Kondakova’s fiery temperament and mesmerizing presence, so different in each one of her four
routines, came as refreshing antitheses to Kanayeva’s permanent regal appeal. Kondakova left her
mark with her seductive “Stop” routine with the
ball and her clubs based on Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons
(Summer)”; Kanayeva won praise for the innovative manner she handled the ribbon in that exquisite, lyric composition choreographed to a Chopin
waltz. (It looks like the time to return to the good
old piano and that classical music has returned, a
relief after so much deafening hard beats.)
This time Bulgarian Silvia Miteva was the closest
to the two leaders and visibly way ahead of the rest
of the field. Never before had the 25-year-old
daughter of a former Group Exercise mother and a
Breveted Artistic Gymnastics judge father, been
seen as such an impeccable stylist. Her crystal-clear
body line at each and every moment of her routines, enviable technique in handling the apparatus
and strong compositions impressed as much as her
steadiness. While many of the elite contenders
stumbled here and there, Miteva remained iron-steady throughout 11 routines. Then, on her 12th
performance in Montpellier, when she was a breath
Only a few gymnasts managed
to “tell a story” covering the
slightest nuances of the
music, building a culmination
and silencing the audience.
distance from an all-around medal, disaster struck.
Her hoop flew out of her hand, rolling over the line
and she had to grab a reserve apparatus to finish
Miteva was not the only individual to suffer misfortune (she finished in seventh instead of third).
Other victims of hyper-stress were Delphine
Ledoux (France), with clubs, in the second rotation
(still 12th in the final ranking due to very strong performance in the last two rotations); Anna Alyabieva
(Kazakhstan), with hoop, third rotation (just under
the “Olympic line” in Montpellier, in 16th, and will
have to compete in London in January); Ganna
Rizatdinova (Ukraine), with ribbon, second rotation
(18th); Neta Rivkin (Israel), third rotation, ribbon,
and later on hoop outside the border (10th), to
name but a few.
Plenty of talent, plenty of well executed difficulties and plenty of exercises with high quality elements were seen in the individual competition. But
not that many compositions! In the majority of
cases it was about squeezing the 12 required difficulties within 90 seconds, very often using the
music only as a background. Only a few gymnasts
managed to “tell a story” covering the slightest
nuances of the music, building a culmination and
silencing the audience.
One of these rare cases was Julieta Cantaluppi
(Italy) in her last routine, with ball. The piece, choreographed to a single deep female voice (without
any other instrument), silenced the audience before
receiving a stormy appreciation. How many people
in the hall knew about the genetic inheritance of the
26-year-old six-time Italian champion? Cantaluppi’s
mother, Kristina Giurova, was the 1979 world
champion with rope. She is named after her grandmother, Julieta Shishmanova, the legendary
founder of the Bulgarian Rhythmic Gymnastics
School, innovator in the sport and creator of stars
of the caliber of Maria Guigova and Neshka Robeva
(the leader of the Bulgarian golden generation of
Other names to remember? The gracious, slender Alina Maksimenko (Ukraine, fifth), who is obviously progressing in the footsteps of her great predecessor Anna Bessonova, and Son Yeon Jae
(Korea, 11th), who may well raise her country up to
the forefront of the international limelight.
HERE, too, the contest between the top 24 Groups from the world championships in Moscow 2010 was all about stability and
security before risk!
Italy: Gold all-around and two silver medals ( 5
balls and 3 ribbons/2 hoops routines).
The Italians won their third consecutive title,
proving that neither Mie 2009 nor Moscow 2010
was a matter of sheer luck. Their coach, Emanuela
Maccarani, is without doubt one of the most creative figures in the sport. Her sophisticated compositions come as a reflection of Italy’s traditions in art
and music. Her team is courageous enough to take
risks and defend their identity.
Alina Maksimenko (Ukraine), fifth all-around