Legacy Elements in Rhythmic Gymnastics (+poll)
This post is about elements in rhythmic gymnastics that have been officially recognised by FIG (the International Federation of Gymnastics) for their originality, novelty and creativity and subsequently named after the gymnast who invented them. To get this recognition, an element is submitted for consideration to the RG Technical Committee by the coaches of the gymnast. If it passes the assessment successfully, the gymnast not only gets the element named after her, but she also gets an ‘originality bonus’ of 0.3 points every time she performs it. Other gymnasts are also allowed to use it but will not receive the originality bonus.
Encouraging Innovation in RG
Having this mechanism is such a great way to encourage innovation in the sport in terms of what can be done with the body and the apparatus! We often hear about a ‘signature’ element of a gymnast, especially in the individual competition where a gymnast becomes famous for a particular body work or mastery. However, it is not always that such an element is novel or has been officially approved and documented by FIG.
What is a Legacy Element?
I think the terminology is lacking when it comes to elements in RG that have been named after their inventor. They are sometimes called ‘new’, sometimes ‘original’ , sometimes ‘new and original’. In any case, they are different from the colloquial ‘signature’ difficulties which may or may not be original. For lack of a better word to specifically distinguish this group of RG elements, I have chosen to name them ‘legacy elements’.
Legacy element – a body or apparatus difficulty that has been named after the gymnast who first thought of it/invented it.
I believe this term is appropriate as it implies that such an element is like a gymnast's legacy for the future generations. Another reason is that once a difficulty is submitted as ‘new’ and ‘original’, it is indeed that, but as decades pass, it is no longer 'new'. The word ‘legacy’ reflects that an element was once innovative, that someone thought of it first and has been credited for it.
A Note on Available Information
There is no exhaustive list of legacy elements in RG that is publicly available (at least to my knowledge). This is why I will only include ones featured in the most recent Code of Points (2022-2024).
Onto the fun part, I present you with some (but not all!) legacy elements, with a comment on what they are and how many difficulty points they can bring the gymnast who performs them. Let's begin with the oldest.
The oldest legacy element included in the Code is named after Anelia Ralenkova from Bulgaria. The ‘Ralenkova’ is a 360° turn on the back, worth 0.1 points. Each subsequent rotation is wort 0.1 points. You can watch Anelia Ralenkova herself perform her element at the European Championships in Vienna 1984 with the ball here. She is one of the ‘Golden Girls’ generation in Bulgaria from the 1980s.
This element is a 180° turn on the chest with legs in a 180° split without help (i.e. not holding the leg with hand). It was invented by Russian gymnast Evgenya Kanaeva and is worth 0.4 points in difficulty in the current Code. Evgenya Kaneva performs this turn beautifully in her ball routine at the London 2012 Olympic Games while the ball is situated on her back. Evgenya Kaneva is the only rhythmic gymnast to have won two Olympic gold medals.
This element named after Japanese gymnast Hayakawa Sakura is a panché turn on flat foot with ring. It is worth 0.5 points as base difficulty, and every subsequent 360° turn is worth 0.2 points. This element can be performed on its own, or in combination with a panché turn. Enjoy watching Hawakawa Sakura's hoop routine at the 2016 Espoo cup where she performs to the beautiful tune of ‘Love Story’!
Israeli gymnast Linoy Ashram is one example in which a gymnast’s 'signature' also becomes a legacy element. Her ‘rotation on stomach with legs in stag with help’ is awarded 0.3 points in difficulty for the base rotation of 180°, followed by 0.1 points for each additional rotation. I am always mesmerised to watch Linoy Ashram perform this turn while working with the ribbon simultaneously – the most difficult apparatus of them all! Linoy Ashram was the first Israeli gymnast to win a gold medal in rhythmic gymnastics at the Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2021, making history for her country.
This jump by Italian gymnast Alexandra Agiurgiuculese is a turning split leap with ring, in which the leg is the same for ‘take-off’ and ‘landing’ (I love the delightful use of aviation terminology!) This element is worth 0.6 points in difficulty. It is a blink-and-you-miss-it type of element but it certainly looks very athletic and strength-demanding. Alexandra Agiurgiuculese is a very expressive gymnast and I look forward to seeing her new program for 2023!
2022-2024 Cycle (Current)
This is a side split turn without help with the raised leg being bent at 30°. Sofia Raffaeli from Italy performs it in combination with a panché turn, as seen in the animation. The base for the 'Raffaeli' is a 180° turn worth 0.5 points in difficulty, with 0.2 points for each successful turn. Sofia Raffaeli is currently the reigning world champion in the all-around competition.
This turn invented by Russian gymnast Lala Kramarenko is a variation of the backscale pivot but the lifted leg is bent at 30°.The base for this element is 180° worth 0.5 points, and similar to the 'Raffaeli' – 0.2 points for each subsequent rotation.
This turn named after Russian gymnast Daria Trubnikova is a transition over 180° from a side split (without help) to a backscale pivot. It is worth 0.7 points in difficulty. In reality, I find the difference from a backscale pivot is very subtle. Daria Trubnikova has recently ended her competitive career.
Legacy elements can be body elements, but they can also be apparatus elements. You can find one of them in this performance of Spanish gymnast Almudena Cid Tostado. Can you recognise Almudena Cid’s legacy element at the finale of her ball routine?
Thank you so much for reading! I hope you have enjoyed this article and perhaps learnt something new. I am not an RG judge myself, so the interpretation of the difficulty scores is based on my reading of the current Code of Points. Also it is worth considering that each element will have a separate execution score depending on how well it was performed, and will also contribute to the artistic score (neither of which I have discussed). As mentioned earlier, this is not an exhaustive list of all legacy elements. If you would like to read a Part 2, please press the little heart icon at the end. Also feel free to share this article with other RG fans! Finally, follow me on Instagram to get updates for new material posted on this blog.
See you next time,
P.S. For a bit of fun, I have created a poll where you can vote for your favourite legacy elements. Please vote to find out the most popular ones among other fans! :)
Which do you think is the most beautiful legacy element featured in this article? (you can choose more than 1)
- The 'Ralenkova'
- The 'Kanaeva'
- The 'Sakura'
- The 'Ashram'
You can vote for more than one answer.
Anelia Ralenkova ECh Viena 1984-Ball AA
Evgeniya Kanaeva's mesmerizing Ball Routine at London 2012 | Music Monday
Hayakawa Sakura JPN Hoop - Rhythmic Gymnastics World Cup 2016 Espoo
ASHRAM Linoy (ISR) - 2018 Rhythmic Worlds, Sofia (BUL) - Qualifications Ribbon
Alexandra Agiurgiuculese Clubs Final World Cup Pesaro 2021
RAFFAELI Sofia (ITA) - 2022 Rhythmic Worlds, Sofia (BUL) - Qualifications Clubs
Daria Trubnikova – Ball (AA) – 2020 Miss Valentine Grand Prix (Stream Highlight)