For the seventh time now, the tournament of champions has taken place. And, no doubt, the competitive atmosphere was equal to previous tournaments. Gymnasts from 18 countries were here, including Syria and China for the first time. The 1983 edition did not attract spectators only from Cottbus, but from many other districts who were interested in seeing the competition.
And the gymnasts did what was expected of them: they offered a lot of excellent gymnastics. Gymnasts from many countries displayed strong exercises and showed that international gymnastics has evolved in many ways. The tournament had additional significance for the GDR gymnasts, as it would choose which gymnasts to send to the European Championships.
Maxi Gnauck won the coveted trophy of the Cottbus tournament three times (1979, 1980 and 1981). After a break last year due to an injury, she again was the favorite of many to win this year. But on her first event, she missed her dismount. Result: 9.1 points. After a good floor routine (with Tsukahara, triple and double twists) and a laid-out full-twisting Tsukahara (9.9), Maxi came to her last event and speciality, the uneven bars. Here, she tried her latest flight element, a Tkachev, and missed the bar (9.4). She finished in a tie for third with the talented Bulgarian Antoaneta Angelova. Maxi deserved this rank. We are sure that it's only a matter of time before she finds her usual stability.
But now to the leading duo. Astrid Heese from ASK Frankfurt (Oder) briefly had the lead, but when she fell from uneven bars, Gnauck's 15-year-old clubmate Sylvia Rau had her chance. She performed a high-class exercise on uneven bars, including a Jager salto and double back dismount. She tied for first all-around with Jiang Wei, who scored the highest marks on vault (full-twisting layout Yurchenko) and floor.
AA winner Sylvia Rau succeeded in finals - namely on bars where she won the gold medal. Maxi Gnauck won vault. There was a Soviet victory on beam by Natalia Studenikina. She excelled in forward and backward somersault combinations and dismounted with a double back.
The AA bronze medalist Antoaneta Angelova (BUL), who qualified to all four finals, won silver on bars and floor. So there was more fighting at the end of the women's competition, but quite a balance. The East German gymnasts must be praised for testing new elements, but it must be pointed out that the stability and security still remain to be desired. The World Championships in October is the target.
In contrast to the female gymnasts, the men's AA battle was almost exclusively among the GDR gymnasts. The question was: in the absence of Roland Bruckner, who was most likely to win the title? It was not the veteran Michael Nikolay or his clubmate Ulf Hoffmann, but the 19-year-old Holger Behrendt of ASK Vorwarts Potsdam. A native of Schonnebekker and who is coached by Bernd Jager, he did a good series and crept almost unnoticed into the top position. On floor, he ended with a piked double somersault, on rings he dismounted with a full-twisting double back. On pommel horse (9.75) he also proved his skill, and DTV head coach Dieter Hoffmann emphasized the Potsdamer's fighting spirit and stability.
Michael Nikolay, runner up in the all-around, retaliated with two victories in finals: on pommels (9.9 twice!) and high bar. Foreign gymnasts won three events. The young Soviet Radik Gabitov was superior on floor. The 1982 Asian Games willer from North Korea, Li Su Gil, won the gold medal on rings. Finally, there was a tie on parallel bars by the Cuban Lazaro Amador and Gabitov.
Although Michael Nikolay won the gold medal on high bar, the most spectacular element belonged to Hubert Brylok: a Kovacs salto over the bar. He had received 9.9 for this exercise in the all-around, but he scored only 9.4 in finals.
The men's competition in Cottbus offered a larger number of flashy treats, because the gymnasts came from our country as well as the USSR, China and Cuba. In view of the world championships this year, the East German gymnasts are in a good position for the formation of a powerful team.