Maria Isabel Lloret (ESP)
Tribute courtesy of Robin Catalano

Maria Isabel Lloret was born in Villajoyosa (Alicante), Spain, in 1971. She came into rhythmic much later than other world-class gymnasts after being inspired by a performance of Bulgarian champion Anelia Ralenkova in 1984. After studying briefly under Elena Garcia at club Atletico Montemar, "Maisa" was handpicked for the Spanish National Team by head coach Emilia Boneva.

The picture of artistic refinement, Lloret introduced herself to the rhythmic scene at the 1986 European Championships, where she placed 22nd. But her dark, dramatic physical and athletic beauty didn't go unnoticed for long. At the 1987 World Championships she jumped to 9th place, well ahead of teammate -- and reigning Spanish National Champion -- Maria Martin. Lloret also qualified to three event finals.

At the 1988 European Championships Lloret again placed 9th and moved up to 5th with clubs. Although she was defeated by Martin once more for the national title, Lloret made history when she became the first gymnast to score a 10.000 (with clubs) at the Spanish National Championships. In addition to her clubs gold and all-around silver, she added a gold with rope and a silver with ribbon. Her superior posture, line, and musical interpretation easily won her a spot on her country's Olympic team.

In Seoul, Korea, the wonderfully calm Lloret competed a top-notch, passionate set to come in 5th at the 1988 Olympics-- at that time, the highest ever all-around ranking for a Spanish gymnast. Although she scored identical 9.850s on all events, her polished and expressive rope displayed a prowess at using musical accents and stylish dance. But the routine that captured the audience's fancy was her theatrical Spanish hoop, in which she performed an arresting apparatus rebound off the floor to bounce off the arm to a catch. This routine incited a booming ovation that rivaled the reactions garnered by the medalists.

Lloret, who now works in the marketing department of the Spanish Gymnastics Federation, is still a revered sports figure in her country. She has even had a sports facility named in her honor in her hometown of Villajoyosa.

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1999-2002. This page was created on September 20, 2000


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