Monday, October 22, 2012

Studly Male Gymnasts, Now Coaches of Female Elites

Prepare yourselves to have your minds blown.

Believe it or not, Nastia Liukin did not make Valeri Liukin famous. 
Nor did McKayla Maroney make Arthur Akopian famous. 
Nor did Anna Li make Yuejiu Li famous. 
Nor did Shawn Johnson or Gabrielle Douglas make Liang Chow famous.

These men were badasses long before their pupils hit the elite stage, and YouTube can prove it. Let's start with Mr. Valeri Liukin.

Valeri Liukin, the Russian Kazakh who doesn't like vodka

Valeri Liukin was one of those bat shit crazy gymnasts. You know the type: the one who just throws skills like triple backs on floor.
The triple back is called a "Ljukin" in the Code.

Without Nastia's help (I know it's hard to believe, but it's true), he won the all-around gold at the 1987 European Championships, as well as golds on floor and high bar. At the 1988 Olympics, he won gold in the team competition and on high bar. He also earned two silvers in the all-around and parallel bars. Once the Soviet Union disbanded, he competed for Kazakhstan, his home country.

That's right, Kazakhstan.

Valeri Liukin is technically not Russian, which means that all this talk of Nastia's Russian heritage is only partially true.

Her mother, Anna, was born in Moscow, Russia, but Valeri was born in Aktyubinsk, Kazakhstan (now called Aktobe).

Just one of today's geography lessons.

Arthur Akopian, the Russian Armenian

Unlike Valeri, Arthur (or Artur) Akopian (or Akopyan) never competed on an Olympic team, partly because the Soviet Union boycotted the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. His biggest accomplishments happened at the 1981 and 1983 World Championships, where the Soviet team won gold and silver (respectively). Individually, he won silver on high bar and vault in Moscow, and in Budapest, he won bronze in the all-around and gold on vault.

If you listened to NBC's broadcast of the London Olympics, you heard the commentators mention Mr. Akopian's vaulting prowess. Well, here's a video of him competing the vault that still bears his name in the Code of Points.

While I'm on this geography kick, I might as well tell you that Akopian competed for the Soviet Union--not Russia.

And he was from Yerevan, Armenia.
Now, you're fully prepared to go and rock the gymnastics version of "Where In the World Is Carmen Sandiego?" If only such a game existed...

Yuejiu Li, the Proudest Gym Dad Ever

Since I'm blowing your mind with so much revisionist geography, I might as well continue. This one's really going to change your life forever, so brace yourself. Anna's pops is not really from China!

Just kidding. He is, and he represented China during the early 80s. He was world champion on floor in 1981, in addition to being part of the 1984 Chinese Olympic team that finished second behind the United States.

Yuejiu's second tumbling pass is named after him,* but I have a feeling that that's not his proudest accomplishment...

Yuejiu Li, pretty much the proudest gym dad ever.

*In an earlier version of this post, I had stated that the Yuejiu Li is no longer in the Code of Points, but I was incorrect. It is; I was looking at the wrong version of the Code on my computer.

Liang Chow (Qiao), Mr. Booty Shorts

Like Akopian, Liang Chow never competed on an Olympic team for China, but that doesn't mean he's a wuss. Nope, he's a badass just like the other guys in this post. He, too, kind of, sort of has a skill named after him. You see, he was the first man to do a front double pike on parallel bars. The Code of Points, however, hates him, in that it does not credit Chow for this skill.

In my personal copy of the Code of Points, though, it is called the "Qiao." (That's what I meant by kind of, sort of.)

You can see him perform that skill around the 3:10 mark in this video:

Even though his name is not officially attached to the skill, Chow should go down in the history books for other reasons. Like, the fit of his shorts.

Not only are they tight, but his buns are hanging out the bottom. Chow, I'm claiming, was the first man to wear hot pants in an international competition.

Which brings me to the final section of this post...

Most likely to still fit into his competition booty shorts

As you were looking at the old videos, I'm sure that you were wondering whether those men could still fit into their competition booty shorts. I know I was, which got me thinking. (And whenever I get to thinking, something gloriously inappropriate usually happens.) I decided that I, Uncle Tim, should start giving out a lifetime achievement award to retired gymnasts who still stay in shape.

After conducting very scientific research on waist sizes and consulting with my team of experts (read: myself), I have chosen the first recipients of Uncle Tim's Lifetime Achievement Award. Congratulations to Liang Chow and Valeri Liukin, who, I believe, deserve a very special present. Specifically, this one:

I approve of very few butts, so to win this award is a HUGE compliment.

I wish I could see their faces when these hot pants (called "cheer shorts" online) arrive at their gyms. "Who the &*#% is Uncle Tim?"

Anyway, in case you were wondering, here are the official results of the first round of Uncle Tim's Lifetime Achievement Award:
1T. Liang Chow
1T. Valeri Liukin
3. Yuejiu Li
4. Arthur Akopian
Sorry, Arthur.

1 comment:

  1. Did you actually send the shorts?