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IG Online Interview: Paul Ruggeri (U.S.)
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A pair of World Cup gold medals and recognition as the U.S. Olympic Committee's Male Athlete of the Month made April a triply successful month for U.S. gymnast Paul Ruggeri III, who is working to bolster his international reputation at this fall's world championships in Antwerp.

Born Nov. 12, 1988, the New York native began gymnastics in 1995. He won five NCAA titles while competing for the University of Illinois, including the team championship in 2012. He was one of several versatile gymnasts who challenged for a spot on the U.S. team at last summer's Olympic Games in London. He finished seventh all-around at the 2012 Visa (U.S.) Championships and sixth all-around at the 2012 U.S. Olympic trials, but was not named to the team.

Ruggeri's double victory at last month's World Cup of Ljubljana, where he placed first on vault and tied for first place on high bar, marked the latest in his steady stream of medal-winning international performances. He won the bronze medal on high bar at the 2010 Moscow World Stars; bronze on floor exercise and high bar at the 2010 Toyota Cup in Japan; gold on high bar and silver (tie) on parallel bars at the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara; and silver on high bar at the 2012 Tournament of Masters in Cottbus, Germany.

In this IG Online interview, Ruggeri reflects on his recent successes, and assesses his potential for future achievements.

IG: Congratulations on your two golds in Ljubljana and your recognition as USOC's Male Athlete of the Month for April. How has each of these honors helped you, performance- and confidence-wise, as you prepare for this summer's Visa (U.S.) Championships and this fall's world championships?

Ruggeri at the 2012 Tournament of Masters in Cottbus

PR: Thank you for the congratulations! Performance-wise, I now know which areas of my routines need more attention. On floor, I need to be more aware of going out-of-bounds. The new Spieth floor is amazing. I just need to be aware of how to work this floor a little bit better next time. On vault, I need to do more Yurchenko 2-1/2s in the gym to get the landing down a little bit better. On high bar, I will now consider upgrades. To have a decent meet under my belt has given me a great sense of confidence. Now I know that my gymnastics can compete well internationally in this new Code (of Points).

IG: Last year you came close to making the U.S. Olympic team, but what do you think will earn you a spot on the U.S. team for Antwerp?

PR: I did not make the Olympics, but this has only made me work even harder. In order for me to earn a position on the Antwerp team, I need to continue being consistent. My gymnastics will speak for itself. I just have to continue to do my job hitting routines. (Note: the 2013 Worlds will include all-around and apparatus competitions, but no team competition.)

IG: What is your perspective on trying to remain an all-arounder vs. focusing on your best events, especially since competition for spots on the team is so tight?

PR: It is incredibly important to remain an all-arounder in our country. I believe that a huge reason why I was not awarded an alternate position for the Olympic Games was due to my large weakness on pommel horse and rings. My new coach, Genadi Shub, has been pushing me very hard on rings and pommel horse. We have increased my Start Values on those events noticeably already.

IG: What is your living and training situation these days?

PR: I currently reside in Chestnut Ridge, New York, in 1980 Brazilian Olympian João Ribeiro and his wife Michele Ribeiro's basement. They own the gym, U.S. Gymnastics Development Center, and allow me to work and train there. I am very grateful for the support that they provide.

IG: Looking ahead, what would you like to pursue with your degree in molecular and cellular biology?

PR: I will most definitely pursue my degree. I am pretty sure that I do not want to attend medical school anymore, but molecular and cellular biology at the University of Illinois has kept the door open for many careers. I would like to pursue a graduate degree in nutrition and/or sport management. I think the combination of both degrees could be very useful in many different careers. Those degrees would help me immensely as a coach or in opening up my own business if I chose to do that!

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