Updated: Jul 14, 2021
What a weekend it has been at the European Championships in Varna, Bulgaria! The individual all-around final event on Saturday was particularly emotional for us, the audience, as it became apparent that there is enormous competition for the medals and for the one quota for the Olympic Games in Tokyo. It was a real treat to watch all of Europe’s most exceptional individual gymnasts performing at their absolute best and in direct competition. You can see the summary of their results below. I felt compelled to give them an applause after the very last performance, even though I was watching on my computer screen. It was such a great all-around final to watch! There was an excellent live stream provided by European Gymnastics on EurovisionTV, and the scores were reported in real time by SmartScoring and very well organized on the GymTV website.
Among all the most distinguished gymnasts we saw yesterday at the individual all-around final, I have decided to feature in this post a summary of the routines of Eleni Kelaiditi from Greece. Eleni performed in Group B, alongside many of the best rhythmic gymnasts in Europe and the world, including the Averina twins, Alina Harnasko, Boryana Kaleyn, Katrin Taseva and Sofia Raffaeli. Eleni was among the gymnasts who was fighting to win a quota for the Olympic Games in Tokyo this summer and while she did not succeed in this particular endeavour, I would still like to write about her routines because I found them truly moving and of high artistic value. In fact, I would go as far as say that watching Eleni’s routines was like a breath of fresh air in the middle of the fierce competition. I was impressed with her musical choices, the choreography of her routines, overall flow and the grace of her body movements - evident of the influence of excellent ballet training. If you love rhythmic gymnastics as a sport because of its artistic side, and if you enjoy watching routines with character and storytelling, keep on reading!
Eleni’s hoop routine is a stunning display of lyricism and grace set to the famous musical number ‘Think of Me’ from Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical ‘The Phantom of the Opera’. It is a gorgeous routine complemented by a beautiful white-and-gold leotard with puffed cap sleeves and transparent embellished skirt which give it an airy look and make Eleni’s jumps look like flying! While she made mistakes with the hoop both in qualification and in the all-around final, Eleni managed to deliver with high class, emanating elegance and beauty which are the very qualities that so often make spectators fall in love with the sport. This hoop routine is a gem that we can watch again and again, because of the joy it brings!
This ball routine is set to classical music composed by Austrian composer Franz Schubert. The piece is commonly known as Schubert’s Serenade (Ständchen, D 889). Eleni's ball routine is another very poetic piece of art, this time with a feeling of nostalgia seeping through the wonderful choreography. Eleni demonstrates musicality, and emulates the meaning of ‘rhythmic’ in rhythmic gymnastics, with body elements flowing beautifully from one musical note to the next. Eleni's ball routine is subtle and peaceful, thus reminding me of a Monet painting - perhaps 'Water Lilies Nympheas' (link to image of the painting).
In her clubs routine, Eleni Kelaiditi dazzles in a stunning gold leotard while performing to music created by Greek composer Stamatis Spanoudakis called ‘The Lonely King’. It is an atmospheric piece in which the guitar solo gives it a flavour of a power ballad. Eleni demonstrated skill with the handling of the clubs but she lost her focus at the very end of the routine resulting in an unfortunate drop of the apparatus. Nevertheless, I enjoyed watching this lovely and very well-structured routine.
Finally, the ribbon routine is a real treat to the senses. At the all-around final yesterday, Eleni performed with emotion and elegance to complement the stunning operatic voice of Sarah Brightman and her single ‘Anytime, Anywhere’. As with the rest of Eleni’s routines, this one is also a symbiosis between music and body movement – something which is at the core of rhythmic gymnastics as a sport, and which I think elevates any RG routine and makes it very memorable.
I thoroughly enjoyed watching Eleni Kelaiditi deliver these exquisite four routines at the European Championships in the all-around final. The current code of points in rhythmic gymnastics does not reward artistry and choreography, while the emphasis is on difficulty instead. In this climate, it is refreshing to watch gymnastics which is still true to the origins of the sport, i.e. expression of music through body movement. Eleni's routines belong to that category. I hope you have enjoyed reading this article, and if you have - don’t forget to press the little heart icon at the end so I know what content you like the most. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram, so you are the first to know when I post new content. Have a lovely rest of your weekend!
See you next time,