her collection.

In Budapest, the new generation gave notice.  Many young gymnasts collected their first world championship experience.  They hope they can win an Olympic medal in 1984.  Will there be another "new one" in Los Angeles?

This page was created on October 24, 2004.
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