Rhythmic Gymnastics legend Kanaeva moves on

LAUSANNE (SUI), Jan 8, 2013: The most decorated Rhythmic gymnast in the history of the discipline, Evgeniya Kanaeva (RUS), twenty-two, announced her retirement from competitive sport following her election as Vice-President of the Russian Rhythmic Gymnastics Federation at the organisation’s conference in Novogorsk (RUS) on December 4, 2012. The news has been officially confirmed by the Russian Gymnastics Federation.

Kanaeva is the only Rhythmic gymnast to win two individual Olympic All-around titles, Beijing 2008 and London 2012. Over the course of her active career, she won a total of seventeen World titles, including the prestigious All-around Gold medals three times consecutively between 2009 and 2011, and earned thirteen Gold medals at European Championships.

In 2009, Kanaeva set a record in Mie (JPN) when she took all six titles, the highest number of Gold medals ever won in a single Rhythmic Gymnastics World Championships. She repeated this success two years later at the 31st World Championships in Montpellier (FRA).

A promising athlete, Evgeniya began her Rhythmic Gymnastics career when she was but 6 years old. Her first coach, Ms Elena Arais (daughter of Vera Shtelbaums, who later became Evgeniya’s personal coach) took pride in Evgeniya’s quest for perfection, and her kindness.

Evgeniya moved to Moscow when she was 12. As a gifted junior gymnast, she was included in the Youth Olympic Reserve Sport School, which gave her an opportunity to improve her skills.

In 2003 and having become something of a junior star, Evgeniya competed in Japan’s AEON CUP alongside the famous Russian gymnasts Alina Kabaeva and Irina Tchaschina.

It was about that time that Ms Irina Viner, Head Coach of the Russian National Rhythmic Gymnastics Team, invited Evgeniya to train with the National Team gymnasts, an event that marked a crucial point in Evgeniya’s career. Kanaeva worked hard, but with so many talented gymnasts in Russia it wasn’t always easy.

Taking the 2007 European Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships in Baku was a milestone for Evgeniya; she became the European Champion in Ribbon and, mere months later, World Team Champion in Patras.

The 2008 Olympic Games looked promising for Evgeniya, and the complex, tailored to fit programme she performed in Hoop, Clubs, Rope and Ribbon brilliantly expressed her individuality. Starting in early 2008, it was not easy to compete against Vera Sesina, Olga Kapranova and World Champion Anna Bessonova. Nevertheless, by mid-year Evgeniya had overcome every obstacle, and won all Grand Prix and World Cup Events, as well as the Russian National Championships. Gold at the European Championships in Torino made her one of the best Russian gymnasts of that time, and Irina Viner nominated Evgeniya Kanaeva and Olga Kapranova for the Olympic Games in Beijing.

Evgeniya was the youngest finalist at the Olympics, but with rock-solid concentration she performed with self-confidence and poise. A 75.5 score proved her excellence! Evgeniya Kanaeva was crowned Olympic Champion by a 3.5 margin, a score that will not easily be surpassed.

She continued to win most of the competitions she took part in: 4 Gold medals in Baku in May, and a total of 9 Gold medals at the Universiades in Belgrade and the World Games in Chinese Taipei.

In September 2009, at the World Championships in Mie, Japan, Kanaeva won 6 Gold medals, breaking the record set by Oxana Kostina in 1992 of 5 Gold medals at a single World Championship. Following this victory, Swiss watchmaker and long-time FIG partner Longines named Kanaeva an Ambassador of Elegance.

Through her victory, Evgeniya gained worldwide popularity and the admiration of thousands. She was a very motivated gymnast, and continued to uphold her personal battle cry ‘to do or die’.

Losses are no less important than wins, she says, as they are good lessons meant to push you forward.

The years 2010 to 2012 continued to be exceptionally successful for Kanaeva, who won four Gold and one Silver medals at the 30th anniversary edition of the World Championships before her home crowd in Moscow (RUS), and repeated her own record of winning all six World titles in 2011 in Montpellier.

She also took both European All-around titles in 2010 and 2012 and added three Gold and one Silver to her record at the 27th European Championships in 2011.

Kanaeva’s unparalleled career culminated in her second Olympic All-around title at the 2012 London Olympic Games. At the age of twenty-two, she then became the oldest Rhythmic gymnast to win Olympic Gold.

Her statement

The name Evgeniya Kanaeva has made a lasting mark on so many areas of the International Gymnastics Federation; her name will go down in history, and her legacy will not soon be forgotten.

Kanaeva’s natural talent and grace have permeated this institution: technical performance, artistic expression, choreography. She incarnates single-handedly every virtue this sport has to offer. Evgeniya is intelligent, imaginative and sensitive; qualities that have equipped her to communicate with her choreographer and create something truly beautiful.

To this she adds extraordinary strength, for Evgeniya knows that talent alone, as engaging as it may be, is but the mere tip of a great iceberg. Her success is just reward for a long-term investment of technical preparation and physical training.Long before tears of joy were shed, there were beads of sweat on the glowing face of Evgeniya Kavaeva. —- FIG

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