Appreciating Hungarian gymnastics

We all love artistry, originality, beautiful lines, pretty toe point and clean execution, but the competition in our sport is so intense and there are so many athletes competing, that some times, teams who possess all those qualities don’t really get enough attention for it. For me, Hungary is a perfect example of a team with lovely, unique work that often goes unnoticed in major international competitions. Despite a rather disappointing performance at the world championships, this team achieved some excellent results during the year, showing strong performances at the European Games and the European Youth Olympic Festival and winning multiple medals, some of which were gold, at world cups and minor international competitions. I absolutely love the dynamic of their team, which includes both experienced veterans in their 20s and young promising gymnasts who only turned seniors during this quad and I was particularly impressed with two times Olympian Dorina Boczogo, who really did an excellent job this year, upgrading her routines and winning world cup titles for her country.They were definitely not among the most successful countries of 2015, but they certainly added some beauty to the sport with their interesting and stylish routines.

Vault and bars are not Hungary’s best events, but they still have a couple of gymnasts who show interesting work there. Boglarka Devai, who is a world cup medalist on vault, is capable of a powerful double twisting yurchenko and a lovely tsukahara full and she could definitely challenge for a spot in continental finals in the future. European finalist Noemi Makra does not have tons of difficulty on this event, but her form really is excellent. Her front pike half out is a piece of art, it’s so clean, so pretty, it’s almost artistic. Luca Diveky has a nice front tuck half out, Tunde Csillag  is capable of a powerful full twisting tsukahara and Zsofia Kovacs‘ FTY is as clean in the air as it could possibly be and it certainly looks like she could upgrade it in the future. Lots of Hungarian athletes have trained and competed two vaults at some point of their career and this is always exciting to see. I also love how in a time where most teams perform the one yurchenko vault after the other, Hungary actually has some variety on their line up.

Noemi Makra is absolutely fabulous on the uneven bars, where she was a European Games finalist and the third reserve for the worlds finals. Her swing looks much more fluid than it did in the past and she shows beautiful lines and toe point. She upgraded her opening combination into a spectacular maloney + hindorff, that hasn’t received the attention it deserves and her church really is one of the prettiest tkatcev variations being performed in the world right now. We have yet to see a video of Zsofia Kovacs on this event, but she has an impressive 6.0 start value, so I have high expectations from her. The rest of the team does not really have great difficulty, but their basics are absolutely lovely. This is really refreshing to see because when a country struggles on the uneven bars they usually have poor form and labored swing but this is not the case for Hungary. Dorina Boczogo is a perfect example. Her start value is low, but both her jaeger are high and clean, her pak salto is beautiful and her swing and lines are absolutely lovely. I see lots of potential in Kitti Honti, who performs a stalder full + gienger combination and a lovely double front dismount. Boglarka Devai has some interesting skills, such as a maloney + bail + toe on full, a jaeger and an easy but unique dismount: a front layout with an 1.5 twist

Hungary may not have the best difficulty on vault and bars, but they really have some exceptional work on balance beam. I love how some of the Hungarian athletes take the time to perform pretty mounts, instead of just getting on the beam. Noemi has a lovely front handspring, Kitty performs a beautiful handstand and of course, Dorina still performs this stunning one-armed handstand that gave her lots of international attention. And the magic continues once they are on the apparatus. Noemi starts things of with a gorgeous onodi + front aerial + side aerial combination and she continues with an L turn + full turn + side somi while Zsofia performs a front aerial + sissone + side somi. Both athletes are capable of high layouts and beautiful leaps. Dorina performs a spectacular front aerial + front toss + back tuck + sheep jump combination, that nobody else in the world can do and she’s also capable of a lovely switch ring. Kitti does not have the difficulty of her teammates, but she’s beautiful to watch. There’s a certain lightness about her work, and she is such a pretty gymnast, who can make simple aerials and leaps look special. She also performs an old school gainer back handpsring 1/4, which I absolutely adore. Dália Al-Salty and Noemi Jakab are also capable of some world class work on this event.

The team’s work on floor is absolutely fantastic. They still need to learn how to take advantage of their current code in order to maximize their start values, but they are capable of both excellent tumbling and beautiful choreography. Tuende Csillag is a powerhouse on this event, where she’s capable of a beautiful double layout and a fantastic piked full in. Dorina performs the same two opening passes and then, she continues her routine with a fabulous double front while, Noemi’s tumbling is God’s gift to gymnastics. Just look at her stuck piked full in from worlds. It’s BEAUTIFUL. She was coming back from an injury this year so hopefully, she will have her full difficulty back for 2016. Junior Zsofia Kovacs is another gymnast who has an excellent combination of power and artistry. She doesn’t have the most difficult tumbling passes yet and this is understandable for a 15-years-old coming from a small gymnastics country, but she is capable of a tucked full in and she gets impressive height during her double saltos. Their turns are just as beautiful as their tumbling. Dorina’s memmel, Noemi’s Gomez and double L, Kitti’s double L and Luca Diveky’s semenova are all absolutely lovely and all athletes hit their splits effortlessly. It’s needless to say that floor exercise is not just about the acrobatic and the dance elements. Artistry, charisma and performance quality also play an important role and Hungary does certainly not disappoint. I’m not saying that every routine to come from this team is a masterpiece, but all the Hungarian athletes have some lovely choreography and their music choices are excellent. Kitti and Noemi could be a bit more expressive, but they both show elegance, grace and flexibility during their routines while Dorina and Luca have sassy, entertaining routines, showing tons of energy and personality. Junior Zsofia Kovacs is simply gorgeous on to watch and her routine is one of the best interpretations of “El Tango de Roxanne”, while her teammate Dora Szekely also shows promising choreography, despite struggling to hit her leaps.

I was hoping to see the Hungarian team qualifying into the test event, and I still believe that they had the potential to finish in the top 16. In my opinion, they have a stronger team that Switzerland, or South Korea, who grabbed the last two tickets for the Test Event, they just did not deliver when it counted and they had multiple falls during the qualifications of the world championships. We often talk about consistency like it is something 100% mental, something that comes from the athlete’s ability to handle the pressure and to stay calm in a huge arena with a loud crowd and this is true. However, having the opportunity to train multiple hours a day, with the very best coaches in the world in the same equipment which is used in the world championships, also plays an important role and athletes from smaller countries do not have this chance.

Hungary’s 18th place finish at the world championships was an improvement from the 20th place they have achieved at the 2014 worlds, but unfortunately, it was not enough. Just like every country who had a full team at Glasgow, Hungary will have the opportunity to send two athletes into the Test Event and one of them can get a ticket to Rio. This is absolutely devastating for a team with three gymnasts who could all be contenders for a spot in the Olympic All Around finals. Dorina Boczogo, Noemi Makra and Zsofia Kovacs are all world class All Arounders who would have a very realistic chance to be in the top 24 at Rio, and the fact that only one of them will get the opportunity to even go to the Olympics is one of the many proofs that the current qualifications system needs to change. Ι don’t know who will get this ticket to Rio. All three athletes are extremely talented and it will come out to who proves themselves and performs better when it counts.

Looking ahead, I’m hoping to see them challenging for a spot in the team finals at the 2016 European championships, where they could have a very strong performance. A team with Dorina, Noemi, Zsofia, Boglarka and Kitti, could potentially have one double twisting yurchenko as well as two other solid vaults, three bars set that can score at least in the high 13s and three beam and floor routines that could all break 14. If all their current top seniors decide to continue competing after the Rio Olympics and their juniors continue to improve, they could certainly achieve great things during the next quad. They have the talent, the artistry, the execution and the originality. Hopefully, the will be able to also upgrade their difficulty and improve their consistency, in order to be a more competitive team.

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