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  • Gymnastics Test Event Not Without Hiccups


    (ATR) International Gymnastics Federation secretary general André Gueisbuhler tells Around the Rings that power outages and lighting issues disrupted a test event that “went quite well.”

    Gymnasts took flight in Rio to qualify for the Olympics (ATR)
    Gymnastics is holding their final Olympic qualifying tournament in Rio de Janeiro from April 16-22, which serves as the sport’s official test event. The tournament is jointly run by Rio 2016 and FIG. According to Gueisbuhler, all competition aspects were handled by the federation while Rio 2016 was responsible for the competition venue, transport, and accommodation.

    Gueisbuhler told ATR that the venue was “principally ready,” for the Olympic Games, but accessibility needs to be finalized, as well as the management of the lighting and power outages.

    This is not the first test event to see power cut from venues during competition. During the diving test event in February, competition needed to be suspended multiple times from power outages. Organizers at diving said that the outages came because the power grid that the Maria Lenk Aquatics Stadium was on was interrupted by storms in the Barra da Tijuca region that were not affecting the test event.

    Like Maria Lenk, the gymnastics host, Rio Arena, is an existing venue in the Olympic Park. Gueisbulher says that the organizing committee promised him they are aware of the issue and working to correct the issue in the next four months.

    Orozco on the pommel horse (ATR)
    At the SportAccord Convention in Lausanne, a FIG official told ATR there were “serious safety issues,” from the power outages, but they should be resolved through the cooperation of the international federation and Rio 2016.

    Outside of the venue issues, Gueisbuhler says that the most important part of the event, the athletes, were coming away satisfied.

    “The athlete’s feedback was good, they are all very much looking forward to the Games in Rio and are happy to have been able to compete in the venue of the Games,” Gueisbuhler added to ATR.

    Two gymnasts, John Orozco from the United States and Eleftherios Petrounias from Greece, confirmed those beliefs after earning silver medals in the pommel horse and rings respectively.

    “It was my first international competition overseas in two years, and I was glad I got the nerves out and could do my job,” Orozco said to ATR. “It is amazing and I am so grateful for this opportunity to come here to see the venue and get used to the atmosphere and have a preview. It’s a little more intimate and I like the green, it is a unique venue with a trademark.”

    Petrounias on the rings (ATR)
    For Petrounias, the main take away from the venue was to see hometown competitor Arthur Zanetti and compete against him. Zanetti won gold on rings at the London 2012 Games, his specialty event. Petrounias told ATR the venue was fine for a test event in April, but needs upgrades to be fully ready in August. He added “I’m sure everything will be perfect,” when he is competing at the 2016 Games.

    After Petrounias finished his event he said he would be leaving Rio immediately to catch a flight back to Athens. From Athens he will travel directly to Olympia, where he will be the first torchbearer for the 2016 Olympic Games, receiving the Olympic flame after it is initially lit.

    “This is the biggest honor that could happen to me, to be the first torchbearer and begin the spirit of the Olympic Games,” Petrounias told reporters. “It is something unique and a big honor. It is something special that you will never live again in your life.”

    Written by Aaron Bauer in Rio de Janeiro

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