Friday, 15 March 2013

Then and Now: Anna Pavlova (RUS)

Anna Pavlova is a Russian gymnast and has competed in two Olympic Games, Athens in 2004 and Beijing in 2008. She has a balletic style and performs many difficult and original moves, especially upon the balance beam. She is coached by her mother Nadejda Pavlova and, despite her immense talent has never won a gold medal at an Olympic Games or a World Championships. She is often known as the gymnast who just missed out, having finished the 2004 Athens Olympics all-around final in 4th place, 0.025 points behind China's Zhang Nan. She had a rough time at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, accidentally scoring a zero for her second vault in the final and finishing the beam final in 4th place, 0.05 points behind China's Cheng Fei.

Pavlova flashes a pose on floor at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games

Perhaps unusually for a Russian gymnast, she is a strong competitor across all four events. She is a strong vaulter and won the bronze medal at the 2004 Athens Olympics, with two very well executed vaults.

Anna's vaults during the vault final at the 2004 Athens Olympics

She is perhaps one of the most expressive floor workers of her generation. She marries beautiful dance, impressive flexibility and powerful tumbling in her 2008 routine performed to 'Exodus'. This is quite possibly one of my favourite floor routines of all time (see Fav Floor Routines series).

Pavlova's exquisite floor routine during the all-around final at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games

Unfortunately, Anna tore ligaments in her knees at the end of 2008 and required surgery. In the years after, she made a comeback to gymnastics but only competed watered-down routines and did not compete in many meets outside of Russia. Recently, she has appeared at more bigger meets, including the Voronin Cup. Watch her beam routine below where she performs unusual skills. 

Anna's beautiful beam from a competition in November, 2012

It is unlikely that Anna will make any Worlds teams in the next quad, because of the talent of the up-and-coming juniors such as Kharenkova and Shelgunova, and the presence of gymnasts such as Mustafina, Komova, Afanasyeva and Grishina. However, she is a strong performer on vault and beam and could potentially fill a void in those roles. Nevertheless, it is fantastic to see her still enjoying the sport at age 26!

Anna, still in it for the love of gymnastics!

Article by Imogen Browne (@Iflip4GymBlog)

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