Tuesday 26 June 2012

The beautiful but infuriating Ukrainians

Lilia Podkopayeva remains the only gymnast from Ukraine to fully realise her potential, aside of course from pre-Soviet breakup Ukrainian greats such as the record-breaking Larissa Latynina. As a national style, the beautiful long lines and unique combinations of the Ukrainians remains my favourite. Yet time after time, these gymnasts have crashed and burned when it counted or suffered due to mistakes of teammates in team finals. It is maddening!

 Here is the lovely Inga Shkarupa. Inga won numerous small floor titles and won Ukranian nationals AA more than once. With her team she came third in the 1999 worlds TF (belatedly, China were diaqualified) but did not compete in the Sydney Olympics due to a foot injury. Although floor is her strongest apparatus, she wasn't half bad at the others. Beautiful long lines and unique combinations on floor with great landings and tidy punchfronts so like the Myz, she was a victim of blatant underscoring as well as the Ukrainian plague of inconsistency.

Liubov Sheremeta was of course overshadowed by Lilipod. She had a floor routine that blew the latter's out of the water! Incredible tumbling, stamina AND choreo and form, just the whole package. She also had great bars and decent vault and beam, and suffered from underscoring.

Irina Krasnianska is the most infuriatingly inconsistent of them all. It boggles the mind why she was allowed compete her amazing german giant into tkatchev combination so many times when it caused her so many problems. 2008 Olympics, 2003 Worlds and just about every competition in between, Irina struggled and either fell or jumped off after making critical errors. The german giant combo is magnificent, but not worth so many falls. She DID manage to reap her potential on beam.

Viktoria Karpenko was a truly great all arounder and was a top contender for the doomed Sydney all-around.  Mistakes sadly cost her the title.

Like Sheremeta, Olga Roschupkina was a tiny powerhouse with great tumbling and expressiveness on floor. Again, not a specialist, she was decent all-around but had a lot of mistakes in Sydney on floor both in the AA and TF but knocked out a great routine in bars in EF.  She is a great example of someone with a stockier build performing beautiful gymnastics. Odd to see a beam routine with TWO side-somis in it, but they're so clean!

Alina Kozich, another strong AAer. Her vice in the AA (Athens) was a fall on her beam dismount, without which she would have and should have medalled. She left without any medals, a shame when you see her floor routine in particular. (The TF one was better but embeds too small) Those floor judges were on crack, Carly scored far higher than this as did Sveta. Oh and Cheng Fei was also screwed over on the same apparatus, much more famously than Kozich.

The great hope for Ukraine in this quad, Mariya Livchikova, will not be in London. Due to Ukraine's not-surprising-at-this-stage disastrous performance at Worlds, they could not qualify a team. The lovely Livchikova was injured and unable to be in contention for the single spot. Hopefully we will see her next year at Worlds better than she was at Euros this year.

I don't get it! They have the whole package. Lovely long lines, excellent form, flexibility, difficulty, great tumbling especially the notoriously difficult front tumbling, amazing choreography, artistry and expression...and yet over and over again, these gymnasts and others have achieved medals at minor competitions only to have Worlds and Olympics be a total splatfest. Somebody please fix Ukraine! No other country has ever had such potential before and be frustrated over and over again. I would put them ahead of the Russians in the 90's and 2000's in a heartbeat. Just AMAZING.

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