Friday, July 5, 2013

In the beginning, there was Zhenya

(I meant to publish these posts much earlier, but then I got distracted by Zhenya's wedding and a bunch of other stuff!  So here they are, finally...)

Up to this point I’ve been mostly posting a bunch of photos, but now I thought I’d try to write a little bit about how I became a rhythmic gymnastics fan.  And it all started with Zhenya!

I first saw Evgenia Kanaeva at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
Inna Zhukova, Zhenya, Anna Bessonova
That was not the first time I had watched rhythmic gymnastics, but it was probably the first time in recent memory that I had made a conscious effort to record and watch the competition (rather than accidentally stumble upon it).

I remember thinking that Kanaeva was amazing, and very cute, but at the time, I didn’t feel like I had to go and learn all about her.  This was in part due to the fact that I had just become obsessed with Nastia Liukin, the artistic gymnast who had just won her 2008 Olympic title in storybook fashion, in addition to my ongoing obsession with figure skater Mao Asada.)

Here is Kanaeva’s amazing rope routine from 2008.  I love the music, and from the very beginning, the tricks she performs with the rope are mind-blowing.
(Click to watch the video in HD on YouTube--it's totally worth it!)

Fast-forward to 2012.  As the London Olympics approached, I thought about rhythmic gymnastics for the first time in four years.  I remembered Kanaeva’s name and looked her up, and realized she had basically been undefeated at all the major competitions since the 2008 Olympics.  Wow!!
2009 World Championships: Dasha Kondakova, Zhenya, Anna Bessonova
2010 World Championships: Dasha Kondakova, Zhenya, Melita Staniouta
2011 World Championships: Dasha Kondakova, Zhenya, Aliya Garayeva
So I was really looking forward to watching the 2012 rhythmic gymnastics competition and (hopefully) seeing Kanaeva take home a second gold medal.

And OH MY!  What a difference four years makes!  The cute but slightly reserved 18-year old had blossomed into an absolutely stunning QUEEN.  She simply commanded your attention.  Her handling of the apparatus was flawless, her movements were effortless and fluid, and she felt the music.

Can you say GORGEOUS??!


Even to an inexperienced viewer like me, she was, without a doubt, in a class by herself.

And good lord, just look at that dazzling smile!

Here are Zhenya’s four routines from the final all-around competition (skip to the times listed below):
Hoop - 14:35
Ball - 44:20
Clubs - 1:49:04
Ribbon - 2:25:10
In particular, I wanted to watch her club routine again and again!

So needless to say, Zhenya won her second Olympic gold medal.
Dasha Dmitrieva, Zhenya, Lyubov Cherkashina
And this time around, I became TOTALLY OBSESSED!

More on Zhenya in the posts to follow…

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