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Written by John Crumlish    Friday, 23 December 2016 12:43    PDF Print
Israel's Dolgopyat Has Medals In Mind For 2017
(2 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

International Gymnast Online's annual year-end tradition of holiday-themed features continues with this update on fast-rising Israeli gymnast Artyom Dolgopyat.

After coming close to podium finishes at this year's Challenge Cups of Baku and Varna, Artyom Dolgopyat of Israel is confident he can be a medal candidate at future competitions if he boosts his scoring components.

"I think that I still need to work on the D-score and the E-score, and then it will be possible to fight for medals not only at World Cups, but at the European and world championships," he said.

Artyom Dolgopyat (Israel)

Dolgopyat said competing at this spring's European Championships in Bern was the highlight of his year.

"The most memorable events are the European Championships, the World Championships and of course the Olympic Games, and since this year there was no World Championships and I did not get to the Olympics, my most memorable was the European Championships," he said. "This is a great competition, and the best of the best come to it from all over Europe."

Born June 16, 1997, in Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine, Dolgopyat moved with his family to Israel in 2009. He finished 10th all-around, fifth on vault and eighth on floor exercise at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing.

Last year Dolgopyat placed 22nd all-around at the European Championships in Montpellier, won gold on floor exercise at the Challenge Cup of Osijek and was fifth on floor exercise at the Challenge Cup of Varna.

Dolgopyat's standout performances in 2016 included fourth place on pommel horse and seventh place on floor exercise at the Challenge Cup of Baku, and fourth place on floor exercise at the Challenge Cup of Varna. He was also a member of Israel's 17th-place team at Europeans, where he competed on every apparatus but rings.

December has been a busy month for Dolgopyat, in and out of the gym. He and some of his Israeli teammates spent time training in Minsk. Dolgopyat is celebrating Hanukkah (which begins Saturday evening) and New Year's Eve with his family.

Although a clip of Dolgopyat training a triple front on floor into a pit went viral this year, his focus is on other skills as he prepares for 2017.

"I am working on a new combination, but the combination has not yet been confirmed," he said. "Regarding the triple front, I cannot say anything. At the moment I'm working on a triple back."

Written by Amanda Turner    Thursday, 22 December 2016 01:13    PDF Print
Gymnastics Wins Big at Dutch Year-End Awards
(1 vote, average 5.00 out of 5)

Gymnastics picked up three trophies Wednesday night at the Dutch Olympic Committee-Dutch Sport Federation's year-end gala. Olympic champion Sanne Wevers won Sportswoman of the Year, while her coach and father Vincent Wevers won Coach of the Year. Pictured: The Wevers family on the red carpet, with Sanne on the right and her twin, Lieke, on the left, flanking parents Gemma and Vincent.

Gymnastics picked up three trophies Wednesday night at the Dutch Olympic Committee-Dutch Sport Federation's year-end gala in Amsterdam, with victories for Olympic champion Sanne Wevers (Sportswoman of the Year), Vincent Wevers (Coach of the Year) and Eythora Thorsdottir (Young Talent of the Year).

Eythora Thorsdottir won Young Talent of the Year

Sanne Wevers, whose original and nearly flawless routine in the Olympic balance beam final won her the first-ever individual Olympic gold for a Dutch female gymnast, won Sportswoman of the Year.

Wevers is the sixth Dutch gymnast to win the honor after Klaas Boot (1959), Ans van Gerwen (1972), Verona van de Leur (2002), Yuri van Gelder (2005) and Epke Zonderland (2009, 2010, 2012, 2013). The winners are selected by Dutch journalists.

"It's fantastic to be able to receive this great prize," the 25-year-old Wevers told the audience at the RAI Arena. "It was a great year in which I lived up to my dream. My heart is through the roof here. As a little girl, I'd always dreamed I'd be able to make it to the Olympics, a dream all gymnasts hope. In Rio I got emotional the day before the (balance beam) final. I realized that everything was worth it; all the sacrifices and work. Everything had been a success."

Vincent Wevers won Coach of the Year following the Netherlands' success in Rio de Janeiro. The team's surprise decision to skip the European championships in the spring to focus on the Olympic Games paid off big in August. In addition to Sanne's gold medal on balance beam, the Dutch women placed seventh in the team final and Thorsdottir ninth in the all-around. Sanne's twin sister, Lieke Wevers, also qualified to the all-around final, finishing 20th.

"[This is] a very special honor," said Vincent Wevers, who especially thanked his daughters. "You'd be lucky just to coach two athletes like that every day. Therefore I'm twice as lucky because I'm also their father."

Thorsdottir, 18, won Young Talent of the Year, also a first for gymnastics. Her ninth place in Rio de Janeiro was the best-ever result for a Dutch gymnast at the Olympic Games.

Car racer Max Verstappen won Male Athlete of the Year, while women's rowing duo Maaike Head and Ilse Paulis, the Olympic and European champions, won Team of the Year. Swimmer Liesette Bruinsma was named Paralympic Athlete of the Year.

Written by John Crumlish    Wednesday, 21 December 2016 13:48    PDF Print
Challenge Cup Medals Fuel Czech Cenková
(1 vote, average 5.00 out of 5)

International Gymnast Online's annual year-end tradition of holiday-themed features continues with this update on Czech gymnast Veronika Cenková, whose success in 2016 bodes well for progress in 2017.

When Veronika Cenková of the Czech Republic won two medals at the Challenge Cup of Szombathely, Hungary, in October, she recorded the unanticipated highlight of her year.

Veronika Cenková (Czech Republic)

"It was my first competition after summer holidays so I traveled to Szombathely with no ambitions to compete in a final or bring home a medal," said Cenková, who placed second on floor exercise and third on balance beam there. "I went to this competition only to test my routines after the holidays and get back into competing again. So I was really surprised and pleased with my result because I didn't expect it."

Born February 11, 1999, in Ostrava, Cenková has emerged as one of the Czech team's top seniors after a successful junior career.

She placed 21st all-around at the 2014 European Junior Championships in Sofia, and14th all-around and sixth on balance beam at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing.

Last year Cenková finished 36th all-around in qualifications at the Europeans in Montpellier and competed at the World Championships in Glasgow. This spring she was eighth on floor exercise at the Challenge Cup of Cottbus.

Although Cenková's performance in Szombathely and other recent performances demonstrated her ability to perform confidently, she admits she was not always self-assured and resilient.

"A few years ago I was always very nervous before competitions, and when I fell, I cried so hard and fell at least twice on the other events," she said. "But after years of competing I am psychologically stronger and more patient. I know how to hold up after one event didn't go as I planned and finish strong on my other events. But I think that in every single training I get mentally stronger because you have to always get up after you fall down, you have to always try again and you know that you can get better every day."

Cenková is content to rest and regroup as 2016 draws to a close. Following the Czech team championships, which was her last competition of the year, she felt pain in her left knee that was diagnosed as a small ligament tear.

"I have a few weeks off now, so my main goal is to stay healthy," Cenková said. "But I'm looking forward to the European Championships in April and hope I will qualify to the team for the World Championships in the fall. And outside of gym, my goal is to balance my school and gymnastics well."

Cenková plans to celebrate the holidays in her traditional manner.

"As in every year, I will spend Christmas with my family at home," she said. "We always have a traditional Czech dinner – carp fish with potato salad – and then we go unwrap our presents and watch Christmas films. For New Year's Eve I always spend time with my gym friends."

Missing from Cenková's agenda, however, are any New Year's resolutions.

"I have never tried these resolutions because I know I wouldn't fulfill them!" she said.

Written by Amanda Turner    Tuesday, 20 December 2016 15:00    PDF Print
Liddick to Step Down as Australian Head Coach
(4 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

Peggy Liddick plans to step down after 20 years as head coach of Australia's women's team, the Australian gymnastics federation announced Wednesday. Pictured: Lauren Mitchell and Liddick celebrate Mitchell's gold medal on floor exercise at the 2010 World Championships

Peggy Liddick plans to step down after 20 years as head coach of Australia's women's team, the Australian gymnastics federation announced early Wednesday.

The American-born Liddick has declined to renew her contract with Gymnastics Australia (GA), which expires at the end of 2016. Her replacement has not yet been announced.

"Now is the right time for me to step aside, both personally and professionally," Liddick said. "It's the start of the new Olympic cycle, my successor will have almost four years to prepare the Women's Team for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games and I will do my utmost to assist in a smooth transition."

Peggy Liddick

Liddick, a former gymnast at the University of Nebraska, moved to Australia following the 1996 Olympic Games, after helping coaching Shannon Miller to multiple world and Olympic medal.

During Liddick's tenure in Australia, the Australian women rose to become one of the top teams in the world, making team and individual finals at numerous world championships and Olympic Games. Australian gymnasts dominated several Commonwealth Games with four consecutive team golds. At the 2003 world championships, the team made history by winning the bronze medal in the team final. Two years later, Monette Russo won the all-around bronze medal at the world championships. In 2009, Lauren Mitchell won two silver medals (balance beam and floor exercise), and in 2010 became world champion on floor. Australian gymnasts have also won numerous World Cup medals.

"It's been an absolute privilege to have served as National Coach and to have worked with so many talented and committed Australian gymnasts, coaches and judges," Liddick said. "I will always cherish the fond memories and close friendships I have formed with the gymnastics community here in Australia and wish them continued success in the future. I have also been delighted by the extraordinary growth in participant numbers for gymnastics across Australia over the last 20 years. That growth will provide a great foundation for success at the elite level."

Liddick's departure comes after a tough year for Australian gymnastics. Struggling with injuries, in April the team came up short at the Olympic qualifier, failing to qualify a full team to the Olympic Games for the first time since 1988. In June, the Western Australian Institute of Sport in Perth announced it was closing down its gymnastics program. A few weeks ago, GA announced it would step in to save gymnastics at WAIS, and has applied for state funding to run elite programs.

GA is still in the process of recruiting a new head coach, but plans to retain Liddick in an advisory role to benefit Australian gymnastics, said Mark Rendell, chief executive office of GA.

"Peggy has made an outstanding contribution to Women’s Artistic Gymnastics in this country," Rendell said. "The sport is indebted to Peggy for her achievements, her professionalism and her commitment as National Coach."

On Monday, GA announced that Sam McKay had been selected as its new president, replacing Jacqui Weatherill, who will remain on the board of directors.

"Our sport has over 180,000 registered participants – a rise of 150 percent since the Sydney Olympics," McKay said. "We need to build on that success and become a consistent contender for Olympic medals. Gymnastics in this country will soon be ready to announce a new growth strategy based on the findings of a comprehensive review of our high-performance program for elite athletes commissioned by the GA board mid-year. We want to ensure that our elite gymnasts have the support they need to compete effectively on the international stage."

External Link: Gymnastics Australia

Written by John Crumlish    Monday, 19 December 2016 12:35    PDF Print
Germany's Dauser Determined To 'Present Perfectly' in 2017
(4 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

International Gymnast Online's annual year-end tradition of holiday-themed features kicks off with this update from German Olympian Lukas Dauser.

German gymnast Lukas Dauser said competing in the team final at this summer's Olympic Games in Rio was the highlight of his year, but he is ready for new challenges in 2017.

Lukas Dauser during the team final in Rio

"The most unforgettable moment for me was the team final at the Olympic Games," said the 23-year-old Dauser, who helped Germany finish seventh in Rio. "It was the goal we wanted to achieve after the tough qualification where Andreas Toba tore his ACL and we had to finish it with only four gymnasts left. That showed our amazing team spirit. It was unbelievably emotional and a feeling of pure joy."

Dauser said teammate Fabian Hambüchen's victory on high bar in Rio also impressed and gratified him.

"The gold medal of Fabian was an outstanding highlight," he said. "We all worked so hard and when one of our team can make that happen it's too good to find words for it."

Dauser, who placed third on parallel bars at this year's Cottbus World Challenge Cup, said he intends to fortify his all-around program and contend for a key podium finish in 2017. He placed fourth all-around and first on parallel bars at this year's German Championships.   "I want to work even harder than before and increase my all-around ability," Dauser said. "On my favorite event, parallel bars, I want to train on a higher difficulty so I can fight for a medal at the European Championships in May."

Dauser's holidays will be devoted to family and friends. He plans to spend Christmas Eve with his parents and two sisters at their home near Munich. "We'll have wiener sausage with cabbage and potatoes as our family traditional meal," he said.

On Christmas Day he will celebrate with his entire family - including his grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and girlfriend - in Eichstätt. Their holiday meal will feature goose and Knödel (dumplings).

"New Year's Eve is reserved for my girlfriend and a bunch of friends in Berlin celebrating 2016," he said.

While Dauser plans to enjoy end-of-year festivities, he is already eyeing his 2017 gymnastics goals.

"After the hard year 2016 I want to take more time not only for me but also my family and friends," he said. "But of course also I want to work hard on my new perfect training schedule with my new coach, Robert Hirsch, to be super fit for the competitions and present myself perfectly."


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