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Written by John Crumlish    Saturday, 10 January 2015 22:39    PDF Print
Kocian: 'Hard Work and Determination Pay Off'
(20 votes, average 4.55 out of 5)

U.S. gymnast Madison Kocian told IG that winning a team gold medal at last fall's world championships in Nanning inspired her for the challenges ahead in 2015.

"This past year has been the most rewarding year of my gymnastics career," she said. "My most satisfying moments in 2014 include being selected to the world championships team and winning team gold. These experiences really showed me that hard work and determination pay off in the end."

Madison Kocian (USA)

In qualifications at worlds, Kocian ranked 14th in the all-around standings. She did not advance to the 24-gymnast all-around final because only two gymnasts per country could, and she was fourth among U.S. gymnasts.

"The memories I made with my teammates in China will last forever, and I hope I will get the opportunity again to represent the USA at worlds in 2015," Kocian said.

Born June 15, 1997, in Dallas, Kocian trains at WOGA in Plano, Texas. Her coaches are French-born Laurent Landi and former Kazakh national team member Natasha Boyarskaya.

"Laurent coaches me on vault and bars, and Natasha coaches me on beam and floor," Kocian said. "I've had Natasha as a coach since Level 4, and Laurent started coaching me in Level 9."

Kocian tied for sixth place all-around at the 2009 Visa (U.S.) junior championships in her hometown, and finished fifth all-around and third on uneven bars at the 2010 Visa junior championships in Hartford.

In junior international competition, Kocian finished third all-around, first on vault and second on balance beam at the 2009 Top Gym meet in Charleroi, Belgium; and second all-around and third on balance beam at the 2011 City of Jesolo Trophy meet in Italy.

Kocian cites the diligence of her support team for enabling her to perform so efficiently on four apparatuses in Nanning, following an ankle injury.

Last summer Kocian placed second on uneven bars and fifth on balance beam at the P&G (U.S.) championships in Pittsburgh; and second on uneven bars and fourth (tie) on balance beam at the Pan American championships in Mississauga, Canada. She did not compete on vault and floor exercise at either meet.

"I give credit to my physical therapist and coaches for working with me to help me compete all four events again," said Kocian, who placed first on uneven bars at the City of Jesolo Trophy meet last spring. "My ankle healed and was continuously getting stronger, so my coaches paced my tumbling and vault to be ready for the worlds selection camp. While my difficulty wasn't at its best, I was excited to be competing all four events at worlds."

Kocian said she looks forward to restoring her routines and earning a place on the U.S. team at this fall's worlds in Glasgow.

"I will need to get my floor and vault difficulty back to the level they were before my injury," she said. "I believe improving my connection consistency on bars and beam will be key factors, as well. I will be focusing on my vault and floor difficulty this year. I also want to upgrade my beam dismount and bars connections."

After a productive competitive year, Kocian enjoyed celebrating the recent holidays with loved ones.

"I spent Christmas at home with my cousins and family," she said. "We always decorate Christmas cookies together and exchange presents. My family and I went to a friend's house to celebrate the New Year. It's nice to relax and enjoy the holiday season with family and friends."

Kocian said she wants to keep as she pursues her challenges in 2015.

"My New Year's resolution is to stay healthy, so I can accomplish my goals," she told IG.

International Gymnast magazine's recent coverage of U.S. female gymnasts includes:

"Lights, Camera, Baskett" – Kristina Baskett profile (June 2012)
Simone Biles cover photo, 2014 World Championships special issue (November 2014)
Simone Biles cover photo, 2014 Worlds preview (October 2014)
Simone Biles cover photo, 2014 U.S. Championships coverage (September 2014)
Simone Biles cover photo, 2013 U.S. Championships coverage (September 2013)
Biles interview (April 2013)
"Transition Year: - coach Aimee Boorman/Simone Biles profile (July/August 2014)
Gabby Douglas interview (September 2014)
"Gabby Gallery" – five-page Gabby Douglas photo gallery (November 2012)
"Gabbing with Gabby" - Gabby Douglas interview (October 2012)
Gabby Douglas four-page center poster (September 2012)
Gabby Douglas and Jordan Wieber on cover photo collage (July/August 2012)
Gabby Douglas cover photo and interview, 2012 American Cup coverage (April 2012)
Brenna Dowell cover photo, 2014 American Cup coverage (April 2014)
"Beaming at Chow's" – Norah Flatley profile (May 2014)
"Pittsburgh Princess" – Jazmyn Foberg profile (October 2014)
"True Original" – Kelly Garrison photo collage and update (March 2014)
"Expressing Herself" – Laurie Hernandez profile (October 2013)
Kytra Hunter cover photo, 2012 NCAA Championships coverage (May 2012)
"Texas Dreams' Junior Hit" – Bailie Key profile (May 2013)
"Valiant Effort" – Anna Li interview (January/February 2013)
"All-around Commitment" – McKayla Maroney interview (March 2014)
"Maroney on the Mend" – McKayla Maroney interview (January/February 2013)
"It's Showtime" – McKayla Maroney profile (May 2011)
Julianne McNamara photo collage and update (October 2014)
Katelyn Ohashi cover photo, 2013 American Cup coverage (April 2013)
"Belief System" – Elizabeth Price interview (April 2014)
Elizabeth Price cover photo and profile (January/February 2013)
Alexandra Raisman two-page center poster (January/February 2013)
"Retton's Rapture" – Mary Lou Retton photo collage and update July/August 2014)
"Focus Forward" – Kyla Ross cover photo and interview (November 2012)
Bridget Sloan cover photo, 2013 NCAA Championships coverage (May 2013)
Jordyn Wieber interview (March 2014)
"Tears to Triumph" – Jordyn Wieber interview (October 2012)
2015 NCAA Preview cover photo collage and report (December 2014)
2014 Pacific Rim Championships and NCAA Championships coverage (May 2014)
2013 World Championships special issue (November 2013)
U.S. junior cover photo collage and profiles (October 2013)
2012 Olympic Games special issue (September 2012)
2012 U.S. Olympic Trials coverage (July/August 2012)
2012 U.S. Championships coverage (June 2012)
2012 Pacific Rim Championships coverage (April 2012)

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

Written by Amanda Turner    Monday, 05 January 2015 13:26    PDF Print
Mexican Gymnast Romero Mourned After Tragedy
(10 votes, average 4.80 out of 5)

Two-time Mexican world team member Jaime Romero, 22, is being mourned following his shocking murder in Guadalajara on Saturday. Pictured: Romero, second from left, with the Mexican team at the 2014 World Championships

Two-time Mexican world team member Jaime Romero is being mourned following his shocking murder Saturday on the streets of Guadalajara, Jalisco. The gymnast was 22.

Romero was shot and killed along with a friend, Raúl Trejo Santos, 23. Witnesses report that the two friends became involved in an argument in the early morning hours with a group of men, who shot them and fled in two vehicles, the police stated.

The Mexican Gymnastics Federation (FMG) and the Mexican Olympic Committee were among those that issued public condolences.

"The FMG and the gymnastics community mourn the loss of special gymnast Jaime Romero. Our deepest condolences to his family," the Mexican federation wrote.

Romero was a member of the Mexican team that placed a record 23rd at the 2014 World Championships in Nanning. That ranking helped the Mexican men advance a full team to this year's world championships in Glasgow. He also competed several events at the 2013 World Championships in Antwerp.

Last May, at Mexico's National Olympiad, Romero won the gold on vault, the silver on pommel horse and the bronze medal on high bar.

In 2009 and 2010, he had trained under national team coach Óscar Aguirre in Ensenada, Baja California.

"He lived his best in those competitions, in which he showed the attitude and dedication that led him to overcome any technical issues he might encounter," Aguirre said.

Aguirre, who coaches world medalist Daniel Corral, said they canceled practice Saturday after hearing the tragic news. He said he planned to fly to Guadalajara to give personal condolences to the Romero family.

His father, also named Jaime, is the coach of the boys team in Jalisco. His mother, Aida Morán Romero, said the family's devastating grief was compounded because they only learned of his death via social media.

Morán Romero, who said her son had gone to a friend's birthday celebration, criticized the local police for failing to immediately notify the family.

"My son, a responsible young man, always carried his identification with his number and our information," she told a newspaper. "The authorities never told us anything, and unfortunately we found out when my daughter saw it online. It's not fair that a sister, a mother, a father, should find out about the death of their son this way."

Romero had been training for the two big competitions in 2015: worlds in Glasgow and the Pan American Games in Toronto.

"He was a healthy boy with dreams, who always sought a better Mexico and to find it through sport," his mother said.

Written by dwight normile    Wednesday, 31 December 2014 01:01    PDF Print
2014: The Year In Quotes From the Pages of IG
(4 votes, average 4.00 out of 5)

As 2014 comes to a close, a time of reflection is in order. Following are select quotes, ranging from heartfelt to humorous, from the pages of IG magazine. Season's readings!


Kenzo Shirai (Japan), on what he does to relax in his free time:

"I am looking for a hobby. If you insist, I like eating. I often eat snack chips. They are cheap, so I can eat many. I am happy to eat them. I think the time I use to eat them is relaxing."

Alexander Alexandrov (Russia), who will coach the Brazilian women through the 2016 Rio Olympics:

"What will I be doing in 2016 after the Olympics? I really don't know."


Jordyn Wieber (USA), on returning to gymnastics:

"I had an amazing Olympic experience, but I feel there's some unfinished business after not making the all-around final and things like that. So I definitely have that fire within me to keep competing."

Epke Zonderland (Netherlands), (pictured) on his long hair:

"I've heard people say that it's like a Biblical Samson belief, that my strength would be in my hair. It's not true. I have worn it shorter but it just doesn't look good on me. So I suppose it's a matter of vanity."


Kurt Golder (USA), head coach at Michigan, on coaching Sam Mikulak:

"Here at Michigan, one of our team mottos is the team comes first ... and that is very natural for Sam. As a matter of fact, he declined taking his National Championship ring for winning the NCAA all-around title his freshman year, and he declined taking his National Championship ring for winning the NCAA p-bar title his sophomore year. Quoting Sam: 'I don't want a National Championship ring until the team wins it.'"

Allana Slater (Australia), on discovering the vault was set too low at the 2000 Olympics:

"The first vault I went over (in warm-ups), I felt like I was going down onto the horse. And I said to my coach, 'Nikolai, the vault's too low.' He looked at me [and said], 'Get off the mat.' And I said, 'No, it's too low, I'm not getting off the mat.' We told the judges ... and the debacle began, really."


Jim Hartung (USA), on Sam Mikulak tying him and Joe Giallombardo for the most NCAA individual titles (seven):

"Well, I cannot lie. I was pulling for Sam to tie that record. Like Joe, Sam's just a first-class kid. I'm glad to have him join our club, and it was good to see."

Raisa Ganina (Russia), on coaching Aliya Mustafina:

"First of all, you need to be her friend. You have to love her even when she is being prickly."

Aliya Mustafina (Russia), on never making plans:

"This is something my mother taught me: never plan anything. You can have a goal but don't count on it as if it's done. It would be nice to still be doing gymnastics until the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, but it doesn't mean I will. I don't plan what I will be doing this week or next week. As life has shown me, whatever is being planned is not always getting done. So if I don't build something up, there will be nothing to crumble."


Natalia Yurchenko (Russia), (pictured) on the Soviet boycott of the 1984 Olympics:

"It was a really big disappointment when I found out we weren't going. Other teammates of mine were [younger]. For me, it was really depressing because I knew it was just one [chance to be in an] Olympics for me — I'm not going to go."

Jackie Fie (USA), on Andreea Raducan losing her all-around gold at the 2000 Olympics:

"That was so sad for her. I don't know if I would have done what the committee did in the long run by disallowing her medal. I think it was an innocent error; it was a cold tablet, my goodness..."


Mitch Gaylord (USA), on being able to show his risky Gaylord II in the 1984 Olympic team final:

"Doing the Gaylord II was one of those moments that, if you watch the tape, you see Abie (Grossfeld) and I avoiding eye contact, and [we] finally look at each other [laughs]. He gave me that nod and that's all I really needed. I would have been shocked if he said not to do it, just because we came there to do something special ... not to play it safe. It was exciting. It was an incredible relief, too, to catch it [laughs]."

Mary Lou Retton (USA), on a behind-the-scenes memory she recalls from the 1984 Olympics:

"Right before my vault in the all-around competition, I stepped in spilled sticky soda that was on the floor. It got all over my vault shoes ... and I remember Bela telling me it was going to help me 'stick it'. Well..."


Gabby Douglas (USA), (pictured) on her advice for kids:

"Keep fighting for your dreams. Don't let anyone tell you that you're nothing without them. Don't let anyone just bully you. You are amazing, and use that gift and ... shine."

Jani Tanskanen (Finland), President of the FIG Athlete's Commission, on the current length of routines:

"It is true that we see long, difficult routines on each apparatus and sometimes at the expense of execution, which I do not like. Perhaps we are reaching the limit in this direction, thinking about the load all this exposes to gymnasts' bodies, especially all-around gymnasts ... the preparation for the competitions is putting extreme pressure on our gymnasts."


Carly Patterson (USA), joking about whether she got the last laugh by winning the 2004 Olympics after placing second to Svetlana Khorkina at the 2003 World Championships:

"Definitely. You know what? She can have the worlds all-around gold; I'll take the Olympic all-around gold [laughs]. I'm fine with that trade."

Dipa Karmaker (India), (pictured) India's first woman to medal at the Commonwealth Games, on how she learned a handspring-double front vault:

"Mr. Nandi (her coach) began to think about its possibility in 2010. He tells me I'm a powerful and explosive athlete, and I'm ... compact enough to rotate. It's been a long process, and we haven't always had access to a pit. Fortunately, we've had centralized training in Delhi for this past year, and our national training center has permitted me to work it safely, and most importantly, gradually. Thankfully, our efforts in Glasgow were rewarded."

NOVEMBER, Special World Championships issue

Huang Yubin, Chinese national coach, on the winning margin of the U.S. women over China at the 2014 World Championships:

"Well, seven points is not a huge gap."

Shang Chunsong (China), on which routines she was most satisfied with in qualifications:

"Umm ... none."

Simone Biles (USA), (pictured) on winning 'only' silver on vault:

"I'm pretty proud of it, so I guess that's all that matters."

Aliya Mustafina (Russia), on winning the bronze on balance beam:

"It was sheer luck."


Svetlana Khorkina (Russia), (pictured) on how gymnastics has changed since she last competed:

"Men's gymnastics is at a very high level, very serious and complicated. In women's gymnastics I don't see a lot of leaders. In my time there was a lot of competition. Now there is one, two and three (top gymnasts), and that's all. I don't like that. I want to see a lot of contenders for first place, so it's a fight."

Justin Spring (USA), head coach at Illinois, on how to improve men's NCAA gymnastics:

"Adopt a system that simplifies gymnastics and makes it more like X-Games ... I know this sounds extreme, but gymnastics needs ... to keep up with how sensationalized other sports are on TV."

Written by John Crumlish    Friday, 26 December 2014 20:36    PDF Print
Dutch Gymnast Ruikes Revels in 2014 Success
(3 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

International Gymnast Online continues its annual series of holiday-themed features with this profile on Dutch gymnast Maartje Ruikes, who told IG she was inspired by her achievements in 2014 that included a successful debut at the world championships.

"2014 was a great year for me," Ruikes said. "Still returning from a serious hip injury, in the beginning of this year I managed to qualify for the European championships team. Unfortunately I was only a reserve, but this gave me a lot of energy to continue my recovery. After that I won the silver medal in the all-around at the Dutch championships. Nevertheless, my greatest moment was being part of the Dutch team at the world championships in China. This was my first world championships, with an outstanding result that I am very proud of."

Maartje Ruikes (The Netherlands)

Ruikes said she was pleased by her team and her own performances at the worlds, held in October in Nanning. She placed 40th all-around in qualifications, where the Dutch team finished 10th. The top 24 gymnasts (maximum two per country) advanced to the all-around final, and the top eight teams advanced to the team final.

"We did quite well in Nanning," said the 18-year-old Ruikes, who trains under coaches Marja Huijting and Edwin Zegers at GTV de Hazenkamp in Nijmegen. "Nobody expected our team to reach 10th place. After the first qualification day we were even dreaming about getting into the finals. My personal ranking also gave me a lot of satisfaction - becoming second of the Dutch team, and 40th place in the world ranking was great."

Ruikes said the Dutch team has the potential to ascend in the rankings at the 2015 worlds in Glasgow.

"To move closer to the top, we have to improve our D-scores (difficulty) and our E-scores (execution)," she said. "And of course we all have to stay healthy and make no mistakes."

2015 will be an important year for Ruikes, in and out of the gym.

"I hope to succeed in my exams," she said. "With respect to gymnastics, my goal is to qualify for the European Games (in Baku in June) and after that for the world championships in Glasgow. These worlds are very important for Olympic qualification. I really hope to make the Olympic team."
Ruikes intends to enjoy a few days off during the holiday season.

"During the Christmas holidays we have some 'gymnastics-free' days," she said. "I hope to spend this time with my parents, my sister and two brothers. We don't see each other very often as a complete family, so this is very valuable time for me."

Although Ruikes has big plans for herself in 2015, she avoids designating any New Year's resolutions.

"I actually don't have these New Year's resolutions," she told IG. "I hope to continue the life I am living right now and stay successful in all aspects of life."

International Gymnast magazine's coverage of Dutch gymnasts includes:

"Her Finest Hour" – Renske Endel interview (May 2002)
"Miracles Do Happen" – Imke Glas profile (May 2008)
"Double Dutch" – Suzanne Harmes/Yuri van Gelder profiles (May 2006)
"Fresh Start" - Loes Linders profile (April 2006)
"Patient and Persistent" - Tahnee Masela profile (September 2006)
Tess Moonen on cover photo collage (July/August 2010)
"Comebacks Complete" – Verona van de Leur/Jeffrey Wammes profiles (September 2007)
"Fame Resistant" – Verona van de Leur cover story (May 2002)
"Power Trip" - Yuri van Gelder profile (January/February 2009)
van Gelder two-page center poster (June 2008)
"Just Verdict" – Céline van Gerner interview (June/July 2012)
Ready to Rise for the Netherlands" – Noel van Klaveren profile (June 2013)
"Destiny's Child" – Jeffrey Wammes profile (August/September 2002)
Gabriella Wammes profile (October 2009)
"Calculated Risk" – Lichelle Wong profile (May 2010)
"Perseverance Pays Off" – Lichelle Wong profile (July/August 2007)
"Skilled and Studious" - Epke Zonderland cover story (March 2014)
"The Flying Dutchman" – Zonderland interview (May 2010)

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

Written by John Crumlish    Tuesday, 23 December 2014 15:20    PDF Print
Worlds Debut Helped Make 2014 Memorable For Norway's Braaten
(8 votes, average 4.88 out of 5)

IG Online's annual holiday series continues with an update on Norway's Sophie Braaten, who was the sole Norwegian female to compete at this year's world championships.

Norwegian gymnast Sofie Braaten told IG that winning Norway's national all-around title and competing at this fall's world championships in Nanning made for a memorable 2014.

Sophie Braaten (Norway)

"These are the two biggest goals I set myself for the year," Braaten said. "I am proud of myself for making these goals even though I had an arm injury, where I tore a ligament in my arm, in the beginning of the year."

Braaten started her career at age 5 at Cincinnati Gymnastics Academy while her father, who works for the Norwegian military, was stationed in the United States. She now trains at Oslo Gymnastics Club in Hasle, where her coaches are Antonio Egri (vault, uneven bars and floor exercise) and Agneta Ergle (balance beam and floor choreography).

Despite a mistake on uneven bars, Braaten said she was pleased with her results in Nanning, where she was Norway's only female competitor.

"I am very happy with my performance in Nanning," she said. "My only big miss was a fall in my dismount on bars. I learned a lot from my experience in Nanning. It was my first time competing on a podium, which was very different but also very exciting. I gained a lot of experience from competing, and also I learned a lot by watching and getting inspired by all of the incredible gymnasts who were competing."

Braaten said her "ultimate" goal for 2015 is to again win the Norwegian all-around title. Doing so would help her pursue other goals for the year, such as representing Norway at the Nordic championships, the Northern European championships, the Europeans in Montpellier, the European Games in Baku and worlds in Glasgow.

"To achieve these goals I am trying to add some new elements in my routines, which will increase my difficulty," Braaten said. "Also I will focus on execution and try to get the cleanest gymnastics that I can."

Braaten said she plans to enjoy Christmas in an unusual setting.

"This Christmas is going to be quite different from my normal traditions," she said. "Since my dad is deployed abroad and cannot make it home for Christmas, I am going to travel to Thailand with my mom and brother to relax and enjoy the heat and beach."

Braaten is also looking forward to the end of 2014 and the start of the new year.

"I will be back from Thailand just in time to celebrate New Year's Eve with all of my friends," she told IG. "My New Year's resolution is to try to eat as healthy as possible."


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