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By Caroline.

Caroline who is a free-lance writer for the French Gymnastics Federation magazine is usually attending the Massilia Gym Cup. Here is the report of the 2002 competition.
(Special thanks to Melanie Green (U.k.) who did the translation).
Visit the official Massilia Gym Cup site.

The Massilia Gym Cup: The final meet in the lead-up to Worlds.
The world's finest gymnasts assembled once more at Marseille with the aim of challenging in a particularly high-quality competition. For some it was their last chance to fine-tune their skills before the apparatus World Championships. Although the French would not be sending any gymnasts to Hungary, the Massilia Gym Cup was nonetheless a major event for them, a review of their manpower.
The Team Competition and the Individual All-Around
The French team: Great days lie ahead.
In her capacity as host country, France provided three teams. Marseille was an important part of the programme planned by Yves Kieffer, the national coach, and the competition would serve as a life-size test for the reformating of the French team. All the girls judged capable of forming part of the French Olympic Team were put into the format of a large competition. All knew they were being watched and all responded brilliantly to the challenge.

Let's begin with Team 1, the juniors, made up of Emilie Le Pennec, Gaelle Richard, Marine Debauve and Magalie Carosso. Our juniors particularly shone on the balance beam, receiving both the highest and third best marks. Magali Carosso on floor and Gaelle Richard on bars earned scores which enabled them to vie with the finest gymnasts there. At the end of competition they finished second, behind the unreachable Romanians but ahead of the Dutch girls.

Team 2 consisted of the Marseille girls Betty Dupin, Melanie Nunnes and Caroline Ranc. This group finished in sixth position, thanks largely to the highly consistent Betty Dupin. After good routines on floor and vault (Yurchenko full twist on, piked somersault off) she amassed the best overall score for the French and secured the fifth place in the all-around.

Finally Team 3 (the eighth-best finishers) comprised Soraya Chaouch and two far more experienced gymnasts who signalled a great return to competition: Ludivine Furnon and Nelly Ramassamy. The latter two gymnasts, great favourites of the Marseille audiences, unleashed great dynamism with complete performances and a strong desire to win. If they manage to increase their start values they may comfortably claim a spot on the French team. Nelly worked well on floor and vault, and Ludivine, as is her wont, set the Palais des Sports alight with her new and especially well-performed choreography.
Romania ... and the rest.
The years continue to unfold in a similar vein for the Romanians, who once again asserted their authority with more than a two point lead. One can only admire the work of the Romanian school and their head coach, Octavian Belu, constantly producing new gymnasts who are always well-prepared. The two recent recruits, Oana Ban et Petrovski, fulfilled their role perfectly. Even better, Oana Ban - a bundle of muscle in a body only 1 metre 38 cm tall - followed in the footsteps of her glorious successors by winning the 14th edition of the Massilia Trophy. This little girl, less than 16 years old, enchanted the Marseille public with her dynamism and the extraordinary speed with which she executed her routines.
2002 Gym Stars in Marseille.

The results of the team placing reflected the strategy followed by each team. On the one hand, teams such as Holland, Ukraine and Bulgaria had made the Massilia part of their preparation for the forthcoming Worlds in Hungary. On the other hand, countries such as Russia, China or even Argentina hadn't sent their World team gymnasts to Marseilles.
It was against this background that the Dutch girls had both highs and lows. Sometimes it seemed that these gymnasts were a little worn-out by a diary loaded with competitions. However the quality of their gymnasts and the format of the competition - each team's two best specialists performed on each apparatus - enabled this country to gain third place.
The Ukrainians must have harboured some regrets! Ahead at the halfway point, notably with the best total on bars in comparison to the teams on the other apparatus, the Ukrainians fell apart on beam and finished in fourth position. However their gymnastics was really beautiful and they will be the ones to watch at the next Worlds.
The Russians, headed by the junior European champion Anna Pavlova, weren't able to vie for the top spots. They had to count several falls during programmes that were ambitious but poorly mastered.
The Bulgarians, strengthened by the presence of the former Russian Kuznetsova, took seventh place in the team competition.
The Swiss girls had a good competition, finishing in an honourable tenth place.
The Germans finished ninth, Argentina eleventh and China twelveth, but once again the gymnasts competing would not be those at the World Championships.

Page (c) Caroline and Bernard for   Kostiskal
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