Written by John Crumlish
Tuesday, 17 December 2013 21:31
| IG Interview: João Marcus Fuglsig (Denmark)
IG's annual series of holiday-themed features continues with this interview with Denmark's João Marcus Fuglsig, who assessed the highs and lows of 2013 and his goals for 2014. Pictured: Fuglsig fractured his femur and fibia on vault at the 2013 Worlds in Antwerp.
IG's annual series of holiday-themed features continues with this interview with Denmark's João Marcus Fuglsig. Born to a Brazilian mother and a Danish father, and coached by Romanians, Fuglsig is eager to better his solid 2013 results with international success in 2014.
Fuglsig, who turned 22 on Nov. 5, trains at VIK Aarhus, where is coached by Romanian-born Adrian Sandu and two-time Romanian Olympian Marian Rizan. He placed 43rd all-around in qualifications at this spring's European championships in Moscow, and 61st all-around in qualifications at this summer's World University Games in Kazan. At this fall's world championships in Antwerp, he competed parallel bars, floor exercise and still rings before an injury on vault — fractures to his femur and tibia — ended his competition on a negative note.
Although Fuglsig's results in major international competitions are modest, he has gained confidence from his recent achievements in regional and domestic meets. He placed seventh all-around at the 2012 Northern Europeans in Glasgow, and at the 2013 Danish Championships, he placed second all-around, first on parallel bars, second on vault, and third on floor exercise and pommel horse. After his leg injury in Antwerp, he recovered well enough to compete several events to help VIK Aarhus win its fifth consecutive title at the Danish team championships in November.
Fuglsig recently shared with IG his assessment of the highs and lows of 2013, his plans for celebrating the upcoming holidays and his goals for international success in 2014.
IG: Looking back on 2013, which performance or moment of your gymnastics gave you the most satisfaction, and why?
JMF: I would say the moment that gave me the most satisfaction in 2013 was the build-up to Antwerp. I was getting in great shape, and was starting to hit my favorite event – vault – more stably. I was doing a Roche and my new second vault, a double-twisting Yurchenko. This whole period from August to the end of September was all-in-all a great time for me. It was also something new for me only to compete on four events. In general I don't enjoy myself very much on pommel horse and high bar, which are my weakest events, so to focus on my better apparatuses for some time was great. However, I am an all-arounder, and hopefully I will stay so for many years still, so getting back after (the injury in) Antwerp and picking up on those two events felt like "getting home" after some time out.
Fuglsig doing a Yurchenko timer on vault
IG: You are a mainstay on the Danish team, with several medals at this year's Danish championships, as well as good results in Moscow and Antwerp. What is your plan for improving your results in 2014?
JMF: The season from 2012 to summer 2013 held a lot of challenges for me and my teammates. We didn't have a stable coaching situation, and mostly trained and spotted ourselves. Now, however, we have a great coach who has been with us since June, and with his help and guidance I hope to improve a lot over the next few months so I can join the battle of 80-plus points (in the all-around). My plan is to keep myself free of injuries and to train more focused on the routines planned for the next season - rather than just working on a lot of new stuff and then when the season starts, taking a look at what I could fit into a routine.
IG: You have a Portuguese first name — which part of your background in Portuguese and which is Danish?
JMF: My Portuguese first name comes from my Brazilian mother. I am named after one of my uncles, João Batista. But to facilitate my life in Denmark my parents chose to add the name Marcus, which is more international and pronounceable for Danes. My father is a Dane, and, after marriage, my parents moved to Denmark where they both studied and have been living here since.
IG: How will you spend the upcoming holidays?
JMF: I will be celebrating Christmas in Aarhus this year. Initially the plan was to celebrate with my wonderful and large family in Brazil, but due to some complications and since my family did that last year, we decided to celebrate in Denmark this year - which is also very nice! I really love the Danish Christmas, the traditions, and the snowy weather. As we are a culturally mixed family, we pick and choose a bit in the traditions. However, temperature aside, Brazilian and Danish Christmas are much alike - family, Mass, presents and of course great food. The food traditions in Denmark are very strong, while in Brazil it is not, so we always do the Danish version, which is a special pork dish with sweet potatoes and brown sauce – even if we go to Brazil.
Another tradition is the dancing around the Christmas tree. This is a tradition I really enjoy! We form a circle around the tree holding hands and then we dance around the tree singing old traditional Christmas songs. This tradition is typically Danish. We've tried to bring it to our Christmases in Brazil. However, as we are a huge family with only one tree, it can be complicated.
I will celebrate New Year's Eve with my friends from school. It will most likely be a typical celebration with good food, good wine, the Queen's speech, and at midnight a lot explosives and champagne! The plans are not quite set yet, but in the end it's all about celebrating the year that has passed, and looking forward to the new one and what happiness and success it brings.
Two months after fracturing his leg at the 2013 World Championships, Fuglsig helped VIK Aarhus win its fifth consecutive team title at the Danish team championships.
IG: What are your goals for 2014, in and out of the gym?
JMF: In the gym I aim to best all my previous highest scores. Also, I would be happy to claim medals at the Nordic Championships, and the Northern Europeans, which are going to be on home soil. Moreover I hope to make a good team result at the Europeans and worlds. And last but not least, I hope to compete and land well in my vaults so I can get as close to a European final as possible. I have a lot to show in the 2014 season. First off I had a good competition in Moscow (2013 Europeans), but with a ruined result due to three falls in dismounts. I know I can get close to 80 points and that is definitely my goal for the 2014 season – to prove that I can mess with the guys in that league. At the Northern European Championships in 2012 I scored a 79.7 with a fall. However, that was with the "old" vault code (before vault difficulty scores were devalued), and that is a record I want to beat.
Also, if I could defend my national title on parallel bars, or win one or two in other events that would be great! However, the return of our strongest gymnast, Helge Vammen, will make the competition a lot tougher. And, last but not least, the world championships in Nanning. First of all I would want to be on the team in as many events as possible, and eventually all six. Secondly I have a dream that our team can make a good result and get close to the top 24 to qualify a whole team for Glasgow (2015 Worlds). I know the boys and I are capable of it, so we need to focus on getting our routines stable and clean. And, of course, I would be quite content to not have to leave the arena being carried, and with a month off due to injury, as I did in Antwerp.
IG: If you have any New Year's Resolutions, what are they?
JMF: I am not a big New Year's Resolutions guy, but I guess I hope to have a year without injuries and to pass all exams at dentistry school so I don't have to worry about them while I train for a great season.
International Gymnast magazine's coverage of Scandinavian gymnasts includes:
"Great Danes" - profile on Rasmus Brandtoft and Kasper Fardan (January 2004)
"Hope in Helsinki" – feature on IG's visit to Voimisteluseura VSH men's club (January 2013) Heikki Savolainen/Hall of Fame induction feature (June/July 2004)
"Fearless Finn" – Tomi Tuuha interview/photo gallery (December 2012)
"10 Questions with Jani Tanskanen" – interview with FIG Athletes' Commission president (October 2010)
"Second Youth" – Jani Tanskanen profile (January/February 2007)
"Flight of Faith" – Annamari Maaranen profile (November 2007)
"Icelandic Warm-up" - feature on IG's visit to Icelandic clubs (November 2012)
"She's Keeping Her Cool" - feature on Sigga Bergthorsdottir (October 2012)
"Scouting Scandinavia" - feature on IG's visit to clubs in Sweden and Norway (March 2011)
"Elder Statesman" - Espen Jansen profile (May 2009)
"Swedish History-maker" - Jonna Adlerteg profile (November 2010)
"Scouting Scandinavia" – feature on IG's visit to clubs in Sweden and Norway (March 2011)
"Swedish Upswing" – women's team feature (November 2010)
"Swedish Achiever" - Ida Gustafsson short profile (June 3013)
"Sweden's Standout" - Mans Stenberg profile (March 2010)
William Thoresson profile/Hall of Fame induction feature (August/September 2001)
"Quick Chat: Veronica Wagner" (November 2008)
"Veronica's Date: 2008" – Veronica Wagner profile (February 2005)
"Swedish Sojourn" – Karolina Bohman profile (February 2003)
To subscribe or order back issues, click here.
Written by John Crumlish
Monday, 16 December 2013 08:20
| Bone Fracture Helped McKayla Maroney Land Role on 'Bones'
World and Olympic gold medalist McKayla Maroney told IG it was her recent injury-forced downtime that allowed her to play a gymnast suspected of murder on a recent episode of FOX's hit show "Bones." Pictured: Maroney (left) with actress Emily Deschanel and actor David Boreanaz (at right) in a scene from the Dec. 6 episode, "The Spark In The Park."
World and Olympic gold medalist McKayla Maroney told IG it was her recent injury-forced downtime that allowed her to play a gymnast suspected of murder on a recent episode of FOX's hit show "Bones."
"The plot is that this girl was killed, and they're wondering if it was the dad, the coach or me or this other girl who did it," Maroney said of the episode that aired Dec. 6. "Nobody really knew how she died. It's a really good episode. It's a little dark."
Now in its ninth season, the show stars Emily Deschanel as forensic anthropologist Dr. Temperance "Bones" Brennan, who teams up with FBI agent David Boreanaz to solve crimes based on skeletal evidence.
Maroney, who has appeared in a recurring role on three episodes of the comedy-drama series "Hart of Dixie," said her agent called to advise her of the "Bones" role while she was recovering from an avulsion fracture to her right patella.
"It's really hard when you can't do anything at the gym, because I love gymnastics so much," said Maroney, who trains under coaches Artur Akopyan and Galina Marinova at All Olympia Gymnastics Center in Los Angeles. "You get depressed because you're like, 'Everybody's working and I'm here sitting.' I feel for all gymnasts who get hurt. Injuries are just awful, but at least I had 'Bones' to work on when I wasn't training. It got my mind off the fact that I couldn't do anything."
Maroney said she had to audition for "Bones" as would any other actress, and she got the part despite auditioning with strep throat.
"There were other girls who wanted the part, actresses who were no longer gymnasts," said Maroney, who won vault at the 2011 and 2013 worlds and placed second on vault at the 2012 Olympic Games. 'There was a big room and I walked in and it was like, 'McKayla!' and I was like, 'Hi, I'm auditioning for the part, too.'"
Maroney said she enjoyed her scenes in the episode, entitled "The Spark In The Park," which required numerous takes in order to capture reactions of all of the actors in them. The gymnastics scenes also included former elites and NCAA stars Vanessa Zamarippa and Kristina Baskett as stunt performers.
"You have to do things from every single angle," she said. "There were five actors in the shot, and you have to make sure you get a close-up of each person's face. So that means you have to do a scene for every single person. They would have a scene for me so they would watch me tumble, and then they would have my face for the whole time while I'm talking to them. And they have to get shots from each of them, and then from the outside."
Maroney, who resumed training last week, said she looks forward to strengthening her all-around program in 2014.
While her work on "Bones" did not require her to perform difficult skills, she said she needed endurance to complete "at least" 70 takes of her tumbling pass that ended with a layout back somersault.
"It's like gymnastics," Maroney told IG. "You do it over and over and over again. People were asking me things like, 'Why didn't you do a double layout or something?' And I was like, 'Because I'm not going to do a double layout 70 times!'"
Flip over to http://www.fox.com/bones/ to see video outtakes and extras from the filming of the "Spark in the Park" episode featuring Maroney!
McKayla Maroney is featured in the following issues of International Gymnast magazine:
2013 World Championships special issue (November 2013)
2013 U.S. Championships coverage (September 2013)
"Maroney on the Mend" – interview (January/February 2013)
2012 Olympic Games special issue (September 2012)
2012 U.S. Olympic Trials coverage, 2012 Olympics preview (July/August 2012)
2011 World Championships special issue (December 2011)
2011 U.S. Championships coverage (September 2011)
"It's Showtime for Maroney" – Maroney profile (May 2011)
Maroney on cover photo collage, 2010 U.S. Championships coverage (September 2010)
To subscribe or order back issues, click here.
Written by John Crumlish
Friday, 13 December 2013 02:10
| Downie Sisters Team Up For New Challenges in 2014
IG Online's annual series of holiday-themed features continues with this update from British Olympian Becky Downie and her younger sister, Ellie, who told IG they have similar plans to build on their 2013 successes throughout the new year. Pictured: Becky Downie at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing
IG Online's annual series of holiday-themed features continues with this update from British Olympian Becky Downie and her younger sister, Ellie, who told IG they have similar plans to build on their 2013 successes throughout the new year.
"This year has definitely boosted my confidence for the big competitions next year, for example, Junior Europeans," said the 14-year-old Ellie. "Also, some of my achievements this year have made me realize where I am standing in the sport for my age."
In March, Ellie placed first all-around at the English Junior Championships and third all-around at the British Junior Championships. She placed fourth all-around at the European Youth Olympic Festival in Utrecht in July. Last month she placed third on vault, third on floor exercise and fourth on uneven bars at the Elite Gym Massilia meet in Marseille. Most recently sheshe won bronze medals with the English team and on uneven bars at the World School Games, held Nov. 30-Dec. 3 in Brasilia, Brazil.
Heading into the 2014 season, Ellie is training to upgrade her routines while maintaining their quality. Her goals include not only making the British team for the Junior European Championships in May in Sofia, but winning medals there, too.
"I've been working on some new skills to hopefully compete in my routines next year, to give me the best chance at making every team possible," Ellie said. "But one of my main focuses to stay at the top is to not just compete the new skills in the routines, but compete them well-executed and clean, to give me the highest scores possible."
Ellie Downie (Great Britain)
Ellie and Becky competed together at Elite Gym Massilia, where they helped Great Britain win the team bronze medal. Becky's determination, Ellie said, constantly encourages her.
"Becky inspires me because she never gives up on anything," Ellie said. "She is always pushing to be the best she can be, and is always very motivated. Her achievements are amazing."
During the holiday season, Ellie said she looks forward to spending time with her loved ones.
"My favorite part of the holidays is just relaxing and enjoying myself with my family, before preparing myself for the new year," Ellie said. "Usually on Christmas Day, the whole family opens their presents in the morning, then just sits down and watches TV and films for the rest of the day and enjoys everybody's company, as we're not all together very often."
Becky, who placed 12th all-around at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing but did not qualify for the British team at the 2012 Games in London, said a pair of routines stand out as her proudest achievements in 2013.
"There are probably two performances that mean the most to me," Becky said. "The first was being crowned British bars champion, as it was my first national title since 2009 and I'd worked so hard to prove I was back. It really meant a lot. The second was my bars routine from qualifications at the world championships (in Antwerp). It meant so much to me to finally hit my routine on a world stage and score over 15 (points). It's been something I've worked toward for a very long time, and for it to finally come off was an amazing feeling."
Becky, who will turn 22 next month, said her desire to reach her potential and her passion for the sport are driving her through her third Olympic cycle.
"My motivation is really down to my genuine love for gymnastics," Becky said. "I really do love what I do. After London I took a break, had time to reflect and knew I wasn't ready to give up. Deep down I felt there was still more I could achieve. I wanted to give my ultimate dream one last shot, which is to win an Olympic medal for myself and my country."
Becky, who placed seventh on uneven bars at this spring's Europeans in Moscow and eighth on uneven bars in Antwerp, said she is optimistic about her competitive prospects in the new year.
"I have lots of different goals for 2014, and it has the potential to be a fantastic year," Becky said. "My aims are to consolidate my routines and work hard on my execution to help me achieve the best results possible at hopefully the Europeans, Commonwealth Games and World Championships."
Becky credits the group of coaches at Notts Gymnastics Academy in Nottingham for assuring that their training is comprehensive and cooperative.
"Claire Starkey is our main personal coach who writes our programs, plans routines and so forth, with Ian Kime, Jo Millar and Jemma Wilson all adding their support and extra help," Becky said. "This means we have a whole team behind us at Notts."
Along with Becky's training, she is already well on her way to a promising career as a coach.
"I want to continue my coaching," Becky said. "I'm already a qualified Level 1 coach and I'm 80 percent there with my Level 2. I'd like to keep moving forward through the levels (3-5), with my long-term goal being a High Performance coach. I'd also love to one day do some coaching work with NCAA (U.S. university system), as I gave up my (NCAA) scholarship offers to focus on elite gymnastics."
Like her younger sister, Becky plans to enjoy the holidays close to friends and family.
"I'll be spending Christmas at home with my family, most likely watching movies, eating Christmassy food and really just enjoying time at home with everyone, as that doesn't happen often," Becky said. "For New Year's Eve, I don't have plans yet, but I'll most likely be partying with my friends and enjoying the end of my rest period."
Becky said she is determined to persevere in 2014.
"I don't really do New Year's resolutions, as I never stick to them," Becky told IG. "But I will continue with my mottos to never give up, and dream big!"
International Gymnast magazine's recent coverage of British gymnasts and coaches includes:
"Shooting Star" – Brinn Bevan profile (June 2013)
Imogen Cairns and British men's team on cover photo collage (March 2012)
"No Turning Back Now" – Imogen Cairns profile (January/February 2012)
"10 Questions with Coach Paul Hall" – interview (January/February 2010)
"European Brilliance" - Ruby Harrold interview (September 2013)
Sam Oldham on cover photo collage (July/August 2010)
Sam Oldham interview (June 2010)
"Nervous Purvis" – Daniel Purvis profile (November 2012)
"Pure Purvis" – Daniel Purvis interview (March 2012)
Daniel Purvis cover photo (November 2011)
"Bright for Britain" – Niamh Rippin profile (July/August 2010)
"Sibling Revelry" – Angel and Venus Romaeo profile (September 2010)
"Welsh Wisdom" - Raer Theaker profile (October 2013)
"Divide and Conquer" – Kristian Thomas interview (May 2012)
"The Good Shepherd" – Coach Ed van Hoof interview (April 2013)
"Lord Max" – Max Whitlock interview (June 2013)
"Lilleshall: Backstage in Britain" – cover story on British national program (November 2011)
To subscribe or order back issues, click here.
Written by John Crumlish
Wednesday, 11 December 2013 11:38
| Mitchell Resolves to Recover, Radiate in 2014
IG Online's annual series of holiday-themed features continues with this update on 2010 world floor exercise champion Lauren Mitchell, who told IG she intends to return to competition in early 2014.
Mitchell, the first female Australian gymnast to win a world championships title, was absent from competition in 2013.
Lauren Michell (Australia) on beam at the 2012 Olympic Games
"I've been staying busy with school and university work," Mitchell said. "I've just changed degrees this year, to study radiography, and I've been able to study full-time, which was really exciting. I love the new course that I'm doing as well."
Mitchell's gymnastics is also on a steady course, despite recent injuries that included a stomach-muscle injury which hindered her at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
"Condition-wise, I'm feeling great," said Mitchell, who turned 22 in July. "All the little niggles that I had last year when I was competing have settled down now. The stomach muscle injury that I had during London has completely healed now, and it's feeling good."
The two-time Olympian said she is tuning up her program with the hope of competing by March 2014.
"At the moment I'm just focusing on separate skills and perfecting them, and trying to incorporate them into a routine in line with the new Code (of Points)," she said.
Mitchell's ambitions for the new year involve balancing her gymnastics and academic commitments.
"My 2014 goal is to get back a competitive program within the gymnastics world, and take it one competition at a time, focusing on my technique and artistry," she said. "Outside of the gym, I hope to still be able to study as close to full-time as I can, without getting too tired!"
Mitchell plans to spend the holiday season with family and close friends.
"We don't really have any traditions, but we'll most likely just head over to a family member's house and have a Christmas dinner or lunch there," she said.
As ambitious as Mitchell is, she avoids making any specific declarations as to what she will accomplish in 2014.
"I don't really have a New Year's resolution," she told IG. "It's never really been a tradition of mine. However, I do have goals throughout the year that I want to achieve, both inside and outside the gymnastics world."
International Gymnast magazine's recent coverage of Australian gymnasts includes:
"Golden Surprise" - Lauren Mitchell cover story (January/February 2011)
Lauren Mitchell interview (March 2008)
Alexandra Croak chat (November 2009)
"Aussie Long Shot" - Daria Joura profile (July/August 2012)
Coach Peggy Liddick interview (January/February 2011)
"Late Bloomer" - Amelia McGrath profile (October 2010)
Lisa Skinner chat (September 2010)
"10 Questions with Naoya Tsukahara" - interview (September 2013)
"10 Questions with Olivia Vivian" - interview (March 2011)
To subscribe or order back issues, click here.