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Written by Amanda Turner    Wednesday, 02 April 2014 09:27    PDF Print
Mustafina Readies for 'Rush' of Russian National Championships
(10 votes, average 4.20 out of 5)

After a holiday break, world and Olympic champion Aliya Mustafina told IG she's ready to dive back into competition at the Russian women's national championships, which begin today in Penza.

"Competition is always a rush of Adrenalin," Mustafina said. "I am hoping [that] competing at the nationals will help me to get ready for the European championships."

Aliya Mustafina (Russia) at the 2013 DTB Cup, held in December in Stuttgart

The 2014 Russian Gymnastics Championships begin today at Burtasy Sports Palace with the junior women's qualification and team competition. The men's national championships take place April 10-13.

Mustafina, the 2010 world all-around champion, came back from a torn ACL in 2011 to win four medals at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, including the all-around bronze and the gold on uneven bars. She was the most successful Russian athlete in any sport at the 2012 Olympics.

In 2013, Mustafina won the all-around titles at the European championships and University Games, and picked up three medals at last fall's world championships (gold on balance beam, bronzes in the all-around and on uneven bars). After competing in the DTB Cup team event in December in Stuttgart, Mustafina took a couple of months off to rest.

Raisa Ganina, her coach and choreographer, told IG that they dedicated February just to getting Mustafina back in shape. She referred to this week's competition as a "no-pressure national championships."

"At nationals we will do only what is ready," Ganina said. "In my opinion, this meet is not necessary at all. The girl just got back from a long break."

But the 19-year-old Mustafina — who has earned the nickname "Iron Aliya" for her strong will and tenacity — said there is no doubt she is ready to compete at the Russian championships as part of her preparation for next month's European championships in Sofia.

"I've decided to participate because of my current physical condition," she said. "Getting ready by only training is one thing, but competing gives you a boost."

With the exception of Ksenia Afanasyeva, Mustafina's Olympic teammates are expected to compete in Penza. Superstar Viktoria Komova, who took 2013 off from competition, is slated to make her competitive comeback in Penza.

The senior women's competition begins Thursday, and video will be streamed live on the Russian Gymnastics Federation's official website at

Read an exclusive interview with Raisa Ganina and profile on Aliya Mustafina in an upcoming issue of International Gymnast Magazine. To subscribe to the print and/or digital edition of International Gymnast magazine or order back issues, click here.

International Gymnast Magazine's coverage of Russian gymnastics includes:
March 2013 - Anastasia Grishina interview
January/February 2013 - Mustafina center poster
September 2012 - Olympic Games special issue
July/August 2012 - Mustafina and Komova on cover photo collage, Olympic Games preview
May 2012 - "Up for the Challenge" (Komova interview)
January/February 2012 - "Poised for Perfection (Afanasyeva cover photo and interview)
December 2011 - World Championships special issue
January/February 2011 - "The Mustafina Mystique" (Mustafina profile)
December 2010 - Mustafina on cover, World Championships special issue
October 2010 - Komova on cover, World Championships preview
July/August 2010 - Komova on cover photo collage
June 2010 - Komova on cover

Written by Amanda Turner    Tuesday, 01 April 2014 06:55    PDF Print
Greece Cancels National Gymnastics Championships
(3 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

The Greek gymnastics federation announced Tuesday it has cancelled this month's national championships, leaving its top stars shocked and frustrated with the decision. Pictured: 2010 world floor exercise champion Eleftherios Kosmidis recites the athletes pledge at the 2013 World Championships in Antwerp.

The Hellenic (Greek) Gymnastics Federation announced Tuesday it has cancelled the upcoming national championships, leaving its top stars shocked and frustrated with the decision.

"All I can say is that everything seems to go from bad to worse," rings specialist Eleftherios Petrounias told Greek media on Tuesday. "We didn't even know the basics. Seriously we didn't ever expect that we wouldn't even have the chance to compete at the Greek championships, even traveling at our own expense."

The federation cancelled the event after the Greek Olympic Committee urged a boycott Monday of all national sports competition from April 12-13, to protest the Greek government's actions amid the nation's ongoing financial crisis.

"The council of the Greek Olympic Committee decided unanimously to recommend to all amateur sports federations in the country that they suspend all competitive activities for the weekend of April 12-13, due to the huge problems Greek sports continue to undergo after the consistent refusal of the government to provide solutions not only to economic issues, but mainly to institutional problems," the Greek Olympic Committee announced on its website on Monday. "The recommendation for the suspension is a first measure ... to protest the continued inaction and indifference shown by the government toward the country's youth, who risk being deprived of important social services, such as sports."

The 2014 Greek Gymnastics Championships were to take place April 12-13 in Thessaloniki, where hundreds of gymnasts were to compete at multiple levels. Additionally, the event was supposed to serve as a qualifier for next month's European championships in neighboring Bulgaria.

Following the announcement from the Greek Olympic Committee, the board of the Hellenic Gymnastics Federation held an emergency meeting Tuesday and decided to join the boycott.

"With this decision, the board of the Hellenic Gymnastics Federation hopes to finally wake up minds, that state agencies need to take action and provide solutions to the enormous economic and institutional problems in Greek sports," the federation said in a statement.

2010 world floor exercise champion Eleftherios Kosmidis said the decisions of both governing bodies have left the athletes to suffer.

"Everyone is to blame," Kosmidis said. "It starts with the sports leadership and ultimately the athletes pay the price. Everybody is at fault."

Written by John Crumlish    Monday, 31 March 2014 23:36    PDF Print
Fahrig Gains Edge With 'Wild And Crazy' Tumbling
(5 votes, average 4.20 out of 5)

Germany's Matthias Fahrig told IG that his ambitious tumbling passes on floor exercise reflect his creativity and should give him a competitive edge as he aims for this year's big events.

Germany's Matthias Fahrig told IG that his ambitious tumbling passes on floor exercise reflect his creativity and should give him a competitive edge as he aims for the European championships in May and the world championships in October.

Mattias Fahrig (Germany)

"I really enjoy doing wild and crazy tumbling combinations in my routines," said Fahrig, who placed first on floor exercise at the 2010 Europeans, the 2013 German Championships and the 2013 Tournament of Masters FIG Challenge Cup in Cottbus. "I think every routine you do should be special in a way. In my case, the different combinations on floor are what make my routines special."

At the National Team Cup earlier this year, Fahrig first performed a tumbling combination of double front, punch double front with a half twist. He also has performed a combination of double front, punch barani, punch double back.

"I like to try to get the best elements possible out of every apparatus," said Fahrig, who finished seventh on floor exercise and eighth on vault at last year's Europeans in Moscow. "It's not like that combination is my most difficult element. There's still a lot to come, but it won't be shown until I can perform it consistently in competition."

The 28-year-old Fahrig said he feels confident about his chances to make the German team at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, based on his high-level routines on several apparatuses. He was a member of the German team that won the gold medal at the 2010 Europeans in Birmingham and the bronze medal at the 2010 Worlds in Rotterdam.

"I think my strengths are floor and vaulting," said Fahrig, who placed first on vault at the 2010, 2012 and 2013 German Championships, and second on vault at the 2010 Europeans. "On parallel bars, I have a good chance to fight for a spot on the team, as well. However, I mustn't forget about the other apparatuses. At the end of the day, the more events you can do, the higher are the possibilities to be chosen for Rio."

Fahrig's immediate focus is on the FIG World Challenge Cup of Osijek, Croatia, to be held April 24-27. From there Fahrig hopes to compete at the Europeans in Sofia and beyond.

"I'd like to show myself in good shape in Osijek in order to qualify for the European Championships," he told IG. "Then it'll be step by step. It's still a long way to the World Championships. My most important goal is to remain healthy until the end."

International Gymnast magazine's recent features on German gymnastics include:
"Seizing the Moment" – Elisabeth Seitz interview (July/August 2011)
"Tough Lesson" – Janine Berger interview (October 2012)
Philipp Boy interview and two-page center poster (May 2011)
Kim Bui interview (April 2013)
"Renaissance Man" – Fabian Hambüchen cover story (December 2013)
"Just the Beginning" – Fabian Hambüchen photo review (June 2013)
"New View from the Top" - Lisa Katharina Hill profile (July/August 2013)
Steffi Kräker interview/Hall of Fame induction feature (June 2011)
"Leaps and Bounds for Germany" - Nadine Jarosch profile (January/February 2012)
"Clutch Horse Rider" - Sebastian Krimmer profile (January 2011)
"Silver Streak" – Marcel Nguyen interview (November 2012)
"Fast Mender" – Marcel Nguyen profile (June 2011)
"Calm, Clean Style" - Sophie Scheder profile (December 2013)

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

Written by Amanda Turner    Thursday, 27 March 2014 17:30    PDF Print
Qualification Begins for Youth Olympic Games
(5 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

The first qualification event for the 2014 Youth Olympic Games kicked off Thursday, as the 12th African Gymnastics Championships began in Tshwane, South Africa.

The African championships is the first of five continental qualifications events this spring for artistic gymnastics, while the second qualification event begins Friday with the Junior Pan American Championships in Aracaju, Brazil.

Each of the five regions can secure a specific number of berths to the 2014 Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China. The artistic gymnastics competition — for female gymnasts born in 1999 and male gymnasts born in 1997 and 1998 — takes place Aug. 17-24 at the Nanjing Olympic Sports Centre Gymnasium.

The inaugural Youth Summer Olympiad took place in 2010 in Singapore, where Viktoria Komova (Russia) and Yuya Kamoto (Japan) were crowned as the first Youth Olympic all-around champions in artistic gymnastics. The 2010 Youth Olympic Games featured more than 3,500 young athletes from 205 nations competing in 26 Olympic sports, including artistic and rhythmic gymnastics as well as trampoline.

In Nanjing, a total of 84 berths for artistic gymnastics (42 female and 42 male) are available. The host nation is automatically granted one spot in each discipline, while 76 gymnasts will earn berths through competition and six more will be selected by committee.

2014 Youth Olympic Games Continental Berths

Women's Artistic Gymnastics19949142
Men's Artistic Gymnastics191048142

The top-ranked gymnasts at each of the five qualifying events will earn berths for his or her National Olympic Committee (NOC).

2014 Youth Olympic Games Qualifiers

RegionQualification EventDateCityCountry
Africa12th African ChampionshipsMarch 27-April 4Tshwane South Africa
Pan AmericaJunior Pan American ChampionshipsMarch 28-30Aracaju Brazil
Asia13th Junior Asian ChampionshipsApril 10-13Tashkent Uzbekistan
EuropeJunior European ChampionshipsMay 12-25Sofia Bulgaria
OceaniaAustralian/New Zealand ChampionshipsMay 21-25Melbourne Australia

On Thursday, Egypt dominated day one of the African championships. In the junior men's competition, the Egyptian men won the team title over South Africa and Morocco. Egypt's Ahmeed Youssef (76.000) topped teammate Ahmed Amin (75.133) to take the junior all-around title. South Africa's Muhammad Khaalid Mia (73.433) won the bronze.

The Junior South American Championships begin Friday in Aracaju with the men's qualification. Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Colombia and Mexico all sent full teams to the event for both men and women.

The United States sent a men's squad to Aracaju but declined to send any female gymnasts. (The U.S. women also did not send a female gymnast to the 2010 Youth Olympic Games.) Steve Penny, president of USA Gymnastics, told IG the U.S. instead hopes to qualify in the other Olympic gymnastics disciplines.

"The Youth Olympic Games differs from the Olympic Games in several ways, including a limited sports program and reduced athlete and coach allocations," Penny said. "As an organization, we view the Youth Olympic Games as an excellent developmental opportunity for an athlete, coach and discipline. Based on timing and program developmental needs, we believe men's gymnastics, rhythmic gymnastics and trampoline will benefit most from participating in this year's Youth Olympic Games."

External Link: 2014 Youth Olympics Official Website

Written by John Crumlish    Friday, 21 March 2014 07:45    PDF Print
Mitchell Eager For Doha Debut, 'Nerves And All'
(3 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

Preparing for the upcoming FIG World Challenge Cup in Doha, two-time Australian Olympian Lauren Mitchell told IG she is anxious to compete for the first time since the 2012 Olympics Games on London.

Preparing for the upcoming FIG World Challenge Cup in Doha, two-time Australian Olympian Lauren Mitchell told IG she is anxious to compete for the first time since the 2012 Olympics Games on London.

"Doha is a really good stepping stone for events later on in the year," said Mitchell, the 2010 world champion on floor exercise. "It is my first one back in a long time, and it's a really good chance for me to develop a base for what I need to do and work on in the gym for events later on in the year. I'm really looking forward to the competition, nerves and all!"

Mitchell at the 2012 Olympic Games

Since the 2012 Games, Mitchell has been healing from injuries, including a stomach-muscle tear that hampered her in London, as well as focusing on full-time university studies. She plans to compete on balance beam and floor exercise at the Doha meet that will take place March 26-28.

"My goals for both of them are the same," Mitchell said. "Basically this competition is one where I can get out there and show the program that I have been training and, in the process, get back into the international gymnastics community and show people that I am still in the mix. It will be a really good confidence build for me, as it will be my first competition back since London."

Mitchell said she will use the FIG Challenge Cup to kick off a busy competition year that includes this summer’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and this fall’s world championships in Nanning. She won four gold medals, including one for the all-around, at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi.

"At this point in time I have put different skills in my routines to fit into the new Code of Points, which I haven't yet competed with," Mitchell said. "In terms of peaking, I'm not planning to peak at this competition as I still have to compete later on in the year, that I want to be fit and healthy for."

Although Mitchell has not competed since 2012, she said she has been readying herself in training sessions for the unique psychological pressures that competition bring.

"It has been a long time since London, and it will be a challenge to compete again after such a long time away," she told IG. "However, I've been trying to prepare myself mentally by playing little mind games during training when I'm going for a routine. That way I'm trying to be prepared for anything. Also going into the competition with the goal to get back into a 'competition phase' mindset, I think, will help reduce the pressure I put on myself and allow me to just perform."

International Gymnast magazine’s recent coverage of Australian gymnasts includes:
"Golden Surprise" - Lauren Mitchell cover story (January/February 2011)
Georgia Godwin cover photo (March 2014)
"Aussie Long Shot" - Daria Joura profile (July/August 2012)
Coach Peggy Liddick interview (January/February 2011)
"Late Bloomer" - Amelia McGrath profile (October 2010)
Lisa Skinner chat (September 2010)
"10 Questions with Naoya Tsukahara" - interview (September 2013)
"10 Questions with Olivia Vivian" - interview (March 2011)

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


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