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Written by dwight normile    Monday, 30 January 2017 08:08    PDF Print
Liukin Aims To Strengthen U.S. Team In Numbers
(7 votes, average 3.86 out of 5)

In an interview in the January/February 2017 issue of International Gymnast magazine, recently appointed U.S. women’s national team coordinator Valeri Liukin said the integration of younger gymnasts into the team’s training camps is his key priority.

“My biggest dream is to make this team a little bit larger since we do have seniors and juniors practicing together,” said Liukin, a double gold medalist at the 1988 Olympic Games and father of 2008 Olympic all-around champion Nastia Liukin. “So that’s my goal. Have more juniors involved because this is our future.”

Liukin said he is optimistic that team standout Simone Biles, who won four gold medals at the 2016 Games, will return after 2017.

“Normally the first year is very busy after the Olympics for superstars like her,” said Liukin of Biles. “So I don’t think she will be back this year, but I really do hope that she’ll come back in 2018.”

The January/February 2017 issue of International Gymnast magazine also includes interviews with recently appointed FIG Women’s Technical Committee President Donatella Sacchi and Romania’s Andreea Raducan, and an A-to-Z Review of 2016. To subscribe to the print and or digital edition, or order back issues, click here.

Written by John Crumlish    Tuesday, 24 January 2017 15:35    PDF Print
Austria's Mader Ready To Raise The Bar in 2017
(5 votes, average 4.20 out of 5)


Austrian veteran Jasmin Mader told IG that her successes at the national and international levels late in the year remind her why she continues her lengthy career.

Although veteran Austrian gymnast Jasmin Mader did not qualify for last summer's Olympic Games in Rio, she told IG that her successes at the national and international levels late in the year remind her why she continues her lengthy career.

"It wasn't that hard for me to have such a long competition year," said Mader, who won her first Austrian senior national all-around title on Nov. 5 and teamed with partner Daniel Kopeinik to finish third at the Brno Grand Prix, a mixed-pairs meet, held Nov. 26 in Czech Republic. "I'm feeling like I'm enjoying doing gymnastics more and more every day. That's why it's really fun for me to prepare for all those great competitions, and that's also why the results are quite good."

Mader, who turned 24 on Dec. 26, said competing at the Olympic test event last April in Rio de Janeiro was a dream come true, even if she did not qualify from it for last summer's Games. Mader hurriedly traveled to the test event to replace teammate Elisa Hämmerle, who injured an Achilles' tendon. Lisa Ecker, the other Austrian woman to compete at the test event, went on to qualify for the Games.

"As you know, it was a surprise for me to take part in the test event," Mader said. "One day before the competition I was lying in my bed at home in Austria, and I was thinking about the test event and how awesome it would be to take part and be in Rio for just once. I was shocked when I got the phone call and they told me that Elisa was injured. A few hours later I was on the plane to Rio."

Mader said she returned from the test event with valuable experience and new inspiration.

"I expected that the competition would be tough, but I decided to take that chance and try to do the best I could," she said. "In the end I didn't qualify, but it was OK for me. I mean, 24 hours before, it was just a wish from me to be in Rio. After my weekend trip to Rio I was motivated to work hard for all my further goals. I learned a lot in those few days. It is always a really small gap between a dream and a nightmare."

Mader's all-around victory at the 2016 Austrian Championships reflected the versatility that previously earned her at least one Austrian national title on each of the four apparatuses. She placed first on vault in 2009, 2011 and 2012; first on uneven bars in 2011, 2014 and 2015; first on balance beam in 2014; and first on floor exercise in 2009.

For 2017, Mader wants to modify and fortify her program.

"I need to arrange my routines to the new Code of Points," she said. "But my focus is on my uneven bars routine, in which I'd like to add a little more difficulty."

Among Mader's main competitive aims for 2017 are April's European Championships in Cluj, Romania, and August's University Games in Taipei.

"It is a long-term target for me to qualify for the all-around final at Europeans," she said. "Hopefully I can achieve it this year. If I get the chance to participate in the Universiade, it would be my first Universiade. That's why this would be a really special competition for me. But I'm also looking forward to all the other competitions. I want to show my best in every single one of them."

With several years of achievements behind her, Mader appreciates the hardy physical condition that has contributed to her long-term enthusiasm.

"The most important thing for me is that I'm healthy," Mader said. "That means that I have the chance to continue doing what I love most. It is so much fun for me to practice and compete in this sport, and I have a few targets left for the last years of my gymnastics career."

Written by dwight normile    Friday, 20 January 2017 11:17    PDF Print
Great Britain's Keatings Announces Retirement
(2 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

Daniel Keatings has announced his retirement, but he definitely left his mark on British gymnastics.

One year after wining the all-around gold at the 2008 European Junior Championships in Lausanne, Switzerland (pictured), Keatings, coached by Paul Hall at Huntingdon Olympic Gymnastics Club, became the first Brit to win a World Championships all-around medal when he placed second to Kohei Uchimura in London. His successful competitive strategy relied on clean execution over risky routines.

Following is what Keatings, 27, remembers from the 2009 Worlds.

“I qualified in fourth place with a fall on the pommel, so I knew there was a good shout of a medal in the final if I could go six for six clean. I had an awesome competition and remember finishing my high bar dismount, smiling as I landed, because I knew I had done it.

“It was my first full year as a senior gymnast and had just came second in the all-around at the Europeans in Milan, so there was expectation for me to do well and hopefully get a top five finish. But as I was still young, I didn't put any pressure on myself and just went out there and enjoyed it.”

Written by John Crumlish    Thursday, 12 January 2017 18:07    PDF Print
Canada's Olsen Launches Toward New Goals
(3 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

2016 Olympic vault finalist Shallon Olsen of Canada told IG that her goals for the new year include bettering her performance on the apparatus on which she placed eighth at last summer's Olympic Games in Rio.

2016 Olympic vault finalist Shallon Olsen of Canada told IG that her goals for the new year include bettering her performance on the apparatus on which she placed eighth at last summer's Olympic Games in Rio.

"I'm hoping to improve my form and make my vaults a lot cleaner," Olsen said. "I'm thinking of upgrading in the near future but right now I just want to focus on that."

Even with Olsen's individual achievement in Rio, she said the highlight of her year was the team spirit she experienced in qualifications, from which she advanced to the vault final. Canada finished ninth in team standings, missing a berth to the team final by 0.168 points.

"The moment that was probably the most memorable for me was when we worked together as a team and supported each other the best we could during qualifications," said Olsen, who turned 16 on July 10, less than a month prior to the Games. "Yes, we all may have been a bit nervous, but the support from my teammates was amazing."

Olsen, who competed on vault and floor exercise in Rio, enjoyed other successes in 2016. She placed first on vault and third on floor exercise at the International Gymnix Senior Cup in Montreal in February; first on vault, third on floor exercise and seventh all-around at the Pacific Rim Championships in Everett, Wash., in April; and first on vault, second on floor exercise and fourth all-around at the Canadian Championships in June.

This year Olsen is ready for new challenges and opportunities. Canada will play host to this year's world championships, September 27 – October 9 in Montreal.

"What motivates me now is there are so many more competitions, and it gets me excited to show everybody what I've been working on," she told IG. "I have so much more work to do and improve upon, and I'm excited for the upcoming competitions for me in the near future. I don't have any New Year's resolutions. I'm just excited for 2017 and what 2017 will bring me."

International Gymnast magazine's recent coverage of Canadian gymnasts includes:
"Canadian Pace-setter" - Ana Padurariu profile (December 2016)
Jade Chrobok profile (April 2016)
Jade Chrobok and Meixi Semple cover photo inset (March 2016)
"Canadian Beacon" – Ellie Black interview (September 2015)
Chat with Christine Peng-Peng Lee (April 2015)
Megan Roberts profile (April 2015)
Isabela Onyshko profile (July/August 2014)
"Canadian Promise" – Ellie Black chat and Robert Watson profile (July/August 2014)
"Making Tracks" – Scott Morgan profile (December 2013)
"Aiming to Top the Charts" – Maegan Chant interview (October 2013)
"Canadian Diversity" – Ellie Black and Hugh Smith profiles (July/August 2013)
"Sudden Impact" – Victoria Moors interview (January/February 2013)
Aleeza Yu two-page photo spread (May 2014)

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

Written by Amanda Turner    Thursday, 12 January 2017 12:27    PDF Print
Motherhood Ahead for Mustafina
(17 votes, average 3.65 out of 5)

Russian star Aliya Mustafina is expecting a baby with husband Alexei Zaitsev, whom she married in November.

Two-time Olympic champion Aliya Mustafina is preparing for a new role in 2017: motherhood. The newlywed's father, Farhat Mustafin, shared the news with a Russian newspaper on Thursday.

"My daughter will give birth in the summer," said Mustafin, a bronze medalist in wrestling at the 1976 Olympic Games. "Doctors say it will be in July. We don't know the sex of the baby yet. They are living in Moscow – my daughter has her own apartment. She is ready to become a mother."

Mustafin praised his new son-in-law, bobsledder Alexei Zaitsev, whom Mustafina married in November. The two athletes met in 2015, while they were both being treated for injuries at a Moscow hospital. Zaitsev is the youngest son of a hard-working family from Krasnodar, Mustafin said.

This past summer, Mustafina was once again the most successful Russian gymnast at the Olympics, winning gold on the uneven bars, silver with the team competition and bronze in the all-around — repeating three of her four medals from the 2012 Olympics Games in London.

Mustafina, who turned 22 in September, has not committed to training for the 2020 Olympics. She is currently studying at the Russian State University of Physical Education, Sport, Youth and Tourism in Moscow. This past fall she said starting a family was her next goal.

"I want to graduate, to become a mother and raise children. And my childhood dream – to go to the moon," she said in October. "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 was one of five Russian Olympians to marry in 2016. Ksenia Afanasyeva, who missed Rio because of injury and illness, tied the knot this year. David Belyavsky, who proposed to his girlfriend in Rio, was married in Greece after the Olympics. Long-time couple Denis Ablyazin and Ksenia Semyonova, who are also expecting a baby, were married as well.

If Mustafina were to make a comeback, she would join a small number of gymnasts who have returned to international competition after giving birth. Seven-time Olympian Oksana Chusovitina is the most notable, but others include Great Britain's Lisa Mason and Bulgaria's Ralitsa Rangelova.


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