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Puerto Rican Men Push for Top 8 at Tokyo Worlds
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Following its 12th-place finish at last year's world championships, the Puerto Rican men's team has the potential to place among the top eight at this fall's worlds in Tokyo, national team coach Jose Colon told IG this week.

"We are working to be in the top eight, because the team has enough experience and abilities to be there," Colon said. "But if we don't get that result, at least we expect to be in the top 12."

2008 Olympian Luis Rivera (Puerto Rico)

The top eight teams at 2011 Worlds (Oct. 7-16 in Tokyo) will qualify for the 2012 Olympics in London; four additional teams will qualify for London based on their performances at a second qualification meet in early 2012.

Colon said likely contenders for the Puerto Rican team that will compete in Tokyo are Olympians Luis Rivera and Luis Vargas, Angel Ramos, Alexander Rodriguez, Rafael Morales, Reynaldo Oquendo, Tommy Ramos, Emanuel Gomez and Alexis Torres.

Puerto Rico placed 26th at the 2003 Worlds, 16th at the 2006 and 2007 Worlds, and 12th at the 2010 Worlds. Colon credits several home-grown factors for his team's recent progress.

Also in October, Puerto Rico will attempt to defend its team gold medal at the Pan American Games in Guadalajara. Rivera, Vargas, Rodriguez, Morales, Oquendo and Tommy Ramos were members of the team that defeated silver medalist Brazil and bronze medalist U.S. at the 2007 Games in Rio de Janeiro.

"I attribute that to the (gymnastics) federation's developmental program, the coaching staff, the government and Puerto Rican Olympic Committee's help," Colon said.

Colon said he may have separate teams compete in Tokyo and Guadalajara. The Pan American Games begin Oct. 15, but artistic gymnastics takes place Oct. 23-28 to accommodate gymnasts competing in the world championships.

"I am working with two teams," he said. "Perhaps I will send one to Tokyo and the other to Mexico. Perhaps I will have one single team. Everything depends on many factors."

Maintaining and improving upon the team's world ranking in 2011 and 2012 will require a multi-faceted agenda, he said.

"To have the same results as well in Tokyo and London, we need a good training plan, good physical preparation, to stay healthy, to study the other teams and have preparation matches with teams better than us," Colon said.

Colon said his team will prepare for Tokyo by competing at the Puerto Rico Cup and Brazil Cup, as well as a training camp in France or Romania. He said he is not concerned about the confirmation of Tokyo as the site of worlds following the earthquake and radiation activity in Japan this spring.

"I am not worried about it," Colon told IG. "I know that the FIG (International Gymnastics Federation) is going to make a good decision, and not put the other countries' teams in danger."

External Link: Puerto Rican Gymnastics Federation

International Gymnast Magazine Related Features:
"Beyond Boundaries" – Vargas profile (May 2004)
"Raising the Bar" – Rivera profile (March 2006)

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