AGB went into this last day of competition with a simple wishlist:
1. Film on my new video camera without getting frogmarched out
2. Finally meet Liz Chetkovich
3. Get a 'moose antlers' photo of/with Kristina Vaculik (as per the 2010 Cottbus bars final when her score flashed up).
4. Give my "Wieber > Bieber" poster to Jordyn Wieber
I can proudly say that, with a little help from friends, I managed all of these!
I was also given the lovely surprise of a PacRim poster signed by some notable names (read below). Check my photobucket and youtube (links in previous posts) over the next few days, I am slooooooowly uploading vids and pics. I also recorded the medal ceremonies so those will go up in addition to routines.
Congrats to Amelia McGrath and Emily Little for their individual medal wins! We're so proud!
America was once again stellar, save for an uncharactertistic beam fall from Wieber that had the whole crowd gasping. Bross was steady as expected, performing without batting an eyelid. Amelia McGrath made a gorgeous effort on the same apparatus, despite a few pauses causing her to go overtime. She made up for it with a fantastic floor that snaffled her a shared bronze medal. I could re-watch her back walkover sequence for days on end!
Larrissa Miller fought for her bars routine but it couldn't be saved - apparently that injury is still a bother. Best wishes to hear on the road to full recovery and difficulty level.
Kristina Vaculik was again adorable and smiley. I watched her beam warm-up and something was making her want to giggle, you could see her trying hard to suppress it but she just ended up grinning the entire time! She showed a great Korbut full on beam and a sassy floor routine. I love, love, love this girl.
Peggy is very happy with Emily's vault efforts, as the linked report above shows. After the competition, Peggy snapped some solo pictures of Emily on the podium, with Em giving the biggest smile I've seen her give so far.
USA were in a spectrum of their Olympic leos - purple fireworks, pink all-around, red with stripes, red with white slashes and writing - while one of China's looked like a Miro painting, a fading red into yellow. Afanasyeva's simple red glittered leotard could have stopped traffic, she pulled it off so well. Australia's pink and black from Worlds 09 is dazzingly sparkly under the lights! It was like watching bright sunlight bounce on lapping water.
In a slightly embarrassing moment (and a flashback to Pacific Rim 2006), one of the bronze medals broke! It was Zheng Siqi's for bars. It got put round her neck and came away from the ribbon in an instant, clunking loudly onto the dais step. It was returned to her and she juggled it along with her flowers and toy, the audience laughed it off.
Now. To my faffing about.
After the competition I got a lovely surprise - Sloan and Vaculik had signed a poster for me! I unfurled and read it with much blushing. Many thanks to the involved parties.
I walked around the seating area barriers, weaving madly between pre-teens, trying to get near Jordyn Wieber to give her my sign. I gave up hope as she was lead away by Martha Karolyi and co, until I heard an American voice next to me call out to her, "I'll see you at home, honey". I politely asked the woman beside me if she was Jordyn's mum, and yes she was! Jordyn's parents are a lovely pair who were so glad to hear Jordyn's efforts were being noted on the other side of the world. They got a real kick out of the sign and said JoJo would too. They've unfortunately not had any chance to interact with their daughter in the last two weeks but did do a small amount of sightseeing over the past few days, hitting up the Great Ocean Road. Hearty handshakes all round.
I was then ushered down onto the floor - it helps to have connections! - where I was brought face to face with Goddess of All That Is Worldly and Good, face and voice of televised gymnastics, the one and only Liz Chetkovich! She was shocked yet flattered to hear she had a fan (and a Facebook group! Which funnily enough I didn't start) and that her contributions to gymnastics are so loved. She said all is well up in Perth, Lauren and Dasha are plugging away. She confirmed the latter is definitely looking to return to competition!
Team Australia were having a bunch of group shots taken on the podium, everybody looking happy with the way their PacRim campain rounded out.
I then had a little chat to Stacey Umeh about her work and her travels, and took a happy snap for posterity.
But while all this was going on, I was keeping an eye on Team Canada, and Vaculik most of all. They were moving nearer and nearer the exit corridor and I felt my chance to finish my wishlist slipping away. The venue staff were really cracking down on lingerers (apparently assuming that they were all malingerers). By a stroke of good luck, I spotted Kristina coming back into the arena to grab some things. I waited by the barrier nearest the exit tunnel to call out to her, but then I spotted her coach. I do my best to stick by my rule of always asking a coach's permission first, so I asked the him if it would be ok if I could photograph his team, as the other Canucks were milling by the exit at that point. He obliged! And so did they! I shyly stated that my one request for the photo was that they all do a moose antler pose. Bemused but entertained by the prospect, they did it ("Do you want all silly faces?") letting me capture one of the best moments of the whole competition! I wished them a safe journey home and thanked them for their willingness to participate.
Outside the arena, I spotted Team USA hailing a taxi to their hotel. How dare all those cab drivers ignore them and drive past. Don't they know who Marta Karolyi is!?
All in all: A crazy, busy, exciting, tiring, thrilling, amusing, inspiring week of gymnastics in my home city.
Thanks for sticking with me despite my brief and oft-delayed updates. If I'd had my laptop (or an iPhone) in the arena, I'd have given you all live and more detailed updates in a heartbeat. GA really covered a lot of ground at this event.
In the meantime, keep checking back for pics and vids and I hope you enjoyed the 2010 Pacific Rim Gymnastics Championships!
(And Happy 20th Birthday to the most magnificent Lady Dasha!)