Canadian rhythmic gymnast Bezzoubenko wins silver in clubs event at Pan Am Games

TORONTO — Canadian rhythmic gymnast Patricia Bezzoubenko was brimming with confidence after winning five gold medals at last year's Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

She didn't reach the top of the podium once at the Pan Am Games.

Bezzoubenko did not come close to getting the results she wanted at the Toronto Coliseum, although Monday she added a silver in the clubs final to the bronze she won Saturday in the all-around event.

The 18-year-old from nearby Thornhill, Ont., made a few mistakes during her performances and they proved costly. The field was also deeper with the Americans in the mix and Bezzoubenko struggled with the pressure of performing in front of large home crowds as the favourite.

She didn't qualify for the hoop final and her frustration was evident Sunday when she skipped a media availability after a disappointing seventh-place finish in the ball competition. However, she rebounded with two decent efforts Monday and was rewarded with a silver.

"I'm happy not because of the medals," Bezzoubenko said. "I'm happy because of my performance and that I can fight."

The Americans swept the gold medals in the three events Monday. Laura Zeng won gold in the clubs and added another victory in the ribbon final while the United States took gold in the club/hoops group competition.

American Jasmine Kerber took silver in the ribbon and bronze in the clubs while Brazil's Angelica Kvieczynski won the other individual bronze. Canada took bronze in the group competition and Brazil won the silver.

The Canadian club/hoops team included Maya Kojevnikov of Richmond Hill, Ont., Katrina Cameron of Mississauga, Ont., Ottawa's Lucinda Nowell, Toronto's Vanessa Panov and Anjelika and Victoria Reznik of Vaughan, Ont.

Carmen Whelan of Aurora, Ont., was seventh in both individual finals.

Adding a touch of salt to the wound, Bezzoubenko's coach appealed her final difficulty score in the ribbon event but it didn't bump her up to the podium. After a short review, the Canadian's mark rose just a fraction of a point and the result order remained the same.

"There was a little bit of a small mistake there (on a finishing element) but I think she deserved a higher score," said Svetlana Joukova. "But the competition is a competition. We have to learn and get experience and continue to work hard."

The 5,000-seat venue was about half-full for the final day of the rhythmic gymnastics competition.

In the individual events, athletes combine elements of dance, artistic gymnastics and acrobatics while keeping the apparatus in constant motion. Bezzoubenko delivered a solid routine in the clubs event and made only a few minor errors in the ribbon event.

She appeared pleased with her final effort but the crowd booed when the scoreboard flashed the fourth-place result.

A young woman of few words, Bezzoubenko kept her answers brief when she spoke to the media.

"I was trying so hard, that's why maybe it was too much," she said of her final day. "But today I just released all of it and just did what I love to do."

Joukova said this event will serve as a learning experience for the Vancouver native. If Bezzoubenko can get used to performing on the big stage, her coach is confident the results will return.

"Probably (it) was a little bit of stress," Joukova said. "She's like that. She wants to be perfect. (It) was probably too much pressure."

The Canadian Press