Footage of various vault upgrades from Eastern Europe emerged this week. These have all been rumoured and/or promised by the gymnasts themselves for some time, but it’s nice to see solid proof they’re being trained.
Firstly, Komova’s Amanar. Onto a hard surface! It’s right at the start, blink and you’ll miss it.
This was filmed 45 days before they leave for Olympics, so about early to mid June. And looked quite nice. It’s unrealistic to hope she’ll ever be capable of doing it as well as in 2010 again, given that she’s grown, but it was encouraging. I’m going to stick my neck out and say that Mother Russia will have at least 2 Amanars in London. A minimum of 1 of these will be a death wish, making Raisman’s look positively stable in comparison.
Not to be outdone, the Romanians are working on some 6.5s of their own.
We all knew Iordache was training the Amanar, and here we see her doing so at 0.22. Note also that the presenter looks like Brian Dowling, winner of Big Brother 2, before he got fat.
Not really one of the better ones out there, but if she can reproduce this onto a hard surface she should be good for a 15.5 in London. And quite possibly an AA title. There’s been so much focus on Mother Russia v Wieber, a lot of people have forgotten about little Larisa. They shouldn’t.
The eagle eyed amongst you will also have noted Izbasa training the Cheng too, at 0.50. This looks the least complete of any of the vault upgrades: it’s round, but not great. Deep landing, heavily reliant on matting. The intention is clearly for her to throw it in London, but she looks to have lots to do before then. It may be worth mentioning that her Mustafina vault at Euros wasn’t quite as good as expected, although she was injured then.
It isn’t an easy vault for a tall athlete to manage: note that Cheng Fei herself became effectively incapable once she lost her 12 year old’s physique.
Nonetheless, these Romanian vault upgrades blow the team title right open. I had been ready to risk looking a fool and to predict an Olympic team title for the US. Now, I’m not even going to try and call it. Stoi! mentioned at Euros that one of the few certainties in gymnastics is this: Octavian Belu is smarter than you. He is also smarter than Marta.