Madalina Blendea - a special chapter in Romanian Gymnastics History

Notice the patience with which she approaches the dance elements, the pointed toes, the arms movement and the way she fights to stay on that beam.
(These clips are from a national meet that took place two weeks ago.)



... from a friend

And the AA final begins

Octavian Bellu being harassed by the Germans (my idea of a joke, sorry)- but they didn't allow me to stay in that spot

Diana, congratulating Ama

Octavian Bellu and Ana Porgras

AA Podium

Carlotta Ferlito - Beam Finals

Ariella Kaeslin - Beam Finals

Vasiliki Miloussi - Beam Finals

Julie Croquet - Beam Finals

Elisabetta Preziosa - Beam Finals

Elisabetta Preziosa

Amelia Racea - signing autographs

Ana Porgras' blonde highlights

Yulia Belokobylskaya - during Floor Finals

Ama and Ana cheering for Sandra and Diana during Floor Finals

Floor Podium

Sandra Izbasa - already thinking of the long training hours ahead

FX podium

High Bar podium

Germans preparing for a riot after high bar finals :)


day three, Demy takes beam and Izbasa stays in bounds

It was a naturally slow start for a Sunday morning but it got interesting very fast, with a boat trip on the Spree river. Beautiful! 

Then I rushed to get to the Max Schmeling Halle I had four more finals to see (three and a half actually because the last train to Dutchland leaves at 4:50pm from Central Station. Boo!). So, I was saying, I left the boat in a rush to get there in time for the MAG vault final. After the people at the entrance checked all the corners of my backpack, and I was finally inside, as I was trying to put back in all my stuff, I saw Bellu and Lucian Sandu quietly walking towards the stands. Hm... I was holding my camera. Should I take a picture? I decided to ask them first if it was ok. It seemed silly to just jump in front of them and take pictures. So I asked. "Yes, sure" Bellu answered, but then he decided it was even better if I were in the pictures too. It seemed the logical thing to do :)

So now I have a picture with The Man.

I enjoyed so much the MAG vault final that I forgot to take pictures. 
Then there was the women's beam. Given the fact that there were no Romanians in the final and Aliya was out (which sounds like the end of the world...$*%$$ !!) I couldn't have asked for a better podium.

Anna Dementieva managed to pull off her best routine in ages. 
Carlotta Ferlito was fabulous. Love her mount!

Preziosa was simply beautiful (a not very nice man didn't allow me to take pics anymore when she competed sigh). Maybe my only wish that did not come true was for Vasiliki to medal too. She did a great job!

In the end the Italian family was delighted.

Then there was the Floor final. I could only watch the first five competitors (and I pushed my luck because I  literally had to run to catch the train). Looking back, I can say that Izbasa has done better routines this spring. I think Diana Chelaru should have had a slightly better E score. It's hard to say who was better that day, but Diana Chelaru said it better. "I am happy when the Romanian anthem plays even if I'm on the second or third spot."

So, after three days, I left the Fabulous City much in the same condition I was when I first arrived there: hungry and exhausted. Those were among the best days of my life!


Day two, in which Koczi wins

And the story continues... 

The next day I wanted revenge. Because by that time I had found out the whole MAG AA story. I was furious! Koczi has been, for the last 5 years maybe, the best Romanian gymnast that could do six events. He  always had the goods yet he was never quite there. And now, that he managed to keep it together he did not win just because the competition was held in Germany!! Furious.
I arrived at Max-Schmeling pretty early. So I had some time to notice that Steliana Nistor was there (she looks very good), and at one point was chatting with Vanessa Ferrari.
When the MAG floor final begun and I saw the huge marks the first competitors were getting I thought Flavius Koczi will not get his compensation in that final. 15.3... 15.2.... 15.4 And then Koczi wowed the audience! 15.5 - first place. He was overwhelmed by emotions when the final was over. I almost shed a tear as well.

Next up, the WAG vault final. This final had its bright moments (Izbasa, Chusho, Kaeslin's first vault) and the not so happy: Giulia Steingruber's missed vault first comes to mind. I think she may have been overwhelmed by the fact that she was one of the favorites. Then Amelia Racea who focused too much on controlling the flight phase and gave away the landing on her DTY. Oh she is capable of such a good DTY, too bad we did not see it live! Kaeslin was very disappointed after her second vault, she obviously felt that she could have done much better than that. When they were waiting for Ariella's score, I think I read on Sandra's lips "I couldn't have done more than that".
Sandra had indeed two impressive vaults. The judges were much more severe than at Worlds and she still got a 9+ E score for the second vault.

On the uneven bars almost everything went as expected. I mean the people that fought for the medals were Bui, Nabieva, Seitz, Tweddle. Seitz had a few hesitations and a low landing and lost. I loved Bui's routine. I thought she should have been above Navieva (but what do I know about uneven bars code?) so it was a bit of a relief when Tweddle finished first.

I ran again out of  the Max Schmeling, to meet friends. This time we had sushi and a Berliner beer at a place near the venue. It was very good and cheap (7 euros the sushi plate and 1.2 for the beer, not bad huh)?
Then we headed for Potsdamer Platz in time for the medal ceremonies. But not quick enough for good spots to take nice pictures.

Sony Center's Ceiling
There, I saw Flavius Koczi (very happy and very teary again) being smooched by a few girls and older ladies.

Floor Men
I clapped and I cheered as loudly as I could when Ama and Demy were introduced... There was no need to do the same for Seitz.
AA WAG podium
Sandra was happy but not overly excited (there's still a lot of work until London)
VT WAG podium

Then she told Alina Alexoi that she expected to do well on vault because she worked very hard and it would have been a disappointment not to win a medal after all the work.
Sandra Izbasa interviewed by TVR 
Then, we headed for Brandemburg gate where we took silly pictures of ourselves jumping around. The night ended in a place on Friedrichstrasse where I had a dessert that looked like a Kaiserschmarren and which I wished it had more pancake and less fruit :)


And a poll-------------------------->

In my previous post about Berlin, I mixed travel details with gymnastics thoughts. Do you feel I should go on for the next two posts about my days in Berlin, or stick to gymnastics?

Please Vote!

Later Edit: the poll is now closed- 6 people want me to continue writing only about gymnastics, 12 said that it's interesting when I give away random travel details and other 5 do not care. Good thing no one was wondering how they got here :)
So, we change the day but we continue the same!

Berlin, Moskwa, gymnastics, wind, Zaitz - Day 1

I left Rotterdam with very low expectations about the following days. Maybe it was the fact that I was deprived of sleep most of the previous week, maybe Tuesday's qualifications had embittered me... So I was not very optimistic about the outcome of the following days. But, I was blown away.

I traveled to Berlin by train on the worst possible route (or so I've heard), via Utrecht and Duisburg. On the bright side, the ICE had very comfortable seats, and I had to change trains enough times to fill up on caffeine. We arrived in Berlin Central at 2 pm; two hours later, after I left the bags in the apartment located in Prentzlauer Berg, I was drinking my Moskwa beer and eating a nice Odessa salad in a place called Parsnip (somewhere between the place we stayed in and the Max-Schmeling Halle). Like this:

But, this is a gymnastics blog...

Then the story becomes foggy. Went to the Max Schameling... saw Aliya Mustafina knocked out of the competition... learned how to pronounce Seitz... And then there was Demy's weird little smile attacking the last floor pass. But yes, I was shocked. So was everybody else in the arena. And, of course her coaches... They stayed there, next to her, for 10-15 minutes trying to recover from the shock and then they realised it was impossible but the only thing to do was to focus on Demy. And she did not let them down, she had a great copmpetition, with solid uneven bars, she stayed on the beam, she was great on floor (I think that that was the time the public realized that Seitz was not going to win LOL)...And a FTY. So far the Russians were accused that they were winning a tad too many points with crooked Amanars. It was as if Alexandrov tried to prove they can win in any way.

Then there was Amelia's vault. I was preparing to leave (I had people to meet, stuff to do, I was in Berlin, no time for the Russian anthem :D). On my way out, as it happens, I stopped next to Bellu when Amelia was waiting for the green light. If you imagine that coaches that have decades of years of experience are very relaxed when their gymnasts compete, think again :). Bellu is a good example. He knows what Ama is capable of in terms of vaulting. She is good. But right then and there she needed a mark of around 14.6 (by my onsite calculations) for silver. A score accessible for her. But see, Bellu knows Amelia Racea. So he was anxious. 
"Ama, dreapta la ronda!" ("Ama, stay straight on the round-off!") he shouts. Amelia nods. And just as the green light appears, Bellu vanishes. Amelia doesn't do her best vault. She settles for bronze. But now, I could not leave, I was curious where Bellu was. But I couldn't find him... I decided to give up, and as I was walking by the same spot I where had lost him, I saw Bellu walking out of the restroom.
 He had filled his water bottle.


a lot of gymnastics and some berlin

I was extremely lazy... I took very few pics and all of them are bad :) 

And some Berlin...