Fiction books say, beauty will save the world. Of course, the phrase is quite worn-out and today few people think about its sense. But they should. Belarusian gymnasts prove this ever true statement year after year, managing to compete with pupils of the leading schools — Russia and Ukraine — for awards at the greatest tournaments.
However, medals are not what it’s all about in such kind of sport as gymnastics. To be exact, the value of the medals should not be diminished, however, spectators love the valkyrs not for the points they are awarded. If we assume that the modern sport is a show, then rhythmic gymnastics is the most attractive part of it. We are convinced time after time by the beauty of the Belarusian gymnasts and their ability to stage a real show.
BelSwissBank, the traditional grand prix series rhythmic gymnastics tournament, which is traditionally held in the Belarusian capital every spring, is more than a convincing proof. The recent tournament was like the rest: spectators could not complain about the lack of flowers, holiday spangles and impressions. Prominent names, which make any show a real one, were in order. Exquisite Inna Zhukova, gracious Anna Bessonova, bearcat Natalia Godunko or charming Olga Kapranova… There were enough Belarusian stars on the participant list. Though during the final press conference everyone of them complained about the busy schedule, the girls were sparkling.
Even two days before the tournament everyone expected Kabayeva to arrive. Even her “play-off” performance could have made any event magnificent by default. Alina did not come. “Once again Kabayeva had knee problems,” chief trainer of the Russian team Vera Shatalina had to make excuses on behalf of the star. “She has been having quite many difficulties recently and I think she will definitely quite sport”.
But Deryugina arrived to “see the friends and watch my girls” as soon as she had received congratulations on winning “Ukraine’s Third Millennium Woman” award. The well-known trainer did not enjoy what she saw. “I like this tournament very much, but the attitude of the juries to their work was no good at all,” she said after looking through the records, where none of her compatriots was at the top of the game. “The Russian gymnasts were falling, losing items and getting more points than their rivals! I hate dishonesty most of all”.
Subjectivity has been a distinguishing characteristic and a headache of this sport for a long time. Every year rhythmic gymnastics tries to become a commonly recognised sport with no good. Once rhythmic gymnastics was about to be disowned by the Olympic family due to subjectivity of juries: sometimes juries could not choose the champion or in 1988 during the European championship in Helsinki three gymnasts at once were awarded gold medals. The sport went along. The juries have become more orderly since then. However, not all problems have been resolved. Every tournament one trainer after another complain about awards going to the wrong sportswomen. Albina Deryugina cannot preserve aloofness. According to the most prominent specialist, without “the jury factor” and “influence of certain countries” the unofficial world rating of gymnasts would look like that: Anna Besonova at the top, then comes Inna Zhukova, Vera Sessina and Natalia Godunko. The Russians would not have agreed with the rating voiced by Albina Deryugina. Olga Kapranova won 3 golds in Minsk, while the Russian team has 7 awards. “I am very glad with the girls’ performance,” Vera Shatalina was smiling during the press conference. “Certainly, there were mistakes. But everyone can make small mistakes and juries usually do not pay attention to such trifles”.
However, all these arguments took place off-stage, while everything was glamorous at the podium. Just like in previous years young “starlets” were a true embellishment of the tournament. This time wannabe Kabayevas and Zhukovas flashed only between performances of the senior sportswomen, however, this little time was enough for them to enchant the spectators. “No doubt, in several years these girls, who now treat the competition as a game, will be the pride of the world free callisthenics,” said Natalia Shmakova. She went all the way from the children sport club to the Olympics just like trainer of the Belarusian team Inna Zhukova did. Today she is not sure she would have been able to repeat the way. However, there are no equals to Zhukova in Belarus. In Minsk Inna greeted her fans from the upper step of the pedestal twice and won 3 silvers in Czech Brno just a week after.
“We have a very beautiful, talented and young team,” believes chief trainer of the Belarusian team Irina Leparskaya. “Lera Kurilskaya and Lyuba Cherkashina cannot compete for medals so far, but when Sveta Rudalova, one of our leading sportswomen, broke her leg, I had no fears I had nobody to replace her with”. “We’ve never before had such talented youth in the national team,” agrees state trainer Viktoriya Kushnir. “Truly, in Belarus there are enough girls to eclipse world leaders soon but trainers are at a loss when asked about who will go to the Olympics in Beijing in 2 years. They say, ‘Let them decide for themselves. Through competition”.
[i]by Dmitriy Komarov[/i]