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Written by John Crumlish    Friday, 13 December 2013 02:10    PDF Print
Downie Sisters Team Up For New Challenges in 2014
(4 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)



IG Online's annual series of holiday-themed features continues with this update from British Olympian Becky Downie and her younger sister, Ellie, who told IG they have similar plans to build on their 2013 successes throughout the new year. Pictured: Becky Downie at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing

IG Online's annual series of holiday-themed features continues with this update from British Olympian Becky Downie and her younger sister, Ellie, who told IG they have similar plans to build on their 2013 successes throughout the new year.

"This year has definitely boosted my confidence for the big competitions next year, for example, Junior Europeans," said the 14-year-old Ellie. "Also, some of my achievements this year have made me realize where I am standing in the sport for my age."

In March, Ellie placed first all-around at the English Junior Championships and third all-around at the British Junior Championships. She placed fourth all-around at the European Youth Olympic Festival in Utrecht in July. Last month she placed third on vault, third on floor exercise and fourth on uneven bars at the Elite Gym Massilia meet in Marseille. Most recently sheshe won bronze medals with the English team and on uneven bars at the World School Games, held Nov. 30-Dec. 3 in Brasilia, Brazil.

Heading into the 2014 season, Ellie is training to upgrade her routines while maintaining their quality. Her goals include not only making the British team for the Junior European Championships in May in Sofia, but winning medals there, too.

"I've been working on some new skills to hopefully compete in my routines next year, to give me the best chance at making every team possible," Ellie said. "But one of my main focuses to stay at the top is to not just compete the new skills in the routines, but compete them well-executed and clean, to give me the highest scores possible."


Ellie Downie (Great Britain)

Ellie and Becky competed together at Elite Gym Massilia, where they helped Great Britain win the team bronze medal. Becky's determination, Ellie said, constantly encourages her.

"Becky inspires me because she never gives up on anything," Ellie said. "She is always pushing to be the best she can be, and is always very motivated. Her achievements are amazing."

During the holiday season, Ellie said she looks forward to spending time with her loved ones.

"My favorite part of the holidays is just relaxing and enjoying myself with my family, before preparing myself for the new year," Ellie said. "Usually on Christmas Day, the whole family opens their presents in the morning, then just sits down and watches TV and films for the rest of the day and enjoys everybody's company, as we're not all together very often."

Becky, who placed 12th all-around at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing but did not qualify for the British team at the 2012 Games in London, said a pair of routines stand out as her proudest achievements in 2013.

"There are probably two performances that mean the most to me," Becky said. "The first was being crowned British bars champion, as it was my first national title since 2009 and I'd worked so hard to prove I was back. It really meant a lot. The second was my bars routine from qualifications at the world championships (in Antwerp). It meant so much to me to finally hit my routine on a world stage and score over 15 (points). It's been something I've worked toward for a very long time, and for it to finally come off was an amazing feeling."

Becky, who will turn 22 next month, said her desire to reach her potential and her passion for the sport are driving her through her third Olympic cycle.

"My motivation is really down to my genuine love for gymnastics," Becky said. "I really do love what I do. After London I took a break, had time to reflect and knew I wasn't ready to give up. Deep down I felt there was still more I could achieve. I wanted to give my ultimate dream one last shot, which is to win an Olympic medal for myself and my country."

Becky, who placed seventh on uneven bars at this spring's Europeans in Moscow and eighth on uneven bars in Antwerp, said she is optimistic about her competitive prospects in the new year.

"I have lots of different goals for 2014, and it has the potential to be a fantastic year," Becky said. "My aims are to consolidate my routines and work hard on my execution to help me achieve the best results possible at hopefully the Europeans, Commonwealth Games and World Championships."

Becky credits the group of coaches at Notts Gymnastics Academy in Nottingham for assuring that their training is comprehensive and cooperative.

"Claire Starkey is our main personal coach who writes our programs, plans routines and so forth, with Ian Kime, Jo Millar and Jemma Wilson all adding their support and extra help," Becky said. "This means we have a whole team behind us at Notts."

Along with Becky's training, she is already well on her way to a promising career as a coach.

"I want to continue my coaching," Becky said. "I'm already a qualified Level 1 coach and I'm 80 percent there with my Level 2. I'd like to keep moving forward through the levels (3-5), with my long-term goal being a High Performance coach. I'd also love to one day do some coaching work with NCAA (U.S. university system), as I gave up my (NCAA) scholarship offers to focus on elite gymnastics."

Like her younger sister, Becky plans to enjoy the holidays close to friends and family.

"I'll be spending Christmas at home with my family, most likely watching movies, eating Christmassy food and really just enjoying time at home with everyone, as that doesn't happen often," Becky said. "For New Year's Eve, I don't have plans yet, but I'll most likely be partying with my friends and enjoying the end of my rest period."

Becky said she is determined to persevere in 2014.

"I don't really do New Year's resolutions, as I never stick to them," Becky told IG. "But I will continue with my mottos to never give up, and dream big!"

International Gymnast magazine's recent coverage of British gymnasts and coaches includes:
"Shooting Star" – Brinn Bevan profile (June 2013)
Imogen Cairns and British men's team on cover photo collage (March 2012)
"No Turning Back Now" – Imogen Cairns profile (January/February 2012)
"10 Questions with Coach Paul Hall" – interview (January/February 2010)
"European Brilliance" - Ruby Harrold interview (September 2013)
Sam Oldham on cover photo collage (July/August 2010)
Sam Oldham interview (June 2010)
"Nervous Purvis" – Daniel Purvis profile (November 2012)
"Pure Purvis" – Daniel Purvis interview (March 2012)
Daniel Purvis cover photo (November 2011)
"Bright for Britain" – Niamh Rippin profile (July/August 2010)
"Sibling Revelry" – Angel and Venus Romaeo profile (September 2010)
"Welsh Wisdom" - Raer Theaker profile (October 2013)
"Divide and Conquer" – Kristian Thomas interview (May 2012)
"The Good Shepherd" – Coach Ed van Hoof interview (April 2013)
"Lord Max" – Max Whitlock interview (June 2013)
"Lilleshall: Backstage in Britain" – cover story on British national program (November 2011)

To subscribe or order back issues, click here.

 
Written by John Crumlish    Wednesday, 11 December 2013 11:38    PDF Print
Mitchell Resolves to Recover, Radiate in 2014
(10 votes, average 4.60 out of 5)

IG Online's annual series of holiday-themed features continues with this update on 2010 world floor exercise champion Lauren Mitchell, who told IG she intends to return to competition in early 2014.

Mitchell, the first female Australian gymnast to win a world championships title, was absent from competition in 2013.


Lauren Michell (Australia) on beam at the 2012 Olympic Games

"I've been staying busy with school and university work," Mitchell said. "I've just changed degrees this year, to study radiography, and I've been able to study full-time, which was really exciting. I love the new course that I'm doing as well."

Mitchell's gymnastics is also on a steady course, despite recent injuries that included a stomach-muscle injury which hindered her at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

"Condition-wise, I'm feeling great," said Mitchell, who turned 22 in July. "All the little niggles that I had last year when I was competing have settled down now. The stomach muscle injury that I had during London has completely healed now, and it's feeling good."

The two-time Olympian said she is tuning up her program with the hope of competing by March 2014.

"At the moment I'm just focusing on separate skills and perfecting them, and trying to incorporate them into a routine in line with the new Code (of Points)," she said.

Mitchell's ambitions for the new year involve balancing her gymnastics and academic commitments.

"My 2014 goal is to get back a competitive program within the gymnastics world, and take it one competition at a time, focusing on my technique and artistry," she said. "Outside of the gym, I hope to still be able to study as close to full-time as I can, without getting too tired!"

Mitchell plans to spend the holiday season with family and close friends.

"We don't really have any traditions, but we'll most likely just head over to a family member's house and have a Christmas dinner or lunch there," she said.

As ambitious as Mitchell is, she avoids making any specific declarations as to what she will accomplish in 2014.

"I don't really have a New Year's resolution," she told IG. "It's never really been a tradition of mine. However, I do have goals throughout the year that I want to achieve, both inside and outside the gymnastics world."

International Gymnast magazine's recent coverage of Australian gymnasts includes:
"Golden Surprise" - Lauren Mitchell cover story (January/February 2011)
Lauren Mitchell interview (March 2008)
Alexandra Croak chat (November 2009)
"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 subscribe or order back issues, click here.

 
Written by John Crumlish    Tuesday, 10 December 2013 10:19    PDF Print
In Sight For Seitz: 'I Want To Show Great Gymnastics' in 2014
(7 votes, average 4.43 out of 5)

IG Online continues its annual series of holiday-themed features with German Olympian Elisabeth Seitz, who said she is aiming to impress in 2014.

After a less-than-perfect performance at this fall's world championships, German star Elisabeth Seitz told IG she is ready for new targets in 2014, including a top-10 finish at worlds and a stint in the Germany army.

Seitz, who placed 10th all-around and sixth on uneven bars at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, said her 15th-place all-around finish at the 2013 Worlds in Antwerp nonetheless showed her potential for better results in 2014 and beyond.


Elisabeth Seitz (Germany)

"I know it didn't work as well as I wanted, but after finishing school this May, it wasn't easy for me to come back at a high level," Seitz said. "But I wanted to fight, and be part of the German team. So I had to learn new skills and get in shape again. In Antwerp I had too many mistakes to be as good as I wanted, but I showed new skills and I got new self-confidence for the coming years."

Seitz said she was puzzled by her problems on balance beam, but not surprised by her landing errors on floor exercise, in the all-around final in Antwerp.

"I don't know what happened to me on beam, because I feel way better on beam now, after many training camps where we focused on it," she said. "Maybe I need to be more self-confident, like I am on bars. The problem on floor was that I had never trained before on the new Spieth floor, or on the new Spieth floor with podium. So I couldn't control my landings like in training. It was new for me to land on that really nice floor. Hopefully next year we will get this floor at home, too."

Seitz, who placed sixth at the DTB Cup/FIG Challenge Cup in Stuttgart on Nov. 30, said she hopes the new year will restore her to top form as she embarks on an additional career path.

"I want to show great gymnastics," she said. "Especially with skills like the Def (on uneven bars) I want to impress others. My specific goal is to still lead the German team and be really good at the European and world championships. But first, in January, I need to spend six weeks basic training in the Army. I've been in the Army since September. With that decision I can just focus on gymnastics. Many athletes in Germany do this. It's a good hedge (financial protection) for us."

For now, Seitz is focusing on a family-filled holiday season.

"I always spend Christmas with my family at home," she said. "It's the only time of the year we are all together without being in a rush or something like that. Sometimes we travel to my grandmom's, but normally the whole family comes to my mom's house. And she cooks great meals for everybody! I don't know how I will spend New Year's Eve. Maybe with some friends."

Seitz said that 2013 was challenging, but she is ready for the challenges to come in 2014.

"This year, the year after the Olympic Games, wasn't easy for me," she told IG. "Many things changed in my life and my competitions were OK, but not great. Next year I want to be back again in the top 10 of the world. So I want to train hard and show everyone that I am still a good gymnast."

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)
"Maike Makes Her Mark" - Maike Roll profile (March 2010)
Sophie Scheder profile (December 2013)

To subscribe or order back issues, click here.

 
Written by John Crumlish    Friday, 06 December 2013 16:04    PDF Print
Nichols Ends 2013 With Pride, Enters 2014 With Confidence
(4 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

IG Online kicks off its annual series of holiday-themed features with U.S. gymnast Maggie Nichols, who finished her 2013 competitive season with a successful performance at the recent Mexican Open in Acapulco.

Although her scores did not count in the official all-around standings, U.S. gymnast Maggie Nichols told IG she was pleased with her unofficial second-place ranking at the Mexican Open, held Nov. 29-30 in Acapulco.


Maggie Nichols (U.S.)

"I was very proud of my performance," said the 16-year-old Nichols, who trains under head coach Sarah Jantzi at Twin City Twisters in Champlin, Minn. "I had three amazing events on which I improved from previous competitions. The one thing I want to improve upon is staying calm and focused on beam."

Nichols said the key to her success in Acapulco was "to not over-think it and just have fun with the competition," which featured 2013 world all-around finalist Roxana Popa of Spain, U.S. teammate Peyton Ernst and six-time Olympian Oksana Chusovitina of Uzbekistan.

Popa, Ernst and Chusovitina finished first, second and third, respectively, in Acapulco. Nichols’ scores factored into only the mixed-pairs event, in which she teamed with Brazil’s Francisco Barreto to finish fifth. 2013 was a breakthrough year for Nichols, who finished 11th all-around in the junior division at the 2012 Visa (U.S.) Championships.

Nichols placed sixth all-around and second on floor exercise at the City of Jesolo Trophy meet in Italy on March 23; and fourth all-around at the U.S./Romania/Germany tri-meet in Chemnitz, Germany, on March 30. In both meets she also won a gold medal as a member of the winning U.S. team. Nichols finished fifth all-around, fifth on balance beam and sixth on uneven bars at the P&G (U.S.) Championships in August.

Despite Nichols’s success this year, she said securing her position on the U.S. team in 2014 will require her "to get more and more consistent and clean."

Nichols said she is looking forward to the upcoming holidays, after she spent Thanksgiving abroad during the competition in Acapulco.

"It didn't exactly feel like Thanksgiving because I wasn't with my family, but it was fun celebrating it in Mexico," she said.

Nichols said she looks forward to spending Christmas with loved ones, however.

"We just spend quality time catching up," she said. "We go to Mass and just enjoy family."

Outside of more gymnastics success in 2014, Nichols has other resolutions for the new year.

"I would like to try and get to church more, and spend more time with family!" she told IG.

International Gymnast magazine’s recent coverage of U.S. women’s gymnastics includes:
"10 Questions with Diane Amos" – interview with coach (September 2011) "10 Questions with Kim Hamilton Anthony" – interview with former gymnast/author (March 2010)
"Lights, Camera, Baskett" – Kristina Baskett update (June 2012)
Simone Biles chat (April 2013)
Simone Biles cover photo (September 2013)
Simone Biles four-page center poster (November 2013)
"10 Questions with Mihai Brestyan" – interview with coach (January/February 2013)
Rebecca Bross cover photo (July/August 2011)
"The Great Gabby" – Gabrielle Douglas profile (March 2011)
Gabrielle Douglas cover photo (April 2012)
Gabrielle Douglas chat (April 2012)
Gabrielle Douglas on cover photo collage (July/August 2012)
Gabrielle Douglas four-page center poster (September 2012)
"Gabbing with Gabby" – Gabrielle Douglas interview (October 2012)
"Gabby Gallery" – Gabrielle Douglas five-page photo spread (November 2012)
"Steady Influence" – Rhonda Faehn feature (April 2011)
"10 Questions with Rhonda Faehn" – interview with coach (December 2012)
Coach Maggie Haney interview (October 2013)
"Catching up with Michelle Goodwin" – profile (April 2011)
"Expressing Herself" – Laurie Hernandez profile (October 2013)
Kytra Hunter cover photo (May 2012)
"One on One: Shawn Johnson" – interview (January/February 2010)
"Texas Dreams’ Junior Hit" – Bailie Key profile (May 2013)
"Rebound" – Mattie Larson interview (March 2011)
"Valiant Effort" – Anna Li interview (December 2012)
"It’s Showtime" – McKayla Maroney profile (May 2011)
"Maroney on the Mend" – McKayla Maroney interview (January/February 2013)
Dominique Moceanu interview (July/August 2012)
"Sky’s the Limit" – Katelyn Ohashi cover story (October 2011)
Katelyn Ohashi cover photo (April 2013)
"10 Questions with Sarah Patterson" – interview with coach (November 2011)
Elizabeth Price cover story (January/February 2013)
"Young Reliable" – Alexandra Raisman profile (April 2011)
Alexandra Raisman two-age center poster (December 2012)
Kyla Ross cover photo (November 2012)
"Focus Forward – Kyla Ross interview (November 2012)
Bridget Sloan cover photo (May 2013)
Bridget Sloan chat (May 2013)
"10 Questions with Mary Lee Tracy" – interview with coach (October 2012)
"The USA Reloads for Rio" – cover photo collage and feature on U.S. junior team (October 2013)
Jordyn Wieber cover photo and chat (April 2011)
Jordyn Wieber cover photo (September 2011)
Jordyn Wieber cover photo (December 2011)
Jordyn Wieber cover photo (April 2012)
Jordyn Wieber on cover photo collage (July/August 2012)
"Tears to Triumph" – Jordyn Wieber interview (October 2012)
"Shooting Star" – Grace Williams profile (September 2011)
"Vintage Greats" – Hall of Fame induction feature including Kim Zmeskal Burdette (June 2012)
"Don’t Wake Me" – Kim Zmeskal Burdette feature (October 2013)

To subscribe or order back issues, click here.

 
Written by Amanda Turner    Sunday, 01 December 2013 22:54    PDF Print
Kysla Wins One-of-a-Kind $10,000 Leotard
(6 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)



Ukrainian gymnast Angelina Kysla finished fifth all-around Saturday evening at the 3rd Mexico Open in Acapulco, but her artistry brought her a very valuable prize: a customized leotard valued at approximately $10,000.

Angelina Kysla (Ukraine)

Ukrainian gymnast Angelina Kysla finished fifth all-around Saturday evening at the 3rd Mexico Open in Acapulco, but her artistry brought her a very valuable prize.

An expert panel that included Olympic gymnastics legends Nadia Comaneci (Romania) and Svetlana Boginskaya (Belarus) chose Kysla as the winner of the GK Prize for Elegance among the female gymnasts in Acapulco.

Her reward? A one-of-a-kind white leotard valued at approximately $10,000.

The leotard is made with GK's "Mystique" fabric, which is a nylon spandex with a foil finish. But the leotard is also covered with hundreds of Swarovski crystals, giving the leotard its rare value.

Kysla's coach, Inna Korobchinskaya, said they were thrilled with the surprise reward.

"As a coach, I am very pleased that my gymnast was chosen as the most elegant, and doubly pleased that such outstanding gymnasts as Nadia Comaneci and Svetlana Boginskaya picked her!" Korobchinskaya told IG on Sunday. "And I also want to say thank you to the GK company for such a unique prize."

The 22-year-old Kysla, a member of the Ukrainian team at the 2011 and 2013 world championships, showed off the leotard Sunday on the beach in Acapulco. She did a spontaneous photoshoot with IG, including posing with Korobchinskaya and Olympic champion Lilia Podkopayeva, who was also in Acapulco after taking part in the first national coaching clinic in Mexico.


Wearing her one-of-a-kind leotard, Kysla poses on the beach Sunday in Acapulco with 1996 Olympic champian Lilia Podkopayeva and coach Inna Korobchinskaya.
 


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