Australia has just had its Logie Awards so I hereby announce the winners of the inaugural Progie Awards - celebrating the movers, shakers and memory makers of the 2010 Pacific Rim Gymnastics Championships in Melbourne. Winners, please keep your acceptance speeches to under 45 seconds, lest you face the wrath of Wil Anderson's tweets.
MVP Award: Australia - Sam Offord. Admittedly I could have gone with a WAG here, very easily. But in addition to good performances on the podium (Australia's first Pacific Rim men's AA medallist in quite a while, I'm sure) Sam did a fantastic job promoting the event in the media, and proved extremely articulate in interviews. He has done much to forge his own gymnastics identity outside of Rizzo/Jefferis/Sellathurai. It was also great to see him hit pommel during the team event, that so often becomes Australia's meltdown apparatus. It's a shame we'll be hearing inexplicably less about him over the next month then we will our new FREAKING SNOOKER WORLD FREAKING CHAMPION IT'S NOT EVEN A REAL FREAKING SPORT GYAAAAAARGH MY INDIGNATION.*exhale*
Honourable Mention: Amelia McGrath. Such a star of the future!
MVP Award: International - Ksenia Afanasyeva RUS). Standing stoic and strong while her teammates were in Birmingham securing gold at the European Championships, Ksenia always had a smile and hug ready for her junior compatriots. She has a stunning, almost regal, air about her performances.
(Honourable Mention: Alexa Moreno (MEX) and John Orozco (USA). Two powerful, elegant gymnasts that proved to be just as cool-headed in competition as their more established teammates.)
Best Leotard - Team China, Apparatus finals. Red body with thick climbing gold swirl pattern. Bold without being garish, topped off with a gold scrunchie.
(Honourable Mention: Team Mexico in their metallic green on white that, from a distance, looked a little like it belonged on Team Australia!)
Best Hair - Team Canada. I loved Vaculik's (almost trademark) ponytail with front braid, and I had a hard time telling the difference between Madeline Gardiner and Dominique Pegg with their immaculate buns!
Best Skill - Tie. Danell Leyva's (USA) laid out Kovacs on high bar; Maddy Gardiner's (CAN) Humphrey turn on the same apparatus - quicker and sleeker than Lauren's, I must say! - and Rebecca Bross' (USA) handspring front layout to double front on floor.
Best Dismount - Emily Little (AUS). Helping secure an Aussie team bronze with a stuck double layout dismount off bars!
(Honourable Mention: Rebecca Bross for her thrilling Patterson dismount off beam; Sam Offord for that gold-clinching rings dismount)
The Olivia Vivian Award for Team Encouragement - Tie. Yin Alvarez and Chris Cameron (USA). Mr Alvarez is now gaining a reputation as 'that coach' with encouragement and enthusiasm to boot. He not only cheered on his own son - Danell Leyva - but had a fist bump for every member of Team USA before and after each routine. Even during warmups, seriously! Chris Cameron's cheers got well known around the arena (it probably didn't help that said arena held a low capacity crowd during men's events), his cry of "Go Steve!" adopted and imitated affectionately by several members of the crowd. He also had some interesting ones in there, including "C'mon Baby, you got it!" and "Let's go, man! This is the [big] show!"
(Honourable Mention: The Team New Zealand supporter who yelled out the most adorable cheer I've ever had the good fortune to overhear: "C'mon New Zealand, continue on!")
The Elsa Garcia Award for Hilarity - Zheng Siqi (CHN). Laughing off the fact her bronze medal fell off its ribbon, and juggling it along with her flowers and toy at the apparatus final.
(Honourable Mention: Team Canada. MOOOOOOOOOSE!!!!!)
The Valeri Liukin Award for Kick-Arse Coaching Team - Team USA. Including the award's namesake himself. Honestly, MAG and WAG, juniors and seniors, this team is always just so ready and so focussed, no matter how far they have to travel or how little time they get to train on the podium. Your eyes are always drawn to them, be it in a warm-up or, to borrow a phrase from one of its team members, "for the show".
(Honourable Mention: Team Australia WAG. Third overall and three individual top-5 apparatus finishes. What a fantastic achievement for a relatively inexperienced team who worked so hard to fast-track their acquisition of difficult skills in time for this competition!)
The Universal Sports Award for Media Coverage - The Couch Gymnast. A fantastic week of blog exclusives and unbeatable Kodak moments. TCG is always value for money (on that note - somebody hire her and pay her millions, stat!) not to mention a lovely correspondent at that. I bow in honour.
(Honourable Mention: Gymnastics Australia/JumpMedia and all PRC media volunteers who worked hard over a number of online channels to bring us some smashing coverage of this event. And thanks for not policing video camera use in the arena!)