New Orleans (USA), July 14, 2002 – New Orleans, the cradle of jazz and rhythm and host of the 25th World Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships, has given the right vibrations to the Italy’s national rhythmic gymnastics team. Thanks to the charm and charisma as displayed during their performances, the five-headed team has won the famous Longines Prize for Elegance. The prestigious Prize, awarded by the Swiss watch company and judged by a special jury upon criteria of elegance, was in New Orleans awarded for the ninth time in history of gymnastics and for the first time ever in the USA. The Prize honors the team or athlete judged most elegant during a world or continent-wide artistic or rhythmic gymnastics competition.
In gymnastics as in any other sport, movement is a challenge requiring elegance as well as flawless execution. At this year’s World Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships, all teams participating in the all-round competition automatically became nominees for the Longines Prize for Elegance. The judging basis for awarding the Prize is also emotional appeal extending beyond technical considerations to include beauty and femininity, charm and charisma and last but not least grace and harmony of the movements. The jury evaluated each team on these three criteria, attributing marks ranging from one to four points according to each member’s personal opinion. The points awarded to each team by the members of the jury were computed into a grand total.
The five gymnasts of the Italian team convinced the jury of the Longines Prize for Elegance at the 25th World Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships thanks to their energetic performance, their attitude, charm and charisma. Michael Benavente, President of Longines USA: "The final decision was a difficult one. After much discussion among the jury members, the conclusion was that the Italian team embodied all of the key elements of the Longines Prize for Elegance."
The jury of the Longines Prize for Elegance has brought together Mrs. Vanessa VanderPluym (former member of the USA gymnastics team), Mr. Bruno Grandi (President of the International Gymnastics Federation FIG), Mrs. Yolande Perroulaz (International Communication Manager Longines and member of the Longines Management Board) and Mr. Michael Benavente (President of Longines USA).
The Prize itself features a trophy specially designed for the occasion by Swiss artist Piero Travaglini. In addition, all winning team members have received the official watch of the 25th World Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships, the Longines oposition, embodying the active elegance that is Longines’ guiding principle, and demonstrating like the gymnasts themselves that elegance is indeed an attitude. Longines has awarded eight previous Longines Prizes for Elegance since its inception in 1997. The first was presented at the 21st World Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships in Berlin (Germany) to Natalia Lipkovskaya of Russia.
The second was awarded in 1998 to the Russian Svetlana Khorkina at the 22nd European Artistic Gymnastics Championships in St. Petersburg, Russia. The third went to the Spanish women’s gymnastics team at the 1998 World Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships in Sevilla, Spain. The fourth Prize was presented to the Hungarian gymnast Viktoria Frater at the 1999 European Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships in Budapest, Hungary while the fifth Prize was awarded to Elena Vitrichenko, of Ukraine, at the 23rd World Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships in Osaka, Japan. The sixth Prize went to the Russian Svletana Khorkina - for the second time – and for the first time in its history to a male athlete, the Chinese Lu Yufu at the 34th World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Tianjin, China. The seventh Longines Prize for Elegance went to the Spanish gymnast Esther Dominguez who proved to be the most elegant in front of her home country’s enthusiastic public during the European Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships in Zaragoza, Spain, in 2000. Finally, the eighth Longines Prize for Elegance went to Irina Tchachina from Russia during the World Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships 2002 in Madrid, Spain.
With the Longines Prize for Elegance, Longines has established a tradition in harmony with its corporate strategy, regularly reaffirming in this way that, truly, “Elegance is an attitude”.Longines is a member of Swatch Group Ltd, the world’s leading watch manufacturer and marketer, with no fewer than 157 production sites in Switzerland. Swatch Group Ltd is the official timekeeper and data-handling operator for the Olympic Games in Athens, Torino, Beijing and other cities.