Thursday, 31 March 2011


My obit of Nikolai Andrianov, the great Soviet gymnast, will be in Friday's Guardian, but it's online now and you can link to it here. I thought it was a terrible irony that the man who was arguably the world's greatest gymnast should die of multiple system atrophy, unable to move his arms or legs, but the published piece plays down that awful coincidence.

Oddly, although I accept Andrianov's place as a great, I watched every moment of all the Olympic gymnastics competitions at the Montreal Forum in 1976, where I was working as a press liason, and I remembered vividly Andrianov's stumble at the end of his floor exercise, and thinking then that the judges treated him quite kindly; it was part of the reason I developed an antipathy for most judged sports, the effect of reputation and expectation (not to mention chauvinism and politics), but I went back and watched the routine on you tube again, and it is absolutely remarkable, as is his performance on the rings. Thrilling, and it's nice to be able to call the pictures up to enhance my memories...

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