ArtistryPavlovaIn this first installment of the “Pure Artistry” series, we look at Russia’s Anna Pavlova.

Anna Pavlova is as underappreciated as she is beautiful. Her gymnastics is reminscent of days gone by; exuding the raw beauty and grace of former soviet gymnasts while putting on a brave face in the wake of an upheaval in Russian gymnastics.

With the departure of Svetlana Khorkina, the torch that is Russian Women’s Gymnastics was passed down to Pavlova, who has led Russia with strength, compassion, faith and determination.

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Anna first made a name for herself at the 2000 Junior European Championships, winning a gold medal on the Uneven bars. In 2001, at the final Goodwill Games in Brisbane, Australia, she won the silver medal on the Balance Beam. 2002 brought continued success for Anna. She became Russian National Champion, and won gold medals on the Vault, in the All-Around and with the Russian team at the Junior European Championships.

2003 was Anna’s first year on the Senior International scene. She was part of the sixth-place Russian team, and participated in the All-Around and Floor Exercise finals at the World Championships held in Anaheim, California, USA. In 2004, Anna retained her Russian National title, and made the team that competed at the Olympic Games in Athens, Greece. In Athens, Anna won a bronze medal with the Russian team, just missed a medal in the All-Around and on the Balance Beam where she finished in 4th place for both, and won an individual bronze medal on the Vault.

In 2005, Anna won the silver medal in the All-Around and on the Vault at the European Championships in Debrecen, Hungary. She also competed in the World Championships, held in Melbourne, Australia, where she qualified to the All-Around, Vault and Balance Beam finals. She repeated her qualification to the All-Around, Vault and Balance Beam at the 2006 World Championships in Aarhus, Denmark, where she also won a bronze medal with her Russian team.

In 2008, she made her second Olympic team and travelled to Beijing, China where the Russian women left without medals, finishing fourth as a team. Pavlova qualified to the All-Around, Vault, Balance Beam, and Floor Exercise finals. She finished 7th in the All-Around scoring 60.825. On the Vault, Anna finished in 8th place after performing her second vault before being given the signal from the judges. Balance Beam was better for Anna, as she finished in 4th place, just 0.050 behind Cheng Fei of China. Floor Exercise brought more disappointment for Anna, as she had a few stumbles and finished in 8th place.

Anna tore two ligaments after a missed dismount from the Balance Beam at the DTB World Cup event in Stuttgart, Germany in November of 2008. She is currently recovering from her injury, but is unsure if she will be physically able to return to gymnastics.

Anna is appreciated the world over by fans of the sport of gymnastics for her refreshing grace and artistry that she effortlessly couples with difficult acrobatics on the gymnastics floor. Perhaps her crowning achievement in artistry is her 2008 Floor Exercise routine, performed to Maksim Mrvica’s rendition of “Exodus.”

Here is Anna’s Floor Routine to “Exodus” from the 2008 European Championships.

Her strength and grace are what give Anna a spot as the first gymnast in the “Pure Artistry” series.