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Written by Amanda Turner    Friday, 27 June 2014 23:02    PDF Print
Leydin Leads Voting for Sports Scholarship
(9 votes, average 4.89 out of 5)

Australian gymnast Maddi Leydin currently leads the voting to win a $10,000 sports scholarship, with the voting ending Monday morning in Australia.

Leydin is a finalist for the Colonial First State Sports Boost along with Matthew Penny (athletics), Mack Horton (swimming) and Lauren Perry (cycling).

Maddi Leydin (Australia)

Leydin told IG she is thrilled by how the gymnastics community has rallied to help push her into the lead.

"I am stoked by the support I have received from the gymnastics community, family, friends and their extended networks," said Leydin, who trains under coaches Misha Barabach and Tracey Penaluna at the Victorian Women's High Performance Centre. "I really can't believe how many people have voted for me and encouraged others to vote and share the link on Facebook."

Leydin was also a finalist for the award in 2013, after winning the senior all-around title at the Australian championships. At the this year's championships in May, Leydin claimed second all-around behind Georgia Godwin.

"I was happy with my performance at nationals," she said. "Despite limited preparation I managed to place second all-around, won bronze on bars and came fourth on beam."

Leydin currently holds a narrow lead over Denny in the online voting for the scholarship. If she wins the competition, Gymnastics Australia also will receive $15,000 in funding.

"Winning the sponsorship grant would be awesome," she said. "It will be used to cover the expenses associated with coaching, medical support and the equipment that is required to help me achieve my goals. Gymnastics Australia will also receive additional funding, which is fantastic as they have been a great support for me throughout my career so far. Hopefully this exposure will also help to encourage younger gymnasts to keep working hard in the gym and chasing their dreams."

Voting ends Monday in Australia, and Leydin is hoping for a last-minute surge to help secure the award.

"The support has been incredible but the voting is really close," she said. "So we still need all of the votes we can get. Please vote!"

Click here to vote on Facebook to support Maddi Leydin and Australian Gymnastics.

Written by John Crumlish    Tuesday, 24 June 2014 22:28    PDF Print
Pavlova: 'I Felt Like A Phoenix Risen From The Ashes'
(9 votes, average 4.89 out of 5)

2014 European vault silver medalist Anna Pavlova told IG that her all-around victory at the recent Gym Festival Trnava in Slovakia marked a significant improvement in her confidence since last month’s European Championships in Sofia.

Anna Pavlova in Trnava

"I felt like a phoenix risen from the ashes," she said of her victory in Trnava.

Pavlova said she was nervous in Sofia, where she finished second in the vault final and 13th overall in qualifications among the gymnasts who competed on all four apparatuses. (No formal all-around competition took place in Sofia.)

"I think the anxiety was connected with a big break and the seriousness of the start," she said. "Especially the responsibility after a break."

Pavlova’s reference to a break relates to her transition from representing her native Russia to her recent debut for Azerbaijan. A two-time Russian Olympian, Pavlova officially changed allegiances last fall. She had not competed for Russia at a major event since the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.

"I had no stimulation before," Pavlova said. "It is boring to work only for the sake of those starts at which it’s possible for me to compete."

Pavlova said a lack of recent competitive experience contributed to her uncharacteristic fall from balance beam in qualifications in Sofia.

"For an instant I lost control, but on the beam there is no mercy," Pavlova said. "It was probably from shortage of serious starts recently."

Pavlova acknowledged that low difficulty notes on three apparatuses, including floor exercise, limited her scoring potential in Sofia.

"I did not have enough time to prepare, and problems with my legs have affected me," she said of her exquisite but technically moderate floor routine at Europeans. "I will soon change my routine and am already working on my acrobatics." Pavlova, who trains in Moscow and occasionally visits her hometown of Orekhovo Zuevo, said she looks forward to bonding soon with her new teammates in the Azerbaijani capital.

"With the whole team in the near future we will go to train in Baku," Pavlova said. "Up to this moment there was no possibility. And in the future, it remains to be seen where we will train."

Pavlova said she is preparing for this fall’s world championships in Nanning, although she has not set an agenda for the competition.

"We haven’t spoken about goals yet," she told IG.

Anna Pavlova is featured in the following issues of International Gymnast magazine:

"Still a Stunner" – Pavlova profile (December 2012)
"Back to Beijing" photo gallery, including Pavlova (November 2008)
2008 Olympic Games special issue (October 2008)
2005 European Championships coverage (August/September 2005)
"Athens Confidential" Olympic profiles including Pavlova (November 2004)
2004 Olympic Games special issue (October 2004)
Pavlova on cover photo collage (August/September 2003)
Pavlova two-page center poster (April 2003)
Pavlova on cover photo collage, 2002 European Championships coverage (June/July 2002)
"High Five" – Pavlova and Russian junior team interview (April 2001)
Pavlova cover photo (March 2001)

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

Written by John Crumlish    Saturday, 21 June 2014 18:06    PDF Print
Downie Up For Continued Success at Glasgow's Commonwealth Games
(5 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

Featured on and in the June issue of International Gymnast magazine, reigning European uneven bars champion Becky Downie told IG she and her English teammates look to build on their successful performances at last month's European Championships by challenging for the team title at next month's Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

"To win in Glasgow will all be down to our preparation as a team," Downie said. "A lot of the team are coming back from the recent success at the European Championships and know exactly how much work needs to be put in every day to enable us to experience success. I know the team always aims high, but when we go out to compete, all we can control is our routines and how well we perform them. If we put in the hard work now, there is no reason why the success can't continue."

Downie at the 2014 Europeans

Downie, a member of the silver medal-winning English team at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, is the only member of England's team for Glasgow to have competed at previous Games. England and the other nations which comprise the United Kingdom compete independently at the Games.

Also named to the English team for Glasgow were Claudia Fragapane, Ruby Harrold, Kelly Simm and two-time Olympian Hannah Whelan.

Downie, Fraganane, Harrold and Whelan were members of the silver medal-winning British team at last month's European Championships in Sofia.

Peak performances in Sofia, Glasgow and this fall's world championships in Nanning have been part of Downie's plan all year, she said.

"From the start of 2014 I knew it had the potential to be a jam-packed year, so I started to mentally prepare myself for that around Christmastime," Downie said. "I thought the first half of the year would be the easiest, as that would be when I was most fresh. After the Europeans I had to allow myself to come down, as there would be no time between Commonwealth Games and the world championships to take a break."

Downie said she is comfortable with the pacing of the Commonwealth Games in relation to Europeans and worlds.

"I think the Games sit well, as they are right in the middle of Euros and Worlds," said Downie, whose younger sister, Ellie Downie, won the junior vault title in Sofia. "Sometimes you can let yourself drop too far after a major championships and it's hard to get back. With these Games being put in the middle, it firstly allowed us the chance to compete because of the time frames between each event. And it helps keep us motivated and working hard, because straight after one event, the preparation starts towards the next one."

As Downie prepares to help the English team challenge defending champion Australia in Glasgow, she is also ready to encourage her teammates to make the most of their Games experience.

"The Commonwealth Games is a great experience as it's not just a gymnastics competition, but it's a multi-sport event," Downie told IG. "It'll enable us to meet lots of other great athletes, learn about other sports and experience life in an athletes' village. The advice I would give is to just enjoy every moment! These Games are special, as they only come round once every four years, so make the most of the experience, in and out the gym."

Read an interview with Becky Downie and her younger sister, 2014 European junior vault champion Ellie Downie, in the June 2014 issue of International Gymnast magazine; and read "European Brilliance," an interview with Ruby Harrold, in the September 2013 issue.

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

Written by John Crumlish    Saturday, 14 June 2014 20:13    PDF Print
Recent International Success Motivates Mikulak
(4 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

As U.S. all-around champion Sam Mikulak prepares for a training trip in Germany and Italy, he told IG that winning gold, silver and bronze medals at the recent World Challenge Cup of Anadia has primed him for his title defense at the P&G (U.S.) Championships in August in Pittsburgh.

"Competing internationally is always a great experience," said Mikulak, who placed first on high bar, second on floor exercise and third on parallel bars at the Challenge Cup, held May 29-June 1 in the Portuguese city. "I get another opportunity to put myself in a pressure situation, and as I get geared up for the P&G Championships, the more prepared I am for the pressure situations, the better. Plus it's nice to be in such a refined state with all my routines this early going into P&Gs."

Sam Mikulak (United States)

Mikulak, who placed sixth all-around and fourth on high bar at the 2013 World Championships in Antwerp, said he was most pleased with his performance on high bar in Anadia. He won that apparatus title for the second consecutive year.

"The high bar gold medal was most satisfying because it was the one event where I had to defend my title," he said. "It was my last opportunity to get a gold medal, and to end on a stick is the best way to go out."

Mikulak said he was prepared to do one of two routines in the high bar final, but ultimately chose a more conservative one based on the performance of China’s Zhang Chenglong.

In qualifications, Zhang had the highest Difficulty score (6.90) of the field. Mikulak, top qualifier Marijo Možnik (Croatia) and Bence Talas (Hungary) each had a D note of 6.60 in qualifications.

"Going into high bar (final) I was deciding whether to do my more difficult 16.9 routine with a Cassina, or my easier 16.6 routine," Mikulak said. "If Chenglong had hit his harder high bar set, I was going to do the Cassina, but when he fell, I knew I just had to hit a clean 16.6 routine, and that's what I did."

In Anadia, Mikulak also finished fifth in vault finals, but fell on pommel horse in qualifications for 26th place.

"My mistake on horse was just one of those freak accidents that you could never predict," he said, "I never fall on my scissor work and so I just put it behind me."

Mikulak said he decided against competing in Anadia on the sixth event, rings, because his shoulder was a little sore, and he wanted to focus on the events on which he had better medal prospects.

"I chose to do five events because I've been in all-around shape," he said. "The more I do, the more experience I get and the better chance I have to medal."

Mikulak said he does not plan to compete between now and the P&G Championships, but is looking forward to a training trip with German star Fabian Hambüchen in Germany and Italy.

"Any chance to train and see other gymnasts' training styles is a great time to broaden my horizons and better myself as a gymnast," Mikulak told IG.

Sam Mikulak is featured in the following issues of International Gymnast magazine:
2014 NCAA Championships coverage (May 2014)
Mikulak two-page center poster, 2014 American Cup coverage (April 2014)
2013 World Championships special issue (November 2013)
Mikulak two-page photo spread (October 2013)
2013 U.S. Championships coverage (September 2013)
"Sam I Am" – Mikulak cover photo and interview (July/August 2013)
2013 NCAA Championships coverage (May 2013)
2012 U.S. Olympic Trials coverage (July/August 2012)

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

Written by John Crumlish    Monday, 09 June 2014 09:55    PDF Print
Austria's Hämmerle On Track For More Success
(4 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

Austrian gymnast Elisa Hämmerle told IG that winning two medals at the recent Challenger Cup of Anadia bodes well for her success at upcoming competitions including this fall's world championships.

"The two medals I won in Anadia are my first ones at a Challenge Cup," said Hämmerle, who placed second on vault, third (tie) on uneven bars, fourth on floor exercise and sixth on balance beam at the meet held May 29-June 1 in Portugal. "It was always my goal to win a medal at such an event. This shows me and my coach that we are well on track."

Elisa Hämmerle (Austria)

Hämmerle said her performance at last month's European Championships in Sofia also showed her all-around potential. Although no formal all-around contest took place in Sofia, Hämmerle had the 16th-highest all-around score of the gymnasts who performed on all four apparatuses in qualifications.

"I am not an apparatus specialist but an all-arounder," said Hämmerle, who has won 12 all-around and apparatus titles in Austrian junior and senior championships. "I just test myself on each apparatus to get more stability in my routines. I scored 52.199 with one fall on floor. It showed me I am not so far away from 54 points, so I am even more motivated to conquer the coming challenges."

Between now and the Worlds in Nanning in October, Hämmerle said she will work on some new elements as well as try to improve her execution. She intends to compete in two qualifications for Austria's worlds team to be held in Innsbruck, and a dual meet in France, prior to Nanning.

"I am practicing a D-(level) turn on uneven bars and also a D dismount on beam, and a few connections on floor," said Hämmerle, who placed 40th all-around in qualifications at the 2013 Worlds in Antwerp. "I have to increase my D- and of course my E- scores, because I am still too 'sloppy.'"

Born December 10, 1995, in Lustentau, Hämmerle trains at LSZ Dornbirn. Her main coach is Laurens van der Hout, and earlier this year she began working with a second coach, 2000 Czech Olympian Katerina Maresova Rexa. Rexa and her husband, veteran Czech gymnast Daniel Rexa, started working at the club in February.

Hämmerle said her top priority in Nanning will be helping her team finish among the top 24 and thereby advance to the 2015 Worlds in Glasgow. Twelve teams will ultimately qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Austria placed 14th in the team competition in Sofia.

"The focus will be on the team," Hämmerle told IG. "It is our goal to be among the top 24 teams. It is important for me to do a good job in relation to the world championships in 2015, where the Olympic qualification will take place."


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