Sparks of Talent

April 1, 1978. Business Card. Natalia Tereschenko. Born 1962. Lives in Ust-Omchug, Magadan region. "Trud." Winner of the 1975 Youth Championships in the candidate for master category. Silver medalist at the XIV Spartakiade for Schoolchildren in 1976 and second at the All-Union Sportive Games for Youth. Coach - Eduard Nechai.

When you want to show the breadth of geography of our women's gymnastics team, be sure to call Natalia Tereschenko. She lives in far off Ust Omchug, in the Tensky region of Magadan. It takes 10 hours to fly from Moscow to Magadan in an Ilyushin-18, then it's another 270 kilometers to reach her village.

To the surprising question, "How does it work there?" Eduard Petrovich Nechai gives a no less surprising answer. "Why wouldn't it work here? Conditions are no worse than other places. We have a sports school complex with sections for skiing, boxing, and gymnastics. Incidentally, we have four coaches and 120 young gymnasts."

Nechai was born in the Amur region, then moved to Kirovgrad, Ukraine, with his parents. He was a gymnast, studied at the institute, became a coach. Getting him to Natasha Tereschenko - Eduard Petrovich saw her talent. It would seem that all took shape well. Almost, but not quite. The training hall was poor with old equipment.

Nechai decided to huddle with his wife - she works with him. It was surprisingly easy to get Natasha's parents to agree to relocate. "Magadan is Magadan. There are a lot of work opportunities there."

"I could not be without the taiga. It captivated me. I'm an avid fisherman, and I hunt well. And I felt that aside from city affairs, it would be better go. I'm not a hermit and don't refuse to attend any educational seminars, and I have subscriptions to the methodological literature," Nechai reminisced.

At the 1977 USSR Cup, Natasha finished fifth. Nechai sat in the arena and seemed to be calm, but when I asked whether he was pleased with Natasha he became animated for the first time. "Unfortunately, her back hurts and she made blunders in some places."

We traveled to Moscow in the same plane as Nechai. He spent almost the entire night writing something in a thick notebook. "A training plan," he said in the morning. "Natasha will be ready for the World Cup."

Tereschenko's routines have been known to experts in recent years. Her combinations are strong and well designed. Her vault and floor exercise are of world-class level. That's it exactly. Natalia Tereschenko was the first in the world to perform a Tsukahara vault with full pirouette. Then Nelli Kim learned the vault, and with it she won Olympic gold.

"The girls who are now visible on the podium all share an important feature: they are all 'peppery.' I have heard this about Filatova, about Shaposhnikova, about Mukhina, and about Kim. And my Natasha, she's argumentative and a little stubborn," said Nechai.

"Here's another detail. Four years ago we rehearsed the double salto on the floor. Suddenly, she found out that this trick had already been shown in a competition. I saw that Natasha's spirit fell. It's not like her, you see, to be on the sidelines. So I started teaching her the twisting Tsukahara. And learning this new element rejuvenated her. Incidentally, Natasha did not stop working until she had learned the new Tsukahara element".

And the latest news from the Youth Championships, held in mid-December in Cherepovets. Natalia placed second in the all-around and won the national title on three events: vault, floor and beam. And Natasha already has a new vault: Tsukahara with 1 1/2 twists.

So, she really wants to be first.