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Written by Amanda Turner    Wednesday, 09 April 2014 10:55    PDF Print
Yurchenko, Li Among 2014 IGHOF Class
(4 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

Gymnastics legends Li Yuejiu (China), Klaus Köste (Germany), Natalia Yurchenko (Russia), and Jackie Fie (USA) will be inducted into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame on May 17 in Oklahoma City.

Renowned ABC Wide World of Sports television commentator Gordon Maddux will receive the Frank Bare Award for his contributions and promotions of gymnastics.

"It is going to be an emotional night to have so many of our sport’s true 'game-changers' all in one room," said Bart Conner, chairman of the IGHOF board.

Natalia Yurchenko

Li was China's first male world champion, winning floor exercise at the 1981 World Championships in Moscow. He was one of the first gymnasts to compete a double-twisting double back on floor exercise, and also has his own difficult tumbling move named after him (straddled side-in, quarter turn to forward roll-out). He moved to the United States after winning a silver medal at the 1984 Olympic Games and began a coaching career. He went back to China to assist the women's team in the quadrennium prior to the Beijing Olympic Games; he helped coached the Chinese women to their first world team title in 2006 and first Olympic team title in 2008. He continues to coach in Illinois today along with wife, fellow 1984 Olympian Wu Jiani. Their daughter Anna Li was an alternate to the 2012 U.S. Olympic team.

Köste, who will be inducted in memoriam, was a three-time Olympian and the 1972 Olympic vault champion. He was a member of East Germany's bronze medal-winning team at the 1964, 1968 and 1972 Olympic Games. He won high bar at the 1971 and 1973 European Championships, and in total he amassed 34 national titles. After retiring from an Achilles injury in 1974, he served as coach of the East German women's national team and coached for many years. He continued to stay active in gymnastics, competing in Germany's senior league until shortly before his death in 2012.

Yurchenko was a pioneer in the sport of gymnastics, inventing her eponymous vault of roundoff onto the board and back handspring onto the vaulting horse. She also has two moves named after her on balance beam (roundoff, layout stepout onto the beam and sideways back handspring to hip circle around the beam). She won the all-around title at the 1983 World Championships and 1982 World Cup, and back-to-back team world titles in 1983 and 1985. The Soviet boycott of the 1984 Olympic Games prevented her from competing in Los Angeles, but she won the team and vault golds at the Alternate Games in Olomouc. She is married to Igor Sklyarov, an Olympic champion in soccer with the Soviet team at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul. She also lives and coaches in Illinois.

Fie, a member of the U.S. team at the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne, went on to judge for decades afterward. She served on the board of directors for the U.S. Gymnastics Federation from 1964-2004, and eventually became president of the FIG Women's Technical Committee from 1992-2004. During her tenure as WTC President, she implemented the Judges Objectivity Evaluation system, which, for the first time, added a level of accountability throughout the judging ranks. As a result of her diligence, Fie established a new, higher standard for judges worldwide.

All the members of the 1984 U.S. Olympic men's team will be present, to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their historic team gold medal from Los Angeles.

Over the past 17 years, 81 of gymnastics greatest stars and contributors, representing 21 countries, have been formally inducted into the Hall of Fame.

The International Gymnastics Hall of Fame continues to preserve, promote and share the achievements of the sport's greatest legends, with the IGHOF exhibit at the Science Museum Oklahoma in the Adventure District in Oklahoma City. Visitors can try out gymnastics equipment, view portraits of all inductees, see sculptures, paintings and memorabilia, and use the video kiosk to study the videos and careers of the international gymnastics stars.

"Our goal is to preserve the legacies of these international gymnastics legends, and use their stories of achievement to inspire future generations," Conner said.

For more information about the IGHOF and how you can be a member or donor, visit For tickets to the IGHOF dinner ceremony, contact Lynn Landis at 405-364-5344.

Written by Amanda Turner    Tuesday, 08 April 2014 16:26    PDF Print
Mustafina, Komova Lead Russian Squad to Sofia
(6 votes, average 4.33 out of 5)

World and Olympic medalists Aliya Mustafina and Viktoria Komova will lead a young Russian team at next month's European championships in Sofia, Bulgaria. Pictured: Mustafina won her fourth consecutive all-around title at last week's Russian championships.

World and Olympic medalists Aliya Mustafina and Viktoria Komova will lead a young Russian team at the European championships, May 12-18 in Sofia, Bulgaria.

The team lineup was announced following the women's national championships, which ended Sunday in Penza, where Mustafina won her fourth consecutive all-around title.

Daria Spiridonova (Russia)

Komova competed three events in Penza, her first competition since the 2012 Olympic Games.

Mustafina and Komova will be joined in Sofia by first-year seniors Maria Kharenkova and Daria Spiridonova and relatively inexperienced Alla Sotnitskaya, who turns 17 on Thursday.

The newcomers earned their spots on the team by strong performances in Penza, national coach Valentina Rodionenko said. Sotnitskaya won the all-around silver, gold on vault, silver on floor exercise and bronze on uneven bars. Spiridonova won uneven bars and was second on balance beam behind Kharenkova.

Defending European floor exercise champion Ksenia Afanasyeva competed two events for her Central team in Penza, but is focused on recovering from her ankle injury in time for this fall's world championships.

"We have decided to hold Ksenia Afanasyeva, who recently had surgery on her ankle, out of the competition in Bulgaria," Rodionenko said.

2012 Olympian Anastasia Grishina, who was third all-around in Penza, suffered a major knee injury on the second day of competition. Grishina, 18, reportedly suffered a partial tear of her ACL and fractured bone near her knee.

In Sofia, the Russian team will try to regain its team title after losing to Romania at the 2012 European Championships in Brussels.

"Now each of (the gymnasts) has her own task," Rodionenko said. "The youth need to fix their routines so they will be able to fight for medals at the European championships. And the team leaders, well, they need to show their leadership."

The Russian men's championships begin Wednesday in Penza. The men's European championships take place May 19-25 in Sofia.

This year's European championships include senior competition for team and individual apparatus, and a full junior competition with team, all-around and apparatus finals.

External Link: Russian Gymnastics Federation

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.


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