Buenos Aires, 6-18 October
14 Oct 2018 14:14
Photos: Owen Hammond for WDSF
Nobody quite knew how the sport-viewing public or wider Olympic world would react to the inclusion of breaking as part of Buenos Aires 2018.
But over four days at the Parque Mujeres Argentinas, the sport delivered major helpings of everything that modernisers want to bring to the Olympic movement: youthful energy, thrills and a streetwise creativity.
The crowds turned up in large numbers and made an even larger noise. The battling format, with competitors eliminating rivals on their way to winning medals, was immediate and exciting, and gave the art form a genuine sporting feel.
There are not many events where the judges come out and do head spins prior to competition, but breaking is the honourable exception.
Some great prospects emerged, too. Ram (Ramu Kawai, JPN) won gold in the b-girl event and also took top spot in the mixed team event with b-boy B4 (Le Minh Hieu, VIE). B-boy Bumblebee (Sergei Chernyshev, RUS) struck gold in the b-boy category while also taking bronze in the mixed-team event with partner b-girl Ella (Anna Thurner, AUT).
The competitors are in no doubt that they would love to move up to the biggest sporting stage of all.
“I would love to see the event move to the Olympic Games,” Ram said. “It would be a dream to go and compete in that, and I would love to try and win it. I think we all feel that way. The crowds in Buenos Aires have shown how much energy breaking can bring. It would be a really good Olympic sport.”
The event, meanwhile, was not only about discovering whether Breaking would work at an Olympics. It was also about discovering whether the Breaking world was comfortable with a sporting setting.
The need to keep things real was at the forefront of their minds: hence the inclusion of a highly respected panel of judges and top hip-hop DJs. This was no pale imitation of what is going on in Breaking elsewhere. But were they convinced by the Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games?
Judge Richard Colon (USA), better known as Breaking legend Crazy Legs, arrived in Argentina as ‘a gatekeeper’ of the scene, and was very impressed by the experience.
“I would like to see this at the Olympics, it can have a future if the federation and Olympic Committee can come to terms about moving it forward,” he said.
“What’s happened so far in Buenos Aires is amazing. I was open-minded coming here, and I hope my influence from being on the inside has helped. We need to preserve the association with hip-hop.
“I’ve also really enjoyed the mixed-team Breaking. Putting together dancers for the two-on-twos, pairing different countries together - that is totally representative of hip-hop culture.
“Hip-hop has served as a bridge between cultures in the past, creating alliances, and I love that. I think we can inject a whole bunch of new life into the Olympic scene.”
13 Oct 2018 23:04Photos: Ian Walton for OIS/IOC
Russia’s Bumblebee became the first Youth Olympic b-boy champion in history at Buenos Aires 2018. He also won a bronze in the mixed-gender 2vs2 event with Austria’s b-girl Ella. For his father, who was a b-boy against the odds in 1990s Russia, the medals were worth more than gold.
Sergei Chernyshev sparked a peaceful revolution in Voronezh, a provincial town 500 kilometres from Moscow, when he started teaching breaking to local kids at the end of the 1990s. Back then, with no opportunity to travel, Chernyshev pored over video cassettes of foreign dancers to study their moves, and later tested them out on the dance floor.
At Buenos Aires 2018, the name of the man from a little-known Russian province was written in the history books of his beloved sport as his son b-boy Bumblebee - whose real name is also Sergei Chernyshev - became the first b-boy gold medallist at an Olympic event.
“To say what this means to me in two words - it’s the meaning of my life,” said the medallist’s father and coach. “I have been waiting for this Olympic debut for a long time.”
Chernyshev had to give up breaking in 2000 when his son was born. Until that point he was teaching close to 200 children, as breaking gained popularity in the city, which has slightly more than 1 million inhabitants.
Bumblebee was enrolled in artistic gymnastics from the age of 4, but despite showing promise in the sport, he quit unexpectedly when he was 8.
It was then that breaking came into his life.
“I was waiting for this,” said his father of the switch. “I was waiting for the moment when he would realise that breaking appeals more to him.”
Chernyshev taught his son all the moves he knew and even helped him to pick out his b-boy name. Bumblebee initially wanted to call himself ‘Optimus Prime’ after a character in the Transformers, but his father deemed the name too mature and suggested ‘Bumblebee’ - the name of a friendly robot from the same franchise - instead.
Nine years later at Buenos Aires 2018, Chernyshev watched his son make history as he won the gold medal in the first ever breaking competition held at an Olympic event.
“It is an honour for me,” Bumblebee said of his milestone victory. “I had the opportunity to win this gold medal and naturally, I couldn’t not use it. After all, this is the first gold medal in breaking.
“For me it was always very important to leave a mark in history and I think that now, whatever happens, I will be a part of history.”
On 11 October, Bumblebee also won a bronze medal in the mixed team event where he competed alongside Austria’s b-girl Ella.
For his father, just being at the groundbreaking competition in Buenos Aires was a dizzying experience. Here Chernyshev met some of the founders that he spent hours studying on video, including now-judges and jury members Crazy Legs, Storm and Renegade.
The sport has come a long way in Russia since Chernyshev first tried it in what the Russians colloquially refer to as the “wild 90s,” a time of political and economic turmoil. Curiously, it was precisely these challenging times that helped the sport to grow.
“It was fashionable on every street then because a b-boy was, first of all, seen not as a dancer, but as an athlete,” Chernyshev said. “That was very relevant, especially in the 90s in Russia. You could make a name for yourself not only with your fists, but with your talents as well.”
Now having witnessed the debut of his favourite sport at a Youth Olympic Games, Chernyshev hopes it will make it into the senior programme at Paris 2024. For his part, Bumblebee was thankful to be able to give his father that first taste of Olympic glory.
“My parents opened their own dance studio when I was 9 years old. I went there and I fell headfirst into it,” Bumblebee said. “And nine years later, I won the Youth Olympics. This is, first of all, my gift to my father because he used to do this as well so he can fully feel what this means.
“The most important thing in a victory is to have someone to share it with.”
12 Oct 2018 17:29
Photos: (1-3) Owen Hammond for WDSF; (2) Kate Green for OIS/IOC
B-girl Ram of Japan wrote herself into the history books at the Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games this week after winning her second gold medal of the competition on 11 October with partner B4 (VIE) in the Bonnie & Clyde 2vs2 event.
Ram, who also topped the 1vs1 podium earlier in the week, was an unstoppable force at Breaking’s debut at the Olympic event. Paired with B4, the two finished third in the preliminaries before stepping it up a notch in the knockout phase, doing just enough to dispose of Anastasia (LAT) & Shigekix (JPN) in the quarterfinals before cruising past Vicky (NED) & Bad Matty (ITA) in the semis. The golden duo defeated b-girl Lexy (ITA) & b-boy Broly (ARG) in the final.
“I’m a bit shocked,” Ram, 17, said of her golden double. “To have finished first in both events is really surprising.”
It was all the more surprising to have done it with a bum shoulder, something that impressed judge b-boy Mounir.
“I didn’t know if they could fight back (after falling behind 2-0) because I could see that she was really sad and upset because she was injured and couldn’t give it everything she had,” Mounir said. “But then she found the strength, and that’s the magic of the Olympics. It puts you out of your comfort zone and you really have to push your limits, and now she’s going home with two gold medals.
“I was really proud of their performance, especially B4. I think it means a lot for him to bring home a gold medal.”
Local b-boy Broly, together with b-girl Lexy, had the crowd solidly behind them throughout but in the end fell just short and had to settle for silver. Still, there were nothing but smiles from the runners-up after the battle.
“I am filled with happiness, pride and emotion for how well we defended ourselves with Lexy to get the medal,” Broly said. “Buenos Aires 2018 is a dream come true. It’s the best thing that has ever happened to me because I got to know different cultures and I grew a lot as a person.”
The event’s other big winner, b-boy Bumblebee of Russia, took bronze in the 2vs2 battles with partner Ella from Austria. Bumblebee was crowned individual b-boy champion on 8 October.
Also appearing in the Knockout Stage were Yell (KOR) & Jordan (RSA), Señorita Carlota (FRA) & X-Rain (CHN) and B-girl Emma (CAN) & B-boy KennyG (TPE).
12 Oct 2018 06:13
Photos: Owen Hammond for WDSF
Local b-boy Broly took silver in the mixed team event on the final day of breaking competitions, a feat that the spectators celebrated with loud cheers.
The rain was not an obstacle for the spectators or for spectacular dancing at the final breaking battles at the Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games. With the individual competition completed, it was now time for the mixed teams tournament, another innovation in the discipline’s Youth Olympic debut.
Japan's Ram - who won the gold medal in the individual women’s event - became the heroine of the day once again as she took the top award with her teammate, Vietnam’s B4.
In the final, they beat the duo that had received the most support from the audience at Urban Park, Argentine b-boy Broly and Italy’s b-girl Lexy, who took the silver after losing the battle 7-13.
Broly and Lexy defeated France’s Señorita Carlota and China’s X-Rain in the quarterfinals, and then Austria’s Ella and Russia’s Bumblebee - gold medalist in the men's individual event - in the semifinals.
"I am filled with happiness, pride and emotion, for how well we defended ourselves with Lexy to get to the medal," said b-boy Broly. "Buenos Aires 2018 is a dream come true. It’s the best thing that has ever happened to me because I got to know different cultures and I grew a lot as a person."
Wearing the silver medal around her neck, Lexy thanked her partner and the audience for their support: “I’m proud. We danced with passion and we achieved this result. I'm going to take home so many nice memories of this country. Breaking is an art. It’s a lifestyle. I hope this helps to get more people to know about us.”
World DanceSport Federation (WDSF) President Lukas Hinder reserved special praise for the Argentian b-boy after the finals. “Broly is an outstanding personality,” Hinder said. “I saw him at the World Youth Breaking Championships in Japan, and between May and now he improved very much. He had an accelerator that I have rarely seen in an athlete’s career but he deserves to have ended up where he did. Nobody could have foreseen this, but of course it gave extra glory to the event.”
11 Oct 2018 04:50Photos: Owen Hammond for WDSF
B-girl Emma (CAN) & B-boy KennyG (TPE) finished at the top of the rankings following the preliminaries of the Bonnie & Clyde (2vs2 mixed-gender) battles, which featured some well-choreographed moves between the pairings of mixed nationalities, who clearly spent a great deal of time working on their routines a day earlier.
B-girl Lexy (ITA) & b-boy Broly (ARG) were not far behind the leaders, much to the delight of the home crowd. Afterwards, the duo was swamped by fawning fans looking for pictures together.
Asked about the difference between the 1vs1 battles and the Bonnie & Clyde competitions, judge Narumi said: “It’s very different to the 1vs1,” she said. “It was a different atmosphere today when they battled. It’s more fun and it’s great for the young breakers to connect with people from different countries. Because they are still young, they can learn not only more about dance but also about culture and personality. This experience will be good for them all for the rest of their lives.”
Also advancing to tomorrow’s Knockout Stage were Anastasia (LAT) & Shigekix (JPN), Yell (KOR) & Jordan (RSA), Ella (AUT) & Bumblebee (RUS), Ram (JPN) & B4 (VIE), Señorita Carlota (FRA) & X-Rain (CHN), and Vicky (NED) & Bad Matty (ITA).