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Ekaterina Kramarenko….an underrated gymnast!

Kramarenko has been one of my favorite gymnasts to watch over the last couple of years. Of course I’ve always felt bad for her since her terrible vaulting debacle in the 2007 world team finals…just as Russia was about to wrap up the bronze medal on their final event, Kramarenko baulked on her run – but touched the springboard – and was awarded a heart-breaking ZERO that dropped her Russian team to last place. In the end, she would have needed only more than a 13.575 to have given Russia the bronze.

But I also like Kramarenko for other reasons. One is that she is an awesome all-around gymnast. Because she’s often been in the shadows of some of the flashier Russian gymnasts, I think her all-around potential has always been overlooked. Did you know that Kramarenko had one fall off beam in the prelims in Beijing, and still was 10th in the all-around (couldn’t advance of course)? Had she not fallen, she actually would have been 5th overall – ahead of Pavlova! This has always given her a bit of an “underdog” quality that always draws me to gymnasts. Finally, Kramarenko’s pleasant demeanor is a real treat to watch, and is evident by the fact that she is often seen smiling in the most intense and pressure-filled situations an athlete can be in.

I was so happy to see her still placed on the Russian Olympic team last year despite the concentration lapse she suffered in Stuttgart. Not only did she make the team, but she was a surprise qualifier to the floor final, where she finished an impressive 5th place despite a stumble on her last pass. Beyond that, though, she contributed outstanding routines on floor and bars in the team final. And many of you probably never saw how well she nailed her vault in the prelims in Beijing:

Ekaterina Kramarenko Vault 2008 Olympics Qualifications

WOW! Quite a redemption from 2007! I guess they didn’t feel comfortable putting her in that same position in the team final on vault, given what happened the year before…and I guess I don’t blame them for that.

Ekaterina Kramarenko Bars 2008 Olympics Team Finals

Ekaterina Kramarenko Floor 2008 Olympics Team Finals

Ekaterina Kramarenko Beam 2008 Olympics Qualifications

There’s that one mistake on beam that I’m sure she would have loved to have back, as she may have been able to advance to the all-around finals (although they still may have put in Pavlova anyway). It was a pleasant surprise to see that Kramarenko recently competed in the Pas-de-Calais competition in France, albeit with low scores (highest was a 13.3 on beam). I had figured she had retired after Beijing because I hadn’t heard anything, but I guess not! Let’s hope she continues on and that we may see her out there for Russia again!