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Written by John Crumlish    Tuesday, 22 April 2014 12:47    PDF Print
Almost 30, Millousi Still Eyes Europeans Final
(6 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

Two-time Greek Olympian Vasiliki Millousi, who turns 30 next month, told IG she hopes her gold medal-winning performance at last weekend's Korea Cup will bode well for her chances at the upcoming European Championships in Sofia.


Vasiliki Millousi (Greece)

"The Korea Cup was a very good test before Europeans, as my routine was very good to go with confidence to Europeans," said Millousi, who placed first on balance beam at the meet held in Incheon. "The last few years I have had the same goal, to make a perfect execution and be part of the final. There everything is possible."

Before traveling to Sofia for the women's Europeans that will take place May 12-18, Millousi is anticipating the Greek championships, which have been rescheduled following their initial cancellation. (For details on the cancellation, read IG Online's report here.)

"I was surprised when I heard about the nationals (being canceled), but finally we'll have nationals next weekend, the weekend before Europeans," said Millousi, who qualified for the all-around final at last year's world championships in Antwerp, where she placed 24th.

Millousi, who competed at the 2000 and 2012 Olympic Games, said sponsorships could help Greek gymnastics despite any political and financial issues the country might be facing.

"As a gymnast I would suggest the government give more attention to sports," she said. "But anyway, it would be a good solution to find other ways, such as sponsors, to avoid the same problems in the future."

Via Facebook, Millousi sent Easter greetings and photos from Incheon to friends on Sunday, although she enjoyed a uniquely gymnastics holiday there.

"This year I was far away from my family because we were in Korea," she told IG. "I celebrated Easter with the athletes!"

International Gymnast magazine's recent coverage of Greek gymnasts includes:
Vasiliki Millousi two-page photo gallery (May 2013)
"Wisdom of a Woman" – Millousi interview (April 2012)
Dimosthenis Tambakos update (March 2013)
"Perseverance" – Vasileios Tsolakidis interview (January/February 2012)

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

 
Written by John Crumlish    Wednesday, 16 April 2014 14:21    PDF Print
Germany's Akyol On 'Very Good Path' Toward Europeans, Worlds
(5 votes, average 4.80 out of 5)

Second for Germany and tied for fourth place all-around at an international tri-meet last weekend, Cagla Akyol told IG that her recent success bodes well for her as she aims for next month's European Championships in Sofia and this fall's world championships in Nanning.

"I am pleased with my progress, although I know I have more work to do and need to keep improving," said Akyol, who tied for fourth place, one position behind German team star Elisabeth Seitz, at the April 12 tri-meet among Germany, Great Britain and Spain in Munich. "It is always very special to represent Germany, something Elisabeth has done many times.  She is an excellent role model, and I know that following in her footsteps puts me on a very good path."


Cagla Akyol (Germany) at the 2014 Cottbus Cup

Akyol, who finished fourth on balance beam and floor exercise at the Cottbus Tournament of Masters/FIG Challenger Cup in March, said she is optimistic about her chance to be selected for the German team going to Sofia and Nanning.

"My recent results have been very positive," said Akyol, who placed 21st all-around at the 2013 Europeans in Moscow. "It certainly is my goal to be on the team for both competitions, but it is a difficult team to make because we have several excellent gymnasts in Germany right now."

Born Sept. 22, 1997, in Heidelberg, Akyol is the daughter of German-born parents who have Turkish roots. All of Akyol's grandparents are from Turkey.

Akyol still has relatives in Turkey, who supported her when she performed at the 2011 European Youth Olympic Festival that took place in Trabzon, Turkey.

"Their coming to see me compete was something really special," said Akyol, who placed 16th all-around and eighth on balance beam in Trabzon.

At home, Akyol said she is motivated daily by training alongside Seitz and Florine Harder at Mannheim Gymnastics Club.

"Elisabeth and Florine are both excellent gymnasts," said Akyol, who is coached by Claudia Rodinger Schunk. "Elisabeth is older and Florine is younger, but we all push each other and work very well together. There is a chance that all three of us might be selected for the European Championships, and that would be very exciting."

Although Akyol competed at last year's world championships in Antwerp, she said she recognizes the challenges and hard work that lie ahead.

"It is very clear that I must prove myself as a valuable team member by performing well under pressure," Akyol told IG. "This is something I'm striving for each day. I'm also working to increase my overall physical strength, improve my execution, secure successful landings on floor and increase the value of my vault for Nanning."

International Gymnast magazine's recent features on German women's gymnastics include:
"Tough Lesson" - Janine Berger interview (October 2012)
Kim Bui interview (April 2013)
"New View from the Top" - Lisa Katharina Hill profile (July/August 2013)
"Leaps and Bounds for Germany" - Nadine Jarosch profile (January/February 2012)
Steffi Kräker interview/Hall of Fame induction feature (June 2011)
"Calm, Clean Style" - Sophie Scheder profile (December 2013)
"Seizing the Moment" - Elisabeth Seitz interview (July/August 2011)

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

 
Written by dwight normile    Tuesday, 15 April 2014 10:49    PDF Print
Gabby Douglas Reunites With Liang Chow
(9 votes, average 4.89 out of 5)

2012 Olympic champion Gabby Douglas began training at Chow's Gymnastics in West Des Moines, Iowa, on Monday, and coach Liang Chow told IG he is impressed so far.

"I'm just very happy to see the desire," he said. "Yesterday was our first time [training together] and I'm very excited to see all of my children back [laughs]. I invited Shawn also, but she said she's finished for good [laughs]—I was joking with Shawn."

Chow, of course, is not kidding around about the return of Douglas, who had been living in Los Angeles with her family. And he already has a strong group of elites, which includes junior Norah Flatley and Rachel Gowey. Even though Douglas's Olympic gold changed her life drastically, Chow says she has not really changed.

"I don't see much difference," he said. "I feel like even though it was our first day training … [she has] the same good attitude. It seems like she never even left. Her physical condition is a little rough, but attitude-wise, I don't see any difference."

Flatley, 14, is happy to have her former gym-mate back, too.

"I love it," she said. "Gabby's an amazing person and friend, and she's like a sister to me. And I enjoy training with her."

Not surprisingly, Chow said it was much too early to predict when Douglas will return to competition.

"It's hard for me to [say] after one-and-a-half days," he said. "But I'm very happy to see that she has the hard-working style and a very good attitude."

International Gymnast magazine's coverage of Gabrielle Douglas includes:
"Gabby Gallery" – five-page photo spread (November 2012)
"Gabbing with Gabby" – interview (October 2012)
2012 Olympic Games special issue, including Douglas center poster (September 2012)
Douglas on cover photo collage (July/August 2012)
Douglas cover photo and interview (April 2012)
"The Great Gabby" – profile (March 2011)

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

 
Written by Amanda Turner    Wednesday, 09 April 2014 10:55    PDF Print
Yurchenko, Li Among 2014 IGHOF Class
(4 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)


Gymnastics legends Li Yuejiu (China), Klaus Köste (Germany), Natalia Yurchenko (Russia), and Jackie Fie (USA) will be inducted into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame on May 17 in Oklahoma City.

Renowned ABC Wide World of Sports television commentator Gordon Maddux will receive the Frank Bare Award for his contributions and promotions of gymnastics.

"It is going to be an emotional night to have so many of our sport’s true 'game-changers' all in one room," said Bart Conner, chairman of the IGHOF board.


Natalia Yurchenko

Li was China's first male world champion, winning floor exercise at the 1981 World Championships in Moscow. He was one of the first gymnasts to compete a double-twisting double back on floor exercise, and also has his own difficult tumbling move named after him (straddled side-in, quarter turn to forward roll-out). He moved to the United States after winning a silver medal at the 1984 Olympic Games and began a coaching career. He went back to China to assist the women's team in the quadrennium prior to the Beijing Olympic Games; he helped coached the Chinese women to their first world team title in 2006 and first Olympic team title in 2008. He continues to coach in Illinois today along with wife, fellow 1984 Olympian Wu Jiani. Their daughter Anna Li was an alternate to the 2012 U.S. Olympic team.

Köste, who will be inducted in memoriam, was a three-time Olympian and the 1972 Olympic vault champion. He was a member of East Germany's bronze medal-winning team at the 1964, 1968 and 1972 Olympic Games. He won high bar at the 1971 and 1973 European Championships, and in total he amassed 34 national titles. After retiring from an Achilles injury in 1974, he served as coach of the East German women's national team and coached for many years. He continued to stay active in gymnastics, competing in Germany's senior league until shortly before his death in 2012.

Yurchenko was a pioneer in the sport of gymnastics, inventing her eponymous vault of roundoff onto the board and back handspring onto the vaulting horse. She also has two moves named after her on balance beam (roundoff, layout stepout onto the beam and sideways back handspring to hip circle around the beam). She won the all-around title at the 1983 World Championships and 1982 World Cup, and back-to-back team world titles in 1983 and 1985. The Soviet boycott of the 1984 Olympic Games prevented her from competing in Los Angeles, but she won the team and vault golds at the Alternate Games in Olomouc. She is married to Igor Sklyarov, an Olympic champion in soccer with the Soviet team at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul. She also lives and coaches in Illinois.

Fie, a member of the U.S. team at the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne, went on to judge for decades afterward. She served on the board of directors for the U.S. Gymnastics Federation from 1964-2004, and eventually became president of the FIG Women's Technical Committee from 1992-2004. During her tenure as WTC President, she implemented the Judges Objectivity Evaluation system, which, for the first time, added a level of accountability throughout the judging ranks. As a result of her diligence, Fie established a new, higher standard for judges worldwide.

All the members of the 1984 U.S. Olympic men's team will be present, to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their historic team gold medal from Los Angeles.

Over the past 17 years, 81 of gymnastics greatest stars and contributors, representing 21 countries, have been formally inducted into the Hall of Fame.

The International Gymnastics Hall of Fame continues to preserve, promote and share the achievements of the sport's greatest legends, with the IGHOF exhibit at the Science Museum Oklahoma in the Adventure District in Oklahoma City. Visitors can try out gymnastics equipment, view portraits of all inductees, see sculptures, paintings and memorabilia, and use the video kiosk to study the videos and careers of the international gymnastics stars.

"Our goal is to preserve the legacies of these international gymnastics legends, and use their stories of achievement to inspire future generations," Conner said.

For more information about the IGHOF and how you can be a member or donor, visit www.ighof.com. For tickets to the IGHOF dinner ceremony, contact Lynn Landis at 405-364-5344.

 
Written by Amanda Turner    Tuesday, 08 April 2014 16:26    PDF Print
Mustafina, Komova Lead Russian Squad to Sofia
(5 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)



World and Olympic medalists Aliya Mustafina and Viktoria Komova will lead a young Russian team at next month's European championships in Sofia, Bulgaria. Pictured: Mustafina won her fourth consecutive all-around title at last week's Russian championships.

World and Olympic medalists Aliya Mustafina and Viktoria Komova will lead a young Russian team at the European championships, May 12-18 in Sofia, Bulgaria.

The team lineup was announced following the women's national championships, which ended Sunday in Penza, where Mustafina won her fourth consecutive all-around title.


Daria Spiridonova (Russia)

Komova competed three events in Penza, her first competition since the 2012 Olympic Games.

Mustafina and Komova will be joined in Sofia by first-year seniors Maria Kharenkova and Daria Spiridonova and relatively inexperienced Alla Sotnitskaya, who turns 17 on Thursday.

The newcomers earned their spots on the team by strong performances in Penza, national coach Valentina Rodionenko said. Sotnitskaya won the all-around silver, gold on vault, silver on floor exercise and bronze on uneven bars. Spiridonova won uneven bars and was second on balance beam behind Kharenkova.

Defending European floor exercise champion Ksenia Afanasyeva competed two events for her Central team in Penza, but is focused on recovering from her ankle injury in time for this fall's world championships.

"We have decided to hold Ksenia Afanasyeva, who recently had surgery on her ankle, out of the competition in Bulgaria," Rodionenko said.

2012 Olympian Anastasia Grishina, who was third all-around in Penza, suffered a major knee injury on the second day of competition. Grishina, 18, reportedly suffered a partial tear of her ACL and fractured bone near her knee.

In Sofia, the Russian team will try to regain its team title after losing to Romania at the 2012 European Championships in Brussels.

"Now each of (the gymnasts) has her own task," Rodionenko said. "The youth need to fix their routines so they will be able to fight for medals at the European championships. And the team leaders, well, they need to show their leadership."

The Russian men's championships begin Wednesday in Penza. The men's European championships take place May 19-25 in Sofia.

This year's European championships include senior competition for team and individual apparatus, and a full junior competition with team, all-around and apparatus finals.

External Link: Russian Gymnastics Federation

 
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