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Written by Amanda Turner    Friday, 29 April 2016 18:44    PDF Print
Vernyayev Leads Two Events in Osijek Qualification
(1 vote, average 5.00 out of 5)

Ukraine's Oleg Vernyayev topped two events Friday as qualification concluded at the 2016 FIG World Challenge Cup in Osijek, Croatia. Pictured: Russia's Seda Tutkhalyan qualified first on balance beam.

Ukraine's Oleg Vernyayev topped two events Friday as qualification concluded at the 2016 FIG World Challenge Cup in Osijek.

Oleg Vernyayev (Ukraine)

Vernyayev, who competed all six events in Osijek, led qualification on men's vault and parallel bars. After a rough day in Thursday's qualification — when he missed all three routines — the Ukrainian rebounded strongly with two great vaults (Dragulescu and triple-twisting Tsukahara; 15.300 average) and a nailed routine on parallel bars (16.100/6.9).

Switzerland's Oliver Hegi was the top gymnast on high bar, showing a beautiful Tak-half to Def combination and a Kolman (15.000/6.6).

Cuba's Manrique Larduet qualified second to the high bar final and third to the final on both parallel bars. On parallel bars, he successfully landed his new dismount, a double front-full out, which will be named after him. It has been given a G-Difficulty rating in the FIG Code of Points.

Russia's Dennis Ablyazin qualified second on vault over teammate Nikita Nagornyy, who finished second behind Vernyayev on parallel bars.

Americans Steven Legendre and Paul Ruggeri, who took the top two spots in Thursday's floor exercise qualification, both reached the finals on vault. Ruggeri also qualified to the high bar final in third place.

In the women's competition, Russia's Seda Tutkhalyan qualified first on balance beam (14.600/6.4) over Canada's Rose-Kayen Woo (13.750/5.7) and Yana Horokhova (13.700/5.9). Tutkhalyan qualified second on uneven bars Thursday behind teammate Natalia Kapitanova.

Great Britain's Ellie Downie (14.350/6.0) was the top gymnast on floor exercise, topping Kapitanova and teammate Ruby Harrold. Downie led the qualification on women's vault on Thursday.

Competition continues Saturday in Osijek with the first day of apparatus finals.

External Link: Official Website

2016 FIG World Challenge Cup
April 29, Osijek, Croatia

Balance Beam QualificationDENDScore
1.Seda Tutkhalyan6.48.20014.600
2.Rose-Kayen Woo5.78.05013.750
3.Yana Horokhova5.97.80013.700
4.Ruby Harrold5.48.25013.650
5.Maria Kharenkova6.37.35013.650
6.Ellie Downie5.87.55013.350
7.Carolyne Pedro5.08.20013.200
8.Adela Šajn5.37.90013.200
9.Sherine Elzeiny5.07.90012.900
10.Ofir Kremer4.97.60012.500
11.Tzuf Feldon5.27.15012.350
12.Hélody Cyrenne5.27.05012.250
13.Kateryna Shumeiko4.87.25012.050
14.Milena Theodoro5.46.60012.000
15.Lukisha Schalk4.86.95011.750
16.Dora Székely4.76.95011.650
17.Ece Ayan4.96.65011.550
18.Sofie Braaten4.76.65011.350
19.Sofie Skattun5.06.20011.200
20.Karmen Koljanin5.45.80011.200
21.Jelena Stamenkovic4.76.10010.800
22.Yekaterina Chuikina4.76.00010.700
23.Dorina Böczögő4.26.40010.600
24.Dora Kranželić4.75.1000.19.700

Women's Floor Exercise QualificationDENDScore
1.Ellie Downie6.08.35014.350
2.Natalia Kapitonova5.88.20014.000
3.Ruby Harrold5.68.30013.900
4.Paula Mejías6.07.8500.113.750
5.Dorina Böczögő5.48.20013.600
6.Yana Horokhova5.38.25013.550
7.Carolyne Pedro5.57.9000.113.300
8.Kirsten Beckett5.28.05013.250
9.Hélody Cyrenne5.67.6000.412.800
10.Kateryna Shumeiko5.47.4500.112.750
11.Tjaša Kysselef4.77.85012.550
12.Yekaterina Chuikina5.17.45012.550
13.Maria Kharenkova5.56.95012.450
14.Ece Ayan4.97.8000.312.400
15.Ana Poščić4.97.45012.350
16.Anna Geidt4.87.50012.300
17.Sofie Braaten4.87.7500.412.150
18.Dora Kranželić5.56.55012.050
19.Dora Székely5.06.80011.800
20.Lukisha Schalk4.76.80011.500
21.Sofie Skattun4.46.40010.800
22.Ofir Kremer1.48.6006.04.000

Men's Vault QualificationDENDScoreAverage
1.Oleg Vernyayev6.09.40015.40015.300
2.Denis Ablyazin6.48.95015.35015.200
3.Nikita Nagornyy6.09.20015.20015.150
4.Igor Radivilov6.09.05015.05015.050
5.Steven Legendre5.69.35014.95015.025
6.Paul Ruggeri5.89.30015.10014.850
7.Andrey Medvedev5.68.8000.114.30014.625
8.Vitālijs Kardašovs5.68.85014.45014.325
9.Rick Jacobs5.68.80014.40014.275
10.Matthias Fahrig5.68.05013.65014.075
11.Dominick Cunningham4.49.1000.113.40014.025
12.Ahmet Önder5.69.15014.75013.575
13.Ivan Vargovský5.29.15014.35013.400
14.Heikki Saarenketo5.68.6000.313.90013.275
15.Botond Kardos5.28.8000.113.90013.250
16.Danil Baturin5.29.00014.20013.050
17.Tomi Tuuha5.69.1500.314.4507.225
18.Norbert Dudás5.28.85014.0507.025
19.Nurtas Kozhakov5.27.5500.312.4506.225

Parallel Bars QualificationDENDScore
1.Oleg Vernyayev6.99.20016.100
2.Nikita Nagornyy6.88.90015.700
3.Manrique Larduet6.88.80015.600
4.Sean Melton6.48.45014.850
5.Norbert Dudás6.18.60014.700
6.Emin Garibov6.77.85014.550
7.Samuel Piasecký5.78.75014.450
8.İbrahim Çolak5.68.80014.400
9.Pericles Silva5.78.40014.100
10.Ahmet Önder6.77.40014.100
11.Dominick Cunningham5.78.30014.000
12.Maksym Semiankiv5.58.20013.700
13.Nurtas Kozhakov6.07.70013.700
14.Oliver Hegi6.47.30013.700
15.Moran Yanuka5.58.15013.650
16.Mohamed Sherif Elsaharty5.68.05013.650
17.Jay Thompson5.87.70013.500
18.Steven Legendre6.47.4000.313.500
19.Rick Jacobs5.57.85013.350
20.Maxime Gentges5.87.50013.300
21.Alen Dimic6.07.20013.200
22.Dávid Vecsernyés5.57.50013.000
23.Eddy Yusof5.97.00012.900
24.Petrix Barbosa5.87.00012.800
25.Miloš Paunović4.87.55012.350
26.Dušan Đorđević4.57.10011.600

High Bar QualificationDENDScore
1.Oliver Hegi6.68.40015.000
2.Manrique Larduet7.08.00015.000
3.Paul Ruggeri6.88.10014.900
4.Tin Srbić6.08.60014.600
5.Ümit Şamiloğlu6.48.20014.600
6.Dávid Vecsernyés6.37.90014.200
7.Ahmet Önder5.97.85013.750
8.Pietro Giachino5.78.00013.700
9.Pericles Silva5.67.75013.350
10.Nikita Nagornyy6.37.00013.300
11.Maxime Gentges5.97.05012.950
12.Petrix Barbosa5.97.00012.900
13.Jay Thompson5.77.15012.850
14.Bram Verhofstad5.67.10012.700
15.Oleg Vernyayev5.96.70012.600
16.Emin Garibov6.56.05012.550
17.Ádám Babos5.17.40012.500
18.Alexander Shatilov6.26.00012.200
19.Moran Yanuka5.56.65012.150
20.Igor Radivilov6.06.15012.150
21.Marijo Možnik4.96.70011.600
22.Alen Dimic5.16.20011.300
23.Nurtas Kozhakov5.16.15011.250
24.Samuel Piasecký4.56.25010.750
25.Danil Baturin5.25.30010.500
26.Matthias Fahrig1.38.8508.02.150
Written by John Crumlish    Thursday, 28 April 2016 13:16    PDF Print
Slovenia's Rok Klavora Enjoys Medal-Winning Roll
(3 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

After winning his third consecutive Challenge Cup medal on floor exercise earlier this month, Slovenian veteran Rok Klavora told IG that quality execution has been key to his recent streak of podium finishes.

“I think the biggest advantage is that I’m elegant and clean over the whole routine,” said Klavora, who placed first on the event at the Challenge Cup of Ljubjlana on April 9. “I never had a very high start value, so I need to be very clean and have good landings.”

Klavora said his silver medal-winning performances at the Challenge Cup of Baku in February and the Challenge Cup of Doha in March were relative successes, too.

Two-time world floor exercise champion Kenzo Shirai of Japan placed first in Baku, and two-time world floor exercise champion Diego Hypolito of Brazil placed first in Doha.

“There was always a world champion ahead of me this year, so I can say that’s a good score,” Klavora said.

Klavora’s successes in Baku, Doha and Ljubjlana bode well for his prospects at the European Championships in Bern in late May, he said.

“For Europeans, surely I need to raise my start value, because there are some very good guys on floor, like Denis Ablyazin (Russia), Max Whitlock (Great Britain), Pablo Brägger (Switzerland), Kristian Thomas (Great Britain) and so on,” Klavora said. “The second thing is that I have to be very clean. I think that is the recipe for good results.”

Although no Slovenian male gymnast qualified for this summer’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Klavora said he looks forward to upcoming challenges.

“The biggest thing that motivates me is love for gymnastics,” he said. “I like to learn new skills every day, especially now. After Europeans last year I stopped doing all-around, and focused on floor and vault. This year I am going to do only floor, and next year vault, as well.”

The 27-year-old Klavora said he has no plans to retire.

“I wish to compete till the end,” he told IG. “If I’m going to be healthy I will compete. How long is hard to say, because gymnastics is my life. Every day I can be better as a gymnast. At the end of last year we finally got a new training center, and that’s helped me to train better, making it easier to learn new skills and raise my potential.”

International Gymnast Magazine Related Features:

"Brägger Breaks Through" - Pablo Brägger profile (January/February 2014) “Rok, Solid” - Klavora profile (November 2009)

“Slovenian Stalwarts” - Mijta Petkovsek/Aljaz Pegan interviews (March 2010)

“Declaration of Independence” - Slovenian team profile (February 2001)

"Divide and Conquer" - Kristian Thomas interview (May 2012)

"Lord Max" - Max Whitlock interview (June 2013)

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

Written by John Crumlish    Friday, 22 April 2016 06:48    PDF Print
Success Gets Israel's Feldon 'Intensively' Working On Upgrades
(6 votes, average 4.33 out of 5)

Israel's Tzuf Feldon told IG that her recent World Challenge Cup successes have motivated her to add skills and improve her execution for future competitions, including the Europeans Championships in Bern in June.

Israel's Tzuf Feldon told IG that her recent World Challenge Cup successes have motivated her to add skills and improve her execution for future competitions, including the Europeans Championships in Bern in June.

"I was very pleased with the performance and the achievements I had in Ljubljana," said Feldon, who placed fifth on uneven bars and fifth on balance beam at the Challenge Cup of Ljubljana that took place April 8-10. "I was satisfied as I made two finals, and it follows the Challenge Cup in Baku (in February) in which I made the final on bars."

Tzuf Feldon (Israel)

For the rest of 2016, Feldon will focus on improving the content and quality of her routines.

"I am working intensively on new skills on all the apparatus," she said. "Some of the skills will be ready for the European Championship and some of them later on. At the same time I'm polishing my routines."

Born January 21, 1999, Feldon lives in a village approximately 30 kilometers from Tel Aviv, and travels to Tel Aviv to train at Hapoel Tel Aviv Gymnastics Club six days per week. She has three coaches: Romanian-born twins Zahava Zissman and Orna Shai, and former Israeli gymnast Maya Shani.

"Zahava Zissman is the national coach and my personal coach," Feldon said. "She is the best coach in Israel for many years. Orna Shai, who is an expert judge, also coaches in our club. Maya Shani, who was one of the best Israeli gymnasts of all time, coaches in our club, as well."

Feldon finished third all-around in the junior division at the 2014 Elek Matolay Memorial in Százhalombatta, Hungary; 17th all-around at the 2014 Top Gym junior meet in Charleroi, Belgium; and 40th all-around in qualifications at the 2014 European Junior Championships in Sofia.

As a first-year senior in 2015, she placed fifth on balance beam at the Challenge Cup of Cottbus, Germany; eighth on balance beam at the Challenge Cup of Ljubljana; third (tie) on balance beam at the Challenge Cup of Anadia, Portugal; 48th all-around in qualifications at the European Championships in Montpellier, France; and 128th all-around in qualifications at the World Championships in Glasgow.

Feldon said her 2015 achievements benefit her this year, as well.

"Indeed, last year I made several finals and won a bronze medal in Anadia," she said. "This experience gave me a lot of confidence and increased my mental strength."

Although the Israel women did not earn a spot for this summer's Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Feldon said the upcoming Europeans will be one step on her way to the 2020 Tokyo Games.

"My goal at the European Championships is to finish in the top 24 all-around, and to try to get as close as possible to the final on beam, which is my strongest apparatus," Feldon told IG. "Following the European Championships we are heading to 2020, mainly working on new skills. Our goal is to upgrade start values in order to reach an all-around score of 55. Therefore we are working to add skills."

Written by Amanda Turner    Saturday, 16 April 2016 23:25    PDF Print
List of 2016 Men's Olympic Qualifiers
(2 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

The International Gymnastics Federation released the updated list of men's Olympic qualifiers following the second qualifier Saturday in Rio de Janeiro.

Artistic gymnastics has allotments for 98 men and 98 women at this summer's Olympic Games in Rio. Twelve full teams may send five gymnasts each, allowing for 38 additional individual gymnasts.

The list reflects the results from the first qualifier at the 2015 World Championships in Glasgow, where the first eight teams earned automatic qualification to the Olympic Games. Germany, Ukraine, Netherlands and France earned the final four spots for teams on Saturday. The four other teams competing on Saturday — Romania, Belgium, Spain and Canada — each earn one spot to be decided by their respective National Olympic Committees.

In Glasgow, individual event medalists whose teams did not eventually qualify were also guaranteed qualification spots to the Olympics.

After team allotments and apparatus qualifiers from the world championships, that left 24 available spaces for individuals from Saturday's competition, with a limit of one per country. Three countries — Colombia, Mexico and Hungary — had two gymnasts placing within the top ranks, and may choose to send either gymnast this summer. Algeria's Mohamed Bourguieg, who placed outside the top ranks on Saturday, was given the final spot in order to fulfill the requirement of full continental representation, as no other gymnast from Africa had qualified via other methods.

Gymnasts must also earn a stamp of approval from their own National Olympic Committees. In the past, several gymnasts have had to overcome additional qualification hurdles, such as Kyle Shewfelt in 2000, who needed to win a World Cup medal before the Canadian Olympic Committee would agree to send him to Sydney. In 2008, Veronica Wagner qualified for her second Olympic Games, but the Swedish Olympic Committee declined to send her to Beijing. The New Zealand Olympic Committee is reportedly requiring a top-16 international finish, putting additional pressure on qualifier Misha Koudinov.

One more spot will be awarded from the Tripartite Commission.

Olympic qualification competition for women takes place Sunday in Rio.

2016 Olympic Gymnastics Qualifiers: Artistic Gymnastics

Men's Team: Spots 1-60
3.Great Britain
5.United States
8.South Korea

Men's Individuals: Spots 61-98
61.Rayderley Zapata*
62.Harutyun Merdinyan*
63.Eleftherios Petrounias*
64.Ri Se Gwang*
65.Marian Dragulescu*
66.Oleg Stepko*
67.Manrique Larduet*
68.Jossimar Calvo or Javier Sandoval
69.Daniel Corral or Kevin Cerda
70.Andrei Likhovitsky
71.Alexander Shatilov
72.Ferhat Arıcan
73.To be decided by Spanish National Olympic Committee
74.Artur Davtyan
75.Randy Lerú
76.Filip Ude
77.To be decided by Belgian National Olympic Committee
78.Petro Pakhnyuk
79.Anton Fokin
80.To be decided by Romanian National Olympic Committee
81.Oskar Kirmes
82.Ludovico Edalli
83.Stian Skjerahaug
84.David Jessen
85.Robert Tvorogal
86.Phạm Phước Hưng
87.Marios Georgiou
88.Kieran Behan
89.Vlasios Maras
90.Gustavo Simões
91.Misha Koudinov
92.Ryan Patterson
93.Tomás González
94.Botond Kardos or Vid Hidvégi
95.Lee Chih Kai
96.Mohamed Bourguieg**
97.To be decided by Canadian National Olympic Committee
98.Tripartite Commission Invitation Place
R1.Nicolas Cordoba
R2.Michael Mercieca
R3.Luis Rivera

* Earned direct qualification by winning apparatus medal at 2015 World Championships
** Contintental representative for Africa
Written by Amanda Turner    Thursday, 14 April 2016 14:55    PDF Print
Kuksenkov Likely Reprieved After WADA Announcement
(4 votes, average 4.50 out of 5)

Russian national champion Nikolai Kuksenkov is expected to return to competition soon following his positive test in March for the banned substance meldonium, the Russian Gymnastics Federation announced Wednesday.

Russian national champion Nikolai Kuksenkov is expected to return to competition soon following his positive test in March for the banned substance meldonium, the Russian Gymnastics Federation announced Wednesday.

The news came after the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) admitted this week that "there is currently limited data available" on how long meldonium stays in the system after use. Since the drug was placed on WADA's banned substance list on January 1, 2016, 172 athletes have tested positive, WADA President Sir Craig Reedie said. Those athletes have all been suspended pending WADA prosecution.

There has been considerable backlash over the positive tests, with suspended athletes – Kuksenkov included – insisting they had not taken meldonium in many months. The manufacturers of the medication, which has a wide variety of uses, confirmed it may remain in the system for several months. According to the Russian Gymnastics Federation, Kuksenkov last took the substance in August 2015, when it was removed from the medical supplies following WADA notification that it would be banned in January.

Meldonium, which it is used for everything from heart conditions to diabetes, is available via prescription and over the counter in Eastern Europe. It was popular among athletes, as it increases blood flow and oxygen circulation to the muscles.

WADA admitted Wednesday that its preliminary tests showed that it could take weeks or months for the drug to leave the body, allowing the possibility that athletes who tested positive "could not reasonably have known or suspected" that meldonium was still present in their systems.

"In these circumstances WADA considers that there may be grounds for no fault or negligence on the part of the athlete," WADA stated. The organization stated that more research into meldonium's accurate time span in the body was ongoing.

Kuksenkov, 26, tested positive for meldonium in a March 15 test conducted by WADA in Russia. The Russian Anti-Doping Agency received a letter from WADA on April 1 that trace amounts of meldonium were detected in Kuksenkov's sample, "indicating possible usage" of the banned substance. The federation was notified that day, hours after Kuksenkov had won his first all-around national title; he was forced to withdraw from the apparatus finals at the national championships.

"It is unreasonable and unfair," Kuksenkov said after his suspension. "I consider myself an honest athlete, and the truth is on my side."

All the athletes who tested positive for meldonium have been provisionally suspended within their respective sports, but none have been officially banned or stripped of any competition results. WADA stated provisional suspensions could be lifted if the concentration of meldonium in the system was between 1 and 15 micrograms per milliliter for tests conducted before March 1, or if the level was below 1 microgram per milliliter for tests conducted after March 1. Investigations will proceed for athletes who admitted taking it on or after January 1, for concentrations between 1 and 15 micrograms per milliliter for tests conducted after March 1, or if the level was above 15 micrograms per milliliter for tests conducted at any date.

The announcement was enough to allow the Russian Gymnastics Federation to reinstate Kuksenkov. While his test was conducted after March 1, the federation is confident the "trace amount" in his system would not lead to WADA prosecution.

"While we don't have the official data on the amount of content of the substance in Nikolai's system, according to our information and expectations, Kuksenkov should be allowed to compete," said Russian team coach Valentina Rodionenko.

Meldonium, which was invented by a Latvian company in the 1970s, is very popular in Eastern Europe, where it is used for everything from heart conditions to diabetes. It is available via prescription and over the counter. It was in heavy use among elite athletes, as it increases blood flow and oxygen circulation to the muscles. Forty of the suspended athletes are Russian, including tennis superstar Maria Sharapova, world speed skating champion Pavel Kulizhnikov and world swimming champion Yulia Yefimova.

Meldonium was in use by the Russian men's team, apparently to aid muscle recovery after workout, but Russian women's team doctor Vladimir Timonkin stated in an interview this week he stopped prescribing it several years ago, as he did not see any benefits.

"Each sport has its own specific requirements and products, as well as its supplements," Timonkin said. "And the team doctor at the end of the year writes the annual application (to the Federal Biomedical Agency) of necessary drugs for his own team next year, for absolutely all cases: dietary supplements, antibiotics, antihistamines, any group. There was a time when we used it. But then we all agreed that the team should stop using it, not because I had some particular insight. It just made sense to me to cancel it. Opinions on preparations develop over the years, and observations occur. And when you start to write the annual application, you ask the question – do you really need this drug? Is it effective or not? I personally said no."

Kuksenkov has been a key part of the Russian team since 2013. He moved to Russia following the 2012 Olympic Games, his last competition for his native Ukraine. The Russian men are preparing for next month's European championships in Bern, where they are the defending team champions, and this summer's Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, where they will be team medal contenders. Russia finished fourth at last fall's world championships.

Update: On Friday, April 15, the Russian Anti-Doping Agency notified the Russian Gymnastics Federation that it had officially lifted Kuksenkov's suspension, formally allowing him to return to competition.

External Link: WADA statement on meldonium and official meldonium notice


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