After satisfying Israel's qualification criteria at the recent European championships, Felix Aronovich told IG he is heading into this summer's London Olympic Games with hopes of making the all-around final.
After satisfying the Olympic Committee of Israel's qualification criteria at the recent European championships, Felix Aronovich told IG he is heading into this summer's London Olympic Games with hopes of making the all-around final.
The International Gymnastics Federation awarded Aronovich a berth to the London Games based on his performance at the Olympic test event in London in January. The OCI, however, set its own Olympic standard for him at the Europeans that took place May 21-27 in Montpellier, France.
To compete at the London Olympics, the OCI mandated that Aronovich place among the top 12 all-around or make an apparatus final in Montpellier. No all-around final was scheduled for this year's Europeans, so Aronovich's Olympic fate was to be based on his results in the qualifications round for the team and apparatus finals.
"I was in the last subdivision and I already knew the scores of the two subdivisions before, so I kind of knew the score I needed to make the top 12," Aronovich said. "I wasn't really nervous. I knew that, if I did the same as in practice, I would be golden. So I just took it one event at a time, not really worrying about my scores."
Aronovich found his Olympic dream in jeopardy after a poor performance on pommel horse in the fourth rotation.
"At that moment I actually thought I was out of the race because I scored really low, around 11 (points)," said Aronovich, who moved to Israel from his native Ukraine at age 2. "I got nervous, but my coach told me not to worry about it and keep fighting through rings and vault. And I did."
Aronovich said he was unsure that he made the top 12 until well after the qualifications ended.
"Most of the teams had already left the competition area, but the all-around scores were not posted on the big TV above the floor, so I didn't know my position," he said. "I was pretty sure I didn't make (the top 12) because of pommel horse, and I was really angry at myself. Then we spotted one of the Israeli judges at the main judges' table and asked him if he had the scores. He said, 'Oh, I thought you already knew. You finished 11th.'"
Aronovich said the reality of qualifying for London literally took a weight off his shoulders.
"I felt like a huge massive rock was lifted off me," said Aronovich, who also competes for Penn State University. "I wasn't precisely happy. Relieved would be the proper word."
Aronovich is one of three Israeli artistic gymnasts who have qualified for London. The others are Alexander Shatilov, who earned his Olympic berth by tying for the bronze medal on floor exercise at the 2011 World Championships; and Valeria Maksyuta.
Like Aronovich, the Ukrainian-born Maksyuta technically earned her Olympic berth at the test event in January but satisfied the OCI's qualification criteria at the women's Europeans in Brussels last month.
Aronovich is now focused on London, where he is targeting an ambitious goal.
"A final on an event will be impractical for me," he told IG. "I will try to make the (24-gymnast) all-around final. If I have a good day and things go as they are supposed to, I think I can do it."
International Gymnast Magazine Related Features:
"Aiming High" - Shatilov profile (January/February 2009)
"Maximizing Her Options" - Maksyuta profile (January/February 2010)
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