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Gymnast makes medal history

26 Mar 06 07:01
Alexandra Orlando wins every gold available in the Rhythmic Gymnastics. 

Alexandra Orlando wins every
gold available in the Rhythmic
Gymnastics.

Canadian teenager Alexandra Orlando created Commonwealth Games history, after winning gold medals in each discipline in Rhythmic Gymnastics competition.

Orlando is the first woman to claim six gold medals in the sport - individually on the Rope, Ball, Ribbon and Clubs, and for Team and All Round.

The 19-year-old leap-frogged her Canadian hero Erika-Leigh Stirton, who took home five gold medals at the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur.

In another remarkable feat, Orlando's half-dozen medals equals the record at a single Games, set by Australian swimmers Ian Thorpe and Susie O'Neill, and Canadian swimmer Graham Smith. 

Orlando's achievements earned her the honour of being Canada's flag-bearer at the Games Closing Ceremony at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG).

"There are almost no words to explain it, I'm just so overwhelmed," Orlando said of her Rhythmic Gymnastics gold medal record. "Just to have six is a bit unreal. Lots of things are going through my head right now."

Blessed with grace, elegance, timing and maturity, Orlando completely dominated proceedings over the three days of Rhythmic Gymnastics competition at Rod Laver Arena.

Unlike most of her younger competitors, her music, choreography and costume design reflected her maturity, athleticism and energy. She opted for demure and classic rather than glitz and glamour.

Her first gold was in the Team Final, where Canada out-classed nearest rivals Malaysia and Australia. The Canadian team of Orlando, Yana Tsikaridze and Carly Orava scored 128.775 points, ahead of silver medallists Malaysia, 124.175, and the home team, 117.175.

She progressed to the Individual All Round Final where she scored 14.400 on Rope, 13.575 for Ball, 13.725 for Clubs and 12.950 on Ribbon. Her All Round total of 54.325 improved on her score of 52.650 which secured her 18th place at the 2005 World Championships.

Orlando left her main rivals in her wake, with Malaysian Durratun Nashihin Rosli picking up the silver 50.825 and Tsikaridze bronze 49.575.

History was hers on the final day of competition when she posted world-class scores and won each of the Apparatus Finals.

She began with Rope, winning it with a score of 13.575 from Rosli 13.250 and Tsikaridze 12.500.

In the Ball, she scored a competition high score of 14.850, beating Australia's Kimberly Mason and Malaysia's Wen Chean Lim. With a difficulty of 5.950 in her Ball routine, the judges awarded her 8.300 for execution and 7.150 for artistic elements.

Her Clubs were impeccable, despite Orlando admitting to a few nerves after dropping the apparatus in the All Round Final. With the highest difficulty in the competition, she scored 14.200, from Rosli 13.475 and Mason 12.825.

Orlando completed her haul with 13.775 in the Ribbon. Tsikaridze claimed silver and Malaysia's Chean Wen Lim finished with bronze.

For Orlando, these Games are the beginning of a long road to qualifying for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Missing out on Athens two years ago, she must help elevate Canada to Top 16 Team status for China, as well as improve her personal rankings.

In the meantime, she returns to her hometown Toronto and back to her local gym where she will continue to train 25 hours a week to fulfil her dreams. Then it is off to Europe in May for the beginning of the gymnastics season.

"This has been unbelievable, and it's just the start," Orlando said.

For full results, visit the Gymnastics - Rhythmic section of this Website

- Games News Service
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