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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.

Written by John Crumlish    Tuesday, 18 March 2014 23:39    PDF Print
One More Year for Peszek 'If All Goes Well'
(9 votes, average 4.56 out of 5)

Olympic silver medalist and UCLA senior Samantha Peszek told IG she is considering an extra year of NCAA competition next season if she is physically up to the task, but that she will not decide until after the current season ends next month.

Samantha Peszek (UCLA)

"If all goes well, then I'll come back and do it one more time," said Peszek after she won the all-around title and led her UCLA team to a tri-meet win over Utah State University and Bowling Green State University on Sunday in Los Angeles. "For right now, I'm letting my body take it day by day, and not getting ahead of myself."

Peszek, a member of the U.S. team that placed first at the 2007 World Championships and second at the 2008 Olympic Games, may opt to compete during the 2014-15 NCAA season because she sat out the 2012-13 season after tearing her right Achilles' tendon. She suffered the injury in December 2012, just prior to the start of the 2012-13 NCAA meet season in her junior year.

As a result of "redshirting" in her junior year, Peszek is eligible to compete an additional NCAA season if she chooses.

The 22-year-old Peszek is not rushing her decision, however.

"I've been asked this question a lot lately, especially by Miss Val (UCLA head coach Valorie Kondos Field) and everyone close to me," said Peszek, who also won the all-around at a March 7 tri-meet, which was her first all-around start since the 2012 NCAA Championships. "I just want to take it day by day. My main priority right now is this team and this year, so I'm sure I'll make a decision when the season's over. But for right now, I just wanted to focus on the team we have, and putting all that I have into this year."

Despite the apparent ease with which Peszek seems to again be performing her routines, she said her Achilles' injury and a stress reaction on one of her heels have made her return difficult. "To be honest, it really hasn't been easy," said Peszek, who won the NCAA title on balance beam in 2011. "My body's had a lot of wear-and-tear over the years, so I've been doing a lot of training outside – not really cross-training, but other regimens to supplement the numbers that I can't do in the gym. That's really given me the confidence to do what I do, and, having the experience that I have, just able to trust myself. Knowing that my team believes in me too is really helpful."

Although Peszek said she is uncertain of her physical capability to withstand another year of training and competition, she is sure of her psychological readiness.

"Physically, I don't know," she told IG. "Mentally there's no question about whether I still like the sport and love doing it. I think it's pretty clear to everyone here that I love the sport. I love doing gymnastics and I love performing. So that's not really a question."

Samantha Peszek is featured in the following issues of International Gymnast magazine:
Peszek profile (November 2006)
Peszek two-page center poster (July/August 2007)
Peszek and U.S. team cover photo, 2007 World Championships special issue (October 2007)
Peszek cover photo and interview (June 2008)
2008 Olympic Games special issue (October 2008)
2011 NCAA Championships coverage (May 2011)

To subscribe or order back issues, click here.

Written by John Crumlish    Wednesday, 12 March 2014 23:46    PDF Print
Bulgarians Benefit From Training Camp in Russia
(8 votes, average 4.00 out of 5)

Rising Bulgarian talent Elizabet Vasileva told IG that she and her teammates are enjoying an industrial and educational week of training with the Russian team in Moscow, where she met one of her idols, Ksenia Afanasyeva.

Rising Bulgarian talent Elizabet Vasileva told IG that she and her teammates are enjoying an industrial and educational week of training with the Russian team in Moscow.

"All of them are like one gymnast," said Vasileva of the Russian gymnasts. "They are really cool. They train a lot and with technique, and I think I am doing it, too."

Vasileva’s Bulgarian teammates in Moscow include Greta Banishka, Magdalena Georgieva, Iliana Gevezova and Simona Yaketova.

Among the Russian gymnasts are 2012 Olympic all-around silver medalist Viktoria Komova, 2012 Olympic uneven bars gold medalist and all-around bronze medalist Aliya Mustafina and two-time Olympian Ksenia Afanasyeva.

Vasileva said she most admires Afanasyeva, the 2011 world floor exercise champion.

"My favorite Russian gymnast is Afanasyeva," Vasileva told IG. "She has an amazing floor routine and I really like her for that."

The Bulgarian capital of Sofia will play host to the 2014 European Championships for juniors and seniors in May. The competition is also a qualifying event for the 2014 Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China, and 2015 European Games in Baku, Azerbaijan.

Read a profile on Vasileva in the April 2014 issue of International Gymnast magazine. To subscribe to the digital and/or print version, click here.

Written by Amanda Turner    Wednesday, 12 March 2014 11:41    PDF Print
Gymnastics Stars Rally for Kalon Ludvigson
(5 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

Some of gymnastics' greatest legends will be on hand to offer support at this weekend's 4th Kalon Ludvigson International Invitational in Salt Lake City.

The trampoline and competition event honors Ludvigson, 25, who is the most successful U.S. athlete in trampoline and tumbling. He has won eight consecutive U.S. titles, 15 World Cup medals and four world championship medals.

Ludvigson's dynamic career came to a halt last summer, however, when he suffered a serious cervical spine injury during a training accident. The accident reportedly dislocated his vertebrae and caused spinal-cord compression, leaving him paralyzed from the chest down. He has undergone surgeries and has been in rehabilitation to regain motor skills, while fundraising efforts continue to help fund his ongoing recovery.

More than $75,000 has been raised toward the goal of $125,000 on Ludvigson's GoFundMe page.

"The support that we have received worldwide since Kalon's injury has been extremely overwhelming," Justen Millerbernd, Ludvigon's coach and husband, told IG this week. "We both feel so lucky to have such amazing friends who have touched our lives!"

Olympic champions Nastia Liukin, Daniela Silivas, and Dominique Moceanu; world champions and Olympic silver medalists Courtney Kupets and Chellsie Memmel; and U.S. Olympians Missy Marlowe and Elise Ray will be available at this weekend's events for autographs and photos, and to support Ludvigson and Millerbernd.

That the trampoline and tumbling competition has attracted so many artistic gymnastics stars is no surprise, Liukin told IG on Wednesday.

"As big as the gymnastics world is, it's also a very small family," said Liukin, the 2008 Olympic all-around champion. "No matter what discipline you do, we all support one another. As soon as I heard about Kalon, I reached out to see what I could do to help. I'm excited to go to Utah this weekend to support this competition in honor of Kalon."

Silivas, one of gymnastics' all-time greats and an inductee into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame, said she simply wants to be there to support her friends.

"We're coming to show support and let them know that we are willing to help in any way we can," said Silivas, who has won 10 world medals (seven gold) and six Olympic medals (three gold).

Silivas, who now lives and coaches in Georgia, said she and Millerbernd have been long-time friends.

"We like to say we've been friends since the 1988 Olympics when he saw my vault," she joked, of her weakest event. "Through him I met Kalon, who I think is the sweetest and nicest guy."

This weekend's events have attracted numerous competitors of all age groups, including 2012 U.S. Olympic trampolinists Steve Gluckstein and Logan Dooley.

"Justen is really busy trying to get ready for the event and taking care of Kalon, plus his gym (Team Revolution in Pocatello, Idaho)," Silivas said. "I think it's important just being there for both of them as friends. I love both of them and I'm praying that Kalon will get better soon."

External Link: Official Website


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