1996 Olympic gold medalist Dominique Moceanu and her husband, former-gymnast-turned-surgeon Michael Canales, blog on the hits and misses of the 2009 World Gymnastics Championships, taking place this week in London.
Canales and Moceanu at the O2
After a full English brekkie we made our way to the O2 for a jam-packed day of gymnastics. The preliminary sessions are tailored for die-hard fans. Yesterday's men's prelims went from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. With five sessions for the women... we could push 11 p.m. tonight! I'll make that an espresso with my croissants, please!
Bit cooler today with blue in the sky, but scattered grey clouds. We're still lucking out with no need for the brolly (umbrella)!
As expected, bigger crowds this morning. The audience will grow as the week continues, consequently making our supreme seating more precious!
WOMEN'S PRELIMINARIES, SESSION 1
Valentina Holenkova (UKR): balletic foot form (shades of Lilia Podkapayeva), stunning physique. On FX, well done leg-up turn.
Georgia Bonora (AUS): Comaneci on UB with ease
Noticing the sleeveless leo has not made its way out of style. Frankly, we're still not fans. We love the chiseled arms, but reserve them for workouts. Just our two pence.
Emily Armi (ITA): Elegant Italian flag colours (in flames) against a black background on her leo. Front aerial through to double full on FX.
Team Colombia appears to be sporting Team USA's leos from 2005.
Yang Yilin (CHN) is not afraid to watch her competitors.
Jekaterina Kovaliova (LTU): FX simply uses round-offs without a backhandspring to get into her back tumbling.
Elisabeth Seitz (GER): Sassy dancer. Did a front aerial into the corner for her final tumbling run. ADORABLE.
NO INDIVIDUAL JUDGES SCORES ARE DISPLAYED ON THE SCOREBOARDS. WE HAVE NO IDEA WHO'S BEING NAUGHTY AND WHO'S BEING NICE. THINGS THAT MAKE YOU GO, "HMMMMMMMMM." THE SCOREBOARDS CONTINUE TO SHOW SCORES FOR NO MORE THAN SEVERAL MILLISECONDS. SO IRRITATING FOR THE AUDIENCE! JUST ONE MORE DETAIL THAT HAS TAKEN THE CROWD OUT OF OUR WONDERFUL SPORT.
"Mequin" our digital cartoon has added more to its repertoire with a sheep jump on beam.
Photography marvel Eileen Langsley has returned to capturing poignant images for IG, and while she loves the O2 arena, the digital monitor around the inner circumference of the arena has made it difficult to shoot the gymnasts without a distracting backdrop. Otherwise, she says there is plenty of space.
Japan's Koko Tsurumi
Gabriela Dragoi (ROM): aggressive attack on BB with front aerial to backhandspring layout step-out. Over twisted her 3/2 twister dismount.
The fans of Team Sweden get the Team Spirit Award. What a boisterous group complete with Viking blue and yellow Viking hats and blonde braids!
Peggy Liddick (AUS) and Alexander Alexandrov (RUS) are in the house!
Yang Yilin (CHN): The Chinese UB "pit crew" rushes the bars for the ritual tensioning and watering with the notorious Chinese watering can. Her standard genius on UB until she misses her Higgins, perhaps attempting to be "too perfect." She's changed it a bit. Tucked full-out has replaced her double layout on UB. Stuck.
Charlotte Mackie (CAN): great foot form on UB. Nice panache on Pak salto!
Sharp contrast from the men's qualifying rounds: For the most part, the women are rushing to their next events without smiles. The floor touch is simply a floor routine without dance and music for most. Diana Chelaru (ROM) warmed up all four passes about 25 seconds prior to her routine.
FIG's Bruno Grandi and Nellie Kim appear to be in a heated discussion at the halfway mark.
Team Netherlands sported the sparkly, orange creamsicle top with black bottoms. We liked them. Just in time for Halloween.
Yang Yilin (CHN): Solid BB. Really brings her head back on her sheep jump. Should make the event final.
Charlotte Mackie (CAN): BB Onodi with one arm. Great flexibility. So nice!
Elisabeth Seitz (GER): little loose with the leg form on UB, but arguably the best toe-on Tkatchev in the world, she rotates so well.
Joy Rianne Goedkoop (NED): So good to see a tender smile and appreciative wave to the crowd following her FX routine
Diana Chelaru (ROM) smallest athlete of this session. She pulled out a double-twisting Yurchenko for God only knows where. In reality, it defied the law of physics. Loose legs on the entry. Why can't they fix this?! Nevertheless impressive acrobatics.
"Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oi Oi Oi!" resonates through the O2 from the Australian fans.
BEST LEO OF THE SESSION GOES TO Jasmin Mader (AUT): stylish metallic violet with white sleeves
Tender moment: Joy Rianne Goedkoop (NED) and Hadas Koren (ISR) exchange a hug and three kisses.
El Said Moh Mahmoud (EGY): Distinctive barani from one foot to two feet on beam!
Gymnova continues to struggle to keep the floor plates together. Note to technicians: A small strip of duct tape in an "X" configuration will not cut the mustard!
Efficient turnover from Session 1 to Session 2. Much quicker than yesterday.
American support in full force from the Region VII girls squad who participated in a training camp in South Hampton earlier in the week. The training camp was a reward for their stellar performances at the Junior Olympic Nationals. Of note, Kayla Williams (USA) was supposed to be part of this squad of Level 10 gymnastics. Instead, her region mates were cheering her on during the most major meet of her life! The ladies were decked out in the red, white and blue with flags waving.
Classy leos from the hosts (GBR). Navy blue with rhinestones in the arrangement of the Union Jack.
Yang Yilin (CHN) is back as part of the Chinese pit crew for UB as she prepares the bars just how Deng Linlin (CHN) likes them. Stripped, with a fresh coat of chalk, and a hint of moisture! How's that for a recipe for success?
Two-time Ukrainian Olympian Alina Kozich, now representing Uzbekistan, competed in session 2.
Super specimen Jennifer Khwela (RSA) gets the Diesel Body Award. Not only did she have bricks for abs, but her arms had muscles on top of muscles. Best tucked double front from UB. Knees glued.
Deng Linlin (CHN): praying with her eyes closed behind the UB scoreboard. She looks so peaceful. Great UB routine. A little too close for comfort on her piked full-in dismount.
Ivana Hong (USA): Super clean start on UB, but the routine went wonky, leaving her unable to recover
On a brighter note, no signs of Marta Karolyi on the floor. Such a treat to see the personal coaches getting the credit they deserve. We're confident the athletes feel better too.
Kathy Kelly of USA Gymnastics is shooing young fans away from Olympic all-around champion Nastia Liukin (USA). Later in the day, Nastia graciously signed autographs for her adoring fans when she was permitted to be left "unguarded."
Mayra Kroonen (NED): FX back 2.5 twist to immediate stage jump. Brilliant!
Sydney Sawa (CAN): Arabian double front, back 2.5 twist, back 3/2 immediate front 1/1, double pike. Great dance. Solid performance.
FIG technical committee member wearing a 1996 Centennial Olympic scarf.
Debbie Van Horn, Team USA trainer, continues to give so much of herself to our gymnasts. She's been a steady fixture at international competitions since the late 1980s. Team USA is lucky to have her.
Kim Bui (GER): Aggressive floor routine with aggressive arm and leg movements, and this was just her mental routine before mounting FX. A true mental workout.
Valeria Maksyuta (ISR): striking gymnastics physique. She looks great in gymnastics shoes on FX. Lean legs with impressive upper body dimensions. Great technique on her tucked double back on FX.
De Lima Marques (POR) very tall gymnast. Trouble-free jump to the high bar. Nice lines.
Alina Kozich (UZB): Another beautiful pair of legs. She shows them off on her opening needle scale on BB. You can hear the camera shutters throughout the O2. Too bad she didn't have the juice to finish strong on her dismount.
Crowd favorite Rebecca Wing (GBR) is simply beautiful.
STILL NO MARTA KAROLYI SIGHTINGS. IS SHE IN THE WARM-UP GYM OR IS SHE SIMPLY "TARDY FOR THE PARTY?"
Ivana Hong (USA): back into the groove on beam. All eyes on her. Appears a tad uptight. She needs to unlock the champion within herself. Does she know how awesome she is? Great routine.
Deng Linlin (CHN): Waited an eternity for her routine. Aggressive front pike and series on BB. Great tight arch in her back layout. Textbook switch ring leap. Overtime. A few balance checks. It will be eons before her score is posted.
Kayla Williams (USA) makes her international debut with a powerful FX routine. She'll fit right in with the world's best in the Event Final. Double layout, back 3/2 through to double pike, triple full, piked full-in dismount.
Oh no! Likely ACL injury to Shona Morgan (AUT) on VT. Left on a stretcher. We'll never get used to this part of our sport.
Alina Kozich (UZB): started out graceful, but not as strong as the Kozich of earlier years. Ran out of gas on her back 2.5 dismount. Still makes for great photos.
Soulja Boy is blaring throughout the O2 as the ladies warm-up. Soulja Boy of in this ______, Watch Me Crank It--- Watch Me Roll--- Watch Me Crank Dat Soulja Boy---Then Superman dat... ., BUT they used the uncut version? REMINDER: Family Event O2
Marisela Cantu Mata (MEX): Kudos for performing her beam routine during Soulja Boy
Ruzica Buzov (CRO): Devil Went Down to Georgia FX music. We couldn't get anyone to start clapping. Oh well.
Kayla Williams (USA): Big Vaults. Rudi was a little sloppy but managed a sound landing. Yurchenko double full was nailed with a 9.0 execution score.
Noteworthy UB routine from Larrissa Miller (AUS) with beautiful feet and giant taps like Khorkina. Drilled a tucked 1/2 in 1/2 out.
Eruption from the crowd for Rebecca Wing's (GBR) BB routine. Round off layout step out mount.
Sydney Sawa (CAN): likely UCLA bound. Huge Hindorff on bars with stuck double layout UB.
Deng Linlin (CHN): perfect triple turn in warm-up, but an error during her routine. Clean double pike dismount stuck cold. Well done, but the score was too high. She beat Kayla by a tenth.
Rebecca Wing (GBR): appears to be having the time of her life. Hit UB. A little loose in the form, but so happy for her.
Laura Gombas (HUN): flashy white leo with gold and blue metallic material. Sheer material on her shoulders. She's got the body to pull it off.
Ana Porgras (ROM): lots of pirouettes on UB. Minimal form errors. Beautiful leg form. Great to see from the Romanians.
Hyun Joo Jo (KOR): 1.5 through to 2.5 barani on FX. She fit it all in! The Might Mite in all white showed rare charisma on floor. The days of facial expression has nearly vanished.
The Indian women have made significant improvements. Not to the level of the Indian men. Nevertheless is a pleasure to see a nation grow in their gymnastics.
Bridget Sloan (USA): Had an off day on BB. She looked uncomfortable.
Vasiliki Millousi (GRE): Truly attractive olive skin tone against a deep blue leo. Great bars and beam! One to watch in the future.
Beth Tweddle (GBR): Queen of the O2 enters the building and the intensity of the audience has been dialed up several notches. Huge applause when her name's announced. Avoided taking a seat on her mount 1.5 through to Arabian double. Lofty piked Arabian double. Final pass of back 1.5 punch front 1/1 twist. Will it be enough to make the event final? She looks relieved.
Marta Pihan-Kulesza (POL): wins the Team Spirit award with the white and red stripes in her hair with matching eye shadow.
Sui Lu (CHN): Is competing FX with white socks!
Bridget Sloan (USA): Stuck each of her passes with two feet in the warm-up. Her landings in the routine were just a little bit off. Unfortunately, she'll not likely make the Event Final where we believe she had a shot at a medal.
Jana Komrskova (CZE): did her typical high and clean vaults. Podkapayeva and Yurchenko 1/1, but we not sure that she'll make it into the event final.
Yana Demyamchuk (UKR): is only slightly taller than the podium. She is in the same group as Jana Komrskova (CZE) who towers over her.
Team France has great leotards. Navy base with red and white metallic serifs. Patriotic and chic just the right combination.
Marissa King (GBR): VT Kasamatsu 3/4 stuck! Front Pike half. The roof is torn off of the building.
Pauline Morel (FRA): Expressive floor, tumbling and dance. Finishes facing judges in ending pose and smiles. Got the judges to crack smiles too.
Ksenia Semyonova (RUS): Choreographed entry into opening pose of FX routine. Very interesting. So expressive during her routine. The Russians still pay attention to their choreography and it shows. Well done. Her legs buckled on her final pass. Too bad. Best choreography to this point.
Sarah Wedel (IRL): Fun music on FX routine from the Black-Eyed Peas.
Ana Porgras (ROM): Sloppy full-in, otherwise clean. The Romanians pay a great deal of attention to detail, but leg form during tumbling doesn't appear to be high on the priority list. Can someone come to the rescue and fix it? Her leggings while waiting for floor routine were trendy.
Beth Tweddle (GBR): HEARTBREAK! UB event final will go on without the hometown hero.
He Kexin (CHN): Glued feet. Her form is even tighter than in Beijing. Soaring releases. Step on dismount, otherwise perfect.
Miki Uemura (JPN): The Japanese women are continuing to climb the ladder of class with their routines.
Tina Erceg (CRO): Gymnastics tuxedo has made its debut. You have to see it to believe it. Shiny metallic black leo with white collar and cuffs, and a shiny metallic tie built in. What a statement!
Jana Komrskova (UKR): Tkatchev-Gienger combination in between the bars. Fell flat on her tummy on her uphill. So sad to see a smashing routine come to a screeching halt. Higgledy-piggledy.
WE WILL NOT MISS SEEING ANOTHER PIKED TSUK ON VT. We had to say it.
Jessica Lopez (VEN): J. Lo was great. Nice UB. Great form, great gymnastics. Could be an all-round threat with a few slight improvements.
Koko Tsurumi (JPN): Our new favorite! The standard of Session 4.
Hwa Yong Cha (PRK): Only Def! HUGE. She did it from a hop-full.
Ayleen Tarabini (ARG): Kiss from coach on cheek after floor routine. Coach and athlete were all smiles! WE LOVE MOMENTS LIKE THESE.
Dorina Boczogo (HUN): Beautiful hecht from low bar to high reminiscent of the 1996 compulsory transition (You folks remember what compulsory exercises are, right? Please say, "Yes") We are sending some paper airplanes down to Bruno Grandi requesting compulsories make a return.
Hong Un Jong (PRK): Twists just as quickly on FX as on VT. They are quick and complete. 1 1/2 through to true triple full. Landed both of her super difficult vaults. Amanar was great! Only one of the meet we think.
"Mequin" the digital cartoon added some new skills. Double turn to Sheep jump on BB. Overshoot uphill and cast handstand on UB.
Koko Tsurumi (JPN): BB Front aerial back layout super tidy! Onodi to Sheep jump. Delightful! Side somi with straight legs. Leg up 360 turn. Back 2.5 twist dismount with legs slightly crossed otherwise... LOVES US SOME KOKO.
Spotted! USA Gymnastics Kathy Kelly and Marta Karolyi watch the action from the stands, behind a sign for the Romanian gymnasts.
Ariella Käslin (SUI): FX back 2 1/2 twist to barani, back 1 1/2 twist to front 1/1, double tuck, double pike. Explosive!
Elsa Garcia (MEX): BB Front aerial, back foot almost slipped, but covered up like the international veteran she is. Minimal disruption to the flow of the exercise. Solid. Beautiful make-up and bun.
Paola Galante (ITA): FX The best leg-up double turn we've ever seen. Great expressions during her dance. Kudos to the flexible Italian.
Becky Downie (GRB): BB Had the crowd in the palm of her hand. Perhaps the extra audience momentum spilled into her dismount. Double pike to staggering steps back pike roll-out off of the podium. Major error that simply didn't seem so major to us.
Ariella Käslin (SUI): BIG RUDI on VT. She had a butterfly on her leotard (gold and purple). She used the wings to her advantage.
Elsa Garcia (MEX): FX Elegant. Sound landing on Arabian double front mount. Used her eyes and facial expression on floor to gain the attention of the judges and audience. She picks up more and more fans with each completion. Viva la Mexico!
Rebecca Bross (USA): Only Beth Tweddle attacks UB with more confidence. Great routine for Bross that should land her into finals with no problems.
Jessica Gil Ortiz (COL): Best Leo Award of the session. Metallic purple with blue hues. Great difficulty from the Colombian on FX. Double layout to a shiver of her shoulders, front handspring double front, back 1 1/2 twist through to front 1/1. Full-in dismount. Tears of joy! She used music from the soundtrack of "Stick It."
Elsa Garcia (MEX): VT Yurchenko 3/2. Good. Podkapayeva very open. Should be enough for event finals.
Lauren Mitchell (AUS): Arabian double front into immediate stag jump - exceptional!
Anamaria Tamarjan (ROM): Nice feet on floor. Hit her routine and has room for improvement.
Paola Galante (ITA): BB leg up full turn and 1.5. Simply matchless!
Ariella Käslin (SUI): BB Roundoff layout two foot landing. Jump 3/4 Shushunova to a back hip circle. Originality-quenching!
Time to visit the sandman. Tell us what you think!
Domi & Mike