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Written by Amanda Turner    Thursday, 12 January 2017 12:27    PDF Print
Motherhood Ahead for Mustafina
(18 votes, average 3.50 out of 5)

Russian star Aliya Mustafina is expecting a baby with husband Alexei Zaitsev, whom she married in November.

Two-time Olympic champion Aliya Mustafina is preparing for a new role in 2017: motherhood. The newlywed's father, Farhat Mustafin, shared the news with a Russian newspaper on Thursday.

"My daughter will give birth in the summer," said Mustafin, a bronze medalist in wrestling at the 1976 Olympic Games. "Doctors say it will be in July. We don't know the sex of the baby yet. They are living in Moscow – my daughter has her own apartment. She is ready to become a mother."

Mustafin praised his new son-in-law, bobsledder Alexei Zaitsev, whom Mustafina married in November. The two athletes met in 2015, while they were both being treated for injuries at a Moscow hospital. Zaitsev is the youngest son of a hard-working family from Krasnodar, Mustafin said.

This past summer, Mustafina was once again the most successful Russian gymnast at the Olympics, winning gold on the uneven bars, silver with the team competition and bronze in the all-around — repeating three of her four medals from the 2012 Olympics Games in London.

Mustafina, who turned 22 in September, has not committed to training for the 2020 Olympics. She is currently studying at the Russian State University of Physical Education, Sport, Youth and Tourism in Moscow. This past fall she said starting a family was her next goal.

"I want to graduate, to become a mother and raise children. And my childhood dream – to go to the moon," she said in October. "I'm tired of the gym and I want to relax. If I miss the gym, then, I'll come back. I'm thinking about how to do something for the development of gymnastics, rather than coaching."

Mustafina was one of five Russian Olympians to marry in 2016. Ksenia Afanasyeva, who missed Rio because of injury and illness, tied the knot this year. David Belyavsky, who proposed to his girlfriend in Rio, was married in Greece after the Olympics. Long-time couple Denis Ablyazin and Ksenia Semyonova, who are also expecting a baby, were married as well.

If Mustafina were to make a comeback, she would join a small number of gymnasts who have returned to international competition after giving birth. Seven-time Olympian Oksana Chusovitina is the most notable, but others include Great Britain's Lisa Mason and Bulgaria's Ralitsa Rangelova.

Written by dwight normile    Tuesday, 10 January 2017 08:40    PDF Print
Sacchi Seeks Solutions To 'Keep Our Sport Beautiful'
(3 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

In an exclusive interview in the January/February 2017 issue of International Gymnast magazine, recently elected FIG Women’s Technical Committee President Donatella Sacchi said she is eager to devise ways to improve the sport.

"I would like to continue to push for fair competition, giving the judges the knowledge and the confidence to give the correct scores,” she said. “I would like to improve the collaboration between judges and coaches—we are not fighting each other, but we can cooperate to keep our sport beautiful. I would like to give opportunity to gymnasts with different abilities to compete for top scores. How? I’m thinking about it.”

Sacchi (SAH-kee), who lives in Novara, Italy, knows gymnastics. She was the 1973 Italian Novice champion and competed in the 1976 Montreal Olympics. She's coached both the Italian junior and senior teams, and has judged the Olympics and world championships. She also has a great sense of humor, judging by her response to how she became a gymnast.

"I became a gymnast by chance. My parents were coaches, and when I was 9 years old my mom said, 'For the club team, we need one gymnast for vault. You have strong legs. Come, train and compete.' It was not a request, it was an order. So, I started, but I didn't like to make weight."

Read the complete interview in the January/February 2017 issue. To subscribe to the print and/or digital edition, or to purchase a back issue, click here.

Written by John Crumlish    Sunday, 08 January 2017 20:34    PDF Print
Kocian Revels in Collegiate Debut
(8 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

2016 Olympic gold and silver medalist Madison Kocian made her collegiate gymnastics debut for UCLA in Los Angeles on Saturday.

After winning the all-around in her collegiate gymnastics debut for UCLA on Saturday, 2016 Olympic gold and silver medalist Madison Kocian told IG she enjoyed the successful launch of this new phase of her career.

Kocian, a member of the gold medal-winning U.S. team and winner of the silver medal on uneven bars at last summer's Rio Games, led UCLA to victory over the University of Arkansas on Saturday at Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles. She won the all-around title and tied for first place on uneven bars, balance beam and floor exercise.

"It was a big transition with a new team and new coaches and everything like that, but it's nice to have a little bit of something different," said Kocian, the 2015 co-world champion on uneven bars. "I'm really excited just to be out there. I really had fun."

Kocian, whose UCLA teammates include fellow freshman and 2012 Olympic team gold medalist Kyla Ross, said the presence of Rio teammate Simone Biles at Saturday's meet inspired and relaxed her. Biles won four gold medals, including the all-around, in Rio.

"I saw Simone after bars, so I was actually halfway through the meet," said Kocian, whose classes this quarter include Life Sciences, English Composition, Rhetoric and Language, and Holocaust: History and Memory. "Yesterday she told me she would be on the sidelines cheering me on and just to remember to have fun, because that's the most important thing. She was really excited to see my floor routine because college gymnastics is a whole different style from elite. She really enjoyed it. She said, 'It was so cute!'"

Written by dwight normile    Friday, 06 January 2017 08:43    PDF Print
Losing Olympic Gold Helped Răducan 'Know Myself Better’
(3 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

Andreea Răducan of Romania visited the IG offices in December and sat down for an exclusive interview, which will appear in the January/February 2017 issue. Among other questions, she was asked if anything positive resulted from her being stripped of the 2000 Olympic all-around gold medal.

"Oh yeah, of course. I remember very well our first Olympic title in the team final since '84," said Raducan. "Everybody was really excited after we won the gold medal. And even with this moment with the Nurofen (which was administered by a team doctor and included pseudoephedrine, banned by the IOC but not the FIG), it was, of course, tough. "But even though I lost the gold medal, I understand how people can support and what that means. It also helped me to know myself better and understand how [to rise above] these kinds of bad situations. That helped me to understand many things in my life.”

Read the complete interview with Răducan in the January 2017 issue. To subscribe to the print and/or digital editions of International Gymnast, click here.

Written by John Crumlish    Saturday, 31 December 2016 15:08    PDF Print
Iceland's Odinsdottir Revels In History-Making 2016
(6 votes, average 4.33 out of 5)

International Gymnast Online's annual year-end tradition of holiday-themed features continues with this update from Iceland's Tinna Odinsdottir, whose results in 2016 gave her good reasons to celebrate.

Although veteran Icelandic gymnast Tinna Odinsdottir made finals at two World Challenge Cup meets this year, her team's success at the Nordic Championships and European Championships count as her most satisfying achievements of 2016.

Tinna Odinsdottir (Iceland)

"My favorite moment of this season was winning the Nordic Championships with my team," said Odinsdottir, who turned 22 on November 3. "It was the first time ever for Team Iceland to win the senior team competition. It was such an honor to be a part of this great team. We all got into the finals and all got on the podium. It only got better when I got a silver medal on floor, something I really didn't expect. And 14th place at the European Championships in Bern was the best result ever for Team Iceland."

Odinsdottir, who finished eighth on uneven bars at the World Challenge Cup of Ljubljana in April and seventh on floor exercise at the World Challenge Cup of Cottbus in November, said the milestones she achieved in 2016 have inspired her for the coming year.

"This year was amazing and really reminded me why I do gymnastics," said Odinsdottir, who trains in Aarhus, Denmark, under Dutch coach Rene Poutsma. "There is nothing better then getting a good result after working so hard."

As Odinsdottir aims for the major meets of 2017, she plans to upgrade her routines and make them consistent.

"My biggest goals for next year are making it to the European Championships in Romania and World Championships in Canada, and having good competitions there," she said. "I'm upgrading my D-score on vault, bars and floor, and focusing on stabilization."

Odinsdottir is celebrating Christmas and New Year's Eve in Denmark with her family and boyfriend, but noted the unusual holiday tradition of her native Iceland.

"Normally people are used to having one Santa Claus, but in Iceland we have 13," she said. "One by one, they come from the mountains to town and put small presents in children's shoes. Every Santa Claus has a different name. ‘Kertasníkir' is a Santa that sometimes steals candles. Some children put a candle in their shoe as a present for him. Our Santas were considered to be thieves and thought to know magic. But through the years they have changed and started to give children small presents during the 13 days before Christmas."

Improving her gymnastics is only one of Odinsdottir's ambitions for 2017.

"I just want to do things that makes me happy, and be around people who make me happy," she said. "I'm going to do my very best in everything I do, and by that I will reach my goals."

International Gymnast magazine's coverage of Icelandic gymnastics includes:
"Icelandic Warm-up" - feature on IG's visit to Icelandic clubs (November 2012)
"She's Keeping Her Cool" - Sigridur Bergthorsdottir profile (October 2012)

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


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