Until the Final Event
April 7, 1978 Yesterday at the international gymnastics competition Riga-78, the women competed for the winner's prize (the amber beam). There were forty-seven competitors, among whom were Soviet gymnasts Natalia Tereshchenko (Ust-Omchug, Magadan region), Valeriya Zhidunova (Mogilev), Elena Khachikyan (Rostov-on-Don), and Natalia Yurchenko (Norilsk), plus another four Soviet gymnasts who competed as reserves. The competition was broken into two sessions.
It was such that probable pretenders to the prize - the girls from the USA and Hungary - competed in the same rotation in the first session, and the GDR and USSR likewise competed in the same rotation, only in the second session.
The competition in the first session was tense and interesting, although the gymnasts didn't receive very high scores. In this lead-off group was S. Hawco (Canada), E. Kano and Z. Kalmer (both Hungary), M. Palmroos (Finland), Kim Chun Sen and Dong Hwan Suk (PRK), R. Schwandt and L. Kardos (both USA).
All three girls from the USA left the best impression (M. Chapman was the other team member). Their routines showed good qualities although not the most complex elements. Nevertheless, they were interesting to watch. The performance of these girls showed correct form, good bearing and softness of line.
The best totals in the first session came from R. Schwandt - 36.7 - and her teammate L. Kardos and Z. Kalmar - 36.45.
The fight for the amber beam really took fire when the second session began. Our girls and the girls from the GDR began on floor exercise - our girls led off. And there began the unexpected. Khachikyan, Zhidunova and Tereshchenko all touched their hands to the mat after double saltos. The judges were not swayed by difficulty; they were still given to quality. And the scores corresponded - 8.95, 9.1 and 9.0. Only 12-year-old Yurchenko (who now studies in Rostov-on-Don and is coached by V. Rastorotsky) executed her combinations, starting with a double salto piked and ending with a double salto tucked. Score - 9.6. The GDR gymnasts J. Lucke and S. Hindorf performed contemporary exercises but without a double salto. Scores - 9.35 and 9.2.
Our girls rebounded well on vault. Yurchenko 9.3, Zhidunova 9.45 and Tereshchenko 9.7. Lucke received 9.3 for her tucked Tsukahara and Hindorf scored 9.2 for a handspring with 360-degree turn.
The leader was Yurchenko until an unintentional fall on bars. She didn't master her exercise and scored 8.7, so after three events she was in fifth. Zhidunova and Khachikyan both scored 9.55 and shared the lead - 28.1. Tereshchenko performed good combinations but her familiar dismount (back salto with 360-degree turn) was low and unsuccessful - 9.3.
In order to win the amber beam, it's necessary to "tame" that event. First up on the podium was Hindorf, but she made a mistake and scored 9.1. Tereshchenko worked a bit better and received 9.2. Zhidunova competed next. A score of 9.3 would be enough for victory. The hall was quiet. Everyone watched her on beam. Valeriya was calm and didn't let the attention disturb her. Her combinations were controlled. Score - 9.6. Victory!
The girls who competed as reserves showed good routines. The best success among them came from M. Glotova, who scored 37.0.
International gymnastics competition "Riga-78". April 5. Women's all-around:
1. V. Zhidunova (USSR) 37.7; 2. N. Tereshchenko (USSR) - 37.35; 3. S. Hindorf (GDR) - 37.2; 4. R. Schwandt (USA) - 36.7; 5. J. Lucke (GDR) - 36.5; 6-7. Z. Kalmar (HUN) and L. Kardos (USA) - 36.45.
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