It’s a sweltering August night in Brazil. The music is building, the floor is clear, we’re about to witness some moves. Proper moves. Not just a sultry samba or a slick salsa. Watch out for a dynamic Dragulescu or a super-fast Ferrari.
It’s a Magyarwalk not a Moonwalk that we’re interested in.
Rio Olympics gymnastics will undoubtedly witness moves of the highest quality and prompt new entries in the sport’s pantheon, the FIG’s code of points skills list. For those of us of a certain age, the names Tsukahara, Gienger and Yurchenko live on in the memory.
But as any gymnastics club coach will know, come the end of the Games your members will be clamouring to learn a skill they have just seen Ellie Downie or Kohei Uchimura perform.
Who HAS got all the moves?
And would you rather have all the moves or all the medals?
Naming moves is not just about ego. It helps to encourage innovation and establish a shorthand for judges, officials and spectators alike.
Did you see that handspring double front somersault with half turn? No, I missed it while I was watching him do his Dragulescu!
So it’s not just about bigging up the originator – it saves time doesn’t it?
Many moves honour the greats, for instance Korbut, Comaneci and Kim, plus recognising the high bar exploits of Tkachev and Zonderland. Unusually you can also do distinct male and a female Liukin-related move. Valeri and Nastia Liukin taking the prize for their father-daughter name checks.
But interestingly it’s often not the gymnasts who have garnered the most medals who have the most moves.
And the original skills honours go to…
Take for instance King Kohei. At present the multiple medal winner and world all-around champion does not possess a single code skill to his name. Not one. But that doesn’t matter. He just happens to perform other people’s original skills with an often unchallenged precision and consistency.
And of course the naming process does throw up some newsworthy results.
Step up, or rather jump up, Marisa Dick. Her phenomenal split jump beam mount deserves praise and awe in equal measure. Watch her practising it in training is positively eye-watering. But of course there is now a gymnastic move called The Dick and that has gained attention worldwide for all the reasons you’d expect.
Another beam mount honours Courtney McCool. To perform a McCool you complete an arrow straight flyspring forward on to your hands then flip forward on to both feet. It’s a superb move … but does conjure up images of fast food burgers and fries.
So who tops the list for the most gymnastic skills moves?
Aliya Mustafina gets special mention for three skills on uneven bars, vault and floor. But the undisputed queen of gymnastics moves is … Sveltana Khorkina. With a magnificent seven spread across all four of the women’s apparatus. Recognised as one of the most elegant gymnasts in history she is also the most prolific.
Do you have a favourite gymnastics move? Share your top skills moments in the comments below.
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