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Written by John Crumlish    Saturday, 10 May 2014 06:57    PDF Print
Berger Has Finals in Focus For Europeans
(6 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

2012 Olympic vault finalist Janine Berger of Germany told IG that she is aiming for team and apparatus finals at the upcoming European Championships.

Berger with her gold medal on vault from the 2014 Tournament of Masters in Cottbus
2012 Olympic vault finalist Janine Berger of Germany told IG that she is aiming for team and apparatus finals at the European Championships, which begin Monday in Sofia.

"The goal for our team is to show an excellent competition," said Berger, who finished fourth on vault at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. "If our routines function the way they should, we will hopefully qualify for the team final. Individually I am looking for two good and secure vaults. If all goes well, that could be good enough for the final."

Berger, who missed last year's Europeans in Moscow because of a knee injury, said she is particularly optimistic about her chances on her best apparatus. Earlier this year, she won vault at the Tournament of Masters, a World Challenge Cup held in Cottbus.

"I am indeed focusing a bit more on my vault, especially on having a clean technique and a secure landing," she said. "Nevertheless I am training on other apparatuses as well."

No team competition took place at last year's Europeans, but Berger said Germany should at least match its eighth-place finish in the team final at the 2012 Europeans in Brussels.

"I believe our chances for reaching the team final are really good, because we have a great team," she told IG. "We support each other, complement one another on the different apparatuses, and have a positive and team-oriented mindset. We will give our best and then see where that takes us."

International Gymnast magazine's recent features on German women's gymnastics include:

"Tough Lesson" - Janine Berger interview (October 2012)
Kim Bui interview (April 2013)
"New View from the Top" - Lisa Katharina Hill profile (July/August 2013)
"Leaps and Bounds for Germany" - Nadine Jarosch profile (January/February 2012)
Steffi Kräker interview/Hall of Fame induction feature (June 2011)
"Calm, Clean Style" - Sophie Scheder profile (December 2013)
"Seizing the Moment" - Elisabeth Seitz interview (July/August 2011)

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

Written by Amanda Turner    Wednesday, 07 May 2014 23:47    PDF Print
FIG to Aid Ukraine's Trip to Europeans
(6 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

The International Gymnastics Federation will help fund the Ukrainian team's trip to the upcoming European championships in Sofia, the FIG confirmed to IG on Thursday. Pictured: Oleg Vernyayev (Ukraine)

The International Gymnastics Federation will help fund the Ukrainian team's trip to the upcoming European championships in Sofia, the FIG confirmed to IG late Wednesday.

"The [Executive Committee] voted for a fund to help the Ukrainian gymnasts to participate in Sofia," FIG Press Officer Philippe Silacci told IG.

Earlier this week, the Ukrainian Gymnastics Federation announced it had failed to secure the 38,000 euros needed for the trip from the Ukraine's sports ministry. The federation, struggling in a nation embroiled in political crisis, appealed to the FIG for emergency assistance to help fund the delegation's trip to Sofia.

Igor Korobchinsky, vice president of the Ukrainian Gymnastics Federation, said Wednesday the FIG had promised to assist the federation with an interest-free loan to cover its costs and expenses. The 2014 Europeans, which begin Monday, serves as a qualifying competition for the 2014 Youth Olympic Games and 2015 European Games.

Korobchinsky was among several gymnastics officials and coaches who gathered for a press conference Wednesday called "The Crisis in Ukrainian Sports." The team needs a long-term solution for funding its program, they said.

Women's coach Oksana Slyusarchuk described the national training center as in a terrible state of disrepair, with only one gym to accommodate the junior and senior national teams for both men and women.

Igor Radivilov, a bronze medalist on vault at the 2012 Olympics and the 2013 co-European champion on still rings, said the equipment is unsafe.

"It's easy to get injured on such apparatus, but then there's nowhere to be treated and, more importantly, nothing to be treated with," Radivilov said. "We don't even have enough chalk or a regular bandage. The first-aid kit is empty. The team doctor just shrugs because he wasn't given any medication."

The annual Stella Zakharova Cup, which had originally been moved from March to April because of the political crisis, was postponed until September. Zakharova said she had secured some of the funding but not all of it.

Although independent Ukraine has won more than a dozen Olympic medals in gymnastics since 1992, the Sports Ministry's annual funding for the sport amounts to approximately half a million dollars, officials said.

"It's crushing," said Korobchinsky, himself a world and Olympic champion. "It's nothing compared with what they have in gymnastics' leading powers - like the U.S., China, Japan and Russia. We don't have to go too far to see [better conditions] even in neighboring Poland and Romania. And we are still trying to compete with all of them!"

Written by Amanda Turner    Monday, 05 May 2014 09:40    PDF Print
Mexico's Lago Celebrates Comeback, New Line of Leotards
(5 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

Nearly a year after tearing her ACL, Pan American floor exercise champion Ana Lago (Mexico) is recovered and excited about returning to major competition.

Nearly a year after tearing her ACL, Pan American floor exercise champion Ana Lago (Mexico) is recovered and excited about returning to major competition.

Lago, 18, tore her anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee 11 months ago on a double-twisting Yurchenko vault. But she has been slowly returning to full strength, including adding new skills and combinations on several events.

"Now my knee is strong and I especially feel the confidence to make my upgrades," Lago told IG. "I feel very strong and very happy to continue doing what I love."

Lago, a native of Monterrey, Nuevo León, trains under coach Antonio Barraza at the same gym that produced Olympian Elsa García. In 2010, as just a junior, Lago won the silver medal on floor and gold with the team at the Central American and Caribbean Games. At the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara, she won the gold medal on floor exercise and bronze with the team. In 2012, she was named Athlete of the Year for Nuevo León.

Lago celebrates winning floor exercise at the 2011 Pan American Games

Lago participated in two exhibitions last fall and a few weeks ago competed at the qualifier in Cancun for the upcoming Mexican National Olympiad. The National Olympiad, which features dozens of Olympic sports, takes place in May and June with multiple events around Mexico. The gymnastics portion will be held May 15-21 in Veracruz.

"[I feel] good about the Mexican Olympiad," she said. "I understand that the only gymnast who is invited (without qualification required) is Elsa García, so I wish her well."

In Cancun, Lago played it safe on vault to protect her knee, but said she plans to show upgrades soon.

"So far I'm doing a Yurchenko full, but my plan is to do my Yurchenko double full, and on other events I'm upgrading toward increased difficulty," she said.

Lago said one benefit of being sidelined with a knee injury was the extra time it gave her to work on bars, which she had called her least favorite event.

"Indeed bars is my weakest apparatus, but with my injury I was able to gradually increase the degree of difficulty, and I am much better on the event," she said.

After the Mexican Olympiad, Lago will head back to the gym to prepare for the Mexican championships and ultimately the world championships in Nanning, China.

"My goals are clear: to be as best prepared as I can be for the world championships, give my best and do a good job," said Lago, who turns 19 on Sept. 25. "Mainly [my goal is] to qualify into any final — I'd be competing for a place in any event."

Lago said that, like millions of others, she will celebrate the public holiday of Cinco de Mayo on Monday, but is uniquely celebrating releasing her own leotard line last week.

"I recently signed with Gilling, a Mexican leotard company, to do my own line of leotards," she told IG. "[We] just released a design and I'm now waiting for a few others, but I am very happy to see girls of all ages wear my line."

Written by John Crumlish    Saturday, 03 May 2014 14:49    PDF Print
Medvedev Vaults Toward Medal Shot in Sofia
(6 votes, average 4.33 out of 5)

Israel's Andrey Medvedev told IG that his performances on vault at last month's World Challenger Cup meets in Ljubljana and Osijek give him confidence in his medal prospect for the upcoming European Championships in Sofia.

Israel's Andrey Medvedev told IG that his performances on vault at last month's World Challenger Cup meets in Ljubljana and Osijek give him confidence in his medal prospect for the upcoming European Championships in Sofia.

"These two World Cups showed me that the difficulty and execution of my vaults are sufficient to make the final in Sofia and fight for a medal," he said.

Medvedev, who won the silver medal on vault in Ljubljana on April 20, finished 10th on vault in Osijek after an error on his second vault in the qualifications on April 25. Despite the mistake, he said his recent vaults indicate his potential.

Medvedev with his vault medal in Ljubljana

"In Osijek, even with a serious mistake, I was close to the final," Medvedev said. "I am quite self-assured heading towards Sofia, and I am certain I can show my best side."

Medvedev said his current two vaults are strong enough to contend for a medal at Europeans, which will take place in the Bulgaria capitalfrom May 19-25.

"The difficulty of my first vault is 5.6, and the difficulty of my second vault in 6.0," said Medvedev, who moved with his family from Russia to Israel when he was 12. "This will be enough for me to challenge for a medal at the upcoming Europeans. I won't raise the difficulty yet. For me the main thing is to concentrate on clean execution."

Medvedev said he will focus on vault in Sofia as he continues to regain his form following a torn bicep in December 2013.

"I only recently recovered after the injury," said Medvedev, who turned 24 on April 6. "Seeing how my main wish has been to prepare on vault for Europeans, my other apparatuses are not ready for competition. Having said that, I will compete only on vault in Sofia."

Medvedev credits much of his recent progress to changing coaches and training facilities about a year and a half ago, when he began training under coach Andrei Levit in Tel Aviv. Levit coached Poland's Leszek Blanik to the vault bronze at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney and vault gold at the 2008 Beijing Games.

Medvedev said he is constantly inspired by training in the same gym as 2013 European floor exercise co-champion Alexander Shatilov.

"Besides good conditions in the gym and a new coach, it has certainly helped me to have daily joint training sessions with Alex," said Medvedev of Shatilov, a two-time world championships bronze medalist on floor exercise. "Alex is an athlete of the highest level, and has always been an example to me not only as a gymnast, but also as a person. We are good friends and support each other in everything."

While Medvedev is aiming for a medal in Sofia, he is also preparing to upgrade his performances for this fall's world championships in Nanning.

"For the next world championships, I plan to increases the difficulty on my vaults," he told IG. "I will do two vaults with a 6.0 value. In training I am already working on vaults with a 6.4 value. Also in the plans is putting together a combination on floor exercise and try to reach the final. Of course the goal is to make it to the 2016 Olympic Games."

Written by Yulia Korostelyova    Thursday, 01 May 2014 21:08    PDF Print
IG May Preview: Mysterious Mustafina
(9 votes, average 4.11 out of 5)

Former Russian national team member Yulia Korostelyova recently interviewed Olympic, world and European champion Aliya Mustafina and her coach, Raisa Ganina, for International Gymnast Magazine's May issue. The following is a special extended introduction for IG Online from Korostelyova, who has been a performer with Cirque du Soleil since 2001.

Korostelyova, second from left, during a training session at the Round Lake national training center in 1998. Left to right: Yelena Produnova, Korostelyova, Anna Kovalyova, Yevgenia Kuznetsova, Yekaterina Privalova, Nina Kartseva and coach Marina Bulashenko.

When an opportunity to speak with Aliya Mustafina on behalf of International Gymnastics magazine fell into my lap, I was nothing but encouraged and excited. THE magazine asked me to do an interview with THE gymnast! I always thought if there were anything easy for me to do, talking would be it. Well, I was wrong.

But wow, was I nervous! For me, coming back to "Round Lake" — Russia's national training center for gymnastics — is like reliving my childhood fears. Like reliving my dream that never came true.

Aliya Mustafina (Russia)

During the recent Sochi Winter Olympics, my dad was religiously watching everything he could, while I seemed to space out and not follow it at all. One day he asked me why I wasn't interested. He had a point. What I realized is for me it was difficult not to identify myself with the athletes. No matter if they win or lose, it's a catch 22. I either feel for them, or simply envy them. It sounds bad but it took me some time to realize that's what it was. I am not over sports, I am not over gymnastics.

But when I stepped into the gym at Round Lake I couldn't help but smile. You know what is strange? The gym smelled exactly the same as I remember. It was rebuilt entirely, there is no more water under the trampoline and everything seems new and shiny. It's still a mystery for me why it smells the same when everything else has changed.

One familiar face was balance beam coach Marina Bulashenko — who recently returned to Round Lake — and was honestly unchanged over the years. But she did something completely out of character: she tried to feed me. It's funny how first for years the coaches tell you to watch what you eat, and now all she wanted me to do is eat and eat. First soup, then a second course. And a chocolate bar. And don't forget the apple - it has vitamins, she said.

It's good all that food came after interview with Mustafina. I am not the shy type, but I was terrified to get the cold shoulder.

People who follow gymnastics know the image Aliya has created over the years: polite but, no matter what, still very private. Mysterious Mustafina. After her glorious comeback at the 2012 Olympics, she was named Athlete of the Year for Russia, became a popular sports public figure, and most importantly, she was the face of Russian artistic gymnastics. You'd think that this was finally the time to get to know her better. Wrong again. After the success at the Olympics, her personal coach, Alexander Alexandrov, was dismissed as head coach of the women's team.

At the time, the confrontational situation in the Russian team had become the subject of whispering and speculation. It was all over her, just not about her. In my opinion the way Mustafina handled it is outstanding. Polite but, no matter what, always very private.

Read the full interviews with Mustafina and Raisa Ganina in the May issue of International Gymnast Magazine! Don't miss your chance to subscribe to the digital issue for just $5. Special offer ends Friday, May 2! Click here to subscribe now!


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