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Written by Admin    Thursday, 20 March 2008 20:52    PDF Print
German Team Goes Online
The German gymnastics federation has developed a new Web site,, devoted to its current World and Olympic hopefuls, featuring news, athlete blogs and more.
Bui, Brechktken, Gienger and Andergassen

The Deutschen Turner-Bundes held a press conference Sunday in Cottbus to discuss Turn-Team, as well as the current state of gymnastics in Germany. Attending the press conference were DTB President Rainer Brechtken, current German athletes Kim Bui and Thomas Andergassen and West German legend Eberhard Gienger.

The first special features on the site include blogs from Katja Abel (at the American Cup in Florida) and Robert Weber (at the French International in Paris). also offered live commentary from the World Cup event held last weekend in Cottbus.

Brechtken explained that Turn-Team members include not just the gymnasts preparing for the 2007 Worlds in Stuttgart and the Olympics 2008, but all other people involved in the preparation.

The point of the site is to emphasize the unity of the German team and its goal of qualifying full men's and women's squads to the 2008 Olympic Games. Brechtken said the athletes have agreed to put the team qualification as the highest priority, above individuals second. An athlete should set aside their aspirations for the individual all-around when there is another gymnast who is able to score a few tenth higher on one of the events. Every tenth will be needed for the team in the team to finish in the top 12 to qualify for Beijing.

The DTB is expecting some individual medals from the German gymnasts in Stuttgart, specifically from 2006 World medalists Fabian Hambüchen and Oksana Chusovitina.

The site is also selling Turn-Team shirts to raise money for young children in the sport and to donate to children's hospitals, such as the hospital in Colgne where Chusovitina's son, Alisher, underwent treatment for leukemia. (Alisher, who was diagnosed with leukemia in 2002, is now healthy, attends a public school in Cologne and recently competed in his first gymnastics meet.)

The Turn-Team shirt will be limited to 500 pieces. Each shirt is numbered, and the buyer can choose to have his or her own name printed on the back. Shirts with the numbers 101 to 500 will sell for at least 40 Euros each. The first 100 shirts will be autographed and sold either at a higher rate or at auction.

Bui and Andergassen stated that they were both happy to be able to support small children with the money raised by Turn-Team. Bui noted that during her early years of gymnastics, her family required outside financial support to fund her training.

Gienger, the 1974 world high bar champion, bought the first shirt at the press conference and modeled it for the photographers. Gienger will be inducted into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame on May 11.

External Link:

Written by Admin    Wednesday, 19 March 2008 15:40    PDF Print
Code of Points Gets Tweaked
The big news out of the recent FIG Executive Committee meeting in St. Petersburg, Russia, concerns changes to the Code of Points for 2009, which will "promote the artistic nature of the sport and ... increase safety in exercises," according to the FIG news release. "Gymnasts from all disciplines will have to show exemplary mastery in their exercises. Execution will be favored."

These principles are not new, and exist within the philosophy of the current Code of Points. However, beginning in 2009, the women's Code will reduce the number of required elements from 10 to eight. That should lead to shorter routines and longer careers.

The proposed changes for the men's Code focus mainly on the juniors, for which eight skills will count toward the A-score. Also, the A-score will be halved for juniors, thus further de-emphasizing difficulty. Other safety measures for juniors include the prohibition of diving elements that end in a roll-out on floor, and saltos to upper arms or bent arms on parallel bars.

A "G" category, worth 0.7, will be added to the difficulty table, and skills listed there include a Ri Jong Song (triple-twisting double back) and Liukin (triple back) on floor, and a Cassina (layout Kolman) and Shahan (Kovacs with 1.5 twists) on high bar.

On rings, swing-to-strength combinations will count as two separate elements if the swing reverses direction (e.g., front uprise to Maltese).

Written by John Crumlish    Monday, 17 March 2008 15:37    PDF Print
Irish Prepare to Take On Europe
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Although Irish gymnasts and coaches are celebrating St. Patricks' Day, they are working hard to prepare for the upcoming European Championships.
Luke Carson, Mathew Cosgrave and Wayne Healy at the 2007 World Championships

Five Irish gymnasts are scheduled to compete at the European Championships for women, April 3-6 in Clermont, Ferrand, France. They include seniors Sarah Wedel, Aimee O'Driscoll, Emma Gorman and Zoe Johnston; and junior Rebecca Wallace.

Wedel was one of three Irish women who competed at last year's Europeans in Amsterdam. She performed on three events, and teammate Jean Masterson performed on two events. Grainne Johnston, Ireland's sole all-arounder, finished 64th. Last fall, Johnston placed 12th all-around at the Northern European Championships.

Representing Northern Ireland, Gorman placed fifth all-around at last month's Celtic Cup — a competition among gymnasts from Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, held in Lisburn, Northern Ireland. In the team standings, Northern Ireland placed third.

Historically, Holly Murdock and Katie Slader have been the most successful Irish gymnasts. Murdock, who hails from Northern Ireland, represented Great Britain at the 2001 Worlds in Ghent, where she placed 14th all-around. That rank was the best in British history until Beth Tweddle finished fourth at the 2005 Worlds.

Slader, also from Northern Ireland, won the all-around title at the 2004 Northern European Championships.

Ireland's male gymnasts are preparing for the men's Europeans, May 8-11 in Lausanne, Switzerland. Scheduled to compete in Lausanne are senior Luke Carson; and juniors Geoff Rellis, Rory Caffrey, Christopher O'Connor and Rohan Sebastian. (According to a spokesperson for Irish Gymnastics, Cosgrave will not be competing at Europeans because they conflict with the timing of his university exams.)

Healy was the only Irishman to compete at last year's Europeans, where he performed on four events.

Last fall, Cosgrave finished eighth all-around at the Northern European Championships.

Sebastian, a dual U.S.-Irish citizen, is coached by two-time world champion Ivan Ivankov at the Bart Conner Gymnastics Academy in Norman, Okla. Sebastian is among several promising Irish juniors. At the Celtic Cup, O'Connor finished fourth all-around, and the Irish team won the bronze medal. Daniel Fox earned the Irishmen's first individual medal in Celtic Cup history, when he placed second all-around in the Under-13 age group.

IG Magazine Related Features
"International Gymnast" - Sebastian profile (April 2008)
"Rising Irishman" - Cosgrave profile (December 2007)
"Pride of the Irish" - Slader profile (March 2005)
"Pressing Her Luck" - Murdock profile (August/September 2001)

To subscribe to IG Magazine or order back issues, click here.

Written by Amanda Turner    Friday, 14 March 2008 15:33    PDF Print
Olympic Wild Cards to Yemen, Vietnam

The final remaining berths for the 2008 Olympic Games have been awarded to a female from Vietnam and a male from Yemen.

Vietnam's Thuong Di Thi Ngan and Yemen's Nashwan Al-Hazari are the reported recipients of the Wild Card berths selected by a tripartite commission.

The commission consists of the International Olympic Committee, the International Gymnastics Federation and the Association of National Olympic Committees. Geographic representation at the Olympics is one of the factors for designating Wild Card berths.

Thuong, 19, finished 110th at the 2007 World Championships in Stuttgart. She competed three events at the 2007 World Cup in Ghent, Belgium.

Al-Harazi competed five events at the 2007 Worlds, finishing 176th in preliminaries.

Slovenia had organized an international campaign in support of a Wild Card for four-time world medalist Aljaz Pegan.

The Mexican government had similarly supported a Wild Card bid for star Elsa Garcia.

Written by John Crumlish    Monday, 10 March 2008 15:22    PDF Print
Injured Bisbikou Still Hopeful For Beijing
Injured at the recent Greek Championships, Stefani Bisbikou told IG she is optimistic she will compete at her second Olympic Games, this summer in Beijing.
Stefani Bisbikou

At the Greek Championships held March 1 in Thessaloniki, Bisbikou injured her knee on the landing of a new vault for her, a 1-1/2 twisting Yurchenko. Bisbikou still managed to win her third consecutive Greek national all-around title, since vault was her final event.

"The injury has caused the least damage one would expect," Bisbikou said Sunday. "There is a light problem in the inner meniscus, and the inner side-conjunction. It will take approximately 15-20 days of therapy. No operation is needed."

Based on Bisbikou's performance at last fall's World Championships in Stuttgart, she earned an individual berth for the Olympic Games that will take place in August in Beijing, China. Bisbikou placed 15th all-around at the 2004 Olympic Games, held in her hometown of Athens.

Bisbikou is currently undergoing physical therapy "to strengthen the muscles and take away the inflammation," she said.

As a result of her injury, Bisbikou will not participate in next month's European Championships in Clermont-Ferrand, France. Last year she tied for the bronze medal on balance beam at the European Championships in Amsterdam, becoming the first Greek senior female gymnast to win a medal in European Championships history.

Bisbikou said she is confident her knee will be healed in time for Beijing.

"I hope (the injury) won't affect my outlook a lot, since there is plenty of time, and I had stabilized my new exercises quite well," she told IG. "But, one way or another, I will have to try hard after going back to training."


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