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Written by John Crumlish    Thursday, 28 November 2013 23:06    PDF Print
Tsang Set For 'Solid Competition' in Stuttgart
(2 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

Canada's Briannah Tsang told IG she is confident and determined to perform to her potential at this weekend's DTB Cup team competition in Stuttgart. Pictured: Tsang with clubmate Scott Morgan, flanked by coaches Vasi Corsariu and Dorina Stan, pose at the 2013 Anadia World Challenge Cup in Portugal.

Canada's Briannah Tsang told IG she is confident and determined to perform to her potential at this weekend's DTB Cup in Stuttgart.

"My goal for the DTB Cup is to have a solid competition," she said. "I want to perform the routines I have been doing well in training with the best job I can, among some of the best gymnasts in the world."

Tsang is a member of the Canadian team that competes in the DTB Cup team qualification. The top four teams advance to Sunday's finals. She is also slated to compete in the FIG all-around World Cup on Saturday.

Born Jan. 26, 1996, in Vancouver, Tsang trains at Flicka Gymnastics in North Vancouver, where her coaches are David Kenwright on vault and uneven bars, Dorina Stan on balance beam and choreography, and Vasi Corsariu on floor exercise.

Tsang has earned her best historical results on vault, on which she placed first at the 2009 Junior Elite Canada meet, 2010 International Gymnix Youth Cup, 2010 Canadian Junior Championships, 2010 Elite Canada meet, 2011 Canada Winter Games and 2013 Elite Canada meet.

Earlier this year Tsang placed second on vault and 10th all-around at the Canadian Championships; and sixth on vault and seventh on floor exercise at the FIG Challenge Cup of Anadia, Portugal.

Tsang credits several factors for her success in 2013.

"I have had fewer injuries to deal with this year and my back issues are under control, so I believe that has contributed to my successes," she said. "Also, I have had enormous support from my coaches, teammates, and family." Next year will bring Tsang to a new phase of her gymnastics life.

"I plan to start university at Penn State in the fall of 2014, so I will be transitioning from an international gymnastics career to a college gymnastics career," she said.

For now, however, Tsang is concentrating on Stuttgart.

"My mindset for this meet will be the same as for any other," she told IG. "I'll be relying on my physical and mental preparation."

International Gymnast magazine's coverage of Canadian female gymnasts over the last decade includes:
"Gotta Dance!" – Sandra Botnen/Sasha Ivanochko profile (December 2004)
"Aiming to Top the Charts" - Maegan Chant interview (October 2013)
"Canadian Diversity" - Ellie Black profile (July/August 2013)
"Black to Business" - Ellie Black interview (November 2012)
Madeline Gardiner, Anysia Unick and Victoria Moors cover photo (March 2011)
"Candid Canadians" - Madeline Gardiner interview (September 2011)
"A Gymnastics Jet-Setter" – Jordan Harvie (May 2004)
"All in a Day's Work" - Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs profile (March 2007)
"Catching up with... Larissa Lowing Libby" (August/September 2004)
Christine Peng-Peng Lee interview (April 2011)
"A Passion for Performing" - Christine Peng-Peng Lee profile (June 2005)
Gael Mackie profile (July/August 2011)
"Canadian Standout" – Gael Mackie profile (January 2003)
"Pride for Family and Canada" – Charlotte Mackie profile (November 2006)
"Sudden Impact" - Victoria Moors interview (January/February 2013)
"10 Questions with Carol-Angela Orchard" (May 2011)
"Pegg Much More Motivated" – Dominique Pegg profile (March 2010)
"Plante in Bloom" – Amélie Plante profile (June/July 2003)
"Staying Power" – Heather Purnell profile (May 2003)
"Uneven Parallels" – Kate Richardson/Yvonne Tousek profile (March 2004)
"Confident Canadian" - Brittany Rogers interview (May 2012)
"Shooting Star" – Brittany Rogers profile (July/August 2007)
"Savona Surges into Recovery" – Jessica Savona short profile (October 2011)
"Work in Progress" – Sydney Sawa profile (September 2009)
"Holding Pattern" – Richelle Simpson interview (April 2004)
Richelle Simpson cover photo (January 2004)
Richelle Simpson center poster (June/July 2003)
"Catching up with... Lori Strong Ballard" (June 2012)
Jennifer Wood update (June/July 2004)
"Stage Flight" - Yvonne Tousek update (November 2010)
"Veteran Presence" - Kristina Vaculik profile (July/August 2010)
Kristina Vaculik cover photo (April 2010)
"Canadian Conquerors" – Kristina Vaculik profile (September 2007)

To subscribe or order back issues, click here.

Written by John Crumlish    Thursday, 28 November 2013 18:22    PDF Print
Oldham Ready to Go in Stuttgart, Glasgow
(2 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

2013 Olympic bronze medalist Sam Oldham of Great Britain told IG that, after injuries hampered him at this fall's world championships, he is healthy and ready for success at DTB-Pokal in Stuttgart and Glasgow World Cup.

Sam Oldham (Great Britain)

Oldham will take part in the team competition in Stuttgart, which begins Friday in Stuttgart with the qualification &mash; and held in conjuction with the Stuttgart all-around World Cup. He will also compete at next weekeend's Glasgow World Cup.

"My goals for DTB are firstly for the team to make the final, and then my personal target is to perform clean routines and use it as a warm-up for the Glasgow World Cup the following week," said Oldham, a member of the bronze medal-winning British team at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. "This competition gives me my first opportunity to compete on all six apparatuses internationally. It also gives me and my teammates the chance to compete as team for the first time this year, as it has been solely individual at both major championships."

Oldham, who placed second on horizontal bar and fourth on floor exercise at this spring's European championships in Moscow, said a pair of injured ankles hindered him in the lead-up to this fall's world championships in Antwerp.

"My preparation through the summer went very well," said Oldham, the 2010 European junior all-around champion. "My routines were strong enough to be competitive with the world's top all-arounders. Unfortunately, the week of our final trial, I landed extremely short on floor, jamming both of my ankles. I couldn't walk for two days and spent the whole week off routines. Under the circumstances I competed as well as I could, but it was obviously a very frustrating time for me."

Despite competing on only floor exercise in Antwerp, Oldham said he feels strong and confident for Stuttgart and Glasgow.

"Right now my ankles are doing well," he said. "I have to strap up the left one for floor and vault, but they get stronger each week. My level of fitness right now is very good."

Oldham said he has had no problem staying focused and enthusiastic for two major competitions so late in the year.

"For me it has been rather easy to get motivated for this competition and Glasgow the week after," he told IG. "I see this as my chance to get out there and produce the performances I'm capable of and have trained for this whole year. The routines will give an indication of the level I am looking to compete at throughout 2014."

International Gymnast magazine's recent coverage of British gymnasts and coaches includes:

Sam Oldham on cover photo collage (July/August 2010)
Sam Oldham interview (June 2010)
"Welsh Wisdom" - Raer Theaker profile (October 2013)
"European Brilliance" - Ruby Harrold interview (September 2013)
"Lord Max" – Max Whitlock interview (June 2013)
"Shooting Star" – Brinn Bevan profile (June 2013)
"The Good Shepherd" – Ed van Hoof interview (April 2013)
"Nervous Purvis" – Daniel Purvis profile (November 2012)
"British Blitz" – 2012 European Men's Championships coverage (June 2012)
"Divide and Conquer" – Kristian Thomas interview (May 2012)
"Pure Purvis" – Daniel Purvis interview (March 2012)
Imogen Cairns, British men's team on cover photo collage (March 2012)
"No Turning Back Now" – Imogen Cairns profile (January/February 2012)
"Lilleshall: Backstage in Britain" – cover story on British national program (November 2011)
Daniel Purvis cover photo (November 2011)
"Sibling Revelry" – Angel and Venus Romaeo profile (September 2010)
"Bright for Britain" – Niamh Rippin profile (July/August 2010)
"10 Questions with Paul Hall" – interview (January/February 2010)
Neil Thomas update (December 2009)
Beth Tweddle cover photo (September 2009)
"The British Invasion" – Beth Tweddle profile, Hannah Whelan profile, Becky Downie profile, Daniel Keatings interview, Louis Smith profile, Daniel Purvis profile, Daniel Keatings center poster (June 2009)
"10 Questions with Adrian Stan" – interview (June 2009)
"Royal Treatment" – Louis Smith profile (December 2008)
"Royal Ambitions" – Marissa King interview (April 2008)

To subscribe or order back issues, click here.

Written by Amanda Turner    Thursday, 28 November 2013 04:01    PDF Print
Azerbaijan Recruits Three Russian Gymnasts
(9 votes, average 4.56 out of 5)

Olympians Anna Pavlova and Konstantin Pluzhnikov will now represent Azerbaijan internationally, as will 2011 Russian world team member Yulia Inshina, the FIG announced Thursday.

Russia Olympians Anna Pavlova and Konstantin Pluzhnikov will represent Azerbaijan internationally, as will 2011 Russian world team member Yulia Inshina, the FIG announced Thursday.

The International Gymnastics Federation officially announced the changes of nationality for six artistic gymnastics on Thursday in its bulletin.

The popular Pavlova, a 2004 and 2008 Olympian, has not represented Russia in a major competition since the 2008 Olympics. Now 26, she has continued training and competing regularly and successfully but in smaller international invitationals. She has suffered from knee injuries, including a torn ACL following the the 2008 Olympics.

The 26-year-old Pluzhnikov, a 2008 Olympian and the 2011 European champion on still rings, reportedly decided to compete for Azerbaijan a year ago when rival rings specialist Alexander Balandin was chosen instead to represent Russia at the Olympics in London.

Inshina, 18, was a member of Russia's silver-medal squad from the 2011 World Championships in Tokyo, where she finished sixth in the balance beam final.

The former Soviet republic of Azerbaijan, which has a population under 10 million, has achieved tremendous success in rhythmic gymnastics with imported Russians Aliya Garavayeva, who won eight world and five European medals, and world medalists Dinara Gimatova and Anna Gurbanova. Mehriban Aliyeva, the wife of the president of Azerbaijan, became president of the Azerbaijan Gymnastics Federation in 2002.

The oil-rich nation has not yet had a strong presence in artistic gymnastics, however, but has been attempting to recruit gymnasts from abroad.

Two-time Russian Olympian Anna Pavlova will now represent Azerbaijan.

Athletes switching nationalities for ethnic reasons or financial support is nothing new in sports, but Azerbaijan has openly adopted the practice of recruiting athletes, which erupted in an epic bidding battle prior to the 2012 Olympics. Azerbaijan agreed to pay more than $500,000 for two Bulgarian weightlifters, Boyanka Kostova and Valentin Hristov, to switch nationalities. However, when Bulgarian officials realized the change of nationality would occur prior to the Olympics, the Bulgarian federation reportedly demanded more money. The weightlifters eventually represented Azerbaijan in London, where Hristov won the bronze medal, the first for an Azeri athlete in the sport.

Azerbaijan also announced its intention to pump up its presence at the upcoming Winter Olympics.

"Azerbaijan will be represented by four athletes in the upcoming 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi," Youth and Sports Minister Azad Rahimov said at a press conference in September. "Of course, it is not enough. The country has all the necessary conditions for the development of winter sports, so we can start to prepare the athletes. For now, we are holding negotiations with several sports federations to recruit athletes and coaches."

2012 Ukrainian Olympians Nikolai Kuksenkov (who now represents Russia) and Oleg Vernyayev both said they turned down lucrative offers to represent Azerbaijan.

The most famous gymnast to come from Azerbaijan to date is Valery Belenky, a gold and bronze medalist for the Unified team at the 1992 Olympic Games. At the 1993 World Championships, Belenky competed under no flag as Azerbaijan had not yet established an independent gymnastics federation with the FIG. He later went on to represent Germany, where he has since become a successful coach to two-time Olympic medalist Marcel Nguyen.

Shakir Shikhaliyev represented Azerbaijan at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. He lives and trains in Germany, where he is coached by Anatoly Yarmovsky, coach of Belenky and the legendary Alexander Dityatin.

The Azeri capital of Baku has played host to several major rhythmic events, including the world championships in 2005, and the European championships in 2007, 2009 and will again in 2014.

Baku also will be the site of the inaugural European Games, a new multi-sport event set to take place in 2015. The massive event will feature some 7,000 athletes representing 49 European nations in at least 18 sports.

Russia's depth has allowed more than a few gymnasts to continue their careers in other countries, including Andrei Likhovitsky and Dmitry Barkalov for Belarus, Daria Yelizarova for Uzbekistan and Yevgenia Kuznetsova for Bulgaria. Ukraine's Viktoria Karpenko and Yaroslav Vovk also ended up in Bulgaria. Two-time Ukrainian Olympian Alina Kozich ended her career competing for Uzbekistan in 2009.

The FIG also announced that former U.S. junior national team member Sophina De Jesus will represent Puerto Rico internationally. She is currently a freshman at the University of California at Los Angeles. Eileen Diaz also went from the U.S. junior national team to represent Puerto Rico at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.

In addition, former British national team member Cameron MacKenzie now will represent South Africa. MacKenzie was born in South Africa but spent 10 years living in Britain and training at the Huntingdon Gymnastics Club. He placed sixth in the senior all-around at the 2013 British Championships in Liverpool.

Sweden's Oskar Kirmes, 17, is now representing Finland. He lives and trains in Espoo, Finland, where his father, Mati Kirmes, is a coach. Oskar's younger brother Robert Kirmes is also a gymnast.

Read a profile on Likhovitsky in the December 2013 issue of International Gymnast Magazine, and "Still a Stunner," a profile on Pavlova, in the December 2012 issue. To subscribe or order back issues, click here.

Written by John Crumlish    Tuesday, 26 November 2013 23:51    PDF Print
Perseverance Pays Off For France's Cormoreche
(6 votes, average 4.33 out of 5)

France's Manon Cormoreche told IG she is satisfied that her diligence has yielded success at the domestic and international levels throughout 2013.

"I think that work pays off in the end," said Cormoreche, who placed fifth all-around in the Open division at the Elite Gym Massilia meet in Marseille on Nov. 15, and sixth all-around at last weekend's French National Cup in Mouilleron-le-Captif. "It was rather hard but finally I made it. I think that my perseverance allowed me to evolve."

Manon Cormoreche (France)

Born Dec. 4, 1996, in Marseille, Cormoreche is the daughter of a Vietnamese father and a Spanish-French mother. She began training at age five, and is now coached by Veronique Legras, Francois De Saint Martin, two-time Olympian Elvire Teza and Pierre Ettel.

Cormoreche, who also competed at the Arthur Gander Memorial and Swiss Cup in Zurich this fall, said Legras's recent appointment as the French national team head coach should benefit the entire French program.

"I find it good that change has been made," said Cormoreche, who finished fifth all-around at the 2012 French Championships and fourth all-around at the 2013 French Championships. "I think that things are going to improve, and new choices are going to be made, and that is a good thing to me."

Although Cormoreche did not compete at this fall's world championships in Antwerp, several performances there made an impact on her.

"For results, I find the Americans always impressive," she said. "But I really like Russian gymnastics. It is rather elegant and perfectionistic."

Two gymnasts top Cormoreche's current list of favorites.

"My choices have changed a few times, but I really like (Romania's) Larisa Iordache for her ability and her mastery, and (Russia's) Aliya Mustafina for her execution and her elegance," Cormoreche said.

Cormoreche said she hopes to be a strong contributor to the French team as it attempts to qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

"I think that my team spirit can help to carry my team to Rio, because I really like to help the others and push the team toward the highest place possible," she said. "Besides this, I think the apparatus on which I can bring the most points to the team is beam."

Cormoreche has ambitious goals for next year.

"For 2014, I hope to make it to the European championships, and above all enjoy myself," she told IG.

International Gymnast magazine's features on French gymnasts and coaches include:
Samir Ait Said interview (June 2013)
"Begging to Differ" – Laetitia Begue profile (January 1996)
"Uncorked" – Benoit Caranobe interview (April 2009)
"Taking Success in Stride" - Benoit Caranobe profile (May 2004)
"Horse Sense" – Coralie Chacon profile (March 2004)
"Debauve Departs" - Marine Debauve profile (April 2006)
"Shooting Star" - Youna Dufournet profile (April 2009)
"French Evolution" - feature on Ludivine Furnon in Cirque du Soleil (April 2005)
"Together Again" - Ludivine Furnon cover photo and profile (January 1999)
"Karbanenko Makes It Count" – short profile (February 2003)
"C'est La Vie" – Dmitry Karbanenko cover story (May 1998)
"A La Mode" – Emilie Lepennec profile (August/September 2004)
"Little Elodie Can Win Big" – Elodie Lussac profile (January 1995)
Elodie Lussac cover photo (May 1994)
Elodie Lussac two-page center poster (August/September 1993)
"Maree Makes His Move" - Florent Maree chat (July/August 1998)
Isabelle Severino cover photo (August/September 2005)
"Catching up with Elvire Teza" – profile (January/February 2012)
"Tempting Teza" – Elvire Teza profile (May 1997)
Elvire Teza cover photo (April 1997)

To subscribe or order back issues, click here.

Written by Amanda Turner    Tuesday, 26 November 2013 23:32    PDF Print
Research Alerts Dangers of Fire-Retardant Chemicals in Foam Blocks
(5 votes, average 4.20 out of 5)

Though they are designed for safety while training new skills, the foam blocks in gymnastics pits may be hazardous to gymnasts' health, according to a recent study.

Polyurethane foam — found in pits but also in items like furniture — is treated with fire-retardant chemicals because of foam's highly flammable nature.

The study by the Dartmouth Center for Children's Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Research revealed that the blood of 11 female college gymnasts contained "a potentially hazardous flame retardant known as PentaBDE in average concentrations 4 to 6.5 times higher than average for Americans."

Former gymnast Courtney Carignan began the study while researching her doctorate at Boston University. "I was particularly concerned about the loose foam pit because of the way gymnasts use it and because the 'pit dust' gets everywhere in the gym," she said.

According to the study, the gymnasts had higher levels of PentaBDE in their systems than was found in workers in foam recycling plants.

Although PentaBDE was banned by the European Union in 2004 and by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2005, many facilities still contain the older foam blocks. The study notes such pits are also used in other sports training, such as aerial skiing and skateboarding.

According to the study, the fire-retardant chemicals that replaced PentaBDE for foam may be just as dangerous.

Click here to read more about the study at the Environmenatal Working Group.

Carignan has already created a website to bring wider attention to the issue within the gymnastics community, called The Gymnast Flame Retardant Collaborative.


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