Emily Goddard

Slava Corn has given officials clear guidelines of what is expected of them at next week’s World Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships ©FIG/FacebookSlava Corn, first vice-president of the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG), has given officials clear guidelines of what is expected of them at this week's World Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships "to show the world that we have a beautiful sport".

Her comments at an Orientation Meeting ahead of the discipline's showpiece event, which opens in the Turkish city of İzmir tomorrow and is due to last until next Saturday (September 28), came following what she described as a "very difficult two years" that began with alleged "irregularities" at an Intercontinental Judges' Course in 2012 and ended with the suspension of FIG vice-president Michel Léglise earlier this month.

She made it clear that the FIG authorities and Technical Committee expect nothing less than clean, unbiased scores from the judges.

"It is not business as usual anymore," Corn, an expert who sits on the International Olympic Committee's Women and Sport Commission, said.

"We want this sport to be ethical.

"We want fairness from the judges and we want you the federation leaders to help us so the judges are free to make a good judgment, a fair judgment at the competition.

"We have gone through a very difficult two years.

"We have been under the microscope by many, many groups, by the media and by many coaches and judges in this community.

"We are making a big effort to rectify the image we have for rhythmic gymnastics and to show the world that we have a beautiful sport."

More than 300 gymnasts will compete at the World Championships in the İzmir Halkapınar Sport Hall ©FIG/FacebookMore than 300 gymnasts will compete at the World Championships in the İzmir Halkapınar Sport Hall ©FIG/Facebook


Corn added: "We will also inform the judges about the evaluation process that will be in place for all disciplines, beginning now.

"What they did in the past was in the past.

"We expect to have competent, fair scores.

"Our gymnasts deserve nothing less."

Natalia Kuzmina, President of the FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics Technical Committee and one of those wrongly embroiled in the judges' course scandal, was also present at the meeting and insisted she was "absolutely sure" that the scoring at the World Championships would be "objective and successful".

"We are one team, for the benefit of our gymnasts," the Russian said.

More than 300 gymnasts are preparing to compete at the World Championships in the İzmir Halkapınar Sport Hall.

Last year's edition in Ukraine's capital Kiev saw Russian, Belarusian and Ukrainian athletes winning all of the individual medals, with Italy being the only non-Eastern European country to medal in Group competition.

However, this time around the competition looks much more open, with the like of South Korea's Son Yeon-jae, Deng Senyue of China and Israeli Neta Rivkin all medal contenders in Turkey.

Son Yeon-jae is among the contenders for a medal at the World Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships ©Getty ImagesSon Yeon-jae is among the contenders for a medal at the World Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships ©Getty Images


Belarusian Liubov Charkashyna, the London 2012 Olympic all-around bronze medallist who is now the FIG Athletes' Representative, also hopes to see more gymnasts from outside of Eastern Europe claiming medals with the greater resources now available in the discipline.

"It's more open than it was," Charkashyna said, noting the increased presence of clubs in countries like Spain.

"The Spanish system, and the countries that have similar systems, they will bear fruit.

"With so many clubs, there will inevitably be a gymnast who breaks through."

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