Posts Tagged ‘Irina Isayeva’

Russians at Zakharova Cup

June 13, 2008

I watched with some dismay the underwhelming performance of Russian Irina Isayeva at the underwhelming 2008 Stella Zakharova Cup.

Isayeva was one of the stars of the Russian junior class that was going to revitalize its program around 2005. She had a solid coming out party at the 2006 European Championships but spent much of last year injured.

Irina Isayeva, 2008 Zakharova Cup, Floor Exercise:

Slightly better was the performance of Alonya Zmeu, which included this stylish Pink Panther floor routine. Don’t see either of them on the Russian Olympic team, though.

Alyona Zmeu, 2008 Zakharova Cup, Floor Exercise:

Russians dominate Junior Europeans

April 4, 2008

2008 Junior European Champion Tatiana Nabieva of RussiaAll of a sudden, gymnastics team competitions are being won by the margins of basketball games. And not even close basketball games.

The Russian juniors held off second-place France by more than 10 points to capture the Junior European team title today in Clement-Ferrand, France, International Gymnast Magazine reported.

Ridiculous. If the Russian juniors, once they became Russian seniors, held as much dominance, well, the team picture come Beijing might look a bit different than it does at the moment.

As it is, it appears Russia will fight the Romania for the team bronze. It might be the biggest team fight of the Games in women’s gymnastics. Neither country has done particularly well against the Chinese and Americans this quad.

But imagine if the Russian juniors, perennial champions at competitions like the junior Europeans, could do as well in the senior ranks. For some reason, they don’t. The two big breakout Russian stars from the 2006 Europeans, Irina Isayeva and Daria Elizarova, simply haven’t competed much during the past two years.

Elizarova, whose form reminded some of the great Lilia Podkopayeva, was the alternate for the 2007 World Championship team and didn’t compete. Isayeva has been plauged by injuries and in the few competitions she’s been in has seemed to struggle with endurance.

As it is, add 13-year-old Tatiana Nabieva to the list of Russian up-and-comers for 2012. Nabiyeva, (60.850) bested teammate Aliya Mustafina (60.3) to take the junior all-around crown in France, while Frenchwoman Youna Dufournet won bronze (60.225).

Tatiana Nabieva, 2007 Gymnix International, Floor Exercise:

So few slots, so many questions

March 7, 2008

In theory, by March of an Olympic year, we should be getting a better idea of who’s going to be on the Olympic team in most countries.

China is not most countries.

Here are Deng Linlin and Guo Weiyang, two from the People’s Republic whose success at the just concluded Doha World Cup may contribute to their own Olympic surge. Guo won gold on high bar in Doha. Deng won gold on beam and silver on floor.

She didn’t do too shabbily on vault, either, winning a bronze behind Germany’s Oksana Chusovitina and Russian Anna Pavlova.

Deng Linlin, 2008 Doha World Cup Event Finals, Vault:

Guo Weiyang, 2007 Chinese Nationals Event Finals, High Bar:

Ksenia SemyonovaMatters aren’t much clearer when it comes to the prospective Russian women’s team, either. Ksenia Semyonova is the reigning world champion on the uneven bars, but Lyudmila Yezhova Grebenkova keeps coming up with big results at smaller meets. Ksenia Afanasyeva had a great competition at last week’s Russian Cup.  

Add veteran Pavlova to the mix, as well as the stalwart Yelena Zamolodchikova, Svetlana Klyukina, Yekaterina Kramarenko, Polina Miller, Kristina Pravdina, Anna Grudko, Irina Isayeva, Daria Elizarova and Yulia Lozhechko. There’s no dearth of talent in Russia.

Who goes? Who stays? Who knows?

Good grief.