The C Score (2.0)

Archive for December 7th, 2008

Amidst the turmoil of a major gymnastics coaching scandal, the Brazilian Gymnastics Federation has made a largely lateral move in electing Maria Luciene Resende as its new president. Resende replaces Vicelia Florenzano, who has been president of the CBG for 17 years. The news is announced here by Globoesporte

Vicelia Florenzano, right, with Simona Amanar and Yelena Davydova, at the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame, where she received the International Order of Merit in 2007

Vicelia Florenzano, right, with Simona Amanar and Yelena Davydova, at the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame, where she received the International Order of Merit in 2007

Resende was previously the president of the Sergipe Gymnastics Federation and has served as Florezano’s second-in-command as vice-president of the CBG since 2006. To be fair, the other choice, Marco Martins, is the current president of the Brasilia Gymnastics Federation (of the capital city of Brasilia, not to be confused with the CBG) and was vice-president of the CBG until Resende took over, so neither choice would have been radical.

Resende won by 13 votes to 5. This might not be surprising given that Martins was the previous vice-president of the CBG, leaving in 2006 due to differences of opinion, presumably at least partly with Florenzano.

Naturally, the main goal for Resende will be to “clean up” the image of the CBG following Jade Barbosa’s accusations that she had been submitted to an overly difficult training regimen (amongst other things), an accusation that was backed up by Daiane dos Santos and Lais Souza. Barbosa has since moved from Curitiba, site of the national training center, to train with Daniele Hypolito, amongst others, in Rio de Janeiro.

Resende has said that dialog is the best soution to the problem. On the other hand, Resende is up for leaving Irina Ilyashenko, Oleg Ostapenko’s former assistant coach, in charge of the national team. (Ostapenko returned last month to the Ukraine after declining an offer from Russia.) She also was less eager than Martins to devolve power to the regional clubs. Like Martins, she has also been quite praising of Florenzano, which would have made sense earlier — given that it was under Florenzano’s leadership that Brazil took its current place on the gymnastics map — but seems somewhat discouraging given recent events. Usually one tries to distance oneself from incumbents that have presided over scandal. Then again, if gymnastics politics can be described as anything, it would be as a patronage system.

If you want to compare the views of the two candidates, you can do so here, from UOL Esporte. Martins has been much more detailed in his proposals, with Resende’s limited to finding new talent, choosing good gymnasts, and having good coaches and referees (um, duh?).

Either way, it seems we’ll have to wait to see what changes Resende will bring, since she was even less forthcoming than Martins about how she would like to restructure the CBG and the training program.

For those who are still sketchy on the details of the Brazilian coaching scandal, it goes like this: Barbosa accused her coaches of overtraining her in preparation for the Olympics. These allegations were substantiated by dos Santos and Souza. Meanwhile, Ostapenko took off for Ukraine, leading somewhat of a leadership void — at least in the gym — anyway. Then Barbosa moved to Rio de Janeiro. Barbosa, dos Santos and Souza are are all injured. The only one who seems to have escaped both scandal and injury is Hypolito, who will compete at the World Cup Final next week. For the full drama, see And Now a Brazilian Scandal and The Brazilian Scandal: Part II on Triple Full.

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Rumor has it that after all the drama of the past months, and suggestions of transfers to AOGC and Chow’s, it appears that Ivana Hong has finally made her choice …

… and it is WOGA, training in Valeri Liukin’s group with Nastia Liukin and Rebecca Bross.

Honestly, I’m somewhat disappointed by the choice. Putting family and gymnastics politics aside (I’m sure that will be discussed elsewhere), I think that WOGA doesn’t complement Hong’s current strengths nearly as well as Chow’s, my first choice for Hong.

Ivana Hong

Ivana Hong

Firstly, I think it might have been useful to train in a gym in which elites train in a larger group — Shawn Johnson currently trains will all of the optional-level athletes. Hong is known as the consummate perfectionist, and I think it might have revived her love for the sport and muted the perfectionism a bit to be in a larger group with other gymnasts. There’s nothing like a little perspective.

Second, it is widely known that Johnson trains minimal hours a week for an elite gymnast — only 24 hours, compared to many other gymnasts’ tallies approaching 40. Again, perhaps a more “normal” schedule would have been good.

Thirdly, and most importantly, I think that Chow’s gymnastics style would have suited Hong. She is already known for her grace, elegance and lines. She lacks power and, in some cases, really big skills. Naturally, WOGA will be a great place for Hong to improve her bars routine, which has been a sticking point for her despite the previously mentioned clean lines and good form. But overall I would have liked to see Hong’s assets complemented by the power and difficulty of a Johnson-type style. It would be like taking Johnson and handing her over to WOGA for a bit more focus on flexibility and bars.

Anyway, naturally, we all wish Hong the best at WOGA. I certainly hope it will get her out of the funk she’s been in. You’ll recall that at the 2007 Nationals she was pegged as one of the next big things, and I don’t think that was a totally unrealistic prediction. Her gymnastics is absolutely gorgeous, and she clearly has the work ethic to achieve something big. I hope to see her back in competition at 2009 Nationals!


About The C Score

First there was A score and B score, now D score and E score. Where is the C score? Right here. In the form of my random thoughts about women's artistic gymnastics.

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