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Written by dwight normile    Friday, 20 January 2017 11:17    PDF Print
Great Britain's Keatings Announces Retirement
(2 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

Daniel Keatings has announced his retirement, but he definitely left his mark on British gymnastics.

One year after wining the all-around gold at the 2008 European Junior Championships in Lausanne, Switzerland (pictured), Keatings, coached by Paul Hall at Huntingdon Olympic Gymnastics Club, became the first Brit to win a World Championships all-around medal when he placed second to Kohei Uchimura in London. His successful competitive strategy relied on clean execution over risky routines.

Following is what Keatings, 27, remembers from the 2009 Worlds.

“I qualified in fourth place with a fall on the pommel, so I knew there was a good shout of a medal in the final if I could go six for six clean. I had an awesome competition and remember finishing my high bar dismount, smiling as I landed, because I knew I had done it.

“It was my first full year as a senior gymnast and had just came second in the all-around at the Europeans in Milan, so there was expectation for me to do well and hopefully get a top five finish. But as I was still young, I didn't put any pressure on myself and just went out there and enjoyed it.”

Written by John Crumlish    Thursday, 12 January 2017 18:07    PDF Print
Canada's Olsen Launches Toward New Goals
(3 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

2016 Olympic vault finalist Shallon Olsen of Canada told IG that her goals for the new year include bettering her performance on the apparatus on which she placed eighth at last summer's Olympic Games in Rio.

2016 Olympic vault finalist Shallon Olsen of Canada told IG that her goals for the new year include bettering her performance on the apparatus on which she placed eighth at last summer's Olympic Games in Rio.

"I'm hoping to improve my form and make my vaults a lot cleaner," Olsen said. "I'm thinking of upgrading in the near future but right now I just want to focus on that."

Even with Olsen's individual achievement in Rio, she said the highlight of her year was the team spirit she experienced in qualifications, from which she advanced to the vault final. Canada finished ninth in team standings, missing a berth to the team final by 0.168 points.

"The moment that was probably the most memorable for me was when we worked together as a team and supported each other the best we could during qualifications," said Olsen, who turned 16 on July 10, less than a month prior to the Games. "Yes, we all may have been a bit nervous, but the support from my teammates was amazing."

Olsen, who competed on vault and floor exercise in Rio, enjoyed other successes in 2016. She placed first on vault and third on floor exercise at the International Gymnix Senior Cup in Montreal in February; first on vault, third on floor exercise and seventh all-around at the Pacific Rim Championships in Everett, Wash., in April; and first on vault, second on floor exercise and fourth all-around at the Canadian Championships in June.

This year Olsen is ready for new challenges and opportunities. Canada will play host to this year's world championships, September 27 – October 9 in Montreal.

"What motivates me now is there are so many more competitions, and it gets me excited to show everybody what I've been working on," she told IG. "I have so much more work to do and improve upon, and I'm excited for the upcoming competitions for me in the near future. I don't have any New Year's resolutions. I'm just excited for 2017 and what 2017 will bring me."

International Gymnast magazine's recent coverage of Canadian gymnasts includes:
"Canadian Pace-setter" - Ana Padurariu profile (December 2016)
Jade Chrobok profile (April 2016)
Jade Chrobok and Meixi Semple cover photo inset (March 2016)
"Canadian Beacon" – Ellie Black interview (September 2015)
Chat with Christine Peng-Peng Lee (April 2015)
Megan Roberts profile (April 2015)
Isabela Onyshko profile (July/August 2014)
"Canadian Promise" – Ellie Black chat and Robert Watson profile (July/August 2014)
"Making Tracks" – Scott Morgan profile (December 2013)
"Aiming to Top the Charts" – Maegan Chant interview (October 2013)
"Canadian Diversity" – Ellie Black and Hugh Smith profiles (July/August 2013)
"Sudden Impact" – Victoria Moors interview (January/February 2013)
Aleeza Yu two-page photo spread (May 2014)

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

Written by Amanda Turner    Thursday, 12 January 2017 12:27    PDF Print
Motherhood Ahead for Mustafina
(15 votes, average 3.73 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!'"


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