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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

Written by John Crumlish    Thursday, 06 March 2014 18:09    PDF Print
American Cup Silver Does Dowell a World of Good
(6 votes, average 4.83 out of 5)

U.S. gymnast Brenna Dowell told IG that her silver medal-winning all-around performance at last weekend's AT&T American Cup in Greensboro should help her in her pursuit of a berth on the U.S. team at the world championships in the fall.

U.S. gymnast Brenna Dowell told IG that her silver medal-winning all-around performance at last weekend's AT&T American Cup in Greensboro should help her in her pursuit of a berth on the U.S. team at the world championships in the fall.

"This is definitely my biggest international all-around accomplishment," said Dowell, who finished second to teammate Elizabeth Price in Greensboro. "It is such an honor just being there and competing. I think I showed that I could go out and hit my routines in a high pressure situation. I think I showed they could count on me."

Brenna Dowell (USA)

Dowell, who turned 18 on Tuesday, said she was "very pleased" with her performance in Greensboro, despite some minor balance issues on balance beam and floor exercise. On uneven bars, she hit the same combination Beth Tweddle made famous: toe-one Tkatchev-half (Tweddle) to a Yezhova transition to the low bar.

"My goal was to go out and hit four routines, and I did that," she said. "I had some little struggles on beam and floor, but stayed on my feet and hit my routines. I was very happy with vault and bars. I hit my new bars routine, so that was very exciting."

Dowell said she will learn from her American Cup experience as she trains for upcoming meets.

"On beam I have been practicing really well," said Dowell, who is coached by Al Fong and Armine Barutyan Fong at Great American Gymnastics Express in Blue Springs. Mo. "I just need to work more pressure routines to know I can do my routine, no wobbles under pressure and in competition. On floor I have been working my double layout really well. I just need to make sure I can control the extra adrenaline I get when I am competing."

Third all-around at the 2013 P&G (U.S.) Championships, Dowell was named to the four-member U.S. squad at last fall's individual world championships in Antwerp. She ended up serving as the alternate as her three teammates each competed all four events.

Dowell said her American Cup performance should boost her chances for this year's worlds, which will be held in October, Nanning, China.

"I know this experience definitely builds my confidence heading into the rest of the competitive season and selection camp, working towards making the world team and competing," she said. "Hopefully I can go there, show my best routines and make finals."

Dowell signed a letter of intent to begin competing for the University of Oklahoma next January in time for the 2015 NCAA season, but said she continues to have international ambitions.

"My goal this year is to make the world team," she told IG. "I am just taking it one competition at a time. I will decide what to do when the time comes around."

Read coverage of the 2014 AT&T American Cup in the April 2014 issue of International Gymnast magazine.

International Gymnast magazine's coverage of 2014 American Cup competitors includes:
"Taming Fame" - Carlotta Ferlito interview (January/February 2014)
"Vintage Ferrari" - Vanessa Ferrari interview (December 2013)
"Renaissance Man"- Fabian Hambüchen cover story (December 2013)
"Crossing the Border" - Andrey Likhovitsky interview (December 2013)
"Sam I Am" - Sam Mikulak cover story (July/August 2013)
"Sudden Impact" - Victoria Moors interview (January/February 2013)
"Ready to Rise Again" – John Orozco center poster and profile (November 2012)
"Bronx Bomber" – John Orozco interview (April 2012)
Roxana Popa two-page center poster (January/February 2014)
"Full Price" - Elizabeth Price cover story (January/February 2013)
"Nervous Purvis" – Daniel Purvis profile (November 2012)
"Pure Purvis" – interview (March 2012)
Daniel Purvis cover photo (November 2011)
"Calm, Clean Style" - Sophie Scheder profile (December 2013)
"Full Force" - Giulia Steingruber interview (June 2013)

To subscribe or order back issues, click here.

Written by Amanda Turner    Sunday, 02 March 2014 02:18    PDF Print
Zakharova Cup Postponed Amid Ukrainian Crisis
(2 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

Amid an escalating political crisis in Ukraine, the 13th Stella Zakharova Cup has been postponed, and former Ukrainian gymnastics champions are speaking out against the violence. Pictured: Olympic gold medalist Stella Zakharova with the competition's mascot in 2012

Amid an escalating political crisis in Ukraine, the 13th Stella Zakharova Cup has been postponed, and former Ukrainian gymnastics champions are speaking out against the violence as the nation teeters on a brink of a civil war.

Originally scheduled for March 29-30 in the capital Kyiv, the Zakharova Cup tentatively has been pushed back to April 26-27 because of the precarious situation, an event spokesman for the event told IG.

"During these hard days, the organizing committee of the Stella Zakharova Cup have been worrying a lot about Kiev, the tournament, our international guests," the spokesman said. "And we made a decision to change the dates of the competition."

Poster for the 2013 Stella Zakharova Cup

An international sports acrobatic competition in Ukraine, originally scheduled for Feb. 25 in Vinnytsia, was canceled because of the situation.

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian Gymnastics Federation told IG its gymnasts are safe at the Ukrainian gymnastics national training center, situated outside Kyiv in the suburb Koncha-Zaspa.

"The artistic gymnastics national teams for men and women are training at Koncha-Zaspa," said Oksana Kulida, Secretary-General of the Ukrainian Gymnastics Federation. "It's a really very difficult time right now in Ukraine. I think that all Ukrainians are thankful for those who are together with them."

The Zakharova Cup is an event sanctioned by the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG), which approved the postponement on its international calendar.

"We understand all the difficulties of such changes," the tournament spokesman said, "but we as the host country have no right to allow even the minimal risk. The postponement of the tournament for a month gives us confidence that the organization will match the high international level, like it was before. Our aim is to provide our guests and gymnasts as much pleasure during the visit to Kyiv as possible."

The annual competition typically attracts gymnasts from around the world. In 2013, Russia's Aliya Mustafina and Ukraine's Oleg Vernyayev were victorious.

Stella Zakharova, a 1980 Olympic gold medalist with the Soviet team, has been outspoken on social media about the crisis, which has continued to escalate in the past month and in recent days. She has written repeatedly about the need to unite as one nation.

"Stella has her own active position and as a famous Ukrainian sportsman tries to support our nation, to stop the violence," her tournament spokesman said.

Zakharova is not the only gymnastics legend to speak out. On Sunday, Lilia Podkopayeva — European, world and Olympic all-around champion and International Gymnastics Hall of Fame inductee — spoke out on Facebook in a post that quickly went viral, generating thousands of likes and shares.

"I'm Lilia Podkopayeva," she wrote, accompanying a photo of an upside-down Ukrainian flag made of blue and yellow flowers. "Mother of two wonderful kids. Wherever we've lived, in Lviv, or in my native Donetsk, we — the women, wives, mothers — want one thing: a happy life and peaceful skies for our children. We do not want to send our husbands to war. We shudder every time a grenade explodes. We want to bring up our children in a peaceful and united Ukraine, bring up future artists, actors, honest politicians, and of course, Olympic champions. So that they, as I did, should be standing on the Olympic podium weeping with pride listening to the Ukrainian national anthem! Glory to Ukraine!"


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