Saturday, 15 September 2012

Kim Gwang Suk

Kim Gwang Suk is best known for being blatantly underage at every competition she competed at. She appeared at the 1987 Druzhba, the 1989 Worlds, 1991 Worlds and the 1992 Olympics. Born sometime between 1978-80, she could have been as young as 9 at the 89 worlds. Too many people focus on the age falsification scandal and don't see her fabulous talent- especially at such a young age. In fact, many blame her as if a young girl in North Korea would have any say in the cover-up- the idea that she had is just laughable.

Kim's skill, the counter-Kim or Marinich as it is known in men's gymnastiocs has only ever been performed by 5 other people. Kim unveiled it to the world at the 1989 worlds, when the oldest she could have been at the time was 11. The rest of her routine is equally admirable- she has an incredibly easy swing, textbook form aside from slightly bent legs when she is recatching and hits perfect handstands like nobody's business- at a time when they were not near as important as they are now. Kim showed choreography on beam and floor that belied her age, moving easily and gracefully. Beam in particular was a great apparatus for her- lovely fluidity of movement. She was not made for vault or floor as she did not have the power to shine at either. Her youth may have been working against her there, though her vault did actually deteriorate badly in the 3 years from 1989 to 1992. Her greatest achievement, aside from being so spectacular that young, was winning the bars title at the 1991 Worlds, against favourites like Tatiana Gutsu, Shannon Miller and Kim Zmeskal. Her routine scored a perfect 10- the last 10 to be awarded at a worlds. Unfortunately, even though she upped her already crazy difficulty level, a tiny step on landing at the 1992 Olympics event finals cost her a medal, despite having the highest score in the compulsories. Sadly, the fact that she had the highest difficulty by far was not enough to oust her rivals. After Barcelona, the age falsification emerged and North korea were banned from the 1993 worlds as punishment. Kim, who quite probaby had a lot left to give, completely faded and her whereabouts since are unknown.



The fact that she looks exactly the same in 1989 and 1992 leads me to believe her birth year was closer to 1980 than 1978, as she still looks far from puberty in Barcelona. Regardless, a great gymnast.




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