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IG Online Interview: Alex Naddour (USA)
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An alternate on the 2012 U.S. Olympic team and winner of three consecutive U.S. titles on pommel horse, Alex Naddour is carefully calculating his progress as he advances toward the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

An alternate on the 2012 U.S. Olympic team and winner of three consecutive U.S. titles on pommel horse, Alex Naddour is carefully calculating his progress as he advances toward the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Naddour, who turned 23 on March 4, placed fourth all-around and first with the U.S. team at this month’s Pacific Rim Championships in Richmond, British Columbia, Canada. Among his plans between now and Rio are upgrading his routines and marrying his fiancée, 2003 world uneven bars co-champion Hollie Vise.

Naddour has been a medal contender on one or more apparatuses during the past two Olympic cycles. In 2010 he won the silver medal on pommel horse at the Stars of the World meet in Moscow. In 2011 he placed third all-around at the Stella Zakharova Cup in Kiev and won a team bronze at the world championships in Tokyo.

Last spring Naddour won three medals (silver on floor exercise, bronzes on pommel horse and rings) at the Challenger Cup of Ljubljana. He competed on pommel horse and rings at last fall’s Worlds in Antwerp, where he finished 13th in qualifications on both apparatuses.

As Naddour aims for this fall's worlds in Nanning, he is likely to continue to face some of his strongest competitors on native soil. He won pommel horse at the U.S. Championships in 2011, 2012 and 2013, as well as the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials. Verifying his diverse strengths, Naddour placed second all-around and second on rings at the 2013 P&G (U.S.) Championships.

Naddour on still rings

IG: How do you feel your results at the Pacific Rim Championships — where you were second to John Orozco among U.S. gymnasts — positions you for this summer's P&G (U.S.) Championships and this fall's world championships?

AN: I think I am exactly where I want to be. At the Pacific Rim Championships, I didn’t include all of the new skills that I plan to add, because we are still working to perfect them and they were not ready for a team competition. With those additions to my routines and getting to compete this early in the all-around, my coach and I think that I am right where I need to be four months out from the P&G Championships. A lot of good things should come during that time, as well as more consistency.

IG: You have earned your best international results on individual apparatuses, especially pommel horse and rings. What is your perspective on continuing to train and compete all-around, rather than focus on your best apparatuses for a possibly better chance to make the U.S. team for worlds and Olympics?

AN: Like you said, my best two events typically are pommel horse and rings, which is a pretty unique combo in the world. My focus right now is to add one skill on pommels, which I have been working on but have not performed in competition, and changing up my rings set and adding a little difficulty. For the other events, we are looking at adding more on floor and possibly vault. We are trying to maintain on parallel bars and high bar, which could give me the opportunity to be a first-day competitor on those events during team qualification, and then let our heavy hitters on those events perform in the team finals. My coach and I feel that my combined difficulty score for rings and pommel horse, along with where I am on the other events, will carry weight for me when the committee is selecting the six-man Worlds team.

IG: With three U.S. titles on pommel horse, and coming close to making the final at last year's Worlds, what are you doing to boost your D- and E-scores to stay on top in the U.S., as well as challenge for a Worlds medal?

AN: This is always a difficult task, because too much emphasis on difficulty can cause you to not hit or hit with poor form. I’ve revamped my set from Worlds last year by adding another skill to raise my difficulty from last year and eliminated my leg cuts, which gave me a six-tenth deduction. We are also working on an even higher set if I make finals and have to go big, if the guys are putting up some large numbers.

IG: You and (2013 Worlds rings bronze medalist and three-time U.S. rings champion) Brandon Wynn are a formidable pair on rings. What do you think it will take to outscore him at USAs this year?

AN: Brandon Wynn is an animal, I have lived with him on tour and when we traveled to last year’s Worlds. He is all business when it comes to his health and rings. He knows that it could be his ticket into the world championships. When I compete it isn’t about beating one of my teammates, so I definitely do not think like that. I think that anyone who thinks that way is significantly hurting his chances of doing well. I look at how I can beat my best score, which is a 15.6, and myself. To do that, I recently purchased a strength machine I saw in China when I was there for camp. Every rings guy they had was using it. In fact, Chen Yibing - one of the best, if not the best, rings man of all time - has his name on the side of it. I think this machine can help my rings strength and possibly move me up a level on that event.

Naddour and fiancée Hollie Vise

IG: What are your wedding plans?

AN: Hollie and I are officially engaged, which is awesome. With her busy schedule and mine, we would like to get married sometime in May 2015. Since her whole family lives in Dallas and I want her to be the happiest girl on planet Earth, our wedding will be in Dallas! It is a beautiful place, so I am very excited about that. Her family is amazing; they have always been very nice to me. I definitely get along with their whole family. I cannot wait until May when it is official and we are all a family.

IG: Being coached for so long by your father (Mike Naddour), how has your training program shifted since the 2012 Olympics?

AN: Since London we have shifted my training slightly and emphasized more on getting my body in the best shape it can be. We have found that if I am in good shape, I tend to compete and hit my sets more often than not. After leaving OU (Oklahoma University), which was one of the hardest things I have had to do in my whole life, it took a while to get on a training schedule that we knew would work for me. I still miss my friends there. They were like brothers to me, and every chance I get, I tell them how much they mean to me. OU has a phenomenal facility and coaching staff. I hope that many athletes get the same opportunity that I had and really take advantage of everything the University of Oklahoma has to offer. London was a great learning experience for me. To be a part of that team and to know what happens during the Olympics, especially behind the scenes, is something I will always remember and could help me when it comes time for 2016 in Rio.

International Gymnast magazine’s recent coverage of U.S. male gymnasts includes:
Jake Dalton cover photo (April 2013)
"Jacob’s Ladder" – Dalton profile (July/August 2011)
Paul Hamm interview (September 2010)
Quest Hayden profile, Dan and Dennis Hayden update (December 2013)
Jonathan Horton two-page center poster (April 2011)
"Catching up with Steve Hug" – profile (December 2013)
"Like Mother, Like Son" – David Jessen profile (June 2010)
"United State" – Danell Leyva/Yin Alvarez profile (May 2010)
Leyva cover photo (September 2011)
Leyva cover photo (April 2012)
"Back to the Future" – Leyva cover photo and profile (December 2012)
"Sam I Am" – Sam Mikulak cover photo and interview (July/August 2013)
Mikulak two-page center poster (April 2014)
"Ready to Rise Again" – John Orozco center poster and profile (November 2012)
"Bronx Bomber" – Orozco interview (April 2012)
"Athlete Retreat" – visit to U.S. Olympic Training Center (October 2011)

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

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