The peerless Ksenia Afanasyeva turned 20 last week. Six days ago, to be precise. Bronners and I talked about marking this momentous occasion in some way, but true to form, we failed. But, if Stoi! had one motto, apart from all the ones about Eurotrash and Mo Huilan’s chicken dance, it would be Better Late Than Never. And we can’t let this one go unmarked.
So, as a belated birthday gift, here we will celebrate Ksenia Dmitrievna Afanasyeva’s top 20 moments. With fewer videos than usual, since it seems to send everyone’s computer on a dirty protest. You all know how to youtube things anyway.
1. World team finals 2010, floor routine
Was there ever any competition for the top slot? Whatever happened here, we all knew it was going to be a classic Ksenia moment. For the first time since 2000, Mother Russia were the best team out on the floor. The general conclusion amongst those of us watching was that if they couldn’t win this one, they’d never win anything. So would it be sublime, or ridiculous? Death or glory?
Well, just for this one perfect moment, it all went to plan. And this is one video that we absolutely have to include. If it makes your computer go septic, deal with it. She’s worth it.
2. World championships 2010, floor final
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same
Rudyard Kipling ‘If’ (1895)
3. Captions, anyone?
4. 2008 Olympics prelims, beam
She’ll never hit another beam routine like that in her career ever again, I promise you. When she goes up for Russia in TFs at this year’s worlds, watch this instead.
I would lament that they didn’t use her in finals instead of Pavlova or Ezhova. But Ksenia A would probably have taken them down to 5th. Or chosen that moment to run into the beam in a tribute to Kramarenko. Mother Russia have made a bit of a speciality of 0s on vault recently, but it takes real skill to get one on beam. That should be our heroine’s new challenge. If anyone can do it, she can.
5. 2008 Olympic beam final
Putting the icing on the team’s truly rotten cake. Finishing the Games with one athlete falling, and the other being screwed out of yet another medal in favour of the Chinese was as apt and neat a summary Russia’s Olympics as anyone could wish for.
6. Being too injured to go to 2009 worlds when she was potentially the best AA gymnast in the world that year.
For some of it anyway. Instead, we were treated to the Queen of Blah, Bridget Sloan (say what you like about other less impressive world AA champions like Memmel and Olaru, at least there’s something to actually say).
7. 2011 Russian Cup, bars
Sometimes I think she just doesn’t give a fuck.
8. 2008 Olympic TFs, vault
Hit. Might as well, once it doesn’t matter anymore.
9. The moment after she threw away her world floor title in Rotterdam and then had a little comiseration with Mustafina.
We love that.
10. World championships prelims 2010, bars
11.866. My right honourable friend Ms Sanders described it as a hot fuck of a mess. But at least with the mess after a hot fuck, you have something to show for it. I prefer to think of this as a kiss goodbye to the world AA final.
Part Two to follow.