Written by John Crumlish
Tuesday, 27 May 2014 14:22
| Vaculik Takes Canadian Championships in Stride
Natalie Vaculik told IG that she hopes her performance at this week's Canadian championships will lead her toward this summer's Commonwealth Games and this fall's world championships.
Vaculik is the defending all-around silver medalist at the Canadian championships, which begin Tuesday in Ottawa.
"My goals for nationals are to focus on my routines and perform them to the best of my ability," she said. "This meet is a stepping stone for those bigger meets to come. Showing my best routines and gaining confidence and experience will definitely help me looking forward."
Vaculik at the 2014 Tournament of Masters in Cottbus
Vaculik, who is coached by 1980 Olympic all-around champion Yelena Davydova and Valery Yahchybekov at Gemini Gymnastics in Oshawa, has enjoyed domestic and international success since she placed second all-around at last year's Canadian Championships.
She placed fifth all-around in the Masters division at the Elite Gym Massilia competition in Marseille, France, last November; first on uneven bars at the Elite Canada meet in February; and fifth on uneven bars and eighth on balance beam at the Tournament of Masters/Challenge Cup in Cottbus, Germany, in March.
With an eye on future international competitions, Vaculik said she is eager to begin her collegiate career in the U.S., competing for the University of Georgia in Athens, Ga.
"The coaches at Georgia really impressed me," said Vaculik of her decision. "I connected with them right away and they made me feel like part of the team from the start. I also like the university campus and the support system provided for the athletes. It feels very much like home to me."
Vaculik said 2012 Canadian Olympian Brittany Rogers, who competes for Georgia, also influenced her decision.
"I am very happy that I will be joining Brittany on the ‘Gym Dogs' as a fellow Canadian," she said. "There is a special bond between all Canadians when they compete in the NCAA. I believe that this bond makes the teams even stronger."
Although Vaculik has not confirmed when she will enroll at the university, she said she does not intend to blend her international and collegiate careers as has her older sister, 2012 Olympian Kristina Vaculik. Kristina enrolled at Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif., and then took time off to prepare at home for the 2012 Games in London. Following London, she resumed her collegiate career at Stanford.
"Kristina was very successful in merging the two careers together and I am very proud of her for doing that," said Natalie, who is considering a major in business. "When I begin my collegiate career, however, I will focus only on that. In the meantime, my focus will be on representing Canada internationally. "
Vaculik said she has been preparing for her transition to collegiate gymnastics for quite some time.
"In the gym, I reduce my reps and focus on quality over quantity," she said. "When I competed as part of a team (at Elite Gym Massilia) I provided support and encouragement to my team members, like I have seen in the NCAA. I will continue to do this in the future as part of any team."
Vaculik said she is ready for the unique challenges she will face a student-athlete, too.
"I believe that my years of training combined with my workload at school have provided me with many tools to cope with the academic and athletic demands of university," she told IG. "I am excited and confident that I will thrive in this environment."
International Gymnast magazine's recent coverage of Canadian female gymnasts includes:
"Canadian Diversity" - Ellie Black profile (July/August 2013)
"Black to Business" - Ellie Black interview (November 2012)
"Aiming to Top the Charts" - Maegan Chant interview (October 2013)
Madeline Gardiner, Anysia Unick and Victoria Moors cover photo (March 2011)
"Candid Canadians" - Madeline Gardiner interview (September 2011)
Leah Homma update (January/February 2014)
Christine Peng-Peng Lee interview (April 2011)
Gael Mackie profile (July/August 2011)
"Sudden Impact" - Victoria Moors interview (January/February 2013)
"Confident Canadian" - Brittany Rogers interview (May 2012)
"Savona Surges into Recovery" – Jessica Savona short profile (October 2011)
"Catching up with... Lori Strong Ballard" (June 2012)
"Veteran Presence" - Kristina Vaculik profile (July/August 2010)
Kristina Vaculik cover photo (April 2010)
"Canadian Conquerors" – Kristina Vaculik profile (September 2007)
To order back issues, or subscribe to the digital and/or print edition of International Gymnast magazine, click here.
Written by John Crumlish
Tuesday, 20 May 2014 11:49
| Aït Saïd Ready For Europeans Title Defense
2013 European rings co-champion Samir Aït Saïd of France told IG he is confident about his medal prospects at the men's European championships that will begin Wednesday in Sofia.
2013 European rings co-champion Samir Aït Saïd (France) told IG he is confident about his medal prospects at the men's European championships that will begin Wednesday in Sofia.
Aït Saïd, 24, tied Ukraine's Igor Radivilov for the gold medal on rings at last spring's Europeans in Moscow.
"I want to do a really good routine and show beautiful gymnastics," he said. "And if the routine is good, then I can hope for a medal."
Aït Saïd said he also wants to help redeem France from its eighth-place finish in the team final at the 2012 Europeans in Montpellier, where a Europeans team final last took place.
In Montpellier, Aït Saïd severely injured his right leg when he crashed his Dragulescu vault. The mistake resulted in a score of zero and dropped France to last place.
"Before my injury we were in third place," he said. "My injury put the team in trouble. In Sofia, we hope to make a good competition to be in the top five."
Other French seniors scheduled to compete in Sofia are Kévin Antoniotti, Olympians Hamilton Sabot and Cyril Tommasone, and Arnaud Willig.
Although Aït Saïd is likely to face off with Radivilov and other rings specialists in Sofia, he is eager to compete with Dutch gymnast Epke Zonderland, the 2012 Olympic champion on high bar.
"I really like Zonderland," Aït Saïd told IG. "He impresses me a lot. You have to be crazy to do everything he does! I really like his gymnastics."
Competition begins Wednesday in Sofia with the junior team and qualification, and continues Thursday with the senior men's qualification.
International Gymnast Magazine Related Features:
Samir Aït Saïd interview (June 2013)
Arnaud Willig interview (January/February 2014)
"Skilled and Studious" – Epke Zonderland cover story (March 2014)
"The Flying Dutchman" – Zonderland interview (May 2010)
To order back issues or subscribe to the digital and/or print edition of International Gymnast magazine, click here.
Written by John Crumlish
Monday, 19 May 2014 09:15
| Aussie Veterans, Newcomers Have Title Potential, Says Liddick
Australian national team head coach Peggy Liddick told IG that, while defending senior all-around champion Madelaine Leydin is not at full strength, several gymnasts should contend for titles at the Australian championships that begin Thursday in Melbourne.
"Honestly, it will be a challenge for Maddi to retain her title," said Liddick of Leydin, who has been troubled by a foot injury for the past several months. "I don't expect that she will be at full strength, although she is giving it a good go in training. I would not put that kind of pressure on her, and we spoke about this last week."
Liddick said she still looks for a steady if conservative performance from Leydin in Melbourne.
"I would expect Maddi to debut her new bars routine and perform consistently on the other apparatuses, as best she can, with the limited training she has been forced to do," Liddick said. "I would not risk any further injuries by trying to outperform her limited physical condition."
Two-time Olympian Lauren Mitchell, the 2010 world champion on floor exercise, is expected to compete on three events in Melbourne, Liddick said.
"Lauren is going from strength to strength each week," Liddick said. "I just spent last week with her in Perth and she has surpassed my expectations as to where she is, both physically and performance wise. I would expect her to debut her new beam routine and a world-class floor routine. Her vault is coming back strong as well."
2013 Australian all-around bronze medalist Georgia Godwin has had limited preparation time for the championships since she injured her ankle in training prior to the Jesolo Cup in Italy earlier this year, Liddick said.
"I would not expect Georgia to perform anything that she has not been doing in training, so her difficulty might have to be compromised for safety," Liddick said. ‘We will make that call during the podium training."
Veterans Georgia-Rose Brown, Olivia Vivian and Mary-Anne Monckton should also challenge for top positions, Liddick said.
"Georgia's training has been one of the most consistent," Liddick said of Brown, who placed fifth all-around last year. "She is relatively healthy and I would look for her to have a good nationals."
Liddick said the 24-year-old Vivian, a 2008 Olympian, is looking strong on several apparatuses.
"(Vivian’s) beam is at a 5.9 (Difficult score), and I have recently seen a few very good performances from her on that event during training," Liddick said. "Vault and floor are not her strong points, but she does like to perform them, so she does have all-around potential."
Monckton, the 2012 all-around bronze medalist, is in good form despite a recent health scare, Liddick said.
"Just two weeks ago, Mary-Anne was rushed to the hospital for a near ruptured cyst, not gymnastics related, that had to be removed arthroscopically," Liddick said. "She is back in full training again, and I expect her to shine on beam and vault."
Liddick said 2012 Olympian Larrissa Miller has title-winning potential in Melbourne.
"Larrissa will be performing on two apparatuses, uneven bars and floor," Liddick said. "She has recently added some new skills and combinations to her bars routine, and I would expect her to vie for the bars title. Larrissa will be a contender for the floor title, as well, if she can land all her tumbles cleanly."
Other gymnasts whom Liddick considers leading candidates in Melbourne include Kiara Munteanu, who placed fourth all-around last year; Isis Lowery, who placed ninth all-around in 2012; Emma Jane Nedov, the 2013 gold medalist on balance beam; and Alexandra Eade, the 2011 and 2013 junior all-around champion.
"Kiara could be a contender for the all-around title if she goes clean both rounds of competition," Liddick said. "Isis has been upgrading her difficulty and will be a contender for the vault title. Emma Jane has the potential on beam to be a world-class performer. I know she has had a renewed interest in her training and she hopes this will pay off at nationals. I look for Alex to burst onto the senior scene at nationals, as well, this year."
The championships will also play a strong part in determining the Australian squad that will try to win its fifth consecutive team title at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow this summer, Liddick said.
"The Commonwealth Games Association is requiring that the teams be named this early, for logistical reasons as per the Olympics," she said. "I would prefer to wait until the week of the actual competition, but we all have to follow the regulations. The national championships will be a major part of the criteria for selection, along with training camps and verification performances, international competition performances, international ranking and current health status. These are some of the important criteria that will be considered in naming the Commonwealth Games team."
As Liddick prepares to select her team for Glasgow, she is also considering its composition for this fall’s World Championships in Nanning.
"I am mindful of the world championships in October, as well," Liddick told IG. "So I will be considering the correct strategy for injured athletes staying home from the Commonwealth Games and preparing for Worlds in some cases. I have been given directives from my superiors that the team must be named directly after the finals on Sunday (May 25) at the competition. Team, medal chances and health, such as ability to train, will be the main criteria, while their latest competition results will be fresh in my mind."
International Gymnast magazine's recent coverage of Australian gymnasts includes:
Georgia Godwin cover photo (March 2014)
"10 Questions with Olivia Vivian" - interview (March 2011)
"Aussie Long Shot" - Daria Joura profile (July/August 2012)
Peggy Liddick interview (January/February 2011)
"Late Bloomer" - Amelia McGrath profile (October 2010)
"Golden Surprise" - Lauren Mitchell cover story (January/February 2011)
Lisa Skinner chat (September 2010)
To order back issues, or subscribe to the print and/or digital edition of International Gymnast magazine, click here.
Written by Amanda Turner
Sunday, 18 May 2014 16:42
| Gymnastics Hall of Fame Honors Five Legends
Five gymnastics legends were honored Saturday evening at the annual International Gymnastics Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Oklahoma City. Matthias Köste (who accepted the award on behalf of his late father, inductee Klaus Köste), Jackie Fie, Frank Bare Award winner Gordan Maddox, Natalia Yurchenko and Li Yuejiu.
Five gymnastics legends were honored Saturday evening at the annual International Gymnastics Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Oklahoma City.
The 18th annual ceremony, held at Oklahoma City's Petroleum Club, formally inducted Li Yuejiu (China), Klaus Köste (Germany), Natalia Yurchenko (Russia) and Jackie Fie (United States). Former ABC Wide World of Sports commentator Gordon Maddux received the Frank Bare Award.
Chinese legend Li Yuejiu with his IGHOF ring as a member of the induction class of 2014.
The new additions bring the total number of International Gymnastics Hall of Fame inductees to 85 gymnastics legends representing 21 nations.
Li was China's first male world champion, winning floor exercise at the 1981 World Championships in Moscow. He's gone on to become a successful coach in Canada, China and the USA. Today he owns his own club, Legacy Elite, along with his wife, fellow 1984 Olympian Wu Jiani.
"I am honored to accept this award into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame," he said. "I hope my induction inspires my gymnasts at Legacy Elite and all around the world. I also want to thank my beautiful wife, Wu Jiani, and my coaches and teammates who helped me get to where I am today."
Matthias Köste accepted the posthumous award on behalf of his late father, who passed away in 2012. Klaus Köste, a three-time Olympian and the 1972 Olympic champion on vault, became a coach in East Germany after his retirement. However, he continued to compete in an adult gymnastics league well into his 60s, showing impressive skill.
"We (children) learned from him that everyone needs a dream," said Matthias, who presented a handstand sculpture to the IGHOF. "We also learned to accept victory and failure."
Matthias said his mother decided not to travel because it would be too emotional for her. But he also said his father often emphasized positivity and liked the motto, "Don't cry that they are gone; smile that they were here."
Yurchenko, who pioneered the famous round off, back handspring vault, talked of her lifelong passion for gymnastics. Coached by the legendary Vladislav Rastorotsky, she said she woke up each morning excited about going to the gym.
"All my life was dedicated to gymnastics," said Yurchenko, the 1983 world all-around champion. "I had great moments and hard times, but I would never give up that journey. It was love from first sight. All gymnasts know those feelings. It was just a passion and love for it. Every day when I came to the gym - magic. I am so grateful to my country, my parents, my coaches that I had that magic in my life."
Fie, 1956 Olympian, described her humble beginnings in gymnastics that eventually led her to judging. She went on to become the president of the Women's Technical Committee of the International Gymnastics Federation from 1993-2004.
"To be inducted into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame is a most humbling experience," she said, "but tonight to me it is a golden evening in my life."
Fie joked that she hoped her speech would be judged out of a 10.0, which brought a huge round of applause from the audience.
"Being up here is harder than judging 10 Olympics Games because my family is here," Fie said. "I just wonder if they will give me a score. I would much prefer to be judged on a 10-point system than to get a 15.7, which is meaningless to me. I held onto it as long as I could, but after I retired we lost that 10-point system and that was my biggest disappointment."
Gordon Maddux received the Frank Bare Award for his contributions to the sport. Maddux was a long-time commentator for ABC Wide of Sports. His enthusiasm and excitement during the 1972 Olympics helped make Olga Korbut a household name in the United States, promoting the popularity of the sport.
"To be honored in his name is really special to me," Maddux said. "Wish you were here, Frank."
All the inductees will have their portraits hang on the wall of the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame exhibit in Oklahoma City. The female inductees received a silver bracelet, while the male inductees each received a ring.
The honorees will extend the celebration with a trip to Las Vegas, where the planned festivities include behind-the-scenes visits to two Cirque du Soleil show.
External Link: International Gymnastics Hall of Fame