One of the things I enjoyed most about Euros was the elderly WAG vault podium. We all know Chusovitina’s a force of nature, of course. She was competing at the first ever Olympics, and I don’t mean the one in 1896. Probably. And no doubt she’ll still be throwing massive but windmill legged rudis when we’re all dead and gone.
Why has nobody ever made a film about this woman? I’d do it myself, if I had any talent.
But I was also thrilled to see the other two medallists up there as well. 20-year-old Izbasa, and 23-year-old Kaeslin.
After all the recent underage scandals, multiple DOBs, 11 year olds dressed as 16 year olds and not even trying to hide it, medal stealing, investigating, banning and fuck knows what else, this is the antidote.
Kaeslin is that rare thing, a gymnast who’s peaking in her 20s. While 2010 wasn’t a vintage year for her, she went from strength fo strength in 2008-9.
Pay no attention to the leotard. Her strong performance in the Olympic vault final was a great moment for Swiss gymnastics, and it was to get even better. She had a bad time last year, but here’s hoping her vault bronze in Berlin marks a return to form for her.
Let’s not forget that there’s going to be a spare spot on the vault podium at worlds this year in the absence of You Know Who.
Izbasa was also a revelation. 20 years old now, she had a fantastic 2008 then suffered serious achilles injury in 2009. She’s made the long slog back, blonder than before and with ever more inventive eyeshadow (watch out for future post). After a disappointing Rotterdam, when she failed to take the title that the Russians so kindly handed to her, she’s also come back with a stunning second vault, her previous one having been a joke, and won herself a deserved European vault title. Love it. Who doesn’t like a good comeback?
That’s almost as impressive as her triple twist to whatever it is jump on floor. (Why is it that the Romanians seem to be the only ones who manage to actually rebound into the post tumble leaps? More of this please)
20+89+23 is an old combined age for a podium, in gymnastics terms. Let’s not forget that 26 year old Beth Tweddle was also repping for the elderly, and it all goes to show that Berlin was a good competition for the athletes of a more mature vintage.
I’m trying to think, when’s the last time we had a WAG podium where all the athletes were 20+? It must be a while. Please nobody suggest Beijing vault. Cheng Fei wasn’t really 20, and Hong Un Jong could have been anything from 12 to 45. Her official DOB would suggest she was 19 at the time, but we all know how seriously the North Koreans take those. Even trying to make a rough guess at her age is far, far too much for me in my hungover state, so let’s just not go there.
Otherwise, I’m struggling. I can think of loads with two at 20+: Sydney beam, Sydney floor, 03 worlds vault, 01 worlds vault. But not three. Do we have to go right back to the pre pixie era? Anyone?