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Written by John Crumlish    Thursday, 25 April 2019 07:40    PDF Print
Thomas Balances NCAA, International Careers
(1 vote, average 5.00 out of 5)

U.S. national team member Trinity Thomas said she looks forward to returning to elite competition following her successful, just-finished freshman season competing for the University of Florida.

“I’m planning on doing summer meets and taking it step by step,” said Thomas following her performance at last weekend’s 2019 NCAA Championships in Fort Worth, where she competed on uneven bars and floor exercise.

Thomas, who said she plans to attend an upcoming U.S team training camp, relishes her experience as a member of the U.S. and University of Florida squads.

“To represent the U.S. is super incredible, and I’ve met so many people and been to so many places, so (it’s) really cool,” she said in a recent episode of “Gator Tales,” the official podcast of the Florida Gators.

Thomas likewise praised her teammates at Florida. “This team is just amazing,” she said. “They have pushed me and I know I have pushed them.”

Following her performance at NCAAs, she referred to the Florida team as a family.

“The coaches are so encouraging and loving and they just want what’s best for you,” said Thomas, who was named Southeastern Conference Freshman Gymnast of the Year in a vote of the league coaches. “I’ve been having the time of my life.”

Thomas, who turned 18 on April 7, trained under coaches Tony and Jen Fatta at Prestige Gymnastics in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, prior to enrolling at Florida.

Last year she placed second all-around at the World Cup of Tokyo, second all-around at the Senior Pan American Championships in Peru, and eighth all-around at the U.S. Championships. She was fourth all-around, third on balance beam and third on floor exercise at the 2017 P&G (U.S.) Championships.

Thomas’s athletic versatility extends beyond her roles on the U.S. and Florida gymnastics teams. In her final year of high school she competed in track and diving, and finished second at the 2018 Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) Class 2A Diving Championships.

With a return to international competition and a second season at Florida on her agenda, Thomas said she can and will improve.

“I know I’m not as good as I can be,” she said. “I want to keep getting better and keep working hard.”

To subscribe to the print and/or digital edition, or to order back issues of International Gymnast magazine, click here.

Written by John Crumlish    Tuesday, 23 April 2019 09:11    PDF Print
Success At Recent Europeans Gives Kaeslin ‘Much Motivation’
(1 vote, average 5.00 out of 5)

Veteran Swiss gymnast Ilaria Kaeslin told IG that her success at the recent European Championships inspired her for competitions to come.

“To see the good level from the other nations motivates me a lot,” said Kaeslin, who finished fourth on balance beam and 20th all-around at Europeans that took place April 10-14 in Szczecin, Poland. “Also, to make two finals gave me much motivation.”

For the third time in her career, Kaeslin came close to a Europeans medal on balance beam. She placed fourth on balance beam at the 2016 Europeans in Bern, Switzerland, and fifth on balance beam at last year’s Europeans in Glasgow, Scotland.

Kaeslin, who was 0.067 points shy of third place on balance beam in Szczecin, said she understands what improvements she will need to make for a podium finish going forward.

“I have to work more on the dismount and on the stability of my connections,” she said.

Assessing her performance in the all-around final, Kaeslin gave herself a mixed review.

“The all-around final was not bad,” said Kaeslin, who placed 13th all-around at the 2013 Europeans in Moscow and 14th all-around at the 2017 Europeans in Cluj-Napoja, Romania. “I did my best, but my floor routine and bars routine weren't so good. On floor I didn't finish the pirouette turn and on bars I made a mistake.”

As Swiss superstar Giulia Steingruber continues to recover from injury, the 21-year-old Kaeslin said she is modestly assuming the extra responsibility that comes with her seniority.

“I don't feel a big difference of pressure, because I always want to make good results,” she said. “My role in the team is the same as before. Giulia is always in training with the Swiss team. She is the captain. I'm just one of the oldest of the team, and I'm present if there is some questions or problems. At the Europeans, the other two Swiss gymnasts were only 16, and I tried to help if there were some questions.”

Kaeslin’s next goal is a credible performance at this fall’s World Championships in Stuttgart. She said her team, like many others, has the potential there to earn a berth to next summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo.

The top three teams from the 2018 Worlds in Doha, plus nine additional teams from the 2019 Worlds, will advance to Tokyo. Switzerland finished 21st in Doha, about 6.965 points away from 12th place.

Preparation and confidence will be keys to a solid Swiss showing in Stuttgart, Kaeslin said.

“We want to be in the top 12, but it will be really difficult,” she told IG. “All nations have the same goal, to go to the Olympics, and I think that we have to work really hard if we want to achieve this place. It will be difficult, but the first important thing is to believe we can do it.”

To subscribe to the print and/or digital edition, or to order back issues of International Gymnast magazine, click here.

Written by Admin    Sunday, 21 April 2019 06:49    PDF Print
Historic Streak Comes to a Close in Champaign
(2 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — The Oklahoma men’s gymnastics team’s historic run came to a close on Saturday night inside the State Farm Center in Champaign, Ill. The Sooners were narrowly edged in the team finals by the Stanford Cardinal, 415.222-414.556. Nebraska (407.489) placed third, Michigan (406.354) took fourth, while Illinois (405.358) and Penn State (399.725) placed fifth and sixth.

“It was an amazing run,” said OU head coach Mark Williams. “It's hard to have a streak of victories over such a long period of time and we were a little off tonight."

Written by John Crumlish    Monday, 15 April 2019 08:25    PDF Print
‘Humble and Determined’ De Jesus Dos Santos Wins Europeans
(8 votes, average 4.38 out of 5)

In an International Gymnast magazine cover story nearly two years ago, French coach Eric Hagard confidently acknowledged the winning potential of his gymnast, Melanie De Jesus Dos Santos, who took the all-around gold medal at the European Championships that took place April 10-14 in Szczecin, Poland.

“Melanie’s best abilities are good spatial awareness, an extraordinary sense of rhythm and very good muscle explosion,” said Hagard in the four-page feature on De Jesus Dos Santos. “She is humble and determined.”

In Szczecin, De Jesus Dos Santos, the 2017 bronze medalist, scored 55.433 points to become the first French woman to win the European all-around title since Marine Debauve took it in 2005. France’s Elodie Lussac won the junior title in 1993.

Defending champion Ellie Downie of Great Britain won silver (55.365), and top qualifier Angelina Melnikova of Russia won bronze (55.065).

“I told myself to grab any tenth possible by going strong and clean aiming for the medal,” De Jesus Dos Santos said. “I was both nervous and relaxed. Hearing my teammates cheer for me helped a lot. This gold medal represents all the work done in training.”

Hagard said De Jesus Dos Santos is on track for success at next summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo.

“The strategy is to include, step-by-step, new elements or combinations to keep her motivated for the rest of the Tokyo cycle,” he told IG. “Of course, staying fit and healthy is the major concern as an elite coach.”

Read “French Force,” a four-page cover story on De Jesus Dos Santos in the July/August 2017 issue of International Gymnast magazine; and read coverage of the 2019 European Championships in the May 2019 issue.

To subscribe to the print and/or digital editions, or order back issues, click here.

Written by John Crumlish    Monday, 08 April 2019 07:45    PDF Print
‘Even Better Results Are Coming,’ Says Finland’s Soravuo
(2 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

As Finland’s Emil Soravuo prepares for this week’s European Championships in Szczecin, Poland, he told IG that finishing fourth on floor exercise behind three world championships floor exercise medalists at last month’s World Cup of Doha has inspired him for even stronger performances ahead.

“I’m really satisfied with my execution in Doha, especially being able to stay composed in the final,” said Soravuo, who turned 22 on March 28. “Fourth place is by far the best achievement I’ve had so far. Third place was only 0.033 points away. Of course it’s a pity that I was so close to third place. Yet I’m still happy.”

In Doha, Soravuo placed one rank below 2018 world floor exercise bronze medalist Carlos Yulo of the Philippines. First was two-time world floor exercise medalist Alexander Shatilov of Israel, and second was 2015 world floor exercise bronze medalist Rayderley Zapata of Spain.

Soravuo, who was sixth on floor exercise at the 2018 World Cup of Cottbus, said he intends to continue applying pressure to the Doha medalists in future competitions. He, Shatilov and Zapata are on the roster for Szczecin.

“My plan to challenge those three gymnasts is to execute my routine even better than in Doha,” said Soravuo, who trains under coaches Dmytro Gorbachov and Mati “Pappa” Kirmes at Espoon Telinetaiturit in Espoo, Finland. “I’m not ready to add more difficulty to my routine just yet, so my plan is to perfect my routine right now.”

Among Soravuo’s other best results, he was seventh on vault at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games and seventh on vault at the 2017 Challenge Cup of Osijek.

“Strong vaulting has always been natural for me since I was a kid,” he said. “The way I always bounced around the training hall starts to pay off. Results of having strong legs have been achieved. And even better results are coming.”

As a senior gymnast, Soravuo has mainly competed internationally on floor exercise and vault. He plans to continue as a two-apparatus specialist to give him a better shot at earning a berth to the Olympic Games.

“For now I’m focusing only on floor exercise and vault,” he said. “I believe I have a better chance of qualifying to the Olympics by competing on those two apparatus. By adding more difficulty to them I think that’s the best way to be able to achieve a spot at the Olympics.”

Should Soravuo continue his ascent, he could match the international success of recent Finnish team standouts Tomi Tuuha and Oskar Kirmes. Tuuha won vault at the 2010 European Championships. Kirmes, a top-40 all-around finisher at the 2016 Olympic Games and three World Championships, has made 11 World Cup or Challenge Cup finals and placed second on floor exercise at the 2015 Challenge Cup of Ljubljana.

“That’s indeed a lot to digest,” said Soravuo of the prospect. “Hopes are high here in Finland as are mine, as well. I don’t think about that too much, just to keep the pressure under wraps. I’m doing my thing like I’ve done so far. I think that’s the major key to success.”

As Soravuo paces his career, he already has at least two Olympic Games in his sights.

"My main goal at the moment is Tokyo 2020,” he told IG. “I’ll do everything to make my way there by living the life of a full-time gymnast. Of course after that I’ll focus on Paris 2024. But for now I’m keeping my eyes on Tokyo 2020.”

To subscribe to the print and/or digital edition, or to order back issues of International Gymnast magazine, click here.

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