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Stretching Out: Mazeika takes over — and other notes
(20 votes, average 3.40 out of 5)

IG Editor Dwight Normile offers his take on Kevin Mazeika, the new U.S. men's national team coordinator, and various other topics from around the gym world.

USA Gymnastics just named Mazeika as its new men's national team coordinator, replacing Ron Brant, who took a job at the USOC. I think the good-natured Mazeika is an excellent choice. He coached the last two U.S. Olympic teams, winning silver in Athens and bronze in Beijing. He has plenty of talent to work with in this quadrennium.

Mazeika, 48, will no longer coach the elite program at Houston Gymnastics Academy, but said that Norimasa Iwai will assume those duties. Iwai, who has coached at HGA for two years, was captain of the Japanese men's team at the 2000 Olympics, where he also was a rings finalist. Mazeika also said that HGA gymnast and 2007 world team member Sean Golden, who tore his Achilles' tendon a week before the 2009 Visa Championships, is "doing great [and] ahead of schedule on his rehab."

Less time in the gym will enable Mazeika to attend national team training camps at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs (every six weeks), and also travel to various clubs. Whether he will be named head coach of the 2012 team is "a decision for the Men's Program Committee," Mazeika told IG.

Though the 2012 Olympics will feature five-member teams, the world championships in 2010 and 2011 will still have six-member teams. With an influx of young talent, the U.S. men could be on an upswing from 2008, when they won the bronze.

"I think we're in great shape, and it's going to be my job to keep the ball rolling," Mazeika said.


• Here's an outtake from my interview with Shawn Johnson, which will appear in our January-February issue. The question referred to the new rule in the women's Code of Points, which requires only eight skills instead of 10: "Yeah, that's definitely great. The new Code is different. I've been trying to learn it and figure out what [it] is about and what I would need, and things like that, and see if it suits me. But we'll see. It'll be difficult."

• Here's an outtake from my interview with current vault world champion Kayla Williams, whose story will also appear in our January-February issue. I asked her if she had any gymnastics role models when she was younger: "Of course, Mary Lou Retton, because she's from West Virginia and I'm from West Virginia, and I wanted to be just like her. But [also] Dominique Dawes, definitely. She was a powerful gymnast and graceful, and it was just beautiful gymnastics all at the same time."

• Super choreographer Adriana Pop, who has been creating routines for the top Chinese women for the past few years, stopped by the IG offices last week. She said she will return to China again in 2010. She also said she really enjoyed working with Nastia Liukin and Courtney Kupets for the Progressive Skating & Gymnastics Spectacular, which will air Jan. 10 on NBC (check your local listings). Pop is based in Marseille, France, but still travels frequently to share her expertise. Word has it that Japan is also interested in hiring her.

• 2006 world all-around silver medalist Jana Bieger placed sixth at the 2009 U.S. championships but was not selected for the world championship team. If the Olympics are her goal, I think Bieger, who was born in Germany, should explore the possibility of competing for her native country as early as 2011. Germany placed 10th at the 2007 worlds, which qualified it to the Beijing Olympics, where it finished last (12th). There is no guarantee that Germany will qualify a full team again, but Bieger, 20, could probably be an invaluable asset.

• Did you know that former rhythmic gymnast Vera Marinova Atkinson, who works for British Gymnastics and who ran the press room at the 2009 London World Championships, is one of the three judges on "Dancing With The Stars" in Bulgaria? She is absolutely revered in Bulgaria.

• The FIG is progressing in its investigation on the fluctuating ages of China's Dong Fangxiao and Yang Yun, both of whom competed at the 2000 Olympics. A Disciplinary Commission, composed of Rached Gharbi (TUN), Margarida Dias Ferreira (POR) and Marc Schoenmaekers (BEL), will announce its verdict on Feb. 26, 2010. But do we really care anymore?

Comments (2)add comment

Zoe Podkayv said:

MY opinion
1-If they take away those medals from the Chinese from 00 then they better give Shannon Miller back the AA medal she earned in 92 but was cheated out of by the judges and the Soviet Union lying about Roza's injury. Then they better go back and take the under aged medals from Gina Gogean, Alexandra Marinescu, Daniela Silivas, Kim Gwang Suk and any other gymnast that has been proven to be to young to compete. The FIG and IOC knew about these years ago and chose to do nothing about it. They better be fair to everyone and not just the 00 team

2- Dominique Dawes is not and has never been graceful. No wonder Kayla's floor looks as bad as it does presentation wise if Dawes is her role model.

3- If Mazieka helped chose Morgan Hamm for the Olympic team then he is not the right man for the job. The team that eventually competed was the team that should have been picked in the first place and they proved that when they competed. Paul Hamm could have replaced one of them but Morgan had no right being on that team with the way he performed before the Olympics. Adding him to appease Paul was a travesty.

4- Good for Shawn Johnson getting back into the gym. Her fame started with gym and she can only add to it if she goes all out in her comeback. If she is going to Nastia Liukin it like last year then she should just stay retired.

5- Jana Bieger should not have to go to Germany to get a fair shot at the Olympic team. Yes she is a mess but even when she improves Marta goes out of the way to score her lower. Marta needs to be replaced until she can do things fairly instead of killing our Olympians before they even make the team. Chellsie Memmel and Alicia Sacramone BOTH should have been named to the Olympic team at Nationals so they could have been rested for the Olympics. Not just physically but mentally.

December 26, 2009
Votes: +0

Beth said:

We totally care about the age investigations. If you were a gymnast that missed out on a final, a medal, a chance... even if it was in 2000, you would care, still, and probably forever. Plus, its not OK for this crime to be 'ok' now that enough time has passed... does that mean you can lie now, but after a while it will become ok? Fair is Fair. The world has to adhere to sportsman-like conduct, thats what makes sports so great.
January 05, 2010
Votes: +0

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