(It’s just a surprised!!! I saw myself hugging and kissing Zhenya at the end of this video!!! outside Wembley Arena-12th-Aug-2012, 0:34-0:42 can see me and Svetlana and in the end XD. Big Thanks the recorder!!! Now with this video, this trip is even more perfect for me!!! 😀 )
written by Zoe Wan based on my Chinese version:
There is no better one-Zoe @London 2012
sorry for my poor English.
Since the great experience in WCH Montpellier last year (impression please check here: Not Perfect but Happy Ending (the magic week in Montpellier )-English Version) I had been thinking to watch Olympics London. I really hope that I can witness Zhenya to make history, becoming the first gymnast to win two Olympic gold medals in individual all around in RG. And RG fans all know she has great chance to achieve it. Moreover, I have been thinking if I don’t go this time, then it’s difficult for me to see her performing live in the future. Because I can’t make decision, I missed the chance to buy OG tickets by legal way. The on-line ticket system is only for the residents of UK and some designated European countries. People who live in other places have to buy ticket from official agents. In Taiwan, I only can buy tickets in Winner express co., when I called them to ask for tickets, the tickets had sold out. But I didn’t give up, I tried to find tickets on eBay, and finally I got one AA final ticket. I want to see qualification too, but not many time left for me, I thought I can buy the qualification tickets when I am in London. Although there were no tickets left in normal ways, I believed I can get the tickets definitely!
After 15 hours flying, finally I arrived at Heathrow airport. Then I took express train to Paddington station. My hotel is near Paddington station, but I am very bad in direction, so I asked a volunteer for help, that young man is very nice, he saw me seems didn’t understand his words well, so he leaded me to find the hotel and drag my baggage for me. All the OG volunteers are very nice, but this young man impressed me the most haha. I found my hotel; its position is very good, very convenient. The room is very small, anyway, I didn’t care. At least it is a room with bathroom and including breakfast. Breakfast is OK, just only two types for you to choose, English and Continental breakfast. Everyday the menu is the same. I need to pay for wifi, a bit inconvenient, but not expensive.
On the next morning, 8th Aug, I woke up early; I thought to go to Wembley arena to see if it’s possible to buy tickets there. To get there, I need to take tube (underground) -Bakerloo line. There is a tube station near my hotel and there is Bakerloo line. I got off on Wembley central station; it needs to take around 20 mins from the tube station to Wembley arena by walk. (since this day, I walked 20 mins, round trip, for 5 days, and I was very tired after all these walking…) When I went to the arena, I thought I was wrong, because no competition in that day, also it was still very early, only few people were there. How could it possible there were people to sell tickets. Then I met a young man, he said he is Indian and lives in UK, he came here just for two days, and he wanted to feel the OG atmosphere. He also wanted to look if there were some people to sell tickets, any competition is OK. We chatted a while, then he had been inviting me to go to Olympic park with him. But I didn’t have ticket, and didn’t want to go with him, so I refused him. Then I took a look around the Wembley arena for a while, nothing else to do, so I went to the Olympic park later orz…It is in eastern London-Stratford, very far away from Wembley arena. It took a long time by taking overground to get there. When I got off, wow!!! So many people there, very crowded. And I just realized inside Olympic park, many competitions venues were there…Olympic stadium, basketball arena etc. But no ticket, I couldn’t go anywhere, I felt disappointed. I saw there is a shopping mall; I took escalator to 2nd floor. Then I saw Bosco Sport in front of me, wow I was sooo surprised and very happy. I like Bosco Sport’s design very much; they design RUS national team uniforms for many years. I don’t like this year’s design, my friend said the red drawing looked like steak, so we joked the uniform is “steak suit” XD. I much prefer the 2004 and 2008 design. Even I dislike the drawing of the uniform (it’s really too much > <) but since it’s the newest, still I want to buy one. I want to buy a coat with the “steak drawing”, but the sales girl told me, they don’t sell that kind coat solely; it is sold only for a set, coat with white pants. But I didn’t want white pants. Those coats that are sold solely are not with the “steak drawing”, so I didn’t want it either. If I want to buy Russian uniform, definitely must be the “steak suit” hahaha. As a result, I bought one polo shirt, with the “steak drawing” of course XD.
After finishing the shopping at Bosco Sport, I went outside and saw some people raised notes writing “I need tickets”. But I didn’t see anyone selling tickets. I even saw a Japanese wearing like a samurai and he also wanted to buy tickets. I stayed for a while and thought there is no hope to get tickets here; then I left. The only one thing that made me happy in Olympic park was I found “Bosco Sport” store and bought the RUS uniform…In case I could not get qualification day one ticket, I went to Hyde Park; there was a big screen broadcasting OG competitions. Hyde Park also is near my hotel, but again around 20 mins by walk orz…When I saw the investigation on the entrance of the location of the big screen just liked the one in the customs. I just lost interest and left. Then I went to “Tower Bridge”, I even bought the ticket to see exhibition room of the bridge. I was lucky; I saw the bridge opened when I went out. On the way to the “Tower Bridge” along the river Thames, I bought a roast lamb for dinner. The taste is OK. This was my 2nd time traveling in London; I already had the experience of UK food…same impression with most of people, not good. After viewing and walking on the Tower Bridge I went back to my hotel, this day I walked a lot. When I returned to hotel, I wondered what to do? I still didn’t have next day’s ticket. Then I started to search on-line, google is sooo good! I just used two key words ”London 2012 ticket+rhythmic” and then search by “within 24 hours” results. Finally I found some people were selling OG tickets on craigslist, including RG tickets. I sent e-mail to the seller right away. I didn’t receive respond after waiting for a while then I went to sleep.
RG day one
Next morning I woke up very early to check my e-mail, I got a respond from a seller. I was so happy and excited, I immediately to contact with him, finally I got my ticket. :DDD The price is very expensive, 7.5 times with the face value (face value is 20 pounds). But I didn’t have much time to hesitate. Then I went to Paddington underground station to take tube to Wembley arena. When I just walked into the platform of Bakerloo line, I saw Russians cheering group, many young RG gymnasts were there, coaches, and the famous photographer-Oleg Naumov. OMG!!! I was surprised they took tube!!! (why not by shuttle bus I was wondering…) What a coincidence!!! Then I searched Svetlana eagerly! (Zhenya’s mom). Besides Zhenya, Svetlana is another person who I wanted to meet again most! We have been keeping in touch; and I knew she will be in London to support Zhenya. I searched but didn’t see her; I only could get on the train. When I got inside, I said hi and asked to take photos with those gymnasts, coach, and photographer-Oleg. There were Merkulova, Mamum, Trubnikova, etc..and juniors Yana Kudryavtseva, Daria Soldatova etc. Soldatova’s coach (also Kondakova’s ) Anna Shumilova. Not took photos with everyone, some I just took photos of them. I asked Oleg, where is Zhenya’s mom. He said: he doesn’t know, maybe in another underground train. Merkulova is very nice, and her English is good enough, but Anna Trubnikova seems almost doesn’t understand English at all.
Finally we arrived at Wembley arena, I went to wait for security checking (X ray checking). This time I took again that beautiful big Mosaic poster that I did last year. I passed the investigation, went inside the arena and found my seat, very BAD position, on the high and side corner, very far away from kiss and cry area. Suddenly, I saw Anna Bessonova appearing in front of me, with a member of UKR national RG team. They were standing on the stairs of entrance. Because I am not a fan of her, I didn’t feel very excited, still sat in my seat calmly. But later I took a photo of her from a distance. Not a clear photo. After the competition starting, I saw some empty seats in a bit front row, so I moved there 🙂 When Zhenya was ready to get on the carpet, I raised the Mosaic poster, shouted as loud as I could. Maybe she was a bit nervous in her first routine, she made mistakes..twice, first she didn’t catch the hoop with her foot accurately, second she dropped hoop. When I saw her dropped, I felt my heart may stop for few seconds. Then I thought this is just qualification, four years ago, in Beijing Olympics, she made mistake too at her first routine. I told to myself Zhenya will be fine. Then I saw photographer Tom Theobald sitting far far away from me. I am acquanted with him. Last year in Montpellier, I met and talked with him. He is very nice; I often bought Zhenya’s photos with him. It was a pity; I didn’t meet him in person this time. And it’s Zhenya’s 2nd routine , her ball executed so well, smoothly and almost perfect! The last trademark pivot was sooo beautiful, she turned almost quadruple. Got the highest score of the first day-29.525 (actually also the highest score of individual competitions). I jumped from my seat with extremely happy!!! Shouted and raised my poster crazily, I jumped sooo high, the spectators around me all looked at me with smile haha. Then those people saw my Mosaic poster, they all loved it and said many praised words, one lady even asked to take photo of my poster :). Due to Zhenya’s mistakes on hoop, she ranked 2nd in first day with a little margin. Dmitrieva was the first, but I had confident with Zhenya, if she performs her routines steadily tomorrow, she will qualify to AA final with 1st place.
Day one individual qualification finished, next was group AA, so there was a break before group competition starting. I went out to the lobby to take a rest, then I saw Zhenya’s choreographer Irina Zenovka was there buying something. We know each other too, I met her also in Montpellier, and I sat with her / with Zhenya’s mom to cheer for Zhenya back then. I tapped her, she was happy to see me. She said: come to sit with us! I answered: can I? I was still a bit afraid of the security. Irina showed me her ticket, and told me going to the section: S5. I ran very fast at once to look for S5, because I was really dying to see Svetlana, it’s almost one year since we met last time. I saw her immediately when I was in S5 section. Zhenya’s coach Vera Shtelbaums’ daughter-Elena Arais was there too. I know her as well. They both were very happy to see me. We had big hugggs with each others and kisses hahaha. Ohhh I was really happy at that time. :))) And of course, I sat next to Svetlana again XD.
I said: Congratulations to Svetlana. Zhenya’s ball is sooo beautiful!!! She will be fine.!!! Svetlana told me, she was too nervous, so she was not here watching Zhenya performing at that moment. She said she just can’t…so she is very happy I am here, I can watch Zhenya for her. It was really a great honor for me to hear her say so. Svetlana asked me how can I have the Russian uniform? She is surprised, because that’s the newest. I said there is a Bosco Sport store in London near Olympic Park, I was surprised to see that store too. I asked her: do you like the drawing of the uniform? She said she likes it. I replied the drawing is too much. Svetlana said the T-shirt that she wears is much better. Yes it is! The T-shirt that she wears only has that red drawing on the short sleeves. Then I asked her why they didn’t take something like shuttle bus to the arena but take tube instead? She said because the agent of their tourist group gave them travel card..but she and her friends were late, she came here by Taxi. Here I explained, if you buy one OG ticket you will have one travel card for the competition day. Then I saw Vera Shtelbaums coming up to the auditorium. Because the individual competition today is over, she came up to support RUS group. Last year I didn’t have the chance to take a photo with her, this time I won’t miss the opportunity. I went over there to ask her, at the end, I took a photo with her and her daughter Elena Arais. I saw Svetlana bought two London OG mascots, one is gold. She said she bought for Zhenya. Afterward Svetlana gave the two mascots to Vera Shtelbaums asking her to give to Zhenya. Gymnasts/ athletes have to compete, they didn’t have time for shopping, especially the competition dates of RG were on the last few days of Olympics.
This day’s competition finished. At first Svetlana wanted to say good-bye with me, and then she realized that we all (with the RUS cheering group) were going to Wembley central station to take tube, so we went together. Vera Shtelbaums said good-bye with us, she had to go back to the athlete village. I said to her: “Good Luck tomorrow” Svetlana translated for me )). When we arrived at Wembley central station, Svetlana asked me: where are you going? I said: Paddington. She replied surprisily: the same?!!! XD. When we were waiting for the train, Svetlana introduced me to her friends. And then I showed the Mosaic poster again, some people who don’t see it before gave me big compliments again hahaha. I explained to them there are 10,000+ Zhenya’s photos inside the main images of this poster, from 2003 to 2011. A girl asked me all the small photos are different? Well of course almost different :))) from 2003 to 2011. Some are repeated, but most of the photos are different. Then Irina Zenovka asked me: where is me (pointing to the poster). She is so cute. Svetlana said: Irina needs one too XDDD. Later, I learned Svetlana’s hotel is not very far from mine. Maybe two tube stations. When we arrived at Paddington, we kissed good-bye. I told to Svetlana, I don’t have day two ticket yet, but I believed I will find it. This day, I was very happy and very satisfied.
When I returned to my hotel, I searched ticket on-line immediately, and I found ticket very soon. Fave vaule 65, the seller sold me 120 pounds with a travel card. Then we made an appointment to meet at my hotel nearby. This person is nice, he is not a scalper. He is also going to watch the competition; just because his friend can’t go then he sold it. His price is not very high.
RG day two
After having my breakfast, I went out to wait the seller. When I stepped outside of my hotel, I met an old lady, she happily said hi with me when she saw me wearing RUS uniform. I said: I am not Russian; I just bought this uniform yesterday, because I support a Russian RG gymnast. Then I met a Spanish friend Vane, obviously she also lived nearby. I continued chatting with that old lady. She said she is Russian, has lived in London for 36 years. She doesn’t like this city, she told me must be careful, the public security here is not good. She even told me 1/4 people in London have depression. I said actually this is almost the problem in the whole world. Then we talked about Russia was not doing well in London OG. (but at the end Russia won 24 golds, even surpassed the number they won in Beijing by one. They ranked 4th. UK won many golds to take third). For Russia, they always catch up at the later days of competitions. The sporting events they are good are on the later of the schedule. This old lady also knew some Taiwanese politics. We had a nice chat. The time was up; I had to meet the seller, so we kissed good-bye. After getting the ticket, I went to the tube station, again I met RUS cheering group and some RUS RG gymnasts. But I didn’t see Svetlana. Yesterday I asked them what their section is for day two. They said don’t know yet, the tour agent just give them ticket on the day of the competition. But they are a big group, it was easy to find them, they told me.
When I was in the arena, I searched Svetlana and Irina first, failed, so I went to find my seat. The position was much better this time. Then I still looked around for the RUS cheering group. But seemed they sat separately, it was difficult to find Svetlana, also I was not sure whether she has arrived or not.
Then I saw Anna Bessonova again with that member of UKR RG national team. They were hanging their national flag. So I took out that Japanese RG photos book (introduction pls check here: click here) found one Anya’s photo page, and asked her for an autograph. She signed for me. With that RG photos book, I never failed for asking autograph, I had the great autograph collections already last year in Montpellier hahaha.
After the host introducing rules, RG etc…the competition started. There were three English ladies sat next to me, they all watched RG event for the first time. Then I started to chat with the girl sitting next to me. I told her some RG rules and explained some RG elements to her. She thought I am very professional and knows RG well. Actually I am not professional at all, just because I have followed RG for four years, I know a bit more than those new fans of RG. Those ladies asked me where am I from. I said: Taiwan. One of them said: wow that’s a long trip. I continued: yes and very expensive..that lady answered she can image that. Then she asked me, is any Taiwanese gymnast competing today? I said no. we are not good in this sport. She said our country too (laugh). Zhenya was ready to perform; I still waved my poster badly. My seat today was also on the opposite side of kiss and cry. Just a bit front and middle than yesterdays. She did well with clubs, just a bit lack of risky. Her score was good, still ranked 2nd in total score temporary, but a bit closer to Dmitrieva. Then when Dmitrieva was ready to perform clubs, I thought to go to the big passage in front of me. I thought to wave my poster there when it was Zhenya’s turn, then Zhenya can see my poster easily and clearly. But the security asked me to return to my seat, so I didn’t see Dmitrieva doing her routine completely. After her score showing, I realized she mad mistakes, the English friend said she dropped once. Then it was Zhenya’s turn, it is my favorite and most expected Chopin ribbon 2.1, this was my first time to watch Zhenya performing this routine live wearing that fabulous new summer dream leotard, also the first time to see this leo live. Her performance was sooo fluently and perfectly!!! Those incredible throws and catches, really beyond of image. The ending of the routine, in which the foot hooks with the ribbon followed by a spiral, so so beautiful and touching. I can just watch it over and over again!!! Zhenya showed everything in this routine. Technical, apparatus skill, choreograph, music, images, artistry, all in one. I was sooo lucky to see Chopin ribbon 2.1 performing so beautifully live!!! This routine made my London trip worthy!!! No need to see the score showing I am sure Zhenya will be the 1st. 29.400 total score 116.000 Zhenya surpassed Dmitrieva and ranked 1st at qualification. I thought the ribbon score should be higher than her ball haha. I was very excited. The three English ladies also admired Zhenya’s ribbon performance very much. Then they asked me, Is she a big star in this sport. So I started to introduce Zhenya for them. I said Zhenya won OG champion four years ago in Beijing with a very young age-18. And If she can defend her title this year, she will become the 1st RG gymnast to win two Olympic gold medals in individual all around. I also told them her ribbon leotard is very beautiful decorated with 7 thousands Swarovski crystal stones.
Later, a girl came and called me, I couldn’t recognize her at once, she said she is Ana. I was soooo happy. She is my friend from Mexico. We knew each other in a RG forum. We both are Zhenya’s fans. We never met before. She follows RG much longer than me. We have been discussing to meet in London before OG. So great finally we meet each other. She also bought a scalp ticket. She was lucky, she saw a guy selling tickets outside of the arena. Ana bought it with 80 pounds. Because the competition was near to start that guy couldn’t sell it with too high price. I was easy to be found because I took a big poster. Ana said: after the individual competition finished she comes to meet me. Individual qualification is over, although I was very happy that Zhenya performed very well, but on the other hand I was sad that Melitina Staniouta was out of final. 2010 WCH AA bronze medalist was unable to qualify…shocked. I always think Melitina is the gymnast who can challenge Zhenya. For me, she is better than Dmitrieva, Kondakova, and Merkulova. And better than Charkashyna IMO. She has high difficulties, great risky, and she is clean in her elements. In the preview report of FIG for RG competition, Melitina was listed as the medal candidate. She didn’t make serious mistakes in qualification, just some small errors. Also the Chinese gymnast Deng Seng-yue was very pity too, she did very good in qualification, ranked 11th , just short by 0.025 to reach the top 10.
Ana came, so we went outside together. Suddenly a girl asked me if I know someone needs tomorrow’s tickets? Like I said before, I always believe you can find someone selling tickets. One thing was ridiculous, the two rows in front of my seat, almost no one sat there, then the organization asked policemen to sit there…and there were many people asking tickets outside of arena.
Then I saw Svetlana, I rushed to her and called her loudly. She was scared by me hahaha. I said: Congratulations!!! Very loud. And I told her I was sooo happy!!! Zhenya bravo!!! That ribbon Ohhh simply PERFECT PERFECT PERFECT!!! We huggs and kisses. I asked her where is your seat? Svetlana said here. Really I said. She said yes. Again Svetlana can’t manage with her nerve, she was unable to watch Zhenya performing. Then I introduced Ana to her. We took photos with Svetlana :))). Then we saw Vera Shtelbaums was there too, I said to her well done and davai tomorrow. Then Svetlana took a photo for us with Shtelbaums. Group competition is about to start, Ana asked me will you watch group, I said of course! The ticket is not cheap after all. We heard the music of Bulgaria group 3+2 “The phantom of the Opera” Competition started. We were hungry so we bought some food and then went back to see the competition. Another side of my seat was empty, so Ana came to sit with me. In the progress of the competition I mentioned to Ana I saw Bessonova and got her autograph today. She was very envy me. And where where? Ana asked and said she also wants to meet her!!! I said: Anna is always walking here and there, I think it’s easy to meet her. Anyway you will come tomorrow too, then I think you can meet her. Ana said if Tchachina appeared she will die. Irina Tchachina is her all time favorite RG gymnast. I also want to see her, but don’t have the chance. She came to Minsk EC last year, but didn’t go to the worlds in Montpellier and apparrenly she didn’t come to London this time. After the competition, that English girl sitting next to me asked to took a photo of my Mosaic poster. Her name is Loren, very nice girl.
When I and Ana went out, we saw Merkulova and Mamum, then Ana took a photo with them both. I passed, cause I did it yesterday :))). Then again I saw Svetlana, I went to her and asked will you go inside of arena to watch Zhenya performing tomorrow, she said she doesn’t know yet. Then we kissed good-bye. I and Ana decided to go to see Big Ben and London Eye. After that we planned to go to Covert Garden. Ana is also very bad in direction just like me haha. We asked some people, but at the end didn’t find Covert Garden, very close, but still not found the right place. Ana thought it is a real garden. I said it is like a market with different stores inside. Then we went to a Spanish restaurant for dinner. Ana gave me a Mexican coin for gift. She said it will bring me luck. I was embarrassed I didn’t prepare anything for her. We both felt sad for Melitina not going through to the AA final. Then Ana said her next target tomorrow is to meet Bessonova. After dinner, we went to China town, and something like gay area. It was late and we both were tired, so we went back to our hotels separately. This day was also a perfect day. I have the AA final ticket already so I didn’t need to search ticket on-line. But I was wondering whether to buy group AA final ticket. A friend from Monaco-Nicole is dying to see me, I knew her in Montpellier. She strongly suggested me to watch group AA final. I thought if I go to see group AA final I will have the chance to meet Zhenya in person again, so I started to consider it.
RG day three
Intense the AA final day, although the competition was on afternoon, I started getting nervous since early morning. I didn’t go anywhere in the morning. It was about the competition time then I went to the venue. Because I had wore that RUS uniform for 3 days, even I had washed it, therefore I wore the ZKG-T that I made last year today. All these days in London, the weather is very HOT.! This was unexpected. Before I going to London, some friend warned me to take coats, the weather in London is changeable. I forgot to ask Ana where the section of her seat is yesterday, I couldn’t find her when I was in the arena. My position was in the right side of the entrance where the gymnasts came out, a bit high. I saw myself in the broadcast video when I returned to Taiwan. Very small, not like last year in Montpellier, I was showed many times in close-up XD. In waiting for the start of competition, suddenly a lady asked me if I need her to take a photo for me and the mosaic poster. I thought that’s fine, when I stood up and turned around, all the spectators nearby all were amazed by the poster, many of them said: amazing.! And asked me, did you do this poster yourself? I replied: I made it with two friends. (the mosaic poster was made by Gaby, RC and me, took one month to do it)
I took a pad with me, and saved the start list in it. So I knew well when Zhenya’s turn is. Every time when I stood up, raised the poster and got ready to cheer for Zhenya, the spectators around me always looked at me and smiled. There were few Russian in the section of my seat, but anyway I shouted very loudly for Zhenya! I almost lost voice. The first two routines, Zhenya did well, executed steadily, just a catch in ball with her feet a bit inaccurate. Anyway, no mistake! Dmitrieva’s first two routines made some errors, so her scores were not very high. After 2nd rotation, Zhenya had leaded with a big gap. Then Zhenya got a very high score 29.450 with clubs! Actually I prefer the choreography of her clubs in WC Pesaro, in OG looked like she played safe, so a bit lack of risky. After this routine, It looked the winner was almost confirmed, just to wait to see whether Zhenya could finish the competition with the most difficult and beautiful ribbon routine perfectly. Because the gold and silver are almost in two Russian gymnasts’ pockets, the main battle was for bronze medal. When Charkashyna finished her last routine, she was very emotional, she cried, she even kissed the carpet. I am not a fan of her, but I was touched by her and cried too. Charkashyna’s score surpassed Garaeva, means she would at least win bronze. Zhenya and Dmitrieva still didn’t do their last routines. Zhenya stepped on, in the beginning, she got tangle with ribbon, tiny error, but she solved well, the rest of routine she performed quite well, the ending was still very beautiful and perfect. This ending is really something, I think it’s the best ending pose of Zhenya. Even though she had tiny error in the beginning, but not serious, wouldn’t affect her to win OG champion. Her ribbon got 28.900 total score 116.900. Even Dmitrieva gets perfect 30 still can’t surpass Zhenya. Zhenya defended her OG title! She became the first ever to win two OG gold medals in individual all round. Zhenya did it!!! I have been waiting for four years for this day, and it has happened in front of my eyes. I am fulfilled! This moment was my purpose of this trip! But actually after seeing Zhenya’s perfect ribbon in qualification I had fulfilled already. I realized the most important thing is not this title, the most important is Zhenya’s performance. That ribbon performance will stay in my heart forever. Whether her scores are too high, doesn’t matter, with this magnificent ribbon, Zhenya is a legend. I am very very thankful to Zhenya for letting me seeing such a great routine. Overall, her performance deserved this title.
After award ceremony, Zhenya returned to the gymnasts’ area, she took off her gold medal, and hang it on Shtelbaums’ neck. Dmitrieva did so as well. Zhenya is sooo sweeet ♥ ♥ ♥. That’s why I love her and her coach so much.!!! Their relationship always touched my heart. Zhenya is lucky to have such a great coach-Shtelbaums, and Shtelbaums is lucky too to have such a great pupil. The media were interviewing with Zhenya, security guy asked me to leave.
When I went outside, I saw an old Russian lady who I also wanted to see eagerly. I met her too in Montpellier. She was there (in worlds) to lead the supporting team. She treated me nicely in Montpellier. I asked her, do you remember me? She nodding, we hugged and kissed happily. Afterward I learned she is the of a RG school from a Chinese friend (a gymnast). That friend trains in Russia now. Then I heard someone called me behind. It’s StrechyLily, an American girl. She has followed my blog-ZKG for a long time. I never met her before. She told me what she will wear by e-mail, and said if she sees me she will wave to me. I don’t know her looking, so it’s a bit difficult for me to recognize her. But she had seen my photos. Also I was wearing ZKG T that day, there are big words “Zhenya Kanaeva Gymnasium” printed on the back of my shirt, so it’s easy for ZKG readers to recognize me. We are excited, talked for a while, very short actually. Then I saw Svetlana was nearby, I apologized to StretchyLily and said may I leave for a while. I need to say BIG sorry to StretchyLily because I just left and never came back. I asked Svetlana, did you watch Zhenya’s performance today. She said: Zhenya’s last routine she was there. Then I asked: do you phone Zhenya’s grandma to tell her the result? Svetlana said yes. Then the French photographer Olivier came to say hi with me. I had seen him in Montpellier, but never met him face to face. I asked him to take a photo for me, Svetlana and Elena Arais with his professional camera haha. Then I asked him do you see Marianne? Marianne is another French photographer. I and her discussing to meet in London, but I didn’t see her all these three days. Olivier said he would try to look for me. Then I rush to Irina Zenovka and said BIG Congratulations to her!!! I have been worshipping to her, besides Shtelbaums, Irina is also a big role in Zhenya’s achievement. It was crowed and messy outside of the arena. Many people congratulated to Svetlana. And I still didn’t see my friend Ana. then I left there with Svetlana.
When we were walking, Svetlana asked me how do you feel when you were watching AA final, do you feel your heart thumping? I said yes! Of course! Every time I watch Zhenya competing, I always very nervous and my heartbeat pump fast. I can’t feel free till she finishing her routine. Later Svetlana said they want to find a pub to celebrate. And she said I can go with them. Of course I was very pleased to go with them wha hahaha. Suddenly Svetlana passed her cell phone to me, I was a bit confused. She said Zhenya’s grandma was on the phone. WOWWWW!!!!!! Let me talking with Zhenya’s grandma!!!! OMG this is just…beyond my image, such a great honor!!! I have hread a lot of her and admired her very much!!! The stories between her and Zhenya touched me a lot. She is also a big role in Zhenya’s RG career, an important pusher. And she keeps very low profile always. I was too nervous, didn’t know what to say at that moment, I don’t speak Russian. So I just said loudly, Congratulations! Zhenya Bravo!!! Then I returned the phone to Svetlana. Silly me and so stupid, I forgot to send my regard to her. I just heard Zhenya’s grandma said “ahh”…Grandma have heard me, I gave her presents before, all Zhenya’s family members know me. Then I heard Svetlana asked her mom: “Do you love her” (means me) Looks like Zhenya’s grandma speak English?! And we talked about my first name-Zoe, Svetlana said “Zoe” is a Russian name, I said: No! it’s a Greek name (I read that in a book) Svetlana said: No! Zoe is Russian name, in English is Zoe, in Russian pronounce it Zoya. Her facial expression is so lovely, when she said 2nd time Zoe is Russian name, insisted with smile. I really hope I can see that facial expression again. And when I heard I have a Russian name “Zoya” I am so excited. Zoya sounds sooo cute, better than Zoe in my opinion. Svetlana said “Zoya” is the way she presented me to her Russian friends. Irina (the choreographer) calls me Zoya too :)). Irina touched my back and said Zoya is always with us all these days. On the way to the pub, I saw the football final match finished too. Wembley stadium is just opposite of Wembley arena. Last night I heard Ana said her country was in the final, Mexico vs Brazil in final. Ana said why she would go to watch RG? The competition time is the same. I asked her do you consider watching football final? She said no. She just hope after RG competition she can find someone to give her football ticket then she can get inside to watch few parts of football game, if the match is not finished yet. And she said if Mexico win she will find Mexicans to celebrate. Many people went out of the stadium. I asked one Brazilian: which country won this match? He said: Mexico. Then I told Svetlana Ana must be very happy now.! Later we saw many Mexicans celebrating on the street, I high five with an Amigo hahaha.
When we were in a pub, a Russian girl I knew her in the qualification day one asked me, her friend want to take a photo of my mosaic poster. I said OK. Then we took a photo together with my poster and a Russian flag. 🙂 We ordered some beer. I can’t drink actually, but since it was celebration time I also drunk some. This was a precise moment; of course I took a photo with Svetlana.:) Later Svetlana said they want to change the place, to find another pub. I didn’t know why, but anyway, I just went with them. In another store, they ordered some food. I couldn’t drink beer anymore, so I asked a cup of coke. Aliya Garaeva’s mom was there too, and Tatiana Gorbunova-the Olympic champion in group in Beijing was there also. I chatted with Svetlana, she mentioned Zhenya is very faithful to her coach she will never ever betray her and that’s very important. Then I said I had watched Zhenya performing live three times, she never lost, first time in World Games 2009 Kaoshiung Zhenya won 4 golds in EF. 2nd time, in Montpellier 6 gold medals out of six!!! Then the 3rd time in London, gold in all around. I said: once I was there Zhenya never lost.Svetlana answered: Yes! I am their talisman J)) She thanked me for my faithfully supporting and for what I did for Zhenya. She said this gold is also your medal. Svetlana is always so kind and nice. Such a good hearted person. I am so lucky to be a friend with her. Then Svetlana told me a little story, she pointed a cap holding in Irina’s hand and said that cap Irina has it since EC Turin 2008, it’s like a mascot for them, Irina always takes it in Zhenya’s competitions together with a soft toy, a squirrel?. (OK I am not sure…) Because Svetlana and Irina have some other things to do so they had to leave. We just stayed there for a short time. Sveta and Irina both told me hopefully I can come to see group AA final. Since they wish me appearing strongly, so I made my mind to find group AA final ticket.
When I returned to hotel, I searched tickets on-line immediately, many offers, I sent e-mails to them and waiting for respond. Then I got Ana’s message, she had to leave tomorrow, she hoped to meet me in tomorrow morning. I replied her yes. But at the end we didn’t meet each other. It’s a pity I didn’t say good-bye with her officially. I waited for respond till very late night, but no one replied me, I had to go to sleep.
to be continued…
RG day four
Next morning I woke up early, I checked my e-mail immediately. But except one person replied me his tickets had sold out, no other messages. When I had had my breakfast, I checked again, still no respond. I thought to go to Wembley arena to see if there are people sell tickets. When I was on the way from Wembley central station going to Wembley arena, I saw a lady holding a paper and I saw there is a word “ticket” on the paper. After asking her, I realized she also wanted to buy ticket. So we went together and chatted. She is Italian; she said she used to be a coach. She also mentioned she paid 100 pounds but got nothing, seemed some problems with remittance or she was cheated by a scalper, I was not sure. (My English is really very poor…) So I told her Ana’s experience, comforted her it’s possible to get ticket outside of the arena. When we were there, we didn’t see anyone selling tickets. Suddenly I thought last night I ever called a person asking him about tickets, he said call him again today on noon. So I called him at once, at first he said B category ticket 300 pounds, I said impossible that’s too much. About 2 hours and half later the competition will start, then he said OK he can sell me 200 pounds. I said deal! He told me to meet him at Bond street station. That Italian friend then went with me. Bond street station is far away plus we needed to walk 20mins to Wembley central station to take tube. I thought the time was enough so I didn’t take taxi. When we arrived Bond street; it was 12:30 already competition started on 13:30 and the seller was late; I was worried I could not catch the start of the competition. The seller finally showed up I pointed to my watch “you were too late!!!” That guy said sorry and said he only had one ticket…sorry to that Italian friend…In order to save time, that guy called a taxi to drive me to Baker street station. Actually not a big difference, indeed with this method I can skip one stop to transfer. I can take Bakerloo line there directly. But it still needs 30mins from Baker Street station to Wembley central station by tube. I was sure already I would miss the start of the competition. I was too shy; I should ask him to reduce the price. This guy is a scalper, I saw him continued to make phone call for tickets dealing. He sold tickets at the same time he bought tickets too.
When I arrived Wembley central station it was 13:40 already. Since I was late then no need to take taxi. So once again I walked 20mins to the Wembley arena under the big sun. I quickly rushed into the arena to find my seat, the position was very good. But the first rotation had finished I totally missed first half…orz. When I settled down, I searched Svetlana right away, didn’t see her, and then I searched for Zhenya, didn’t see her either. Then I saw Irina Zenovka, I waved to her, she called me to come up to sit with them. So I moved my position. When I was watching the competition Russian and Italian cheering groups clamored to each other. When Italian group was waiting for their 3+2 score, Russians had been shouting “RUSSIA RUSSIA” Italian then shouted back ‘ITALIA ITALIA ” At the end even the security guy asked them to be quiet. These two groups are big rivals especially ITA group had won three consecutive world championships AA titles they even won the AA gold medal in 2010 worlds at Russia. So this year the head coach of Russia team-Irina Viner was hell-bent on winning group AA gold in OG. She even takes the responsibility to lead RUS group in order to achieve winning four consecutive group all around gold medal in OG. Russia has big advantage in individual competition; especially Zhenya is a very steady gymnast. Viner doesn’t need to worry too much. But in group there are more uncertain factors. Italy group made mistakes in 3hoops and 2ribbons, so it’s impossible for them to fight for gold with Russia. I didn’t see 5balls competition totally. But seeing the score, RUS didn’t make mistakes in 5balls and 3hoops+2ribbons. Basically, if RUS group doesn’t make mistakes no other groups can challenge the gold medal. Bulgaria made mistakes in 3+2 too they were out of the podium. Belarus did good in 3+2, at the end they won silver outscore Italy by a small margin. Italy won bronze. The Russians in the section of my seat were very happy for Belarus winning silver. It seems that they prefer Belarus. Irina Viner was very happy and excited she started to dance. And the RUS supporting group shouted “Viner Viner Viner” to her, it looked very interesting. You can image how big pressure is on her shoulder. Now finally she could release the big stone on her mind.
I saw Aliya Garaeva standing on the aisle so I took out that Japanese RG photos book to ask an autograph. Zhenya’s coach Vera Shtelbaums was standing there too. I took a photo that I prepared beforehand to ask her autograph, that’s a photo of her and Zhenya together. Her daughter Elena translated for me. I knew before Vera will love this photo, just like I thought, when she saw the photo she asked me to send her this photo. That photo was taken by my friend RC in WC Corbeil 2011. A very good shot! Coaches rarely are invited to the podium, but last year in Corbeil Vera Shtelbaums was invited to get on the podium. My friend RC caught this precious moment. And also need to thank photographer Barny lent his professional lens to my friend back then.
The award ceremony was going to start. Then finally I saw Svetlana we sat together again. Svetlana was very happy and said she is very happy for Belarus. Then she told me RUS men’s volleyball team just won gold with a great comeback. I said : WOW!!! Congratulations!!! For me, it’s a pity it’s not RUS women’s volleyball team winning gold. I am a big fan of RUS women’s volleyball team. I love them much longer than Zhenya. Sokolova is my favorite volleyball player. She is Svetlana’s favorite too (Svetlana also love Gamova). Originally I plan to watch women’s volleyball matches also but just in the day I arrived at London, RUS women’s volleyball team lost to Brazil in quarter final…It was so sad to see them finished with this result especially for the six times Olympiad-Evgenia Artamonova-a great volleyball player!!! For Sokolova and Gamova, at least they had won gold in worlds twice. But Artamonova was not in the national team back then. I took out a photo and gave it to Svetlana-it’s Zhenya’s starting pose of Chopin ribbon 2.1 taken in GP Vorarlberg this year I don’t know who is the photographer. Svetlana said beautiful shot and she wanted me to take it back. I said I have digital file don’t worry I can print it out as many as I want. Then I told Svetlana I will send that Shtelbaums and Zhenya photo to her by e-mail I asked her to forward to Shtelbaums for me. Actually I already had given her that photo last year, but I had given her thousands and thousands big photos. I think she is confused.
Then I asked Svetlana where is Zhenya? She said she doesn’t know either. When RUS group finished 3+2 I watched the TV screen on the arena to see if they will show Zhenya was on the stand…but didn’t see her. Award ceremony was over I and Svetlana left together. She asked me what size of your T-shirt? I said M. Then she took out a T-shirt from a bag and gave it to me for present. It’s a London OG polo-shirt. I didn’t buy any souvenir this time. Really thanks Svetlana gave me an OG T. Then I saw her had been calling her cell phone. I thought she was trying to contact with Zhenya, she knew I wanted to see Zhenya she wanted to help me. Svetlana is really a very nice person. When we were outside, photographer Olivier came to say hi with me. I tried to call my Monaco friend Nicole and she came to see me. We were very happy. She drew Italian flags on two sides of her face. So when we kissed faces each other, the flag printed on the right side of my face. That is the gift Nicole gave me ))). Nicole can speak Russian, seeing her talking with Svetlana and Shtelbaums I thought I should learn Russian…well but my goal is one day I can convince Svetlana and Zhenya to speak Chinese hahaha (just few words is OK). Then I asked Nicole a silly question: why you like me so much? Because we just met once (last year in Montpellier) Nicole answered: because you are the best person in the world and everybody knows it! Svetlana agreed with nodding… (shy shy) Then I saw the members of RUS Beijing 2008 group. Almost all the members were there, just no Margarita Aliychuk. I remembered she used to be the pupil of Shtelbaums.
Suddenly Svetlana waved her hand to let me come over there…!!!!! Zhenya finally show up!!!!!! My little bunny!!! Some policemen guarded her. She wore a blue polo-shirt uniform, just make-up a little; it’s my favorite nature style. When she appeared of course people there were crazy. After all there are many RG fans. Many Russians hugged and kissed her to congratulate her. Svetlana pushed me and said to Zhenya: Zoya…)) Well since Svetlana was there of course my dream can come true. I finally touched Zhenya. I hugged and kissed her and said congratulations to her. She said thank you. Then Svetlana took a photo for us. Really a nice shot!!! I love it very much ♥ ♥ ♥ :))) Then I saw a lady waiting someone to take photo for her and her friend, I took her camera and took a photo for her and her friend together with Zhenya. That lady was so excited and very high. It seems no matter how old you are fans always get excited when they have the chance to take a photo with their idol. 😄 But actually I was very calm hahaha. Then I took out that RG photos book again, last year in Montpellier Zhenya signed her name on the cover for me, but that autograph is almost disappear now because the material of the cover is very lubricious. I turned to the page Zhenya’s ribbon in world games 2009. She signed for me immediately. Including this one I have 8 autographs of Zhenya XDD. (last year in Montpellier, this year in London and 4 signature photos she sending me in 2010) The most precious one is the autograph on the mosaic poster, she wrote my name “ to Zoe” on it and drew a heart below my name and her signature on the poster is very beautiful. (check here)
Then I heard someone called me. It’s French photographer Marianne. I screamed and gave her a big hug. We finally met each other. Marianne is also very nice. Her RG photos are very good too. I even wrote two articles to show her wonderful photos in my “picture of the day” topic. Marianne watched Zhenya and said: are the policemen around her? I said yes. Later Zhenya left under the protection of the policemen. She just stayed for a short time. Then Nicole said she had to leave she had a meeting. She shaked me and asked when will you come to Europe again? I said I don’t know with smile. Nicole said if I plan to come again please must inform her. Then we said good-bye. And it’s time to say good-bye with Svetlana. She will leave London tomorrow. She asked me if I will still be here tomorrow? I said yes I leave on Tuesday. Svetlana was a bit unwilling to say good-bye with me. She asked my cell phone number. We didn’t want to say good-bye with each other but we had to…I thought sounds like Svetlana will call me to meet tomorrow otherwise she won’t ask my phone number. Then we kissed good-bye. When I turned around I saw Olivier was taking photo for us. Hey hey Olivier haha I said thank you Olivier. Olivier kissed me and said see you next time. I thought he likes Svetlana too. :)) Well, Svetlana is such a nice person who will not love her. :))
When I was walking to the Wembley central station I saw Garaeva again then I took a photo with her. Aliya is also a very nice person. I kept going and I saw Daria Dmitrieva and Ulyana Trofimova. They were talking with some Japanese gymnasts. Tofimova’s ankle was applied bandage. She had serious injury on her ankle before OG I even heard maybe she would withdraw. But she didn’t give up her Olympic dream, she insisted to compete. Even it’s very hard and painful she still finished all difficulties and all four routines. She is such a great HERO!!! I remembered in qualification day two I told that English friend Loren Ulyana had serious injury; Loren said she did really well with such injury. Although there are always some dispute in judging in gymnastics in OG but every gymnast work hard for four years to get here. No matter they are on the podium or not. They all deserved our respect. I didn’t know why suddenly I felt timid, at first I thought to say something to express my regards to Ulyana. But at the end I didn’t do anything and just passed away…Maybe I thought I am not familiar with them…but I am not familiar with Merkulova and all those young gymnasts either ahhh orz. Anyway I didn’t know what I am thinking back then. I always won’t get very excited when I see gymnasts, I won’t take photos every time and I won’t ask autographs every time. If I don’t have the gymnasts’ photos then I won’t ask autographs.
When I returned to my hotel, I sent the photo that Shtelbaums requested to Svetlana immediately by e-mail. I attached some Shtelbaums’ photos (only her) also taken by my friend RC and that Zhenya’s starting pose photo of Chopin ribbon 2.1 in GP Vorarlberg 2012.
The beautiful ending and continue…
The emotional Olympics finished I didn’t watch closing ceremony last night. The TV in my hotel room is very small so I didn’t have interest. Next day when I woke up I thought where should I go to visit? And I wonder didn’t know whether Svetlana will call me or not. Then I took tube to “Notting Hill Gate” Of course it was because that movie featured by Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts)). But when I arrived there maybe it was too early not many people on the street I just stayed there for a short time then I left. Then I took underground to Lancaster Gate, I read travel book that Kensington Garden is nearby. And I remembered the hotel that Svetlana stayed is near Lancaster Gate station. When I was there I still had no idea where should I go. So I returned to my hotel. I went to eat Korean food for lunch. Then I thought to go to Covert Garden. I and Ana didn’t find it that day. This time I took tube to get there so I didn’t get lost. It is a nice place, the atmosphere is very easy, many buskers performing there and there are many unique stores inside the market. I didn’t plan to buy anything so I didn’t have interest to shopping. I spent most of my cash on OG tickets so I didn’t have money to buy souvenirs. Covert Garden is a famous tourist attractions so I wondered maybe Svetlana will come here too…anyway that didn’t happen. Later it started to rain so I returned to my hotel. I found instant needles in a grocery store. I miss its taste so much! When I returned to Taiwan I received Svetlana’s e-mail she said at first she thought she will have time to meet me on 13th Aug, but their crew booked a bus tour. When they were done with the tour it was the time for them to go to airport. So she couldn’t.
Next day, Tuesday (14th Aug) my flight was 09:00 pm, at first I got wrong time with my schedule I thought it was 04:00 pm, anyway suddenly I have more time to stay in London so I went to take bus tour too. 29 pounds including boat tour on the river Thames. I was tired because I walked a lot all these days I even got blisters on my feet so I thought it was not bad to take bus tour. There is audio tour service on the bus with multi languages Chinese including. The top of the bus is opened even though the sun was very big but of course I prefer to sit on the top. Tourist could get off in any tourist attractions there are many stops for you to get on the bus again. After finishing the boat tour on the river Thames I went to tower of London and then I took the bus to return to my hotel. Then I went to airport and came back to Taiwan safely.
With the great experience in Montpellier I thought it’s difficult to surpass it. And at first I thought it’s almost impossible for me to stay with RUS supporting group again before OG. Because it’s Olympics I thought the security is stricter. But this time the experience seems even better!! Especially the relationship between me and Svetlana, it’s getting closer and deeper. Olympics is the biggest sport event in the world; it attracted more gymnasts than world championships. It’s easier to meet those big names, active and retired gymnasts XD. Although it’s too short that I got together with Zhenya but Zhenya’s ribbon performance in qualification, the moment she won the gold medal, all the the moments I with Svetlana, all the friends I met-Ana, Irina, Elena, Vera Shtelbaums, Yulia, Nicole, Olivier, Marianne, Loren, StrechLily, and one staff of the hotel I stayed, (he is very nice. he said he come from Africa he also said I am a very nice person because I always have smile on my face )). All these are unforgettable. That’s why I titled this article “There is no better one”. Indeed this OG for me is a PERFECT experience.
Will I have the chance to attend RG competitions again in the future? I don’t know. For me of course I only attend the competitions that Zhenya will participate, Svetlana also will be an important factor. Svetlana told me in her letter she knows she will see me in the future. ))) And she ever told me Zhenya ever talked to her about inviting me to Russia some day ))). This is a beautiful Russia dream it warmed my heart to read Zhenya and Svetlana have this thought. No matter what this dream will come true or not. I will remember the friendship between me, Svetlana, little bunny, and their family forever.