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Written by John Crumlish    Monday, 30 June 2014 18:37    PDF Print
Despite Back Injury, Bull Braces for 'Next Journey'
(3 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

Although Australian gymnast Jayden Bull is disappointed that a back injury will keep him out of the upcoming Commonwealth Games, he told IG he intends to use his recovery period to heal and refocus.


Jayden Bull (Australia)

"This was a really tough blow to take following approximately 12 months of rehab for other injuries, and missing out on other opportunities in the past because of injuries, as well," Bull said. "But it's still quite fresh, and once my mind has cleared a bit more, it'll make it easier to make a judgment about where I'm at and mentally prepare for the next journey."

Bull, who finished second on floor exercise and fifth on high bar at the Australian Championships in late May, was diagnosed with two stress fractures on his L4 vertebra at a Commonwealth Games team training camp in Canberra following the championships.

"I can't pinpoint a particular time when it may have happened, but rather something that’s gotten worse over time," Bull said of the injury. "I was definitely its sorest at nationals, though. I've been given a time period of eight weeks with no extension or loading of my back, so no running, jumping or swinging."

The 24-year-old Bull said his injury will impact his preparations for the world championships in October in Nanning, but he plans to use his hiatus wisely.

"It affects my worlds chances pretty substantially since the only things I'll be doing for about eight weeks are strength, rehab and low-impact fitness to try and stay in shape," Bull said. "So I guess it gives me a good chance to get stronger in areas I want to improve and use the time to my advantage."

Despite his injury and injuries to other teammate, Bull said he is optimistic that defending-champion Australia can challenge for the team title in Glasgow, where the event begins July 23.

Australia placed first, ahead of silver medalist England and bronze medalist Canada, at the 2010 Games in Delhi. England and the other U.K. nations compete as individual countries at Commonwealth Games.

"This year’s Games prove to be especially tough," Bull told IG. "The Brits are looking especially good coming off the Olympics and Euros success. The Canadians are a super experienced and talented team. The Aussies have been hit by injuries pretty hard especially, with Luke Wiwatowski, one of our best all-rounders, ruled out, as well. But I think being somewhat the underdogs will work to our advantage, and our rather inexperienced team can hopefully produce some great performances."

 
Written by Amanda Turner    Friday, 27 June 2014 23:02    PDF Print
Leydin Leads Voting for Sports Scholarship
(9 votes, average 4.89 out of 5)

Australian gymnast Maddi Leydin currently leads the voting to win a $10,000 sports scholarship, with the voting ending Monday morning in Australia.

Leydin is a finalist for the Colonial First State Sports Boost along with Matthew Penny (athletics), Mack Horton (swimming) and Lauren Perry (cycling).


Maddi Leydin (Australia)

Leydin told IG she is thrilled by how the gymnastics community has rallied to help push her into the lead.

"I am stoked by the support I have received from the gymnastics community, family, friends and their extended networks," said Leydin, who trains under coaches Misha Barabach and Tracey Penaluna at the Victorian Women's High Performance Centre. "I really can't believe how many people have voted for me and encouraged others to vote and share the link on Facebook."

Leydin was also a finalist for the award in 2013, after winning the senior all-around title at the Australian championships. At the this year's championships in May, Leydin claimed second all-around behind Georgia Godwin.

"I was happy with my performance at nationals," she said. "Despite limited preparation I managed to place second all-around, won bronze on bars and came fourth on beam."

Leydin currently holds a narrow lead over Denny in the online voting for the scholarship. If she wins the competition, Gymnastics Australia also will receive $15,000 in funding.

"Winning the sponsorship grant would be awesome," she said. "It will be used to cover the expenses associated with coaching, medical support and the equipment that is required to help me achieve my goals. Gymnastics Australia will also receive additional funding, which is fantastic as they have been a great support for me throughout my career so far. Hopefully this exposure will also help to encourage younger gymnasts to keep working hard in the gym and chasing their dreams."

Voting ends Monday in Australia, and Leydin is hoping for a last-minute surge to help secure the award.

"The support has been incredible but the voting is really close," she said. "So we still need all of the votes we can get. Please vote!"

Click here to vote on Facebook to support Maddi Leydin and Australian Gymnastics.

 
Written by John Crumlish    Tuesday, 24 June 2014 22:28    PDF Print
Pavlova: 'I Felt Like A Phoenix Risen From The Ashes'
(9 votes, average 4.89 out of 5)

2014 European vault silver medalist Anna Pavlova told IG that her all-around victory at the recent Gym Festival Trnava in Slovakia marked a significant improvement in her confidence since last month’s European Championships in Sofia.


Anna Pavlova in Trnava

"I felt like a phoenix risen from the ashes," she said of her victory in Trnava.

Pavlova said she was nervous in Sofia, where she finished second in the vault final and 13th overall in qualifications among the gymnasts who competed on all four apparatuses. (No formal all-around competition took place in Sofia.)

"I think the anxiety was connected with a big break and the seriousness of the start," she said. "Especially the responsibility after a break."

Pavlova’s reference to a break relates to her transition from representing her native Russia to her recent debut for Azerbaijan. A two-time Russian Olympian, Pavlova officially changed allegiances last fall. She had not competed for Russia at a major event since the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.

"I had no stimulation before," Pavlova said. "It is boring to work only for the sake of those starts at which it’s possible for me to compete."

Pavlova said a lack of recent competitive experience contributed to her uncharacteristic fall from balance beam in qualifications in Sofia.

"For an instant I lost control, but on the beam there is no mercy," Pavlova said. "It was probably from shortage of serious starts recently."

Pavlova acknowledged that low difficulty notes on three apparatuses, including floor exercise, limited her scoring potential in Sofia.

"I did not have enough time to prepare, and problems with my legs have affected me," she said of her exquisite but technically moderate floor routine at Europeans. "I will soon change my routine and am already working on my acrobatics." Pavlova, who trains in Moscow and occasionally visits her hometown of Orekhovo Zuevo, said she looks forward to bonding soon with her new teammates in the Azerbaijani capital.

"With the whole team in the near future we will go to train in Baku," Pavlova said. "Up to this moment there was no possibility. And in the future, it remains to be seen where we will train."

Pavlova said she is preparing for this fall’s world championships in Nanning, although she has not set an agenda for the competition.

"We haven’t spoken about goals yet," she told IG.

Anna Pavlova is featured in the following issues of International Gymnast magazine:

"Still a Stunner" – Pavlova profile (December 2012)
"Back to Beijing" photo gallery, including Pavlova (November 2008)
2008 Olympic Games special issue (October 2008)
2005 European Championships coverage (August/September 2005)
"Athens Confidential" Olympic profiles including Pavlova (November 2004)
2004 Olympic Games special issue (October 2004)
Pavlova on cover photo collage (August/September 2003)
Pavlova two-page center poster (April 2003)
Pavlova on cover photo collage, 2002 European Championships coverage (June/July 2002)
"High Five" – Pavlova and Russian junior team interview (April 2001)
Pavlova cover photo (March 2001)

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

 
Written by John Crumlish    Saturday, 21 June 2014 18:06    PDF Print
Downie Up For Continued Success at Glasgow's Commonwealth Games
(5 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

Featured on and in the June issue of International Gymnast magazine, reigning European uneven bars champion Becky Downie told IG she and her English teammates look to build on their successful performances at last month's European Championships by challenging for the team title at next month's Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

"To win in Glasgow will all be down to our preparation as a team," Downie said. "A lot of the team are coming back from the recent success at the European Championships and know exactly how much work needs to be put in every day to enable us to experience success. I know the team always aims high, but when we go out to compete, all we can control is our routines and how well we perform them. If we put in the hard work now, there is no reason why the success can't continue."


Downie at the 2014 Europeans

Downie, a member of the silver medal-winning English team at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, is the only member of England's team for Glasgow to have competed at previous Games. England and the other nations which comprise the United Kingdom compete independently at the Games.

Also named to the English team for Glasgow were Claudia Fragapane, Ruby Harrold, Kelly Simm and two-time Olympian Hannah Whelan.

Downie, Fraganane, Harrold and Whelan were members of the silver medal-winning British team at last month's European Championships in Sofia.

Peak performances in Sofia, Glasgow and this fall's world championships in Nanning have been part of Downie's plan all year, she said.

"From the start of 2014 I knew it had the potential to be a jam-packed year, so I started to mentally prepare myself for that around Christmastime," Downie said. "I thought the first half of the year would be the easiest, as that would be when I was most fresh. After the Europeans I had to allow myself to come down, as there would be no time between Commonwealth Games and the world championships to take a break."

Downie said she is comfortable with the pacing of the Commonwealth Games in relation to Europeans and worlds.

"I think the Games sit well, as they are right in the middle of Euros and Worlds," said Downie, whose younger sister, Ellie Downie, won the junior vault title in Sofia. "Sometimes you can let yourself drop too far after a major championships and it's hard to get back. With these Games being put in the middle, it firstly allowed us the chance to compete because of the time frames between each event. And it helps keep us motivated and working hard, because straight after one event, the preparation starts towards the next one."

As Downie prepares to help the English team challenge defending champion Australia in Glasgow, she is also ready to encourage her teammates to make the most of their Games experience.

"The Commonwealth Games is a great experience as it's not just a gymnastics competition, but it's a multi-sport event," Downie told IG. "It'll enable us to meet lots of other great athletes, learn about other sports and experience life in an athletes' village. The advice I would give is to just enjoy every moment! These Games are special, as they only come round once every four years, so make the most of the experience, in and out the gym."

Read an interview with Becky Downie and her younger sister, 2014 European junior vault champion Ellie Downie, in the June 2014 issue of International Gymnast magazine; and read "European Brilliance," an interview with Ruby Harrold, in the September 2013 issue.

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

 
Written by John Crumlish    Saturday, 14 June 2014 20:13    PDF Print
Recent International Success Motivates Mikulak
(4 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

As U.S. all-around champion Sam Mikulak prepares for a training trip in Germany and Italy, he told IG that winning gold, silver and bronze medals at the recent World Challenge Cup of Anadia has primed him for his title defense at the P&G (U.S.) Championships in August in Pittsburgh.

"Competing internationally is always a great experience," said Mikulak, who placed first on high bar, second on floor exercise and third on parallel bars at the Challenge Cup, held May 29-June 1 in the Portuguese city. "I get another opportunity to put myself in a pressure situation, and as I get geared up for the P&G Championships, the more prepared I am for the pressure situations, the better. Plus it's nice to be in such a refined state with all my routines this early going into P&Gs."


Sam Mikulak (United States)

Mikulak, who placed sixth all-around and fourth on high bar at the 2013 World Championships in Antwerp, said he was most pleased with his performance on high bar in Anadia. He won that apparatus title for the second consecutive year.

"The high bar gold medal was most satisfying because it was the one event where I had to defend my title," he said. "It was my last opportunity to get a gold medal, and to end on a stick is the best way to go out."

Mikulak said he was prepared to do one of two routines in the high bar final, but ultimately chose a more conservative one based on the performance of China’s Zhang Chenglong.

In qualifications, Zhang had the highest Difficulty score (6.90) of the field. Mikulak, top qualifier Marijo Možnik (Croatia) and Bence Talas (Hungary) each had a D note of 6.60 in qualifications.

"Going into high bar (final) I was deciding whether to do my more difficult 16.9 routine with a Cassina, or my easier 16.6 routine," Mikulak said. "If Chenglong had hit his harder high bar set, I was going to do the Cassina, but when he fell, I knew I just had to hit a clean 16.6 routine, and that's what I did."

In Anadia, Mikulak also finished fifth in vault finals, but fell on pommel horse in qualifications for 26th place.

"My mistake on horse was just one of those freak accidents that you could never predict," he said, "I never fall on my scissor work and so I just put it behind me."

Mikulak said he decided against competing in Anadia on the sixth event, rings, because his shoulder was a little sore, and he wanted to focus on the events on which he had better medal prospects.

"I chose to do five events because I've been in all-around shape," he said. "The more I do, the more experience I get and the better chance I have to medal."

Mikulak said he does not plan to compete between now and the P&G Championships, but is looking forward to a training trip with German star Fabian Hambüchen in Germany and Italy.

"Any chance to train and see other gymnasts' training styles is a great time to broaden my horizons and better myself as a gymnast," Mikulak told IG.

Sam Mikulak is featured in the following issues of International Gymnast magazine:
2014 NCAA Championships coverage (May 2014)
Mikulak two-page center poster, 2014 American Cup coverage (April 2014)
2013 World Championships special issue (November 2013)
Mikulak two-page photo spread (October 2013)
2013 U.S. Championships coverage (September 2013)
"Sam I Am" – Mikulak cover photo and interview (July/August 2013)
2013 NCAA Championships coverage (May 2013)
2012 U.S. Olympic Trials coverage (July/August 2012)

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

 


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