Drawn to the Rhythm

The last competition event (calendar-wise anyway) in my Olympic saga was Rhythmic Gymnastics, a sport I never really gave much thought to. I know it’s one of those sports that some hardliners consider not really a sport at all, but I’m not one for making boundaries.

This Rhythmic Gymnastics session was on 23 August at the Beijing University of Technology Gymnasium, which is in the southeast part of town. We got there by a combination of subway and taxi, since it is not within walking distance of a subway station and none of the shuttle buses had convenient routes for us.

For once I had really good seats, in the third row at one end of the gym. The competition was for individual medals, and almost all of the participants were from former Soviet Republics or satellite states: Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, and Russia. The only others were Spain and Israel.

The first competition was with the rope.
Next up was hoop.
Clubs (kind of like two juggling clubs) were third, and seemed to be the most difficult to master. Apparently difficult to photograph as well, since I ended up with no decent shots.

The ribbon was last, and is probably the most fun to watch.
Like I said, we had seats that were very close.
This is the Ukrainian Anna Bessonova, who ended up taking the Bronze, though she probably got the biggest crowd response of all for her ribbon routine.
Gold went to Evgeniya Kanaeva of Russia; Silver to Inna Zhukova of Belarus.

To continue the saga of difficulties getting out of Olympic venues, the BUT gym was no exception. There were helpful signs at the sidewalk that told us the shuttle buses were to the right and taxis 100m to the left. We walked to the left more than a hundred meters and found no taxis that would stop – several empty ones passed by us and the rest of the crowd, apparently on important missions. After waiting about 20 minutes with no luck, we decided maybe the shuttle bus wasn’t a bad idea. One of the routes at least took us to a subway station. On the bus we met a woman and a girl from Portland, Oregon. The girl is involved in Rhythmic Gymnastics and they told us their horror story about buying tickets from a company that disappeared before they had tickets in hand, leaving them in Beijing hoping to buy from scalpers. At least they had bought the originals with a credit card, so they should be able to recover their money. After we got off the bus, we easily found a taxi for the trip home.

All in all, this was probably the most enjoyable session of them all, and I have a new appreciation for this sport. Maybe in London we’ll be watching an American from Portland whom I met, sort of.

Some pictures by me, some by D.

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