"The stir around the girls was so great, we even had to hire security"
Russian gymnasts Alina Kabayeva and Irina Chaschina were pushed out of big-times sports for doping for some time. They were stripped of the medals they won at the World Championship in Madrid and at the 2001 Goodwill Games in Brisbane. The gymnasts also lost their rating points and prize money won at on the Grand Prix stage.
The International Gymnastics Federation made a decision to disqualify the athletes. Further, an appeal of the Russian gymnasts against the decision was, after very long delays, rejected at the International Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne. As a result, the women missed the Europe championship. They could recommence their sports activity only on April 8, when the Europe championship was already over.
Last weekend, Alina Kabayeva and Irina Chaschina once again demonstrated their claims to have leading positions in world rhythmic gymnastics. News agencies report that Irina Chaschina was the absolute winner at the Donau Cup rhythmic gymnastics championship in Bratislava. Alina Kabayeva gave the best performance at the 16th international championship Narodni Dom in Ljubljana. She came in ahead of Svetlana Putintseva, another talented Russian gymnast, and Valeria Kurilskaya from Belarus.
A bit earlier, Chaschina and Kabayeva performed triumphantly at the international rhythmic gymnastics tournament Gold Hoop in Latvia. There were no adequate rivals to the Russian gymnasts at the event, so the girls came in first and second. Chaschina was the absolute leader in performing with ribbon, ball and club, and Alina Kabayeva was the best at all-round and hoop. So, having just recovered from the disqualification scandal, the Russian gymnasts performed the most complicated and the most wonderful program of the new season.
And, once again, it was stated that Russian girls are the most beautiful in the world; Irina Chaschina was awarded the title of Miss Grace and got a honorary prize of the championship.
After the events, Irina Viner, the coach of the Russian gymnastics squad said in an interview to the Russian newspaper Izvestia that "The stir around the girls was so high, we even had to hire security. Specialists and ordinary spectators thanked me for the spectacle Alina and Irina arranged. And that was actually a wonderful spectacle. Alina Kabayeva performed a bit more stably in the all-round competition and lost nothing, while Irina Chaschina was slightly faulted in ribbon. On the second day, Irina Chaschina performed more stably, but both girls were not perfectly accurate in ribbon. On the whole, they performed well, if we take into consideration the fact that it was the first time after their time away. To tell the truth, I couldn't expect that everything would be so magnificent. So, as the saying goes, skills cannot be squandered."
The coach was inspired by the triumph of her girls and added that Kabayeva and Chaschina never had adequate rivals before, and they wouldn't have any in the future: "If everything goes well with their health and minds, they both will take only the first and second places at the championships."
On May 3-4, Chaschina and Kabayeva will have their first serious competition since their disqualification. They will take part in the team gymnastics championship at the Olympiisky sports complex in Moscow. Rhythmic and sport gymnasts will take part in the event. Judging by the optimism of the coach and by the wonderful performance of the Russian athletes, we can say that they will be a success at this event as well.
Donau Cup, the 15th international championship, Bratislava. Absolute championship. Irina Chaschina (Russia) – 107,900
Narodni Dom, the 16th international tournament, Ljubljana. Absolute championship.
1. Alina Kabayeva (Russia) – 111,498
2. Svetlana Putintseva (Russia) – 103,557
3. Valeria Kurilskaya (Belarus) – 101,288
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