Dasha gets her due

One of the most engaging performers of this quad has been Daria (“Call me Dasha”) Joura, the star of an Australian squad that hasn’t quite lived up to its hype.

Joura, who earned her first World Cup gold on her favorite event at last weekend’s DBT Cup, has proven herself among the best in the world in terms of what I’d call complete package gymnastics; her difficulty is on par with world medalists and there’s certainly not much to criticize about her form.

From her spunky “look-at-me!” salute to the wink she gave the camera as she took the floor at the 2007 World Championships, Joura oozes personality; she’s a  performer in an era where the code of points leaves many gymnasts little time to breathe — let alone dance — on the floor exercise. Imagine how great she’d be at a Rock ‘n Roll Gymnastics Championship or Olympic gala.

U.S. gymnastics fans got their first real look at Joura’s generation at the 2006 Pacific Alliance Championships, where she and superelegant teammate Hollie Dykes dazzled on all events, particularly balance beam and floor exercise.

Hollie Dykes, 2006 Pacific Alliance Championships, Balance Beam:

Daria Joura, 2006 Pacific Alliance Championships, Vault:

Dykes was actually the one tagged by Australian Marta Karolyi National Team Coordinator Peggy Liddick as “the prima ballerina” of the new Australian generation, one that seemed in 2006 like it would be able to better the 2003 World team’s bronze medal achievement.

The Australians obviously put a huge emphasis on form from a very young age, and it carries over in their wonderfully balletic style on balance beam and floor exercise.

Hollie Dykes, 2000 Australian Institute of Sport Olympic Display:

Daria Joura, 2001 Australian Nationals, Floor Exercise:

Joura, Dykes, Chloe Sims and newcomer Lauren Mitchell could prove a formidable team at any World Championships or Olympic Games, provided they hit their routines. Unfortuately Australia doesn’t seem real heavy on depth. Fielding a strong fifth and sixth gymnast has proven challenging for the team this quad. They had a rather shockingly shaky performance in Stuttgart (three of the five to compete on both bars and beam fell), finishing 11th as a team and barely scraping by with an Olympic berth. 

Lauren Mitchell, 2007 World Championships Team Prelims, Uneven Bars:

Hopefully a little 11th place scare will be good for this team. It’s worked before. Look at how the American men turned out after placing 13th at the 2006 Worlds in Aarhus.

— Further reading: Joura a World Champion gymnast, from Australia’s Daily Telegraph newspaper

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3 Responses to “Dasha gets her due”

  1. Katrina Says:

    their beam and floor work remind me so much of Shannon Miller but that’s because of Peggy Liddick.

  2. Mez Says:

    Hollie’s from the Australian Institute of Sport program, which is our National Training Centre for almost every sport in this country including gymnastics. The AIS puts a lot of emphasis on form, especially in basic/compulsory skills. Every year at nationals, what the AIS girls might lack in difficulty they more than make up for in form (see also Melody Hernandez, Monique Blount), especially on an event like beam.

    Dasha was first ‘shown off’ to a home crowd at the 2005 Australia vs China event where she won beam and floor (over Han Bing and Cheng Fei respectively, no less!), and attracted the attention of the crowd with her engaging style of performing. I remember going home from the meet thinking “In amongst Monette Russo and Chloe Sims and Monique Blount, how come I’d never heard of that Dasha girl? She was great, she smiled and winked and swept the crowd up in her routine, I hope she goes far!”

    Several of Australia’s team members at the 2007 Worlds were newcomers to the international scene, having not competed at major World Cup competitions before (Shona Morgan, Lauren Mitchell) and the biggest competition for some of them was the Commonwealth Games (Ashleigh Brennan, Chloe Sims) which were actually held on home turf and, naturally, not boasting the top gymnastics nations in the world like USA, Romania and China the girls were somewhat comfortably advantaged there. Stuttgart was an entirely new experience for most of them, and they were feeling a lot of pressure. This squad was talked up A LOT back at home prior to Worlds, given that they beat both China and Japan at duel meets held earlier in the year. We were quite suprised to see such a poor performance in Stuttgart with such a strong team. In 2006 we placed 6th and that was with a team that had even less international exposure and experience than the 2007 one!

    As has been discussed and dissected on various gym discussion boards, we Aussie fans are seeing a silver lining here- we qualified for Beijing and that was our first priority. Better to flub it a year before than at the actual event. Hopefully the mishaps in Stuttgart will put fire in their bellies and inspire them to improve (I mean, look at what happened just weeks later in the same venue!)

  3. Joura charges to lead at Good Luck Beijing Invitational « The Gymblog Says:

    […] off her floor exercise gold at last month’s DBT Cup, Joura is leading the field after the preliminary round of competition at the Good Luck Beijing […]

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