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Written by Amanda Turner    Friday, 30 December 2016 15:48    PDF Print
Whitlock, Van Hoof Earn British Honors
(3 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

British gymnast Max Whitlock and coach Eddie Van Hoof will receive honors from Queen Elizabeth II as part of the 2017 New Year Honors, announced Friday. Both were named as Members of the Order of the British Empire (MBE).

Max Whitlock with his Olympic all-around bronze medal (Great Britain)

Whitlock made history for British gymnastics at the Olympics this past summer, winning gold medals on floor exercise and pommel horse, and the bronze in individual all-around. His gold was the first for a British gymnast, and he became the first Brit to medal in the all-around medal in 108 years. Whitlock is also the first British male gymnast to become world champion, winning pommel horse at the 2015 World Championships in Glasgow.

Now officially known as Max Whitlock MBE, the most successful British gymnast of all time said he was thrilled with the recognition.

"It is a great feeling now to see it on the name card – the three letters after my name – and it gives me a lot of motivation," said Whitlock, 23. "For me, it's a crazy feeling and I feel so, so proud. It does motivate me a lot to move forward to set more targets and go again for another four or eight years."

Van Hoof is the head coach and technical director of the men's team for British Gymnastics. He has overseen a period of tremendous success for men's gymnastics in Great Britain, which has shot to prominence over the past decade and is now one of the top powers internationally. The team won the silver medal behind Japan in Glasgow, and Whitlock, Louis Smith (pommel horse silver) and Nile Wilson (high bar bronze) all picked up medals in Rio.

Previous gymnastics recipients honored by Queen Elizabeth include British stars Smith, Neil Thomas and Beth Tweddle, who were all awarded MBEs. Gym owners Leonard and Yvonne Arnold, who sold their home to fund a new gym prior to the 2012 Olympic Games, were awarded OBEs (Officer of the Order of the British Empire), as was Tweddle's coach, Amanda Reddin. Smith's coach Paul Hall earned an MBE.

The UK had a record performance at the Olympics in Rio, finishing second in the medal table behind only the United States. Tennis star Andy Murray and athletes Jessica Ennis-Hill and Mo Farah were among those receiving the highest honours in the New Year's list, with Murray and Farah earning knighthoods and Ennis-Hill made a dame.

Written by John Crumlish    Friday, 30 December 2016 09:47    PDF Print
Malaysia's Loo Builds Momentum, Stamina For 2017
(5 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

International Gymnast Online's annual year-end tradition of holiday-themed features continues with this update from promising Malaysian gymnast Jeremiah (Phay Xing) Loo.

International Gymnast Online's annual year-end tradition of holiday-themed features continues with this update from promising Malaysian gymnast Jeremiah (Phay Xing) Loo.

Jeremiah (Phay Xing) Loo of Malaysia looks to build on the momentum he has gained in the past few years to challenge for a gold medal at the 2017 South East Asian Games that his country will host in Kuala Lumpur in August.

"The most memorable moment for this year was when I won my first all-around medal at the Malaysian (SUKMA) Games, which were held in Kuching, Sarawak (Borneo)," he said. "I will keep my training momentum and need to improve my stamina and gymnastics skills in preparation for the SEA Games."

Born September 28, 1997, Wood is a second-generation Chinese born in Malaysia. His parents were also born in Malaysia, and his grandfather emigrated from Fujian, China, to Malaysia in 1946.

Loo's 2012-14 training term in China has yielded some of the best results of his career. He placed 18th all-around, seventh on parallel bars and eighth on pommel horse at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games in Nanning; and won the silver medal on high bar at the 2015 South East Asian Games in Singapore. His time in China also made him self-reliant and sharper.

"The training in China was really tough for me because I used to train three sessions every day, for three hours each session," he said. "The stint made me be more independent and disciplined. I was not allowed to go out at night, and that helped me focus on my training needs."

In 2017, Loo intends to solidify his routines on all six apparatuses but continue to concentrate on his specialties.

"I will continue my training on all the events to make sure my routines are stable and clean," he said. "But my main focus will be on pommel horse and horizontal bar because these two events are my best events. And my best chance to a win gold medal should come from these two events."

While many gymnasts around the world might be taking time off to enjoy the holiday season, Loo still has gymnastics as a top priority this month.

"Since I don't celebrate Christmas, I don't think the coaches are going to give us any time off in December," he said. "More so there is a tournament in Hong Kong in January which I am preparing for. I hope to do my best for my upcoming tournament and to start my new year on a good note. And I am really hoping that I can win a gold medal at the SEA Games."

Written by John Crumlish    Tuesday, 27 December 2016 15:39    PDF Print
Olympic Medal Turns Tinkler Toward Tokyo
(3 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

International Gymnast Online's annual year-end tradition of holiday-themed features continues with this update from 2016 Olympic bronze medalist Amy Tinkler of Great Britain.

Amy Tinkler (Great Britain) with her bronze on floor exercise at the 2016 Olympics

Although 2016 Olympic medalist Amy Tinkler of Great Britain enjoyed the greatest achievement of her career this year, she plans to expand on her success heading towards the 2020 Games in Tokyo.

"I got back into the gym pretty much straight away after getting back from Rio," said Tinkler, who placed third on floor exercise at this summer's Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. "I'm continuing to push on all four pieces, looking to make small improvements but also to maintain the form I've had this year. I definitely aim to establish myself further as an all-around gymnast in this next Olympic cycle."

Tinkler, the youngest member of the British delegation at the Rio Games, plans to enjoy an easy pace during the holiday season after a hectic year of competition and public attention. She was on the shortlist of three athletes for the BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year 2016 award, which para-swimmer Ellie Robinson won on December 14.

"I'm most looking forward to just having time at home with my family," Tinkler said. "2016 has been a crazy year, so a bit of quiet time at home will be perfect."

Tinkler's resolution for the New Year is simple and assertive.

"Just to work even harder!" she said.

International Gymnast magazine's recent coverage of British gymnasts includes:
"Britain's Best" - Amy Tinkler/Catherine Lyons interviews (June 2015)
"British Breakouts" - Maisie Methuen/Alice Kinsella interviews (December 2016)
Coach Barry Collie interview (July/August 2014)
"A Sorority of Success" - Becky Downie/Ellie Downie interviews (June 2014)
"Britain's New Bombshell" - Claudia Fragapane interview (December 2014)
"European Brilliance" - Ruby Harrold interview (September 2013)
Lisa Mason interview (May 2015)
"Mounting His Challenge" - Louis Smith interview (March 2016)
"Lord Max" - Max Whitlock interview (June 2013)
Becky Downie, Whitlock, Nile Wilson and Brinn Bevan on cover (June 2014)
"Branching Out" - Rebecca Tunney profile (May 2014)

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

Written by dwight normile    Tuesday, 27 December 2016 14:18    PDF Print
Looking Ahead To The New Year
(4 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

It's time to make up a list of New Year's wishes/resolutions to create a more perfect gymnastics world, even if "more perfect" is impossible. Regardless, here are 10 hopes for 2017…

Simone Biles (pictured): Since 2013 she has been the ideal ambassador for our sport. She makes gymnastics look fun despite her incredible level of difficulty. She's also humble in an era of pro athletes who often posture after slam dunks, touchdown catches and home runs—things they are paid obscene amounts of money to do, anyway. It's all about them. Simone will have none of that. And while the grapevine suggests that she will not return to competition in 2017, we can always hope. After all, she has a winning streak on the line. So here's to Biles showing up next October at the 2017 Montreal World Championships!

Aly Raisman (pictured): If the above doesn't happen, could the Rio runner-up have her eye on the 2017 World title? Why not? She looked more fit in Rio than in London four years ago.

Kohei Uchimura (pictured): What can we possibly impose on a guy who, like Biles, has won all of his titles with class and humility. Though his winning streak began in 2009, he is not afraid of defeat. So we hope he competes at the 2017 Worlds. It just wouldn't be the same without him.

Oleg Vernyayev: The wily, wiry Ukrainian finally won a major all-around medal in Rio, even if it went from gold to silver with the slightest landing shuffle in the final rotation on high bar. He, too, has a legitimate shot at the Montreal gold.

Oksana Chusovitina (pictured): It is strange to consider that this amazing Uzbek is still competing at 41, but she does it for the right reason: she loves gymnastics. That she learned a Produnova (handspring-double front vault) at her age shows that she is eager to expand her skill set. So let's celebrate what she adds to the sport and pray that she continues indefinitely!

Manrique Larduet: After winning the all-around silver at the 2015 Glasgow Worlds, this talented Cuban was humbled by injury in Rio. Like Vernyayev, he has the raw potential to capture the gold in Montreal, as long as it's refined (his potential, not the gold medal). So we hope to see a healthy Manrique in 2017 with all of his edgy bravado.

Morinari Watanabe (pictured): The new FIG President won his election, 100-19. There was no need for a recount. Raised as a Samurai, he rightly believes that "What you are going to do is not important, What you did is important." So by the end of his first term, which will effectively conclude with the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, we hope he can bring back the artistry that defined his Japanese compatriots, whose Olympic and World dynasty lasted from the 1960 Rome Olympics to the 1978 Strasbourg World Championships (five Olympic team titles; five World team titles).

Sam Mikulak: Let's hope that Sam, undefeated at the U.S. Championships since 2013, can get out of his own way and allow his exceptional ability to transfer to the world scene. He's just too talented.

Ragan Smith: A Rio alternate as a first-year senior, Smith could have a breakout year if healthy. According to Dominic Zito, her choreographer, she will retain her ingenious Addams Family floor exercise in 2017, a wise choice, indeed. One of her goals is an all-around medal at the 2017 Worlds, which is totally possible.

Donnell Whittenburg: Here's hoping that he can shake off his Olympic alternate status and focus on the future. He could have provided the wow factor that was missing from the U.S. men in Rio. The big rings routine, the booming vault, the incredible releases on p-bars. He flat out does things that others can't. Hopefully for him, he'll get to show his stuff at the 2017 Worlds.

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."


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