Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Bezzoubenko Leads Canada - with a Little Help from Russia - in Glasgow

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Bezzoubenko Leads Canada - with a Little Help from Russia - in Glasgow

Article excerpt

Bezzoubenko hopes to climb podium in Glasgow

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GLASGOW, Scotland - Patricia Bezzoubenko lives with her parents in a tiny rented apartment in Moscow, a bus ride away from the training facility where she practises alongside Russia's top rhythmic gymnasts.

But this week at the Commonwealth Games, Bezzoubenko hopes to climb the medal podium for Canada.

"I want to bring glory for Canada," Bezzoubenko said after a training session in Glasgow.

The 17-year-old was born in Vancouver and has dual citizenship, but the family moved to Russia when she was four, and she's been able to draw on the strength of the sport in a country that virtually churns out top gymnasts like it does hockey players.

The two-time defending Canadian champion almost swept the gold medals at the Pacific Rim championships earlier this year -- she won four gold, a silver and a bronze -- and rumblings around the rhythmic gymnastics venue in Glasgow have her potentially doing the same thing here.

"We will fight for this," said her coach Svetlana Joukova.

Canada has a tradition of success in the sport at the Commonwealth Games, with Alexandra Orlando sweeping all six gold medals in Melbourne, Australia in 2006.

"I want to repeat this," Bezzoubenko said.

The lithe teenager, who lists Thornhill, Ont., as her hometown, began gymnastics because "my mother wanted her child to be happy and healthy," she said.

She was living and training in Moscow about five years ago when Russia's national team coach contacted Joukova.

"When the coach found out she had her Canadian passport, right away she contacted me, and asked me I would like to look at this girl, because maybe for her there was more of a future for her in Canada," said Joukova, who also coached Orlando. "So we were really grateful for this.

"I think there's more possibility for her (to compete for) Canada, to step up and continue to be in the top. But of course the training facilities in Russia have helped her very much to get in good shape, with good results, good choreography. …

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