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Written by Amanda Turner    Thursday, 08 December 2016 12:31    PDF Print
Uchimura: No Plans to Become a Specialist
(3 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

Gymnastics king Kohei Uchimura, undefeated in the all-around since 2009, says he has changed his mind about becoming a specialist and plans to keep training in the all-around.

Gymnastics king Kohei Uchimura, undefeated in the all-around since 2009, says he has changed his mind about becoming a specialist and plans to keep training in the all-around.

Uchimura, who won his second Olympic all-around title in August in Rio de Janeiro, said in an interview this week that he won't be giving up on the all-around anytime soon. The 27-year-old Japanese superstar previously had said that he planned to become a specialist as he looks ahead to competing in Tokyo 2020, his fourth Olympic Games.

"I actually thought of stopping competing as all-arounder right after Rio," he told newspaper Nikkei. "But I changed my mind later because I've been saying 'Gymnastics is six events. It just is,' for a long time, so I thought that I won't allow myself to turn into event specialist. So I've decided to perform six events from my heart and fight as an all-arounder. If I fail at qualifying in the all-around, I will think of a way to live as an event specialist."

Uchimura captured his second consecutive Olympic all-around title this past summer in Rio de Janeiro.

Uchimura is the most dominant gymnast of all time, winning six consecutive world championship all-around titles from 2009 to 2015, and back-to-back Olympic all-around titles. In Rio, he led the Japanese team to victory in the team competition, its first Olympic team gold since 2004 and second since 1976.

Uchimura has been undefeated internationally and at home since his second place at the 2008 Olympic Games in Rio. But his all-around victory in Rio was his most hard-fought ever. Battling top qualifier Oleg Vernyayev in the all-around final, Uchimura ended up winning by only .099 in a final in which both gymnasts were nearly flawless.

He said he is prepared for eventually coming up short. He brought up the long-undefeated Japanese wrestling star Saori Yoshida, who won 15 world titles and three consecutive Olympic titles before settling for silver in Rio.

"Of course [the winning streak] will stop," Uchimura said. "You saw Saori Yoshida lost right? But I'm not afraid of losing it. I thought that I lost all around final at Rio and I found myself thinking, 'It can't be helped even if I lose with my performance.'"

Uchimura said his decision to stay as an all-arounder involves staying focused only the details of his gymnastics instead of worrying about victory.

"So I found the clear solution like this, now I can believe in myself and just keep pursuing my gymnastics," he said. "From now on, I want to stick to the details and quality of my routine more than winning or losing. But I think it'll make myself get close to winning accordingly."

Uchimura recently left KONAMI, which had been his long-time sponsor, and signed a contract with an agent. He said he had considered the move after 2012 but stayed with KONAMI.

"Well, for the first time, after taking the gold medal at the London Olympics, the attention was getting really high," he said. "I thought that it's the right timing now [to go professional], but after that, I didn't know what to do, but I kept winning gold medals at the world championships... From January this year it started moving little by little, and professionals from other industries helped [including Japan footballers Shinji Okazaki and Yuto Nagatomo] and I signed a contract with an agency."

Despite Japan's rich history in gymnastics, Uchimura is the first Japanese gymnast to become a true "professional" athlete on par with the country's top stars in football, tennis, baseball and other professional sports.

"For sure, gymnastics – although the physical demand is also huge – is not a sport where you compete all the time; it is not a sport where you can earn a lot through competing," Uchimura said. "Although no one has done anything yet, I don't know the answer either. To find it by myself, I hope I can show that I am a professional figure."

Written by Amanda Turner    Thursday, 08 December 2016 12:27    PDF Print
Indian Gymnast Dies After Two Months in Coma
(3 votes, average 3.67 out of 5)

A 17-year-old Indian gymnast died Sunday at a hospital in Gurgaon, nearly two months after a training accident left him in a coma, Indian media reported Wednesday.

Young Indian gymnast Brijesh Yadav, 17, died Sunday, two months after an accident in training left him in a coma.

Brijesh Yadav, a silver medalist at the 2015 Indian National School Championships, broke his neck during training on October 11 in Agra. He was attempting a double front on floor exercise when he reportedly missed his steps and fell on his head.

"Brijesh was doing his floor practice when he fell and broke his neck," said his coach Arvind Yadav (no relation). "He had already performed the routine four times but lost his balance in the fifth and fell. Although he landed on a soft mat, his neck got twisted."

Yadav broke his C3 and C4 vertebrae in the fall. He was immediately paralyzed from the neck down and fell into a coma. He underwent two surgeries but ultimately died of respiratory failure after an infection.

"The injuries damaged the respiratory centers," said Dr. Arun Bhanot, chief of spinal surgery at Paras Hospital. "The surgeries were successful but we could never take him completely off ventilator due to damage to the respiratory centers. After some time, he developed infections and it further affected respiratory recovery, which ultimately led to his death. The country has lost a talented young gymnast."

Doctors reported that 80 percent of patients with the same injury are killed instantly, but Yadav managed to survive, while his family, friends and even actor Akshay Kumar rallied to raise funds for his treatment.

"It was Brijesh's positive approach and will that kept him alive for about 50 days," said Dr. Bhanot. "He was also brought to the hospital in time. The major problem was that his respiratory system was not responding on its own."

In March 2015, another teenaged gymnast from Gurgaon broke his neck on floor, training a Thomas salto (a move banned in international competition beginning in 2017). He underwent multiple surgeries and spent six months in the hospital, but fully recovered and returned to training.

Written by John Crumlish    Thursday, 08 December 2016 10:00    PDF Print
Methuen And Kinsella Ready To Break Into British Senior Ranks
(3 votes, average 4.33 out of 5)

Featured in the December 2016 issue of International Gymnast magazine, British gymnasts Maisie Methuen (left) and Alice Kinsella are determined to make their marks as first-year seniors in 2017 following their junior success in 2016.

Methuen and Kinsella placed fourth and fifth all-around, respectively, at this spring’s European Junior Championships in Bern.

“I think having to fight to even make the British team is hard,” Methuen said. “That can only make us stronger as individuals.”

Kinsella, who won two apparatus medals in Bern, said she can contribute much to the British senior team.

“I believe that, if I support and work well with my teammates, it will have a positive impact on the results,” she said.

Read “British Breakthroughs,” the complete interviews with Methuen and Kinsella, in the December 2016 issue of International Gymnast magazine. To subscribe to the print and/or digital editions, click here.

Written by Admin    Tuesday, 06 December 2016 09:32    PDF Print
NCAA Preview: Defending Champions Head Into 2017 With Confidence
(1 vote, average 5.00 out of 5)

International Gymnast magazine’s December issue features an eight-page cover story on the upcoming NCAA season, which the coaches of the defending women’s and men’s champions are approaching with confidence.

K.J. Kindler is the head coach of 2016 women’s champion Oklahoma, whose 2017 team will include 2015 world championships team gold medalists Maggie Nichols and Brenna Dowell.

“Our philosophy, as always, is to earn it, focus on preparation, pay attention to the details, be innovative and have fun,” Kindler said.

Two Olympic gold medalists will join the NCAA ranks in the coming season. They are Kyla Ross, a member of the gold-medal winning U.S. team at the 2012 Olympic Games and a two-time world championships all-around medalist; and Madison Kocian, a member of the gold medal-winning U.S. team at the 2016 Olympics and the 2016 Olympic silver medalist on uneven bars. Ross and Kocian will compete for UCLA.

Defending NCAA men’s champion Yul Moldauer is expected to lead the defending men’s champion Oklahoma, whose head coach, Mark Williams, said the 2017 field should be deep.

“I suspect that several teams will contend for the national championship,” Williams said.

Read IG’s complete NCAA preview, which features forecasts, quotes, photos and rosters, in the December 2016 issue of International Gymnast magazine. To subscribe to the print and/or digital editions, click here.

Written by Amanda Turner    Sunday, 27 November 2016 07:15    PDF Print
Aussie Olympian Skinner Suffers Broken Vertebra at Cirque Show
(1 vote, average 5.00 out of 5)

Three-time Australian Olympian Lisa Skinner suffered a frightening fall Sunday while performing with Cirque du Soleil in Brisbane, crashing 5 meters (16 feet) to the stage.

Skinner performing with the aerial hoop

Three-time Australian Olympian Lisa Skinner suffered a frightening fall Sunday afternoon while performing with Cirque du Soleil in Brisbane, crashing 6 meters (20 feet) to the stage.

Skinner, 35, was performing an aerial hoop act in the show Koozå when she slipped and fell to the stage below. She was rushed by ambulance to the hospital in a neck brace. Within a few hours, Skinner posted on social media that despite some injuries, she was expecting to make a full recovery. On Monday, it was reported that Skinner had suffered a fracture to her C1 vertebra and a broken arm.

Skinner's mother, Anne, told a Queensland radio station on Monday that her daughter was lucky after landing on her head.

"Today she is going to be fitted with what they call a halo brace to keep her head still... it will take about 6-12 weeks to heal," she said. "Her arms and legs work, which is the main thing, and she survived. She should recover but it will just be a long, hard road at this point."

The show resumed after Skinner's fall, though all audience members were required to remain seated until paramedics had taken the injured acrobat from the stage, per Cirque rules. Jessica Levoeuf from Cirque du Soleil said the circus prepares for accidents.

"It's something that we actually rehearse for different scenarios every single week at Cirque du Solei," Levoef said. "The safety and security of our artists and our patrons as well is always the number one concern. Our first response team reacted very quickly and the performer is responsive, is safe and is under great medical care at the moment."

Lauded for her beautiful lines and artistry, Skinner competed at the 1996, 2000 and 2004 Olympic Games. At the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, she placed eighth in the all-around and on floor exercise, the first Australian gymnast to ever reach an Olympic apparatus final. After a brief retirement, she returned to gymnastics in 2002. In 2003, she was a member of the Australian women's squad that won a historic bronze medal at the world championships in Anaheim, the first and only world team medal for Australia to date.

Additionally, Skinner was a two-time Commonwealth Games champion, winning gold with the Australian team and on uneven bars at the 1998 Games in Kuala Lumpur.

Skinner joined Cirque du Soleil in 2006, and performed in Alegría and Quidam. She only recently joined Koozå as it toured her native Queensland.

Despite the spectacular risks and acrobatics on display at Cirque du Soleil, serious accidents are rare. In 2007, Bulgarian Maia Tabakova, a world and Olympic medalist in rhythmic gymnastic, fell 10 meters (35 feet) while performing an aerial act in Las Vegas. In critical condition after her fall, Tabakova eventually made a full recovery and returned to performing until 2014. She is now a co-owner and coach at Nevada Rhythmic Academy in Las Vegas.

Cirque du Soleil, which was founded in 1984, has had two performer fatalities. In 2009, Ukrainian acrobat Oleksandr Zhurov was killed during training in a trampoline accident. In 2013, French acrobat and aerialist Sarah Guyard-Guillot was killed during a performance of in Las Vegas, when her harness reportedly slipped off its safety wire, and she fell at least 15 meters (50 feet).

This article has been updated with additional information on Skinner's injuries.


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