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Written by John Crumlish    Monday, 13 August 2018 06:48    PDF Print
Jones Aims To 'Be On My A-Game At U.S. Championships'
(5 votes, average 4.80 out of 5)

Shilese Jones told IG that that finishing fourth all-around at the recent U.S. Classic behind 2016 Olympic champion Simone Biles, 2017 U.S. bronze medalist Riley McCusker and 2017 World Champion Morgan Hurd put her in a comfortable spot as she readies for this week’s U.S. championships.

“I felt like I belonged there,” said Jones of her performance at the U.S. Classic, a qualifying meet for the U.S. championships, held July 27-28 in Columbus, Ohio. “It felt great knowing my hard work was finally starting to pay off. It was an honor being alongside champions. Those girls are all great gymnasts.”

Jones, a first-year senior who won the all-around title at the American Classic (another U.S. championships qualifying meet) held July 6-7 in Salt Lake City, Utah, said her U.S. Classic performance left her with an “exciting overall feeling,” especially since she missed last year’s U.S. junior championships because of injury. Training on floor exercise a week before those championships, she hyperextended her right knee and fractured her right kneecap on an Arabian double front.

“What pushed me through was I knew it wasn't the end,” she said of her recovery. “I also knew my coach and I had a great plan that I believe in.”

Jones said her coaches at Future Gymnastics Academy in Columbus, Ohio, are united in their approach to her training.

“All my coaches really work together,” said Jones, who turned 16 on July 26. “There is no one coach that trains me solely on one event. Our motto at Future Gymnastics is ‘Trust the process and work as a team.’ My head coach is Christian Gallardo, and the coaching team is Tiffany McLean, Mike Williams and Brooke Speas.”

Jones said she is fine-tuning her routines for the U.S. championships that will take place August 16-19 in Boston.

“The main focus is to work hard on my landings on floor, and also clean up anywhere my coach feels there needs cleaning up,” she said.

Based on her recent momentum, Jones has clear objectives for the U.S. championships.

“My goal is simple — go out and be consistent, listen to my coach and be on my A-game,” she told IG. “An eight-for-eight finish and to enjoy myself.”

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

 
Written by John Crumlish    Tuesday, 07 August 2018 06:38    PDF Print
Morgan On Success: 'I Don't Stress Out Over The Small Stuff'
(5 votes, average 3.40 out of 5)

Winner of five medals at the recent European junior championships, British gymnast Amelie Morgan told IG in a recent interview that her practical physical and psychological approach to training helps produce success in competition.

“Mentally, I’m pretty relaxed,” said Morgan, who won two silver medals (all-around, balance beam) and three bronze medals (vault, floor exercise, team) at the 2018 European Junior Championships held August 2-5 in Glasgow, Scotland. “I don’t stress out over the small stuff and try to just look at the bigger picture.”

Morgan, who finished second all-around to fellow quintuple medalist Giorgia Villa of Italy in Glasgow, said there is no secret to her consistency and competitive excellence.

“I’m not superstitious, and I believe hard work and putting in the numbers are what make the difference,” she told IG.

Read the complete interview with Morgan in the June 2018 issue of International Gymnast magazine.

International Gymnast magazine's coverage of gymnasts who competed at the 2018 European women's championships includes:

“Swinging for Success” - short feature on Sweden's Jonna Adlerteg (May 2015)

"Swedish History-maker" - profile on Adlerteg (November 2010)

"La Bella Basile" - profile on Italy's Martina Basile (March 2017)

“I’m Not Complicated” - short profile on France's Marine Boyer (June 2017)

"French Force" - cover story on Melanie De Jesus Dos Santos of France (July/August 2017)

De Jesus Dos Santos center poster (January/February 2018)

"Belgian Beauty" - profile on Belgium's Nina Derwael (June 2015)

"Sister Act" - profile on Sanne and Lieke Wevers (October 2015)

"British Breakouts" - interview with Alice Kinsella (December 2016)

“Axelle the Excellent" - short profile on Belgium's Axelle Klinckaert (June 2016)

"Heaven Sent" - profile on Russia's Angelina Melnikova (June 2016)

"Wisdom of a Woman" - interview with Greece's Vasiliki Millousi (April 2012)

Interview with Great Britain’s Amelie Morgan (June 2018)

"Big Dreams in Small Places" - profile on Poland's Marta Pihan-Kulesza (March 2017)

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

 
Written by dwight normile    Tuesday, 31 July 2018 07:16    PDF Print
Eddie Van Hoof Goes To Canada
(1 vote, average 5.00 out of 5)

Former British men’s coach Eddie Van Hoof replaces Tony Smith as head coach of the Canadian men’s team.

“I am honored and feel quite privileged to have this opportunity to be involved with the Canadian national team,” said Van Hoof, who is married to Carol-Angela Orchard, a Canadian herself.

“I hope to bring my many years of experience in high performance gymnastics on the world stage to assist Canada to qualify for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. Recent international results show that this important step for the program is within their reach. I am eager to begin working with the many talented gymnasts, coaches and judges as a complete team to make this happen.”

Ian Moss, interim CEO and high performance director at Gymnastics Canada, said Van Hoof has a “proven track record of success at the highest levels” of gymnastics.

“There is no question that Eddie will be a strong mentor for our high performance athletes and coaches, and I believe will give us the vision and drive to achieve our goals of team qualification for the 2020 Olympic Games and beyond.”

Van Hoof, head coach of the British team from 2006-2018, was named United Kingdom coach of the year in 2016 after guiding the British team to a record seven-medal performance at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

British Gymnastics fired Van Hoof in February, citing “irreconcilable differences” regarding “the leadership, conduct and culture of elite coaching for our sport.”

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

 
Written by John Crumlish    Thursday, 26 July 2018 08:49    PDF Print
Hong Kong's Shek Set For Asian Games Title Defense
(2 votes, average 3.00 out of 5)

Hong Kong Olympian Stone (Wai Hung) Shek (shown here with his longtime coach Sergiy Agafontsev) told IG that, in order to successfully defend his vault title at next month’s Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia, he will rely on his customary consistency and mental strength.

“I think the most important thing is to focus on the stability of my skills and try to have a good psychological quality,” said Shek, who upset 2012 Olympic vault champion Yang Hak-Seon of Korea to win vault at the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, Korea. “The result cannot be under my control, but what I can do is to train hard to get a good performance.”

Shek’s vault victory in Incheon ironically launched him into a challenging phase of his career, starting with a right shoulder injury that he suffered at the 2015 World Championships in Glasgow, Scotland. The injury sabotaged Shek, who competed at the 2012 Olympics in London, as he tried to qualify for the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

“After the competition in Glasgow, the doctor found out there was partial tear on my supraspinatus,” Shek said. “But unfortunately, before the Rio test event (the second Games qualifying meet, in April 2016), I had already torn it apart but I still wanted to qualify for the Olympics. Therefore, I tried everything to reduce the pain. I got injections, like PRP (platelet-rich plasma) and steroids. I did lots of physiotherapies but it didn’t help a lot. I still wanted to fight for the opportunity even though I couldn’t get the qualification. I had tried my best at everything.”

Shek, who underwent surgery on May 9, 2016, credits his support team for his successful rehabilitation.

“There is a good physical trainer at the SI (Hong Kong Sports Institute) to help me design a complete training program,” he said. “I also have to do a certain amount of physiotherapy with assistance by a good physiotherapist. Indeed, Sergiy helped me a lot on the progress of my recovery.”

Shek plans to compete on vault, parallel bars and high bar in Jakarta as well as at this fall’s Worlds in Doha, Qatar. His intended vaults are a Dragulescu (double front-half) and a Lopez (double-twisting Kasamatsu).

“These are not new skills for me,” said Shek, who placed sixth on vault at the 2014 World Championships and seventh on vault at the 2011 Worlds. “What I want to do is make them more stable and perfect.”

While Shek may best be known as a standout vaulter, he wants to make his high bar routine more competitive, as well. He recently posted a clip on social media of him training a Cassina (full-twisting back layout to regrasp), which is his first G-skill on any apparatus.

“I like performing high bar as well, and that’s why I would like to develop some new skills in this apparatus,” Shek said. “This G-skill was not in my training program. I just tried to do it and succeeded. I will try to train other new skills, too.”

Shek said he is hopeful that he can continue the success he achieved while under Agafontsev’s direct tutelage in the past.

“Last year, the head coach promoted a new plan and so our male team coach was changed,” Shek told IG. “Sergiy is now coach of the female team. But in fact, he still cares and helps us a lot. I hope that some day he can come back to our team and train us again.”

Read “Ready to Rock,” a profile on Shek earlier in his career, in the July/August 2012 issue of International Gymnast magazine. To purchase back issues, or subscribe to the print and/or digital editions of IG magazine, click here.

 
Written by John Crumlish    Tuesday, 24 July 2018 09:13    PDF Print
Health Issues Won't Discourage Croatia's Tkalcec
(1 vote, average 5.00 out of 5)

Although veteran Croatian gymnast Tijana Tkalcec will skip next month’s European championships and this fall’s world championships, she told IG she is pleased with her current international Challenge Cup ranking after a year-long absence due to health issues.

“So far I am very satisfied, since I just came back,” said the 29-year-old Tkalcec. “It was a long and hard journey to come back, but it was worth it. At the end of this part of the season, I'm first in the world ranking list on vault, and my goal for this year is to stay in the top three.”

Tkalcec said she will not attend Europeans in Glasgow and worlds in Doha, but has additional Challenge Cup meets on her agenda later in 2018. Thus far this year she placed fifth on vault at the Challenge Cups of Osijek, Koper and Guimaraes.

“It's still too soon for me, and my vaults are not as good as they should be, so I will sit these ones out,” she said of Europeans and worlds. “I will go to Challenge Cups in Hungary and France in September, and then try to improve my vaults for next year.”

Tkalcec, a vault finalist at the 2013 Europeans in Moscow, trains under coaches Igor Krijaimskii (all apparatuses) and Tatjana Goverdovskaja (balance beam and floor exercise choreographer) at the Marijan Zadravec Macan club in her hometown of Cakovec. Away from competition from 2015 until May 2017, she competed at the 2017 Challenge Cups of Koper and Osijek before pausing again to tend to her ongoing kidney problems.

“When that hits, my blood results are bad, and my whole body is sore from the toxins that my kidneys don't refine as well as any healthy kidney would,” she said. “I just need to have a break so everything comes back to normal again.”

Despite her medical setbacks and her 30th birthday looming in nine months, Tkalcec said she is ultimately motivated by her ageless passion for gymnastics, the camaraderie that she enjoys with her international rivals and steady encouragement from loved ones.

“It's kind of hard to answer that question the right way,” she said of why she continues. “But I guess that love for the sport and the feeling you get when you come to the competition and perform, and see all your good friends, is what keeps me going. I have all the support at home from my family and my fiancé, so that makes everything easier.”

Tkalcec’s longevity has also yielded longterm friendships among her fellow gymnasts, including two-time Czech Olympian Kristyna Palesova.

“We were very good friends when she was competing and we were big supporters of each other at every competition,” Tkalcec said. “We had great times, and were there for each other through good and bad times. I guess that is what has kept our friendship going even now. We speak to each other almost every day, and also visit one another as often as we can.”

Although Palesova has retired, her influence on Tkalcec is still apparent since Tkalcec now wears leotards that Palesova designs.

“I chose to wear Kristyna’s designs because I saw how well she makes them, and since she was a gymnast she knows exactly how to make perfect leos for us,” Tkalcec said. “She even has her own line—her first collection came out in May—and I hope I will be able to represent her leos many times more.”

Tkalcec’s summer activities included cheering for the Croatian soccer team as it advanced through this summer’s World Cup in Russia. She watched the final match against France with friends in Novi Sad, where she was vacationing at the time.

“There was an organized FIFA corner next to the river, and around 300 people watched the game there and everyone cheered for Croatia,” Tkalcec said. “That was a special feeling, knowing that in sport there are no religious, skin-color or ethnic differences.”

Despite Croatia’s loss to France in the final, Tkalcec said she was thrilled to be part of the national excitement and sense of honor.

“I think that, since I'm an athlete, I wasn't as nervous as other people watching the game,” she told IG. “We are kind of used to all that. But at the penalty shots it was nerve-racking every time. I can say that I am proud to be a part of such a small and very successful country.”

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

 


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