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Archive: June, 2001

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Alina Kabaeva, RUS

A few missed catches didn't stop World and European champion Alina Kabaeva (RUS) from dominating the podium at yesterday's Koop Cup International Rhythmic Grand Prix event. She won the rope, ball, and clubs, as well as the all-around title. Though unable to compete in the Koop Cup preliminary competition, Kabaeva, along with Canadian Olympian Emilie Livingston competed in Saturday's finals which determined the individual event and all-around titles. Anna Bessonova (UKR), who took first place in preliminaries the night before, finished 2nd in the all-around final. She also claimed the hoop title with teammate Tamara Yerofeeva (3rd AA) and Alena Tkachenko (BLR) (4th AA) rounding out the medals on that event.

Pamela Jewell, CAN

Livingston, Canada's top competitor, performed consistently, placing 5th with hoop, rope, and ball and 6th with clubs - good enough for 5th in the AA, just behind Tkachenko. Canada's second entrant, Pamela Jewell, placed eigth with hoop and rope and 12th in the all-around. Irina Funtikova, runner-up at the recent 2001 Canadian Rhythmic National Championships and recovering from an injury, participated in exhibition performances only. She was a treat to watch nonetheless, and appears poised to deliver strong results for Canada in future competitions!

Full results are available at the official Koop Cup site. Also, national television coverage of the Koop Cup is scheduled for June 30 on CBC, beginning at 2pm. Be sure to check your local listings for exact times as the date approaches.


Tamara Yerofeeva, UKR

After injury and visa delays eliminated the Olympic silver and bronze medallists from contention, Ukraine's Anna Bessonova took first place during the preliminary portion of the Koop Cup International Rhythmic Grand Prix, held yesterday in Toronto. Bessonova, who finished fourth all-around at the prestigious Corbeil-Essones World Cup International Tournament earlier this year, earned the victory with four solid exercises, earning a total score of 109.833 out of a possible 120. Bessonova's more decorated teammate, double European championship bronze medallist Tamara Yerofeeva, finished a close second with 109.200. Belorussian Alena Tkachenko, also a double medal-winner at the European championships, finished well back of the leaders in third place, with a score of 102.766.

Ekaterina Grieznova, RUS

While Bessonova charmed the audience with her first major international victory, several competitors were notably absent from the final tally. Reigning World and European champion Alina Kabaeva experienced visa delays and arrived only hours before the start of the competition, understandably too tired to compete. Olympic silver medallist Yulia Raskina, coming off an injury, elected to perform a series of exhibition dance exercises.

Russian newcomers, senior Ekaterina Grieznova and junior Ekaterina Grouzdeva, offered a glimpse into the future for Russian rhythmic gymnastics. These two girls delighted audiences with their flexibility and charming styles.

Canada's hopes for a top finish were dashed when 2000 Olympian Emilie Livingston was forced to forgo the all-around competition while she completed her OAC exams, and national championship runner-up Irina Funtikova missed the meet due to injury. As a result, Burlington's Pamela Jewell was left as Canada's lone representative in the senior competition. Jewell, who finished sixth all-around at the recent national championships, performed admirably against such a deep international field, impressing the judges enough to finish 10th all-around.

Reigning Canadian junior national champion Alexandra Orlando dominated the junior competition, taking the highest score on each event to claim the all-around title by a massive five and-a-half point margin. Two talented U.S. juniors, Brennan Staker and Caitlin Traynor edged out Canada's Marie-Eve St. Arnaud to take the silver and bronze, respectively.

Competition concludes today with the individual event finals, followed by a gala performance. Full results are available at the official Koop Cup site.


Emilie Livingston, CAN

Some of the world's best rhythmic gymnasts from ten countries will be represented at the Koop Cup International Rhythmic Grand Prix, which runs through Saturday at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. Included among the star-studded competitor list is the reigning World and European champion, Russia's Alina Kabaeva. Kabaeva was the heavy favourite to win the Olympic all-around title in Sydney last year, but an untimely error in her hoop routine resulted in an unexpected third place finish.

Kabaeva will be challenged by a number of top international competitors, including Olympic all-around silver medallist Yulia Raskina of Belarus and recent European championship bronze medallist Tamara Yerofeeva of the Ukraine.

Canada will be represented by a quintet of top athletes, including the current national champion Mary Sanders, as well as Irina Funtikova, 2000 Olympian Emilie Livingston, and Roxana Cervantes, who placed second, third, and fifth at the recent national championships, respectively. Canada's contingent will be rounded out by junior national champion Alexandra Orlando.

Competition begins tomorrow with general competitions running from noon until 9 pm. The finals are scheduled for Saturday afternoon. Further information about venue, ticket information, and the competitive roster can be found at the official Koop Cup site.


Katie Rowland (right) with
Abby Pearson, 98 Bluewater

Leonid Grakovsky, one of Canada's most successful gymnastics coaches, has announced his retirement from the sport. Grakovsky has spent the last fifteen years coaching at Unionville's Winstonnettes Gymnastics Association, where he has helped to place a host of gymnasts on Canada's world and Olympic teams. Undoubtedly, one of the highlights of Grakovsky's career was the 1988 Olympics, where Winstonnettes gymnasts Lori Strong, Larissa Lowing, and Christina McDonald all earned Olympic berths. Grakovsky also helped coach current Stanford University stand-out Jennifer Exaltacion to the 1996 Olympic team. Grakovsky's most recent star pupil was 1997 world championship team member and 1998 Canadian champion, Katie Rowland, who now competes for Penn State in the NCAA.

Grakovsky's coaching duties will now be filled by former Gemini and Omega gymnastics club coach July Gershkowich. Grakovsky will be honoured by the Ontario Gymnastics Federation at a banquet in early August.


Olympic bronze medallist Karen Cockburn maintained her third place ranking from qualifying to take the bronze medal yesterday at a world cup trampoline event in Hannover, Germany. Cockburn increased her degree of difficulty to a 14.0 in the finals and scored 38.60 total points. Olympic champion Irina Karavaeva of Russia made up for a poor qualifying round to take first with 40.30 points. Ukrainian Olena Movchan took second.

In the men's event, Olympic bronze medallist Mathieu Turgeon equalled his qualifying rank with his 7th place showing. The top three maintained their order from qualifying, with Russia's Guerman Khnytchev and Olympic champion Alexandre Moskalenko finishing 1-2 and Frenchman Guillaume Bourgeon taking third.

In the men's synchro event, Turgeon and partner Chris Mitruk finishied an impressive 4th overall in the finals, moving up three ranks from qualifying. The competition was extremely close, with the Canadian duo's total of 49.20 being only 0.6 behing the winning team from Russia. The French team of Sebastien Laifa and Mickael Jala took second and Zhan Iordanov and Alexander Chernonos of Ukraine took third.

Once again, complete results can be found at gymmedia.


Olympic bronze medallist Karen Cockburn of Toronto finished in third place in the preliminaries at a World Cup trampoline event in Hannover, Germany yesterday. Her score of 66.70 was only 0.3 behind the leading qualifier, Natalia Tchernova from Russia who scored 67.00. Anna Dogonadze-Lilkendey of Germany finished second with 66.90. Cockburn's teammate Heather Ross-McManus just missed qualifying for today's finals, with a score of 64.60 - only 0.1 behind 8th place finisher, Olympic Champion Irina Karavaeva of Russia.

Canada's other Olympic bronze medallist, Mathieu Turgeon of Toronto, also qualified for the finals with a score of 68.60, good enough for 7th place. The Russian men occupied the first two places with Guerman Khnytchev defeating the reigning Olympic Champion Alexandre Moskalenko by a full point, 71.10 to 70.10. France's Guillaume Bourgeon took third with 69.00.

In the synchro competition, Turgeon matched his individual 7th place and qualified to the finals with his teammate Chris Mitruk with an 85.30 score. The Canadian duo's degree of difficulty of 14.8 was the second highest in the field. The aforementioned Russian men teamed up to qualify in first with degree of difficulty of 15.0 and a total score of 88.80. The British tandem of Lee Brearley and Paull Smyth were well back in second place, scoring 87.00. Sebastien Laifa and Mickael Jala of France were a tenth back in third with 86.90.

The Canadian women were less successful in their synchro competition, finishing 14th and last with a score of only 41.00. Presumably, McManus and Cockburn were unable to complete all ten required elements in their routine, leaving them with a degree of difficulty of only 1.60.

Complete results are avaiable at Gymmedia.


Canada's best trampolinists will take on the reigning Olympic champions at the prestigious World Cup of Trampoline, being held today and tomorrow in Hannover, Germany.

2000 Olympic bronze medallists Karen Cockburn and Mathieu Turgeon will be in tough against a deep field that includes both the women's and men's gold medallists from Sydney, Russia's Irina Karavayeva and Alexander Moskalenko. Joining Cockburn and Turgeon are two of Canada's best bouncers, Heather McManus and Chris Mitruk. Both placed fifth in the individual trampoline competition at the recent Canadian championships. McManus is the also the reigning Canadian champion in synchronized trampoline, while Mitruk is Canada's best in the double mini tramp.


Senka Kovacevic, the 2000 Canadian senior champion in rhythmic gymnastics, has left the sport to pursue her studies. Kovacevic had competed in Canada as recently as the Corbeil Essonnes qualifying trial, held in Toronto two months ago. The British Columbia native was trained at Vancouver's Club Elite Rhythmics Inc. by 1984 Olympic Champion, Lori Fung. Kovacevic will now commit her energies to her university education, where she hope to become a doctor.


After missing the 2001 Canadian women's championships due to injury, Crystal Gilmore is back on track in her quest to compete at the world championships, to be held this fall in Belgium. Gilmore, 18, will spend the summer preparing new routines as she works to regain the form that earned her a spot on the 2000 Olympic team. Read more about Gilmore's recovery, her experiences in Sydney, and her hopes for the future in this gymn.ca exclusive interview.


Toronto's Ritmika gymnastics club scored a trifecta of victories at the Canadian rhythmic championships, held this weekend at Humber College in Toronto. Ritmika gymnasts claimed the gold medal in the senior, junior, and novice all-around competitions with victories by Mary Sanders, Alexandra Orlando, and Nathalie Ngo, respectively.

Sanders, 15, won the competition by more than five points over Kalev's Irina Funtikova. 2000 Olympian Emilie Livingston was a close third. Sanders, who was also the 1998 junior national champion, is the reigning Elite Canada champion. She is coached by Dimitrichka Masleva and began her rhythmic career at age eleven after seven years as an artistic gymnast. She considers her father, who was her gymnastics coach until he passed away from cancer when Sanders was seven, to be the inspiration behind her gymnastics.

Complete results of the Canadian rhythmic championships is available at the Rhythmic Gymnastics Canada website.

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