Patricia Bezzoubenko, Canadian rhythmic gymnast, wins bronze

Canadian rhythmic gymnast Patricia Bezzoubenko won a bronze medal in the individual all-around competition Saturday at the Pan Am Games.

Canuck places 3rd in all-around competition at Pan Ams

Canada's Patricia Bezzoubenko, seen here in a previous event, won the bronze medal in the all-around rhythmic gymnastics competition at the Pan Am Games on Saturday. ((Google Images))

Canadian rhythmic gymnast Patricia Bezzoubenko felt so good after nailing her first routine Saturday she used the club in her right hand to tap the mat at the Toronto Coliseum.

It seemed to be her way of telling the crowd she was satisfied and was back in the mix for a podium spot. The Vancouver native moved into third place with the effort and held that position through the ribbon competition to win bronze at the Pan Am Games.

"I can be more focused, I have a good spirit and I can do it," Bezzoubenko said of the bounceback effort.

Her total of 60.399 points left her behind Americans Laura Zeng (64.575) and Jasmine Kerber (62.200). Brazil's Angelica Kvieczynski nearly caught the Canadian but just missed the podium with 60.175 points.

The 18-year-old Bezzoubenko struggled a day earlier with her hoop routine, finishing ninth out of 16 competitors. She had a solid result in the ball competition Friday to move into sixth place overall heading into the final day.

With the home crowd cheering her on, Bezzoubenko jumped three spots after finishing second in the clubs competition. Bezzoubenko dropped the ribbon apparatus early in her last routine but was steady after that and it was enough for bronze.

"The mistake was there on the first day so we have to pay the price," said coach Svetlana Joukova.

Carmen Whelan of Aurora, Ont., was sixth overall.

Ribbon recovery 

In rhythmic gymnastics, athletes combine elements of dance, artistic gymnastics and acrobatics while keeping the apparatus in constant motion. It's a visually striking sport with colourful costumes and lively musical offerings to match — similar to figure skating, but on a mat instead of ice —with spectators riveted by the objects regularly being thrown up in the air.

Bezzoubenko wanted to raise her game for the final two disciplines of the all-around individual competition. Her coach thought she might have tried a little too hard.

"She wants to show her very best on the floor with no mistakes. Sometimes it's not good," Joukova said. "You have to come down, just to show exactly the skills that you trained so long and so hard.

"Probably there was a little bit of over-pushing. That's why she had to pay the price."

Bezzoubenko started her last routine with the ribbon wrapped around her head like a blindfold. When she threw it in the air seconds later, she seemed to misjudge its descent and it hit the mat instead of landing in her hand.

With the apt choice of Queen's "The Show Must Go On" thumping across the loudspeakers, Bezzoubenko recovered with a clean routine the rest of the way.

"Maybe that's why I have to (use the song) forever," she said. "Because the show must go on. Like again and again."

Bezzoubenko won five gold medals for Canada at the Commonwealth Games last year in Glasgow. The field is deeper at this event with the powerhouse Americans and a different mix of countries in the field.

Canada finished fifth in the group all-around event later in the day. Brazil took the gold, followed by the United States and Cuba.

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