Do you recognize the name of Almudena Cid Tostado? Spanish athlete? Rhythmic gymnastics star, and actress and author now?
If you watched any of the Olympic Games between 1996 and 2008, maybe this video will help you to remember all:
In those final seconds, in which the gymnast fully stretches her legs and slides the ball from one side to the other is known as “The Cid Tostado”. Yes, in honor of its creator, the Spanish gymnast Almudena Cid Tostado, the only one who can say she has a movement with her name.
A perfect execution always earned her some extra tenth of originality in the jury’s scores, in recognition of her effort (and invention).
However, this is not the only reason for the athlete, from Vitoria, Spain (June 15, 1980), to be proud. Almudena participated in four rhythmic gymnastics Olympic finals: Atlanta 1996, Sydney 2000, Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008, although the medals were elusive.
She is also one of the most successful gymnasts on Spanish soil: she won 8 National championships, in the general competition of the honor category (1995, 1996, 1999, 2001, 2002, 2005, 2007 and 2008, being the second with greater amount). Adding the gold medals in the general contest to the medals she got in the finals by apparatus, she obtained a total of 40.
In the continent, Cid Tostado participated in 12 European Championships and 9 World Championships. Her best performance in a World Championship was in Madrid 2001, finishing in seventh place, and she was 8 times a World finalist for apparatus during his career.
Almudena Cid Tostado started gymnastics at age 7, as an extracurricular activity, but quickly showed her skills on the mat.
In 1995, her coach at the time, Iratxe Aurrekoetxea, was already speaking excellent things about her: “Almudena has always had very good, impressive physical qualities. From the beginning you can see that she has tremendous flexibility (…) She can do great things, but she needs time. Now she is very young (…) there are very good gymnasts in the world (…) and she now has to gain a lot of experience ”.
With talent, but also with a lot of dedication and effort, Almudena was included in the National Team, and later she’d turn a famous face in every Olympic event.
A regular Olympic finalist
Almudena Cid Tostado is the only athlete who has reached four Olympic finals in her discipline. It’s already difficult to get to one, imagine being able to do it in four editions!
- Atlanta 1996: A 16-year-old Almudena managed to get into the final round of the rhythmic gymnastics program. She came in fifth place in the preliminary rounds, ninth in the semifinal and ninth in the final ranking. She was the youngest athlete in the competition.
- Sydney 2000: A little more experienced, she repeated in the final round, finishing in ninth place in the competition. This appearance was difficult for Almudena, as she had to compete with a torn meniscus, which she was operated on after the Olympic Games were over.
- Athens 2004: For the new edition of the Olympic event, Almudena was healthy and not only she pocketed her Olympic ticket; she made history by qualifying for her third Olympic final, a milestone that no one in rhythmic gymnastics had achieved before. On this occasion, the Spanish finished in the eighth position, which awarded her an Olympic diploma.
- The following years were bittersweet for Almudena. On the one hand, she began to try new projects, such as being a model at the Gaudí fashion event in Barcelona and for the clothing firm Love Store, starring on television in the series “A step forward” and being a Nike ambassador for two years. On the other hand, she had to take a break from the mat due to a fracture in her left foot, which many thought was the end of her career.
- Beijing 2008: The gymnast not only recovered, but returned to compete at the elite level. At the Olympic Games, she would once again make history by qualifying for the fourth time in a final, once again remaining in eighth position, which gave her the right to her second Olympic diploma. And, well, Almudena decided to end an extensive and successful career.
- That same year, she was on the cover of FHM Spain magazine and during the celebration in Madrid of the Finals of the Artistic Gymnastics World Cup, she received a tribute from the International Gymnastics Federation, receiving a special trophy.
The Cid Tostado
The “Cid Tostado” was born in 2001. This movement, which in technical terms is described as “a foot-to-foot bearing in hyperextended split position”, was presented for the first time at the European Championships in Geneva. That same year, it received the approval of the International Gymnastics Federation, becoming her personal mark and her legacy for ball exercises.
Here Almudena explains the step by step to incorporate it into the routine and execute it correctly:
Demystifying the Age
The gymnasts’ career starts early, although it is also one of the shortest in the sports world. There has always been this belief that “after a certain age”, athletes cannot continue to compete at a good level, as their body begins to lose those capacities that put them at the top.
“It was a difficult moment to choose, but it was the one I wanted, when I wanted (…) I was fighting for eight years against the idea that I was already older for the sport, and I was able to show that at 28 I could be in the elite ( …) If it is a sport in which expressiveness is valued, the handling of the apparatus … because people believe that rhythmic gymnastics is only flexibility, but there is also the apparatus. It’s an art. And that comes with the years, with maturity (…) It didn’t fit me, I wondered why do gymnasts leave it so young? Because the environment is retiring you. I rebelled against all that”, she declared a few years after her retirement.
Drawing a heart and with a kiss on the mat, Almudena said goodbye to the Olympic Games and her gymnastics career, at the age of 28 and with the privilege of doing it “when, where and how” she wanted.
“Like a Phoenix from the Ashes”
In her last appearance in Beijing 2008, Almudena Cid Tostado wore a white malliot with a phoenix drawn on the front. Recently, in an interview, she evoked how her grandfather gave her that nickname, for her ability to persevere and overcome obstacles.
The end of her career as an Olympian athlete was not different: an opportunity to reinvent herself and rise from the ashes. The Spanish decided to turn to the television and audiovisual business, and she has already made several appearances in series, shorts films and movies. This in addition to being a model, hosting or participating as a special guest in events or shows.
Always close to her passion, she has also commented, together with Paloma del Río, on rhythmic gymnastics competitions on the Teledeporte channel and has written columns for the newspaper El País.
In 2011, she published “Estupenda en 9 semanas y media (Great in 9 and a half weeks)”, a book written with coach Juan Rallo. However, it was in October 2014 when the first two parts of «Olympia» were published, a series of children’s stories written by Almudena and illustrated by former gymnast Montse Martín that were inspired by her sports career; with them, she hopes to motivate younger gymnasts to follow their dreams.
In the middle of the social media era, Almudena has also launched her website and YouTube channel, where she shares tips and tutorials for gymnasts, as well as some of her audiovisual work.