February 11, 2009

Brazil Names a New National Team

We have another installment in the great Jade Barbosa soap opera, which is beginning to veer from the tragic into the frankly somewhat absurd. Guess what happened to Jade this week, according to Globoesporte? Despite the fact that the gymnastics department of her club, Flamengo, has been saved from perdition, its water and electricity were cut off on Monday, meaning the fans weren't working and Jade, who needs to drink a lot of water because she is passing kidney stones, didn't have any water to drink. Eventually, part of the problem was solved by means of a large cooler with drinks, but still, we couldn't help shaking our heads in disbelief. Jade seems to attract bad luck like no other gymnast on the planet, except perhaps the few truly unlucky ones who are in wheelchairs now due to injuries sustained while practicing the sport. Let's hope Jade is spared that fate.

Anyhow, electricity and water cutoffs are not where Jade's problems end. According to UOL Esporte, she does not enjoy a protected status on the national team. At least, that's what new team coordinator Georgete Vidor says. Off the record, it is assumed that Jade's spot on the team is in fact being kept open for her. UOL Esporte even made that its headline today...

Jade's woes at Flamengo continue... (photo: Globoesporte)

Iryna selects new gymnastics team and keeps spots open for Jade, Daiane, and Laís

This Wednesday [today] Ukrainian coach Iryna Ilyashenko took her first decision as commander-in-chief of the Brazilian WAG team. After three days of work at the Center of Excellency in Curitiba, the coach selected the team that will serve as the basis for the next Olympic cycle.

Iryna selected nine of the twelve athletes she intends to use as the group that will seek to qualify for the London Olympics in 2012. Unofficially, three spots on the team will be kept for Daiane dos Santos, Laís Souza, and Jade Barbosa, who are recovering from injuries and did not take part in the selection camp.

In all, eighteen gymnasts took part in the tests that began on Monday in the capital of Paraná State. After analyzing such aspects as physical fitness and technical prowess, the coaches' committee, headed by Iryna, opted for a group of nine official team members and five alternates.

Of the nine official team members, five were not part of the group that worked with Oleg Ostapenko in the last cycle. They are Anna Carolina Cardoso, Bruna Leal, Nadhine Ourives, Janaina Silva, and Priscila Cobello. Still on the team: Ethiene Franco, Khiuani Dias, Ana Claudia Silva, and Daniele Hypólito, all gymnasts who joined the team last year [or much longer ago in Hypólito's case]. The alternates are Nicole Beltrame, Vitória Sampaio, Caroline Himovski, Letícia da Costa, and Nayara Sobrinho.

Ethiene Franco (photo: Stefan Wurzer/Gymnasticsunited)

"We're selecting the girls who have major potential and who stand out during the workouts held these three days. But it's clear that this team is still subject to change. We are planning another two or three selection camps where Daiane, Jade, and Laís will also be assessed. So it's not as if a girl won't be part of the team anymore just because she wasn't chosen today," said Iryna.

Juliana Santos, who was the alternate to the team that competed at the Olympic Games in Beijing, was not present at this Wednesday's selection camp either, because she is injured. She will be reassessed to know whether she will join the team. The gymnast's club, Grêmio, sent an official letter to the Brazilian Gymnastics Federation explaining the athlete's absence. Flamengo did the same thing for Jade Barbosa. On the other hand, Pinheiros, where Laís and Daiane train, did not send the Federation any notification [about its gymnasts' absence].

However, the new team coordinator, coach Georgete Vidor, insisted on emphasizing that the famous athletes do not enjoy a protected status. "We are not granting Jade, Laís, or Daiane any privileges. We want to work with twelve gymnasts on the official team and we have chosen nine girls who have shown to us that they have what it takes to be on the team. But just because three out of twelve team members are still missing, doesn't mean that we are privileging some gymnast or other," the director explained.

The technical committee has already established the dates for the next selection camps. The first reevaluation will take place at the end of April. Later, in July, the athletes will once again be subjected to analysis at Curitiba. "But if even after all these tests, we still have doubts as to whether a particular gymnast is fully ready, we will make a new assessment at the Brazilian national championship in August," said Georgete. The intention is to have a complete team for the London world championships, to be held in October.

"I'm very happy to be continuing. Gymnastics is my life and I hope to develop even more in this new cycle, together with these new girls who are joining the team," said Khiuani Dias, aged 16, who was a strong candidate to make Brazil's Olympic team, only to finish outside the group that was sent to China due to an injury to her right hand.

Khiuani Dias (photo: Stefan Wurzer/Gymnasticsunited)

The new team has a smaller basis than the one that went into the previous Olympic cycle. In 2005, when the last selection camp was held, seventeen gymnasts were invited to join the national team, which at the time was based in Curitiba. At the end of the four-year period, only nine of the seventeen gymnasts were still on the team commanded by Oleg Ostapenko.

Now, in order to try and diminish the "exodus" of athletes, the team will no longer train together in Curitiba. The gymnasts will normally train at their own clubs, and the team will only convene at certain times of the year, just before certain competitions.


  1. I remember a certain gymnastics blog saying that they would stop posting photos of Jade crying.

  2. Yeah, but we keep finding new ones! And Jade keeps getting into situations that seem to warrant tears!

    To tell you the truth, we wanted to use the picture that was on the Globoesporte front page last night (of Jade in front of the Flamengo emblem, holding her hands to her eyes in abject horror), but when we wanted to download it just now, it was gone. If you happen to have a copy, we'll quite happily post it instead of this picture of Jade crying...

  3. Here's the direct link to it: http://globoesporte.globo.com/Esportes/foto/0,,16916372-EX,00.jpg

  4. Thanks, J! We have replaced the photo. :)

    We can't promise there won't be any other photos of Jade crying though.

  5. Her natural expression to me always looks like she's going to cry....

  6. Could you at least not show her rips anymore? They're really not attractive.

  7. Nico, we know what you mean. Jade seems to have a very tear-prone face. However, we have photographic evidence which proves that she can in fact smile and has a pretty gorgeous smile when she does!

    Cidlover, we promise there won't be any more photos of Jade's hands until she officially retires. We're pretty certain we'll post a picture of her hand then.