Iordan makes history Gymnastics fans

London – GBR, August 6, 2012: The name of Bulgaria’s Iordan Iovtchev is destined for the history books. Not only is he a top-level gymnast, he is also president of his national federation, and, at the tender age of 39, he has qualified for the final of the Rings at the London 2012 Olympics, which will, incredibly, be his sixth Games.

When his name was announced during the presentation of the gymnasts, the 17,000 spectators in the North Greenwich Arena welcomed him with a standing ovation that he will remember for many years to come.

Gymnastics has found a new hero!

Iordan took his first steps as a gymnast in his native city of Plovdiv at the age of just seven. At his local gym he was able to learn at the feet of Stoyan Deltchev, the idol of Bulgarian gymnastics at the time. Iordan was determined to match, or even better his hero’s achievements. And it wasn’t long before his talent began to shine through, as he demonstrated himself to be a first-rate All-around gymnast, with a strong command of all six individual events. However, it was in the Floor Exercise and the Rings that he truly excelled, and he went on to win the gold medal in both events at the World Championships in 2001 (Ghent) and 2003 (Anaheim).

By that stage, Iordan had already made his mark at the Olympic Games. In his first appearance, at Barcelona 1992, he helped Bulgaria finish 10th in the Team Event. At Atlanta 1996 he came within touching distance of his first podium finish with a fourth place in the Rings. Then, at Sydney 2000, he won his first two Olympic medals, claiming the bronze in the Floor Exercise and the Rings. At Athens 2004, he went one better, winning silver in the Rings and another bronze in the Floor Exercise, though was left frustrated at missing out on gold. In Beijing 2008, he reached the final of the Rings yet again.

What else can we say about Iordan, as he gears up for yet another Olympic Rings Final today? He has excelled as both an athlete and an administrator. But he is also, quite simply, a true gentleman, and a figure who deserves the respect of the entire gymnastics community.

The official London 2012 slogan exhorts athletes to Inspire a Generation. There is no doubt that through his achievements, Iordan can inspire gymnasts for several generations to come. Iordan we salute you !

Chen, Ablyazin and Tweddle are favourites for Gold in Gymnastics Apparatus Finals

CHEN Yibing (CHN) will try to swing to his second consecutive Olympic Still Rings title, Denis ABLYAZIN (RUS) will try to hold off 2011 World Champion YANG Hak Seon (KOR) for Vault Gold, and leading Uneven Bars qualifier Elizabeth TWEDDLE (GBR) will try to become the first British female gymnast to win Olympic Gold on the second day of Artistic Gymnastics Apparatus Finals at the North Greenwich Arena on Monday.

Men’s Still Rings

CHEN, who won Gold at Beijing 2008, narrowly led Matteo MORANDI (ITA) for the top qualifying position. CHEN and MORANDI were among three finalists to earn a difficulty score of 6.800 points in qualifications, where CHEN outscored all gymnasts except Arthur NABARRETE ZANETTI (BRA) in execution score. CHEN could become the third gymnast to win two Gold medals in this event after Albert AZARYAN (URS – Soviet Union) in 1956 and 1960, and Akinori NAKAYAMA (JPN) in 1968 and 1972. CHEN has won Gold in this event at four of the past five World Championships which ranks him second after Yuri CHECHI (ITA) who has won five.

With the highest execution score and lowest difficulty score among the eight finalists, NABARRETE ZANETTI qualified fourth, behind second-ranked MORANDI and third-ranked Aleksandr BALANDIN (RUS).

Iordan IOVTCHEV (BUL), 39, the first male gymnast to compete in six Olympic Games, qualified eighth to the final. He is the oldest male gymnast competing at London 2012 and could become the first athlete to win three medals in Men’s Rings. Iovtchev is a four-time Olympic medallist – Silver in Still Rings in 2004, Bronze in Still Rings in 2000 and Bronze in Men’s Floor Exercise in 2000 and 2004. He is also president of the Bulgarian gymnastics federation.

Men’s Vault

Although ABLYAZIN led qualifications, he will need to perform both of his vaults perfectly to withstand pre-London 2012 favourite, 2011 World Vault Champion YANG Hak Seon (KOR). ABLYAZIN had the highest two-vault difficulty score total in qualifications, but the fourth-highest execution score. ABLYAZIN, who turned 20 on August 3, can become the second youngest Gold medallist in this event and the youngest since Gervasio DEFERR (ESP) won in 2000 (at 19 years and 323 days).

YANG’s best chance to soar above ABLYAZIN in the final is likely to come when he performs ‘the Yang,’ a triple-twisting front somersault that he innovated. YANG qualified second to the final. In qualifications, YANG and two other gymnasts shared the second-highest two-vault difficulty score of the finalists, and he earned the second-highest two-vault execution score total. YANG can become the first Korean to win this event with Korea having taken the Silver medal once and the Bronze twice in the Men’s Vault at the Olympic Games. YANG can become the first Korean in 16 years to claim a medal in this event, since YEO Hong-Chul (KOR) won silver in 1996.

Enrique Tomas GONZALEZ SEPULVEDA (CHI), who qualified third to the final, will attempt to become Chile’s first Olympic Gymnastics medallist. Four of the finalists had higher two-vault Difficulty score totals, but GONZALEZ SEPULVEDA led qualifications in execution score.

Women’s Uneven Bars

TWEDDLE outscored defending champion HE Kexin (CHN) to lead qualifications, but the final promises to be a close contest among TWEDDLE, HE and Victoria KOMOVA (RUS).

In qualifications, TWEDDLE and HE performed two combinations consisting of two consecutive release elements, and HE earned the field’s top Difficulty score of 7.100 points. TWEDDLE scored 7.000 in difficulty but was the only gymnast to score above nine points in execution (9.133). TWEDDLE, who won the Gold in the Uneven Bars at the 2010 World Championships and at the 2010 and 2011 European Championships, can win the first individual medal in Women’s Artistic Gymnastic s for Great Britain at the Olympics.

London 2012 Individual All-around Silver medallist KOMOVA, the 2011 World Champion on Uneven Bars, has the potential to challenge TWEDDLE and HE for Gold if she slightly improves from her third-place routine in qualifications. She can lift a third Gold in the Women’s Uneven Bars for Russia, to equal China’s record for most Golds in this event. The last Russian to win Gold on this apparatus was Svetlana KHORKINA (RUS) who won Olympic titles in 1996 and 2000. —- FIG

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