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Written by Amanda Turner    Wednesday, 23 November 2016 05:01    PDF Print
Hernandez, Chmerkovskiy Win 'DWTS'
(5 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)



U.S. Olympian Laurie Hernandez capped off her golden 2016 on Tuesday night, winning the finale of season 23 of Dancing With the Stars with partner Val Chmerkovskiy.

U.S. Olympian Laurie Hernandez capped off her golden 2016 with another trophy on Tuesday night, winning the finale of season 23 of Dancing With the Stars with partner Val Chmerkovskiy.

Hernandez, who turned 16 in June, is the youngest-ever winner of the reality dance competition, and the second gymnast to take home the mirror ball trophy following Shawn Johnson's win in 2008.

Hernandez and Chmerkovskiy had been favorites for the title, earning three perfect scores prior to the Tuesday night's grand finale. Clad in golden costumes for their Foxtrot-Argentine tango fusion on Tuesday, they didn't disappoint, earning another perfect score of 40.0. The pair topped race car driver James Hinchcliffe and professional partner Sharna Burgess. Former Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson and his partner Lindsay Arnold finished third.

Hernandez has had a break-out year in 2016. Long appreciated in gymnastics for her artistry and expression, the fan favorite gained wider fame this summer. In her first year as a senior, she helped the U.S. women win the team gold medal at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, and captured an individual silver on balance beam. She balanced her stint on Dancing With the Stars with the cross-country post-Olympic tour that began in September.

Following her win on Tuesday, Hernandez said it was difficult to compare her medals in Rio and DWTS title.

"The Olympics, as a little kid, it was such a big goal that I created for myself and I was able to push through and make that happen," she said. "I’ve always loved to dance and my passion was dancing as well as gymnastics, so winning the mirrorball (trophy) today was insane and amazing."

Chmerkovskiy, who previously won the 20th season of DWTS with actress Rumer Willis, said Hernandez is an inspiration.

"I wanted to set an example through her, for her generation that anything is possible," he said. "To stay hungry, to stay humble, she's a testament to that."

Hernandez, who trains at MG Elite in New Jersey, said her aim is to do exactly that.

"I do want to inspire others," she said. "When I was a little kid, I looked up to other people, so I hope I can inspire little kids."

It remains to be seen whether or not Hernandez will be back in competition in time for next year's world championships in Montreal. After her win, it was announced that Hernandez would be joining Chmerkovskiy and others on the Dancing With the Stars national tour this winter.

Hernandez is the fifth Olympian to win the coveted Mirror Ball trophy after Johnson, speedskater Apolo Ohno, figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi and ice dancer Meryl Davis.

Read an exclusive interview with Laurie Hernandez in the November 2016 issue of International Gymnast Magazine. To order back issues, or subscribe to the print and/or digital edition of International Gymnast magazine, click here.

 
Written by dwight normile    Monday, 21 November 2016 09:33    PDF Print
FIG President-Elect Morinari Watanabe Has Innovative Plans
(4 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

The December 2016 issue of International Gymnast features an interview with Morinari Watanabe, who will succeed FIG President Bruno Grandi on Jan. 1, 2017. A former gymnast in high school and college, the humble Watanabe, 57, also served as Executive Director and Secretary General of the Japan Gymnastics Association. In his interview he openly discusses several topics, including his plan to grow gymnastics, a 24-hour Gymnastics Channel and even his Samurai upbringing.

Following are excerpts:

On how to improve the popularity of gymnastics…

"Currently, competitions are best for those who know and follow gymnastics. To those who are not familiar with gymnastics, it is hard to understand what is excellent in gymnastics or why those scores are given. In such circumstances, the number of fans will not increase. I will transform a gymnastics competition into one that is easy to understand and exciting for everybody. That is to say, to evolve the competition from one for gymnastics fans to the one that generates gymnastics fans."

On the 2020 Olympics featuring 4-member teams…

"I understand that the reason why the number of gymnasts on a team at the Olympics will change from 5 to 4 is because of the opinion that as many federations as possible should take part in the Olympics. It is impossible to argue with this. The most important thing is to develop gymnastics in the world. I myself am aware that there is something in the new Olympic qualification system that is not clear enough."

On how long he envisions remaining as FIG President…

"I would like to devote myself with utmost effort for the world gymnastics family every single day. When the gymnastics family thinks that they don’t need me anymore, it will be time for me to end my term. How long I remain as FIG President is not decided by myself. It’s a matter all of you decide."

To subscribe to International Gymnast, which celebrates its 60th anniversary this year, click here.

 
Written by IG Staff    Thursday, 17 November 2016 09:16    PDF Print
Competition Brings Out The Best In Smith
(5 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)



In a cover story in the November issue of International Gymnast magazine, rising U.S, talent Ragan Smith said the prospect of competing energizes her to confidently face the challenge.

In a cover story in the November issue of International Gymnast magazine, rising U.S, talent Ragan Smith said the prospect of competing energizes her to confidently face the challenge.

"I feel like I’ve always been competitive since I was little," said the 16-year-old Smith, a reserve member of the gold medal-winning team U.S. team at this summer’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. "Once I hear the word 'compete' or I have a meet, I just get anxious, and I get ready to go and fired up. It makes me want to just be excited and go out there and hit my routines."

Read "Prone to Success," the cover story on Smith, in the November 2016 issue of International Gymnast magazine. To subscribe to the digital and/or print editions, click here.

 
Written by John Crumlish    Friday, 04 November 2016 19:42    PDF Print
'Dancing With The Stars' Variety Keeps Hernandez On Her Toes
(5 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)



In an exclusive interview in the November 2016 issue of International Gymnast magazine, Olympic gold and silver medalist Laurie Hernandez of the U.S. said she enjoys getting into character with each new weekly performance on ABC TV's Dancing with the Stars.

"It's almost like acting," said Hernandez, who with her partner Val Chmerkovskiy has emerged as a favorite to win the competition. "It's cool to have to come in one week extremely intense and then next week be a completely different person. I have to change my roles."

Read the complete interview in the November 2016 issue of International Gymnast magazine. Hernandez is also featured on the cover of the November 2015 issue, which includes "Human Emoji," a Hernandez profile. To subscribe to the print and/or digital edition of International Gymnast magazine, or order back issues, click here.

 
Written by Amanda Turner    Thursday, 03 November 2016 15:51    PDF Print
Mustafina Marries Bobsledder Zaitsev
(18 votes, average 3.89 out of 5)



World and Olympic champion Aliya Mustafina married her boyfriend Alexei Zaitsev, becoming the third member of Russia's gymnastics team to tie the knot since the Olympic Games in Rio.

World and Olympic champion Aliya Mustafina has married bobsledder Alexei Zaitsev, becoming the third member of Russia's gymnastics team to tie the knot since the Olympic Games in Rio.

"Aliya married Alexei Zaitsev in a wedding held at the groom's home in Krasnodar," said her father, 1976 Olympic wrestling bronze medalist Fargat Mustafin, to the TASS agency on Thursday. "I am very happy for my daughter."


Zaitsev is a hopeful for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.

Mustafina, who turned 22 on September 30, won three medals at the recent Olympics in Rio: silver with the team, bronze in the all-around and a gold medal on uneven bars, matching three of her medals from the 2012 Olympic Games in London. She is the 2010 world all-around champion, 2013 European all-around champion and 2015 European Games all-around champion.

The pair have reportedly been dating since the fall of 2015. Zaitsev also turned 22 on September 17, two weeks before Mustafina.

Zaitsev is a hopeful for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, and has been competing internationally in both the two-man and four-man events. At the 2016 World Championships, held in February in Igls, Austria, Zaitsev was a member of the eighth-place Russian team in the four-man event.

Mustafina, who competed in Rio despite a back injury, indicated after the Olympics she planned to take some time off and rest before considering a return for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. She is currently studying at the Russian State University of Physical Education, Sport, Youth and Tourism in Moscow.

"I want to graduate, to become a mother and raise children. And my childhood dream – to go to the moon," she said last week. "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 joins recent newlyweds on the Russian Olympic team Denis Ablyazin, who married long-time girlfriend Ksenia Semyonova in September; and David Belyavsky, who married his girlfriend Maria this past weekend in Greece.

 


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