Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Let's Give 'Em Something to Write About

If you're like me and think that buying both of your city's most widely-circulated newspapers this morning is a good idea because surely the 100 Days Until Beijing supplements will have gymnastics articles in them... save your money and your time.

I bought both The Age and the Herald Sun today. Both had 100 Days features. The Sun's 8-page liftout is basically all about swimming and also features some yob's "100 reasons why the Olympics are great" list which, although it gives two very short mentions to gymnastics, is really just an unsubtle mix of racism, ageism and self-congratulatory ignorance. Their little column of "our medal hopes" has a picture of Dasha doing her side aerial on beam so it's not that flattering. The Age has bugger-all.

Alex Croak, for some reason, was chosen to stand in a warehouse looking crestfallen at boxes of muesli and health bars to illustrate the Chinese officials' ban on countries bringing their own products in. I know this because it was in the MX (Melbourne train network) newspaper yesterday and I looked just as perplexed about the whole thing as she did.

I hope our girls get some great results in Beijing so we fans can all say, "Well we've been telling you ALL ALONG to pay attention to them but no, you had to go and make out like the team only consisted of Grant Hackett, Jana Rawlinson and Lleyton Hewitt. Don't come crawling to us now."

Let's all be grateful for the press in WA. Dasha has written about her torch-bearing experiences and thoughts on the torch's significance here. She is also, surprisingly enough, one of the international athletes profiled at NBC's Olympic website. I like that they remark the ways in which she "sets herself apart from her peers", and this bit made me laugh:

Until 2002, gymnastics for Joura was "just an everyday thing, like vacuuming" but now she truly enjoys herself.

I discovered that Lauren is also there but whether or not my computer's playing up or something I don't know, as no text comes up in her bio...

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

A Gymnastics LOLcano

Because clearly, the only way to get uni work done is to get distracted and not do it.

Not much news on the Aussie front today so in the meantime, please enjoy my attempts at LOLgymnasts.

Monday, April 28, 2008

We Can Be Heroes

Some gold nuggets of gym news today.

1. Support your national gymnastics movement and the admirable young people therein by buying shiny things to show how much you love them ('cause they just might not get it from Nationals attendance levels). Better yet, go so far as to invent some fake national holidays just to treat yourself to an item with an elite's happy face on it.

Happy Take Your Canvas Bags to the Supermarket Day.
Here, have a card.
...It's Ashleigh Brennan. And look, when you you open it up, it plays the Cold Case theme!

FYI the Gymnastics Heroes page is actually yet-to-be-launched, so keep your eyes peeled and your wallet unclasped. I think the height chart will be a bit of a hard sell with regards to a sport like ours, but you never know. Short people deserve some attention at Christmas time too.

2. Thanks to a new photo posted by Gymnastics Australia, I realise that Miss Joura is the embodiment of the phrase, 'give peace a chance'. What a fitting statement for the torch relay itself...
Flash back to 2007...

3. G-Radio is coming back! The audio web-cast of Nationals proved to be a success last year (where can I get my poster with Liz C's face on it, huh!?) so they're doing it all again but this time WITH VIDEO! WAG finals, MAG finals and the National Apparatus Challenge will all be streamed with commentary. I would have loved to listen to commentary last year but I'm pretty sure you can't take a laptop into the venue. Thankfully they're doing the fans a bit of a service and posting the broadcast after the event, which you can access from an archive provided you subscribed first. When you're not waiting for My Heroes to get its act together, watch for news on the GA site and find out how you can get some perspective on the event from someone other than...well, me.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

100 Days - Countdown to Beijing

Enh. It's a bit hard to 'have a go' at writing a thesis abstract for your supervisor when you haven't even done any data collection yet.


Anyway. 100 days until Beijing... I think. It's possibly 99 (I lost count!) but either way the newspapers are getting into the swing of things, featuring profiles on handfuls of exciting Olympic hopefuls but, sadly, no gymnasts. There might be something on the television news, who knows. Russo got a look-in when it was 100 days until the Melbourne Commonwealth Games...

On a happier note: GGMB folk are wonderfully resourceful. Looky looky!

Eyes open, smiling, torch aloft, what a great shot. It's just a shame my re-sizing techniques do it no justice *shakes fist at Blogger*

And in news to hand from secret snoopitty-snoops Schludern and Ozzie, Dasha got right back into practise at the AIS gym after the relay:

Dasha stayed in Canberra for a few days after the torch relay to have her routines verified at the AIS, and scored by an official judge. She competed the double layout in her floor routine, and is also back to the Baitova after watering down to a FTY earlier in the year.

Woohoo! Great vault, great bars, great floor, I just pray to the high heavens that she can stick her beam because if you couple all that with her experience gained in the Olympic arena already, she'll be on a medal podium, no problems!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Are You Cereal!?



Beijing Olympics Uneven Bars Final: China for the win.

In other news - less than a month 'til Nationals, people. Get adequately prepared to rock.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

All a Bit Of an Anticlimax, Innit?

It was a rather uneventful torch relay this morning, for the most part, save for a few arrests at the very start and the idiot who sat in the middle of the road in front of an in-motion torchbearer and a stream of federal police. It's one thing to try and disrupt an event you obejct to, it's another thing to put yourself and another person in harm's way. Oh, and Ian Thorpe lit the cauldron at the end, basking in the flickering flame, only for it it to die out completely a moment later. Show me a better metaphor for his sporting career and I will show you a silenced blogger.

Anyhoo. I missed most of the relay. I saw the opening ceremony and the first few runners, but then I had to go to the orthodontist to get my braces tightened. By the time I got back, most of the leg had been run. Sadly, Sky News kept cutting to its reporters in Commonwealth Park and the Sunrise program re-played their sports reporter's run with the torch 3 times (I am not kidding). So I hope somebody did catch a glimpse of Dasha with the torch in the end. She deserves a bit of mainstream media attention. I'm guessing one of the newspapers tomorrow (most likely The Age) will have photos of all the torchbearers like they did with the Sydney relay.

To anyone wondering, this little fuzzy blogging duck is attending Nationals for the Senior and Junior AA/EF (Friday night), Level 10 AA/EF (Saturday daytime) and the Apparatus Challenge (Sunday). I've got access to a camera, and there will be someone else filming with me but the more the merrier, I say! Come and say hello, I don't bite! If there are about 10 people with video cameras, then just look for the short one fumbling with the equipment and looking like she has no idea what she's doing. And when she laughs, you'll see braces. That'll be me.

ETA: Here she is! Squinty-eyed but proud!

She must have been towards the very end, seeing as she's #74. Somewhere around the #70 mark, all the news stations covering it shifted focus to Commonwealth Park where the relay would end. So by all accounts, Dasha missed a stint on television.

Special thanks to covert-ops agent and media watchdog Nade.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

No Torchy Torchy

First: Some gym news.

Emma Dennis, Shona Morgan and Georgia Bonora were profiled in the Oakleigh Monash Leader newspaper.

"Hey guys, I put a new pack of mag in the equipment any purple ribbon I could borrow?"

Dasha's latest PerthNow column is also up, and she gives a shout-out to Chuso.

Secondly, a public service announcement:

The Olympic Flame has touched down in Australia. The Canberra leg of the torch relay proper kicks off tomorrow (Thursday). Western Australia's golden girl and Olympic gymnastics hopeful Dasha Joura will be one of the torch bearers. I wish her a safe and enjoyable jog in the super-trendy baggy white shorts.

To anyone who has an opinion to voice on the Tibet issue, or who opposes the torch relay, and plans to overtly show their intentions as the torch goes by, please do it peacefully. I understand that passive action is in no way equitable to what China may have done to certain people over time, and of course the torch relay is attempting to distract from a lot of flaws, but the Olympic event itself stands for a lot. One of my best friends ran with the Sydney Olympic torch nearly a decade ago and that was an amazing experience for all involved, even us spectating. I would have hated for someone to try and physically wrench the torch off of her.

The torchbearers are not the ones involved in the bigger issues. They're simply there to take part.

If you must protest against what the torch stands for - turn your back. You'll be making a statement and making it peacefully. Nobody deserves to be hurt or frightened. Anger begets violence, if Yoda has taught us anything. Just turn your back as the torch passes, it's the smart and safe thing to do.

Peaceful protesting: Thorpey says it's fully sick.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Olivia, Oregon and the Olympics

Well looky here.

Olivia Vivian's NCAA and Beijing prospects are the current hot news item at IG.
Good for her. I liked this interview because you heard from several people, though I think Peggy is making a rather unsubtle attempt at indirectly communicating to the rest of the squad what she wants in a team member.

Clearly, it's not just enough to do a good routine on bars, you have to prep them too.

Like a teacher who gets too many apples on their desk from eager students, Peggy will no doubt turn up to squad training next month to find all the crashmats set up before dawn and a shiny new pack of mag-chalk (tied with a purple ribbon, how fitting) in the equipment cupboard.

On a More Positive Note

Congratulations are in order for Alex Croak who is campaigning rather successfully for the Beijing Olympics diving team. This will make her part of a *very* exclusive group of athletes who have represented Australia at consecutive Olympics in different sports.

My favourite bit:

Croak, coached by Chava Sobrino at the Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre,held her nerve to score 78.20 (averaging 8s) to land the second spot – 8.1 points ahead of the 2004 Athens Olympic golden girl.
The score was settled and Croak could not wait to acknowledge Sobrino, before climbing “Pat Cash style” into the grandstand to find her mum Heather, sitting dumbstruck in the crowd.

Good on you Alex, and your team-mates.

Bonne chance!

Oh, and while we're in the mood for congratulating, happy belated 6-month anniversary to the Supporters of Australian Gymnastics group on Facebook which has grown in leaps and bounds ('scuse the pun) since launching in late October last year. Follow the link from this blog, sign in and click to join the group if you haven't done so already.
Come on.
All the cool kids on Chapel Street do it.
You know you want to.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Kids Today. *rolls eyes*

I would like to apologise here and now to any interstate visitors coming out for Nationals who have to travel on the Melbourne train network to get to accomodation/the competition venue.

The Melbourne train network, overseen and operated by the much detested company Connex (with help from Siemens) is one of the worst in the world, I must say. Many of the trains on the system are outdated and in some cases, rather dilapidated. Poor timetabling results in constant over-crowding, particularly in pre and post-work peak hours. Many don't run on time (or at all on some lines) and often no genuine excuse or compensation is given for passenger inconvenience.

Oh, and the security on board is practically non-existent.
Case in point - my night out last night.
Basically, it got ruined by some passengers in my carriage.

I boarded in the city with Mr Mez, after a movie and drinks. Much fun was had. It's a good 45 minutes from the city to my station and it was the second-last train of the night, so in heading OUT of the city before midnight on a Saturday, we settled in for what we assumed would be a subdued ride. A few stations after we boarded, on wobbled a dozen drunk teens (I took them for at least three or four years younger than myself) with pizza boxes and spirit bottles in tow. They swore, they shouted at the tops of their voices, they tossed pizza bits around and didn't hesitate to throw about the most misogynistic terms I've ever heard. The girls in the group (plastic-looking makeup, Country Road bags, chewing gum, blank-faced phone texting, you know the type) just encouraged the boys. Their behaviour wouldn't abate despite the fact that they were drawing get-off-and-go-back-to-BoganLand-where-you-belong stares from all and sundry. They crowded quite close to where we were sitting and it took every ounce of my strength not to stick out my boot and trip the disgusting ring leader up.

Anyway, we got to my station (I learned that they were alighting two stops after ours) and after nearly an hour of fist-clenching-and-unclenching and heavy exhaling that would put Bruce Banner's transformation into The Incredible Hulk to shame, we stood up to get off. I had to say something. Somebody had to. As the scrawny, spotty ringleader draped himself across the carriage door handles in an attempt to act as a self-congratulating door valet, I looked him in the face and politely said, "Mate? People are just trying to get home. Keep it down, ok?"

He smirked and slurred, "Yeah, ok, yeah" but as we got off and headed down the platform, I heard a chorus of "B*tch!" and "Sl*t!" from his friends ring out behind my back. Jerks.

I hope that come May (or any other time of the year, really) nobody has to experience what I did. Nobody in the world has the right to make another person feel unsafe or uncomfortable on their familiar route home.


Saturday, April 19, 2008

To Beijing or Not To Beijing?

Olivia Vivian's latest blog entry is up at last.

Now, given the recent news that she's signed on for NCAA eligibility, there was some speculation as to whether or not she'd be going for a Beijing spot. Well, by all accounts she must be. Good on her for keeping a positive outlook (I mean, sheesh! Inflamed shoulder tendon, forgetting her passport, bars crashes, sickness... this girl's having a run of bad luck). Anyway, all signs point to Trials:

...or I could go in, and pretend this comp was the Olympic Games. And in my opinion, nothing would stop me from competing if I were at the Games! Taking into consideration that I am a role model to the younger gymnasts in the gym, and a candidate for the Games, I grew some balls and went for it!

...And since 'down' isn't the correct pathway to Olympic trials, I wasn't going to take that route. I put myself in a pressure situation where I had to perform. Pretending this comp was the Olympics was a great way for me to set aside my problems and focus on my gymnastics.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Photoshop, anyone?

Slot Phillipe and/or Prashanth on there.

Via the Gymnastics Coaching blog.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Athletes In A Topical Climate

This is me taking a break from my giant Honours coursework essay.
*thumbs nose at Aristotle and other well-meaning, but very exasperating, dead Greek guys*

A special on ESPN aired the other night in the States, all about gymnastics. "Great" thought several of our American gymfan friends, "do let's tune in over our vittles and buffalo wings" (or something).

Well, clearly, it was not exactly the pre-Olympic hype they'd been hoping for.

It was a piece on a young female gymnast who'd been quote-unquote 'violated' by a male coach in a suburban gym. Apparently USA Gymnastics head Steve Penny got thrown into the mix but didn't go about addressing the problem the right way and now Dwight Normile's giving him and USAG a bit of a serve.

Now, I'm no expert in Law or other human affairs, so I'm going to boil my humble little opinion down to this:

It must be very hard for well-intentioned male coaches in a sport like gymnastics. A position like theirs is one under a lot of scrutiny and, let's face it, unsubstantiated public assumption. I don't know if it's the right word to say that I feel "sorry" for them, but I do acknowledge that it is difficult to handle being looked at askance when you explain to people what you do in your job. It is equally hard for men in positions like schoolteaching or swim coaching, but gymnastics is a sport that particularly fosters the development of young women (let's face it, before NCAA or a second Olympics kicks in, they're girls), and for support of certain skills, coaches do have to make physical contact with them. At certain times, the girls have to be supported around the waist, have to have a hand on their back, have to have their legs shifted. It's unavoidable, and sadly there are some who use this for negative personal pursuits. But surely the more fair-minded male individuals who treat their athletes correctly far outweigh that controversial minority?

'Comedian' Peter Helliar (and I use that term lightly because I would hardly classify him in the league of Billy Connolly, Tom Lehrer, Ross Noble or Eddie Murphy but alas I digress) once made an irritating back-handed remark about young female gymnasts getting hugs from their coaches; along the lines that coaches give them light hugs and little pats on the back "because they're grown men that know they're on international television", ergo all coaches are known child predators and abusers, they have to put on a good show for the cameras and anything beyond a pat on the back is a bit suss. But we know that isn't so. Some hugs aren't all bad, and it's unfair that male coaches have to hold back because of suspicion. I would hate to think poorly of Waverley's John Hart, VIS/VIG's Misha Barabach or the AIS' Valery Kaladzinski because they seem to have a good nature around their athletes, nothing negative at all. Let's not forget - they get results.

I remember one other fan not long ago mentioning that they got frustrated by someone sitting behind them at the Melbourne World Championships in 2005. The person kept scoffing and making scathing remarks about the way one of the American coaches intimately hugged Nastia Liukin. This fan had to turn around and shoot back, "He's hugging her like that because he's actually HER DAD."

I don't entirely agree with all of Dwight's comments. I personally don't think hugs should be vetoed or 'saved for winning the Olympics'. Emotion, particularly pride, is not conditional! And besides, not every country wins at the Olympics, so by Dwight's logic, athletes from the likes of Belgium and Croatia won't be embracing their coaches for a few decades yet.

Yes, a lot of bad light has been thrown (and still is bring thrown) on our sport but not every individual in a position of authority is guilty of suspect comportment.

Is Bela Karolyi the one to blame for this trend of poor decorum in coaching? I wouldn't say so. He is the one that, sadly, the non-gymnastics-going public keep in their mind whenever they watch, so to them most coaches are ferocious and unrelenting. He certainly did make people sit up and take notice of how coaches and athletes interact but I wouldn't necessarily say he set the bar for coach-athlete relationships. There isn't one specific person at fault in this confusing and concerning trend.

I don't know how this kind of situation can be avoided. I know it is difficult to monitor the motives and movements of every coach in every location. I would hate for male coaches to be removed entirely from the floor, or for them to endure criticism when they're innocent. I've got male mates who are coaches, though they're only in their early to mid-20's. They work with young girls who think they're the bee's knees, they have so much fun with them because they're like big goofy brothers who teach them 'cool stuff' and then show off a bit with 'cool stuff' of their own. If anyone were to make an accusation of these young men, I'd be first in line to give a resoundingly positive character reference. An accusation upon them goes with them for the rest of their young lives; they live and breathe their training and coaching, I'd hate for something to ruin that for them. Yes, innapropriate conduct is just that, and manipulation of an innocent person (particularly a young person), be it psychological or sexual, is unacceptable and the individual should be brought to the suitable form of justice.

But I don't think our sport overall should be condemned. This situation could happen in any youth-oriented activity. Times have indeed changed. My brother was in Scouts and we both did swimming lessons in primary school. There was never unease in our youth. I suppose, as others have suggested, police checks and offender 'register' checks are a good practice to maintain, though they're tedious for those with nothing to hide. I should know, I'm having to do one at the moment in preparation for my thesis as I want to conduct interviews in a primary school.
There are some who make the wrong choices in the way they run their clubs; ones who choose not to alert others to danger happening in their organisation. These are people who need to reassess how much they truly value the ongoing sucess of this sport in the public's eye and of course the safety of their athletes and families.

I'd be most interested to hear from any coaches (particularly male) or gym parents in general on this subject.
But anyway, that's just me and my thinkitty thinks.
*hops meekly off soap box but it's not very difficult as I'm not really that high off the ground anyway*

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Helpful Things

1. Individual routines from PacRim have been uploaded by YouTube user doublelayout10 so you don't have to wait for a whole 10-minute chunk to load in order to get watching. So full routines are there but it just means you don't get the hugging and hi-5's (and score!) after them.

2. International Gymnast has some info about Kabaeva/Putin, and if you're registered with GGMB you can read some additional information (and speculation) there, too.

3. It has been revealed that the blue t-shirted girl hugging the team in the PacRim Part 5 video is WA junior Tain Molendijk, who was injured and didn't end up competing. If you ask me, I reckon it's a bit of a conspiracy... they kept her off the floor because there was no chance the announcers or commentators would be able to pronounce her name...

4. Dasha's latest column is up. And Olivia's should be soon as well...?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Well, At Least It's Not Lara Bingle...

Breaking News:
Waverley stalwart and quiet achiever Georgia Bonora featured in New Idea magazine this week.
Not being a big fan of the trash-mags (at a pinch I'll go for a Who Weekly but not if I can help it), at first glance I'd considered this a positive yet somewhat tacky thing. Particularly with the seemingly unecessary J&J sponsorship reference/shameless plug.

But G-Bo (that's right, I'm way cool, I made that name up myself) and her outgoing personality shine through, and it is encouraging to see that she keeps competing despite struggles in her family. Good on her, and best of luck in her efforts.

Oh, and remember me saying there isn't a lot of visible positivity in Team Australia on the comp floor? 5 and a half minutes in, I take it all back. They NEED to give WA coach [the lady seen here] Martine George run of the team for a day/week/quadrennium. The girls seem comfortable in her presence and she's a positive influence on the team.

In Other Sexy, Dangerous, Hot-off-the-Press Tabloid News:

Alert the authorities!
Or at best, a substantially accredited occupational health and safety representative!
Attempted harm of a Beijing-bound rhythmic gymnast!
Sabotage is afoot!
Sabotage, I tells ya!

This just in from the eagle-eyed snapperazzi:

Oooh! Saucy!

A little birdie tells me it's World trampoline medallist and Olympic medal prospect Ben Wilden (clearly showing a bit of cheeky Benny Hill-den) modelling the tramp team's uniform for the Beijing Games.

A model, idiot?


Erm... in actual gossip, former Olympic rhythmic champion Alina Kabaeva of Russia is set to marry her country's outgoing president Vladimir Putin who is [quite a significant number of years] her senior.
The mind boggles.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Fluff and Stuff

NBC aired highlights from PacRim yesterday in the States so vids will trickle in soon.
The broadcast included... a brief fluff piece on Dasha J!

No, really.

It features footage from the team's podium training (you glimpse Ashleigh and Lauren).

Look at that hands-on-hips fierceness. Tyra Banks has got nothing on this little lady! Mmm-mmm! *clicks fingers*

I hate that she's not looking at the camera when she says "Hi, my name is Dasha Joura...", though, it sounds like they'd made her say it over and over and over again to an interviewer!

Oh yeah, and I hate the drivel about her accent. Seriously NBC commentary team, let it go. People assimilate after prolonged exposure in a new country, it's not unheard of.

Speaking of, um, speaking, the start of this video from the Friendship Classic shows Dasha and Lauren being introduced to the crowd. Crank your volume to hear them take the mike. It begins with "we just wanna say..." and I can't quite decipher the rest. I think it's a "thank you for having us" message.

Lauren clearly spends a lot of time practising her march-in. As Marcia Hines might say: relax a little, sister-girlfriend!

ETA: NBC broadcast footage getting upload here. Thank God YouTube's Here!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Leave Him Alone, It's His First Day.

I missed quite a bit of Doha Day 2 today, or should I say 'yesterday' seeing as midnight has passed.

My boyfriend (yes, that's right Nay-Saying People From My High School, it's an actual humanoid boyperson of my very own) was over and he graciously permitted me to flick over to FoxSports during the film we were kind-of-not-really-watching to see how the competition was progressing. I caught a bit of the men's vault final and most of the women's beam final (I heart Gaelle Mys to the max, and am happy that Elyse H-H has tidied up her leg form a bit but seriously, Adela Saijn of Slovenia? You're on global television. Don't let the Romanian girlies suck you into their Eurotrash Fashion Vortex).

It was quite funny, actually. When my Mum and I went to Worlds '05 and the Commonwealth Games at Rod Laver Arena, she didn't say much. She'd clap and quietly say "oooh!" and "oh, good girl!" at various points but she was patient as I scribbled notes furiously and didn't seem to want to bother me. But Mr Mez today was quite inquisitive and to me it was rather arresting. I've never had people ask me questions about competitions as they've unfolded before, save for my Dad when I was watching '06 Worlds all-around in the same room as him. "Is that Svetlana girl still around?... Remind me again, do the girls do the roman rings?... Are China good? We don't want China to win, do we? Their girls win everything, don't they?"

Today I actually found myself explaining the scoring system (rest assured, I suffixed said explanation with, "but it's all totally confusing and lame and everybody hates it") and the nature of the competition. I even threw in a mention of Oksana Chusovitina's long reign and brief talk of Team China's oft-overlooked elegance in opposition to Team Romania's perplexing fugliness.

I just got thrown when I kept being asked, "so would you class that as a good routine?" because as we all know, there is a vast array of elements to go into in one's answer to something like that...

Friday, April 11, 2008

Good Night and Good Luck

Two Aussie elites are slated for NCAA competition.

Olivia Vivian of WA is headed to Oregon State University later this year. Make your own 'beaver' pun as you see fit.

Monique Blount, formerly AIS (then retired-then-not-then-retired-again), is heading to George Washington University.

Good luck to both girls in their NCAA pursuits.

Epic thanks to special agent Ozzie for the info.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Belated Thoughts on Doha Day 1

...quite belated, actually.

Day 1 of the Doha World Cup was broadcast on cable today. At a timeslot before midnight, would you believe! Day 2 is on tomorrow, 3pm I think? Check your Foxtel/Austar guides for details.

1. In a turbulent time of cyclists abusing steroids, track-and-field athletes catfighting, swimmers falling from grace and AFL players peeing over everything (including, but not limited to, police stations) it's so nice to see someone like Prashanth Sellathurai plugging along quietly. He's a short old thing but he's got a heart of gold. He had a lovely performance on pommel that we all now know won him gold. But he was so gracious in victory, and, as I have said in the past, very 'aw, shucks!' about the whole business. It is just a shame he won't be in Beijing.

Dis mah sirius face. Grrr.

2. Anna Pavlova had some bobbles but is still a gorgeous, stoic diva. She's rocking some long hair at the moment.

3. How cool was He Kexin!? Seriously. Nastia, Beth, Ksenia and Daria Z better watch their backs.

4. Anybody else notice our beloved Staffan sounded like he had the sniffles?

5. It's nice to see some Hungarian girls getting out there on the scene again.

6. Sleeveless leotards in finals. Australia says no.

7. All hail Oksana Chusovitina. A role model for gymnasts everywhere, and testament to the fact that old dogs can still do some hot tricks (she got her double-layout-with-full-twist, the trick named after her, back into her floor routine at the European Championships a few days ago, yeeha). She's the one whose face needs to be flashed in front of those ill-informed journalists who think a gymnast's competitive career only spans somewhere between foetus and freshman.

8. Our feed must come from Eurosport or something along those lines, because the broadcast quality was *amazing* and so crisp. Bring on Day 2!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Aw Mah Gawd How Excitement

Well, I'm still sick but THIS was almost enough to bring me out of my feverish state:

2010 Pacific Rim Championships will be held in Melbourne!

What a boost for the sport! People will clamour to come and see the USA and China and Russia (among others) take on Australia, woohoo!

How have people gone with getting Nationals tickets? I'm heading to a Ticketek tomorrow.

Monday, April 7, 2008


I've been up for 40 hours.

Please don't ask why.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Y'Know Something?

...I could've gone to the MLC comp today. The Good News Week taping started a 1/2 hour late. Still, it was worth it. Ross Noble is a magnificent man.

So the Junior division of the European Championships is underway; team and all-around competitions took place with Russia sweeping the top spot in both.

Now, I got a leeetle bit concerned because looking at the scores, the top three juniors (from Russia, Russia and France respectively) all scored above 60.

Thus far, two Australian senior girls have struck 60 and/or above (Dasha Joura, Shona Morgan but if you ask me, with all due respect to Ms Morgan, that one seemed a fluke).


That's it.

It was fantastic when we won bronze at Worlds in 2003. Fan-freaking-tastic. The minds of the gymnastics-going public were verifiably blown. Hit routines and 'that' deduction-of-which-we-shall-never-speak certainly helped the team scrape a historic podium finish. It was so great for us.

Could they do it again?

Well, perhaps not.

I honestly hate to lament my team, truly I do. I'm a bit of a bipolar supporter, when I think about it. Some days, after a great comp result, I go "Yeah! Good scores! Total chance for Beijing!" and then other times, like in Stuttgart last year or at PacRim, when it all goes slightly pear-shaped I go, "Crap. They don't have the difficulty. And they don't seem to have the self-confidence and control. There's no way they'd be a medal finish".

You look at Nationals and there are girls doing whip-double twists on floor. Twice. Not as a follow up to anything impressive a la Lauren Mitchell. They're just there.There were girls competing Yurchenko fulls in our World Championships vault lineup. Girls with wibbly-wobbly execution acting as representatives in overseas competitions. If I see another front aerial-side somi combination on beam, I'll put a fist through my computer screen. European JUNIORS can hit 60. Hardly any of our seniors can. I just... I feel like our team isn't doing itself any justice sometimes. Or being allowed to do itself justice. Liddick goes on and on about the importance of "The Team" and putting in a good performance for "The Team" being more significant than sticking it and scoring your own Personal Best. Which is not altogether a good thing, because then the gymnast feels awful if they've made a mistake because they've jeopardised "The Team"s chances. As Dasha revealed in the IG article below, it's all about doing stuck routines, not particularly difficult ones. Now this is almost word-for-word the mantra of the coach Jeff Bridges played in Stick It.

We're a two-woman team right now. We've got two strong all-around athletes (ok ok, so Lauren needs a vault upgrade) but that's about it. The team shouldn't be resting just on them. We've got a bunch of event specialists who seem to only get an invite to compete on their specialties, or we have middle-of-the-road performers (to borrow a phrase from Australian Idol) who most likely won't get near the Olympic Squad let alone The Team, who keep getting competition experience ahead of girls who could truly benefit from it. We've got girls constantly watering down to play it safe, but then they never get the chance to do the skill when it really counts. No wonder the USA wipes the floor with almost any competition they go up against. All their girls are at a similar level of difficulty, it's not the same two athletes being whipped out every time.

Somehow, I think, the qualification criteria for the National Squad needs to be tweaked. We need to have several girls with high enough difficulty levels and refined execution to be representing us. Make it so that less work is done at the AIS itself; that the girls are prepared when they get there and thus just need a little push to get flying, not a hand-crank start of the propellor.

Aaaaaaaaanyway. This was me getting worked up because of germs and it really is quite late (but hurrah, Daylight Savings in a little while!)
I'd just got a bit surprised by the Euro results.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Dasha the Go-To Girl

Ever the polite conversationalist, Dasha Joura got interviewed by International Gymnast.

She has high hopes for Team Oz, and also talks about the not-so-perfect Pacific Rim results. You can read the piece here. The good thing about Dash is that a shaky comp result makes her go back and work harder and do better the next time. Good on her. She's got real competitive spirit.

I just hope to the non-denomination-specific deity/ies that the girls aren't worked too hard and pretty much burn out by May. I hope "work, work, work" is her mantra, not Peggy's. I just really want Nationals to be a bit more encouraging this year; If I see another running punch front full on floor, I'll scream.

The Road to Nationals

'lo everyone.

It's nice to see some comments rolling in.

I'm still quite sick (got another night off work because my voice has dissipated almost entirely) so please take heed and view the blog from a plexiglass-secured distance, lest you get infected too. It ain't SARS, but it's close enough to be invited to the SARS family picnic.

Very big thanks to the people who let me know about the comp on this weekend. I read the comments wrong and thought it was the Victorian Championships but they've already been on! Apparently this is the MLC International & Senior Classic (involving National Levels 6-10, International Level 5 and Senior International). Unfortunately (well, not entirely unfortunately but I use it for lack of a better word) I've been shouted tickets to the live Comedy Festival edition of Good News Week at the Melbourne Town Hall on Saturday so that counts me out. Potentially I *could* go but
a) I don't have anyone to drag along with me
b) I've got no way of getting there
c) I'd be pushing it to get from the comp to the Town Hall on time

Please understand that I would go if I had the ways and means!

Far be it from me to dissuade anybody from taking notes/photos at the comp. I'm most happy to post up [or link to] your observations and media from the meet, provided no hurtful or overtly discriminatory comments about the gymnasts/teams are contained within them. Nobody likes a sentence that begins, "my friend's in her class at school and reckons that she..."
Personally, I'm most interested in the progress of the Senior Internationals, but as a faux-journalist I'll take anything I can get :P

Let me know if you're thinking of going to Nationals, too, and who you'll be cheering for. I'll hopefully be filming again, with a few others in tow.

Have a nice weekend, everyone.
If you're at the Comedy Festival, look out for a short freckly girl in a thick scarf, carrying an industrial-sized tub of Vicks Vaporub in her handbag...

PS: Ticketek- you're off the Christmas card list. This is not a happy face.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Stack It


No, it's not the latest gymnastics-related big screen comedy. And it's got nothing to do with pancakes. It's Olivia Vivian's cute blog entry, her latest to be posted at the WAIS site.

Stomping your feet, crying and hitting the apparatus isn't exactly the right way to respond. Plus, I've learnt that the beam is much harder than my fist!

I'll be the first to admit I don't LOVE her execution (particularly her laboured style on bars, though her handstand planche mount on beam leaves a lot to be desired as well, as it often turns out quite sloppily like Jana Bieger's); I wouldn't go so far as saying she's Tonya Harding to Dasha Joura's Nancy Kerrigan, gosh no. She does have a different style to to the other girls out there, but if anything she seems to exude that happy, goofy, good-humoured and sports[wo]manlike outlook that the WAIS girls are getting a reputation for, and kudos to her for that. Whatever's in their drinking water needs to be shipped over in vats to the AIS to cheer those perpetually shy-looking ballerinas up a bit.


(Although it could be worse. I watched an NCAA gymnastics montage where a girl as doing a Pak salto from high bar down to low but completely misjudged it. Instead of reaching her arms out in front of her before she approached the low bar so she could catch it and swing under, she overshot the bar and in reaching her arms out, caught the bar right under her armpits at full force. Bang, down to the mat. Now THAT'S a stack!)

Chucking a Sickie

Hi everyone.

*cough splutter*

I'm off work tonight because I'm quite sick. It's that time of the year when everyone sporadically gets 'the bug' for a week then feel relieved that it's over, not realising that they've no doubt passed it on to hundreds of people. It's a vicious, germ-y cycle.


So anyway. There was crazy weather across Melbourne yesterday, well into the evening, it was one of the worst days we've ever seen. Gale force winds and pounding rain, major bridges were closed and train lines cancelled, blackouts here there and everywhere... we had blackouts at work last night, which is never fun when you're in charge. I hope everyone got home ok and didn't end up getting too cold or wet. Apparently Camberwell station was a nightmare last night.

...aaaand this has nothing to do with gymnastics. At all. Um... *shuffles from foot to foot*
...Well, check out YouTube because more PacRim videos are up (can't wait for the NBC broadcast ones, except I'll probably be watching them on mute. Draw your own conclusions about who out of Joura or Bieger should have scored higher on bars) and have a squizz around the interweb for news from the European Championships which have kicked off. Some great photos of teams in training have surfaced. I have a soft spot for Gaelle Mys from Belgium. But I also give my votes to Great Britain, France, Russia and the Ukraine.

Tickets for Nationals/Olympic trials go onsale from Ticketek on the 8th, people. That's next week. To paraphrase a Comedy Festival show review in The Age this week: Sell your house, hock your grandmother, do whatever is necessary to get tickets!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

I Suppose Ikin See Myself Out...

Anthony Ikin has been evicted/rejected/eliminated/voted out of the tribe on So You Think You Can Dance?. Good on him for making the Top 10 and being the trendiest guy since Aladdin to wear vests over a buff, bare chesticle.

He made a very nice, very humble speech and, without pomp and "If I inspired just one person then my work here is done" circumstance, implored Australians everywhere to get out there and get dancing and have a bit of fun with it.

Awwwww. Bless his li'l cotton dancepants.