This blog post follows on from Part One, discussing the 2013 European Championships, held in Moscow.
|Larisa Iordache smiling through her Floor routine|
which I pronounce 'OR-dash', I'm not sure how correctly- but it lends itself nicely to puns about dashing.
EDIT: It should be Larisa 'Yor-da-keh'
Larisa Iordache was one of the most consistent performers of the European Championships. She had no huge mistakes or shock disasters, despite performing a multitude of vastly difficult skills. In qualifications Larisa managed to have a clean competition, unlike any Russian gymnasts.
Her Floor was dynamic and bouncy yet flowing and full of charming smiles. She is clearly fit to compete at the moment, as she contained four high energy tumbles as well as a quadruple spin and excellent leap work - undeniably in splits- within the one minute thirty routine, whilst not pausing once for breath in between her choreography and tumbling. She showed constant power from her double twisting double back to her double tuck dismount yet seemed nowhere near tired, in fact she appeared to be barely affected by this, which I must highly commend her for. She qualified second into the Floor Final.
Her Vaults were neither jaw-dropping nor disappointing, as she executed a double twisting yurchenko and full twisting tsukahara, qualifying fourth into the Vault Final. Her Bars are notably weaker than her other routines but she was able to complete her routine without falling, before moving on to Beam where she displayed utter confidence in her extremely complex acrobatic skills, such as her round-off back flip triple twisting dismount, and she qualified first into the Beam Final.
Larisa must have been satisfied with a performance that yielded Finals on every event she targeted. Personally, I would be happy just to be able to complete a single skill of hers on the Beam, or Floor, with her courage and style.
In the all around final, Larisa lead the whole way- until Bars. Her Beam exuded confidence again, she made her Floor routine look easy and her Vaulting was solid. But as the final apparatus approached Larisa knew that it was going to be tough to win. She had a 0.7 lead over her rival for the gold, Aliya Mustafina, but both gymnasts knew that they were nowhere near evenly matched on this apparatus. Aliya Mustafina is Olympic Champion on the Uneven Bars, whereas Bars was the only event that Larisa Iordache could not qualify into a European Final for. Aliya's advantage on this event proved to be more than enough to take the lead and win the competition as she scored 15.133 over Larisa's attempt which did not even break the 14.000 barrier. Larisa was unsurprisingly disheartened as she realised she would not win the competition, and had fallen at the last hurdle. The home crowd cheering for their own champion probably did not help Larisa's spirits, as it would have sounded like they were cheering for her failings. But I hope she could be proud of a silver medal in the all around competition after many beautiful performances.
Larisa had no choice but to pick herself up for the Beam, Vault and Floor Finals, or risk being stuck in a Komova-like silver prison. She did so very well.
In the Vault final she was precise and improved from the qualifications. After some score changes to do with Noel van Klaveren and bad arithmetic, she finished in joint second position with the dutch gymnast. And the following day she broke free of the silver clutches as she performed excellently along her biggest strength, the Beam. Aliya Mustafina could have been a potential threat for the Beam title however after falling twice in qualifications, Larisa had an easier ride. She did not seem to see Mustafina's absence as any added pressure and her work was stunning. She was the only gymnast to score in the 15's and was rewarded with the gold medal. Finally, in the Floor Final Larisa brought back her expressive dance work and incredible abilities, and really sold a beautiful routine to achieve 14.733 and another silver medal for her 2013 collection.
Let her fly home from Russia with her head held high.
Diana was another gymnast who avoided stumbling out of the starting blocks. In the qualification competition she qualified for the all around, Floor and Beam Finals (and no competition from within Romania, as they only brought two gymnasts, so she did not have to worry about how her team mates were doing as well as other countries, unlike Russia).
Not only did she qualify but she wow-ed us with her startling Romanian talent, only just behind Iordache- who had a far bigger name for herself coming into this. Romania took 1st and 2nd (Iordache/Bulimar) in the all around qualification and Beam qualification (Iordache/ Bulimar again). Diana also qualified fourth for the Floor Final, with some explosive tumbles and tidy leaps. In podium training, I heard that she threw a full twisting double straight in podium training, although we did not see this in competition. So the explosions may get bigger in the future too!
On Friday's all around Final, Diana was fighting for a medal. With Aliya Mustafina back on form, she was realistically fighting for bronze against Steingruber and Grishina. She actually did very well and beginning on the Beam she balanced her way to an execution score of 8.6 which was not beaten. Added to her start value of 5.800 she scored 14.400. On Floor she was phenomonal, soaring into the air and sticking her double straight, a skill which she has been able to do since she was a much smaller gymnast. On Vault she proudly presented her double twisting yurchenko and then she came to Bars. Again, this Romanian gymnast finds that her weakest piece of apparatus is the Bars, however she did pull out an acceptable routine considering her capabilities. Unfortunately for her, although she entertained us with a very good competition Anastasia Grishina topped it and took the bronze medal. Interestingly, Giulia Steingruber tied with Diana for a fourth place finish.
Saturday gave Diana a chance to rest as she did not make Bars Final and did not enter for Vault Final.
Sunday began with Beam. Diana kept her nerve and performed securely and with beautiful presentation and flair. She was only pipped to the post for the Gold by her training partner Larisa, therefore Romania were able to repeat their fantastic result from qualifications and Diana gained the Silver medal. Anastasia Grishina took another bronze medal.
That day off cannot have harmed her because Diana was also wondrous in the Floor Final. Behind her partner again, Diana finished third this time, after a pleasing punchy performance. Ksenia Afansyeva won the Gold.
I look forward to seeing these Romanians compete again soon, and anticipate more success for both Larisa and Diana this year, at the World Championships.