The Week: 18th – 24th June

Winter Sunshine Blue Sky Sonya Heaney 19th June 2018 Eucalyptus Tree Gum Tree Canberra Australia Australian Capital Territory Nature

Winter sunshine in Canberra.

And at the cemetery near the New South Wales/Australian Capital Territory state border on Friday afternoon.

And Lake Burley Griffin on Saturday afternoon.

R.I.P. Errol Pickford

Errol Pickford as Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet © Leslie Spatt Royal Ballet Royal Opera House

Happy Birthday to an Icon

Oksana_Chusovitina_(vault)_04-2011

My review of Heartbeat by Elizabeth Scott

My review of The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

Beyond my limit!

How much more ridiculous can it get?

Cockygate apllication to trademark the word BIG cockybot

Happy Birthday to an Icon

Today is Oksana Chusovitina’s birthday. She is now forty-three.

In a world where female athletes rarely get the attention they deserve, I want to mention this seven-time Olympic gymnastics star who also happens to be the mother of an adult son.

Chusovitina was:

* Born in the Soviet Union (Uzbekistan), and is quite possibly the last active Soviet-trained athlete in the world.

* She won her first World Championship titles for the USSR in *1991*, and Olympic gold the next year competing for the CIS.

* Surviving the breakup of the Soviet Union with her career intact (when many others lost funding and coaches), she competed for Uzbekistan at the 1996 Olympics, got married in 1997, and had a son in 1999.

* Immediately after having her child, she competed at the 2000 Olympics. And we’re talking gymnastics here: the hardest sport in the world.

* She won World silver in 2001, and then became World Champion again in 2003 – twelve years after her first win.

* Chusovitina’s son had major medical issues, and the family moved to Germany to access treatment.

* While competing for Germany, Chusovitina won Olympic silver in 2008 – sixteen years after winning her first Olympic medal.

* Since then, she has continued to compete, and compete, even though she is now forty-three and in such a physically demanding sport. She has also worked as a coach.

* She was supposed to retire after the 2012 Olympic vault final (where only the top eight gymnasts qualify – and she made it), but she turned up again at the 2016 Games.

Every gymnnastics generation has their “It Girl” the media goes crazy about when the Olympics come around, but if we’re talking about the greatest ever, my vote goes to Oksana.

The Week: 8th – 14th August

Monday Winter Sunset Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney 8th August 2016 Sky Garden Clouds Nature

Winter Sunset

And another one:

Winter Sunset Canberra Australia. 12th August 2016. Sonya Heaney. Sky Clouds Nature.

King Parrot Canberra Australia Sonya Oksana Heaney 9th August 2016 Winter Flowers Garden Nature 2

King Parrot Canberra Australia Sonya Oksana Heaney 9th August 2016 Winter Flowers Garden Nature 3

This week we discovered why all of the flowers out the back keep getting demolished! We’ve had petals everywhere for a few weeks!

And all our other birds have started turning up – it’s nearly spring, and they come to the door for snacks. On Wednesday we had magpie visitors for the first time this season.

It is very sunny here every day, and I’m starting to feel the allergies coming, but I can’t wait! 🙂

Because I’m often up really late at night, and because we are nearly a full day ahead of the Americas, I have been watching some of the Olympics live in the middle of the night. I can’t believe how many drug cheats there still are. While the US is at (verbal) war with Russia in the pool, we are being attacked by China (and hacked, and abused in their media) because one of our swimmers called a drug cheat… a drug cheat. Who says sport isn’t political!

“Medals over Morals” was what an official said about the Russian doping program. I like it. 🙂

Russian military convoy in Kerch yesterday evening http-liveuamap.com-en-2016-7-august-russian-military-convoy-in-kerch-yesterday-evening … via @HromadskeRadio

What has been happening while the world has been watching Rio. X

While everyone is watching the sport, and obsessing over Trump (WHAT a guy), Putin has been moving MASSIVE conveys of tanks and missiles to the Ukrainian border. He invaded Georgia after the Beijing Olympics. He first invaded Ukraine immediately after the Sochi Olympics. And he is about to invade other parts of Ukraine as soon as the Rio Olympics finish.

But – hey – sport!

World Cat Day

Jemima Cat

Rio’s most amazing athlete.

Oksana_Chusovitina_(vault)_04-2011

Unleashing Mr Darcy

Unleashing Mr Darcy by Teri Wilson

My review of Wolf Creek Wife (Wolf Creek #5) by Penny Richards

Wolf Creek Wife (Wolf Creek #5) by Penny Richards

My review of Marriage Made in Hope (The Penniless Lords #4) by Sophia James

Marriage Made in Hope (The Penniless Lords #4) by Sophia James

 My review of The Inscription (The MacAlpins #1) by Pam Binder

The Inscription (The MacAlpins #1) by Pam Binder

Rio’s most amazing athlete.

Oksana_Chusovitina_(vault)_04-2011

This is not related to books! However, at the Olympics the women’s vault final in the gymnastics competition is on very soon, and I wanted to mention one of the competitors.

Uzbekistan’s Oksana Chusovitina is the last Soviet gymnast, and now – twenty-five years after the collapse of the USSR – she is still going strong.

World Champion for the Soviet Union in 1991, Olympic Champion for the Unified Team in 1992, World Champion for Uzbekistan in 2003, Olympic silver medallist for Germany in 2008.

Oksana is a mother of a grown son (who was terminally ill as a child) who is older than many of the gymnasts she is competing against, a coach, and now at forty-one – in the hardest sport there is – is in another Olympic final.

Rozalia Galiyeva (Uzbekistan), Tatiana Gutsu (Ukraine), Tatiana Lysenko (Ukraine), Oksana Chusovitina (Uzbekistan), Elena Grudneva (Russia), and Svetlana Boginskaya (Belarus).

Chusovitina (4th from left). 1992 Olympic Champion.

Read this.

She has survived the collapse of her training system. Her best event – vault – is now performed on a totally different apparatus, and she learnt how to do that, and still win World and Olympic medals on it. She has learnt entirely different skills from those she was taught in the 1980s.

She trains herself most of the time – unlike gymnasts from other countries who have gazillions poured into their gymnastics programs.

For me, this is the most amazing story of the Olympic Games, and if you’re talking about “greatest” in relation to gymnastics, she has to be one of the closest to it. Every Olympics has a teenage It Girl, but there’s only one Chusovitina.

The Week: 30th September – 6th October

Strange week. Public holidays everywhere, warm weather, wind, the start of daylight saving (and this one is never fun because you lose an hour!). I’ve been following the Australian Irish Dance Championships (which these days is so spray-tanned and covered in sparkles it might as well be a beauty pageant!) as well as the World Gymnastics Championships online.

Oksana_Chusovitina_(vault)_04-2011

Oksana Chusovitina, who was a World Champion for the USSR, an Olympic Champion for the CIS, a World Champion for Uzbekistan and an Olympic silver medallist for Germany competed in the vault final last night, coming fifth. It is an amazing achievement for a woman who is nearly forty and was competing many years before the other gymnasts were even born!

She has to be about the best athlete ever.

So, anyway…

Deadly Descent by Kaylea Cross is still only 99 cents

 Deadly Descent by Kaylea Cross

My review of Lethal Pursuit by Kaylea Cross

 Lethal Pursuit by Kaylea Cross

My review of Season for Scandal by Theresa Romain

 Season for Scandal by Theresa Romain

My review of Bride Gone Bad by Sabine Starr

 Bride Gone Bad by Sabine Starr

My review of Winters Heat by Cristin Harber

 Winters Heat by Cristin Harber

Farewell to Oksana Chusovitina

Medallists McKayla Maroney, Sandra Izbaşa and Maria Paseka

The gymnastics last night was heartbreaking. Seeing McKayla Maroney – far and away the best vaulter in the history of women’s gymnastics – fall for only the second time in her entire career, is the worst thing I’ve ever seen in Olympic gymnastics. What a time she picked to screw up and go home with silver!

Seeing Sandra Izbașa take the gold was great though.

But then we had Germany’s Janine Berger – who spent so much time sobbing about not getting a medal on vault that she stole all the camera time from her incredible teammate Oksana Chusovitina: the woman everyone should have been talking about.

Oksana Chusovitina

In what was her last competiton ever, the former Soviet star of gymnastics didn’t quite manage to make the podium last night.

Chusovitina is a six-time Olympian, has been a World Champion for the USSR, an Olympic Champion for the Unified Team, a World silver medallist for Uzbekistan, an Olympic silver medallist for Germany. She’s the mother of a twelve-year-old son who has overcome leukaemia. She’s a wife. A coach of other Olympic gymnasts. She’s thirty-seven years old, has survived the collapse of the communist training system, and her body has somehow survived decades in the world’s most difficult sport.

Chusovitina in the past

After her second vault last night she waved to the crowd in a farewell to the greatest gymnastics career there has ever been.

So congratulations to all the medallists last night, even if nobody went home with the colour they were expecting.

To McKayla Maroney: please stick around until 2016 and win the gold medal you should have won last night.

To Oksana Chusovitina: thank you for the most incredible career in the most incredible sport.

Waving goodbye

Jordyn Wieber out of the All Around

No matter which gymnast you wanted to win the All Around, everyone has to feel awful for Jordyn Wieber at the moment. The reigning World and US Champion had a good performance in qualifying – and still missed out on qualifying for the final. Only two gymnasts per country can go through, and Alexandra Raisman and Gabrielle Douglas outscored her.

Jordyn reacts to missing qualification

Aly and Gabby got through

And, America? Those aren’t the greatest leotards ever, but they’re a massive improvement on that lolly pink thing you keep dressing those girls in. Nastia Liukin might have been able to pull it off, but it’s not a colour for normal people!

On the other hand, with one qualifying subdivision to go, it looks certain two of my wishes came true:

  • Australia’s Lauren Mitchell looks certain to be in the floor final (but on a side note, what’s with all the hatred American gymnastics fans throw poor Lauren’s way? It seems weird!).
  • Oksana Chusovitina seems certain to be in the final for Vault.

Now that it’s going onto dawn here in Australia, and I need to sleep, I’m going to bed and hoping for a strong showing from Romania to complete the qualification round.

Olympic gymnastics so far

Phew, what craziness the Men’s Gymnastics was. Japan’s Kōhei Uchimura – considered to be the greatest gymnast in history – fell, hopped and made uncharacteristic mistake after uncharacteristic mistake. The entire Chinese team – performing in the qualifying session before Japan – counted mistake after mistake.

The British men were so amazingly excellent nobody knew what to say! The US men came out in the lead, both as a team, and with the top and fourth-ranked All Around gymnasts.

And – yay! – Australia’s Joshua Jefferis is through to the All Around final. I’m so happy for him!

Joshua Jefferis

Now for the women…

Turns out World Champion McKayla Maroney of the USA has a broken toe, which would be why she skipped two training sessions over the last few days! She’ll only do Vault tonight.

McKayla Maroney

It now appears that injured Women’s All Around favourite Larisa Iordache of Romania will be competing tonight. Phew!

I have two things I desperately want from the women tonight, but I bet I jinx them.

Firstly, I want Lauren Mitchell to qualify for at least on apparatus final. She has one gold and two silver World Championship medals, and is Australia’s first real Olympic medal possibility. But she is nursing some injuries too.

Oksana Chusovitina

Secondly, I want Oksana Chusovitina to qualify for the Vault final. Chusovitina now competes for Germany, but she won her first World title for the Soviet Union, and her first Olympic title for the CIS. That she is still competing decades later – in a sport that’s traditionally for little girls – is truly incredible. But Vault is an unforgiving event.