IG Editor Dwight Normile is blogging from the 2009 World Gymnastics Championships at the O2 Arena in London, where competition kicks off on Tuesday.
The IG Tour arrived in London Monday morning to warm, sunny weather. A welcome sight after being stuck in a plane for eight-plus hours. Kermit and Jean Davis first started organizing the IG tour for the 1987 Rotterdam World Championships, and this tour group includes at least one of the original members. Now that's loyalty. Ironically, next year's worlds return to Rotterdam in the same venue as in 1987 (Ahoy Arena).
After assembling at the airport, the tour boarded a bus bound for Windsor Castle. Despite the fact that nobody slept much on the plane, the side trip was relaxing and enjoyable. Afterward, we did a quick bus tour of London during which we saw a Greenpeace protest where people were sitting on the roof of the Parliament. A huge sign read "Change the Politics." After a quick photo-op at Buckingham Palace, we finally checked into our hotel. As inviting as the beds looked, we unpacked and walked over to the meet site instead.
What a venue! Predominantly blue inside, the O2 is a dome-like structure that opened on June 24, 2007, and has a seating capacity of 23,000. Sitting adjacent to the River Thames in southeast London, it will house the gymnastics and basketball competitions at the 2012 Olympics.
Red- and cream-colored Gymnova apparatus fills the floor and provides a startling contrast to the blue podiums and seats. The acoustics are brilliant (an adjective I would like to start using to replace the worn-out American term of "awesome").
Ukrainian Alina Kozich is representing Uzbekistan, although she didn't appear to be in great shape.
Russia's Ksenia Semyonova, on the other hand, looked dazzling as ever on floor exercise. Her teammate Ksenia Afanasyeva injured her back in training and went home on Friday.
Great Britain's gymnastics queen Beth Tweddle took a nasty fall off uneven bars when she peeled off. Apparently, she was OK.
In the final women's session, Elsa Garcia (MEX) looked to be in great shape (clean vault of roundoff half-on, piked Cuervo), as did American Rebecca Bross and Becky Downie (GBR). It is interesting that Bross has the later session instead of U.S. national champion Bridget Sloan. Anna Myzdrikova (RUS) showed excellent tumbling on floor with a whip-Arabian double front and a triple twist, punch back tuck.
Men's Start Lists became available tonight, and notable all-arounders in the first of three subdivisions include Daniel Keatings (GBR), Maxim Devyatovsky (RUS) and Tim McNeill (USA). Subdivision 2: Kohei Uchimura (JPN), Jonathan Horton (USA), Benoit Caranobe (FRA), Luis Vargas (PUR) and Yuri Ryazanov (RUS). Subdivision 3: Jeffrey Wammes (NED) and Luis Rivera (PUR).