Born June 17, 1976, Carolina
Pascual was originally a ballet dancer. A 7-year-old Pascual was
singled out by her teacher, who noticed that the young girl had
special talents for rhythmic gymnastics. Because there were no
rhythmic training facilities nearby, Pascual's mother committed
to driving her daughter to a club an hour away.
The native of Orihuela, Spain, got
her break in 1990 when Spain's head coach, Emilia Boneva,
selected Pascual for the National Team. The newcomer was sent to
the 1990 European Championships, where she helped the Spanish
team win the bronze medal. She also placed 12th in the all-around
and qualified for two event finals.
exercises propelled the new Spanish National Champion to 7th
position at the 1991 European Cup. In her first World
Championships, however, the upbeat teenager gave in to nerves and
wound up 15th. She would fare a bit better at the 1992 European
Championships in 11th. When the Olympics came to Barcelona that
year, Pascual turned on her thousand-watt charm to impress the
judges and captivate the audience. The result, however, is one of
the most disputed in rhythmic history: Pascual won the silver
medal, an accomplishment many feel was due more to the home-court
advantage than her difficulty and superb expression. At the
awards ceremony, bronze medalist Oksana Skaldina refused to
acknowledge the sunny Spaniard on the podium. Pascual, in turn,
was very vocal in her disapproval of Skaldina's actions.
An injured Pascual sat out the
1992 World Championships, then came back for a strong bronze
medal-winning performance at the 1993 European Cup. But a
much-discussed weight gain and imprecise performances contributed
to the popular gymnast's 7th-place finish at the 1993 World
Championships. Still, she would take silver with clubs behind
teammate Carmen Acedo. A tired Pascual
then decided it was time to retire. Now a coach at Club IMD
Orihuela, Carolina Pascual is revered as one of Spain's most
Pascual, who counts Russia's
Oksana Kostina as her role
model, is identified most with her shining performance demeanor.
In fact, her wonderfully charismatic style is frequently
mentioned at the expense of her excellent difficulty, great back
flexibility, and inventive skills. Among Pascual's always
entertaining exercises, her relentlessly perky 1992 clubs and
unbridled 1995 ball -- which included several original traps and
a solid double turn with the ball held between the knees -- are
most memorable. Whether directly or indirectly, Pascual's star
quality and ever-present smile have influenced many of today's
gymnasts, including popular European Champion Alina Kabayeva.
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© 1999-2002. This page was created on
September 20, 1999.