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Written by dwight normile    Tuesday, 10 January 2017 08:40    PDF Print
Sacchi Seeks Solutions To 'Keep Our Sport Beautiful'
(3 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

In an exclusive interview in the January/February 2017 issue of International Gymnast magazine, recently elected FIG Women’s Technical Committee President Donatella Sacchi said she is eager to devise ways to improve the sport.

"I would like to continue to push for fair competition, giving the judges the knowledge and the confidence to give the correct scores,” she said. “I would like to improve the collaboration between judges and coaches—we are not fighting each other, but we can cooperate to keep our sport beautiful. I would like to give opportunity to gymnasts with different abilities to compete for top scores. How? I’m thinking about it.”

Sacchi (SAH-kee), who lives in Novara, Italy, knows gymnastics. She was the 1973 Italian Novice champion and competed in the 1976 Montreal Olympics. She's coached both the Italian junior and senior teams, and has judged the Olympics and world championships. She also has a great sense of humor, judging by her response to how she became a gymnast.

"I became a gymnast by chance. My parents were coaches, and when I was 9 years old my mom said, 'For the club team, we need one gymnast for vault. You have strong legs. Come, train and compete.' It was not a request, it was an order. So, I started, but I didn't like to make weight."

Read the complete interview in the January/February 2017 issue. To subscribe to the print and/or digital edition, or to purchase a back issue, click here.

Written by John Crumlish    Sunday, 08 January 2017 20:34    PDF Print
Kocian Revels in Collegiate Debut
(8 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

2016 Olympic gold and silver medalist Madison Kocian made her collegiate gymnastics debut for UCLA in Los Angeles on Saturday.

After winning the all-around in her collegiate gymnastics debut for UCLA on Saturday, 2016 Olympic gold and silver medalist Madison Kocian told IG she enjoyed the successful launch of this new phase of her career.

Kocian, a member of the gold medal-winning U.S. team and winner of the silver medal on uneven bars at last summer's Rio Games, led UCLA to victory over the University of Arkansas on Saturday at Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles. She won the all-around title and tied for first place on uneven bars, balance beam and floor exercise.

"It was a big transition with a new team and new coaches and everything like that, but it's nice to have a little bit of something different," said Kocian, the 2015 co-world champion on uneven bars. "I'm really excited just to be out there. I really had fun."

Kocian, whose UCLA teammates include fellow freshman and 2012 Olympic team gold medalist Kyla Ross, said the presence of Rio teammate Simone Biles at Saturday's meet inspired and relaxed her. Biles won four gold medals, including the all-around, in Rio.

"I saw Simone after bars, so I was actually halfway through the meet," said Kocian, whose classes this quarter include Life Sciences, English Composition, Rhetoric and Language, and Holocaust: History and Memory. "Yesterday she told me she would be on the sidelines cheering me on and just to remember to have fun, because that's the most important thing. She was really excited to see my floor routine because college gymnastics is a whole different style from elite. She really enjoyed it. She said, 'It was so cute!'"

Written by dwight normile    Friday, 06 January 2017 08:43    PDF Print
Losing Olympic Gold Helped Raducan ‘Know Myself Better’
(3 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

Andreea Raducan of Romania visited the IG offices in December and sat down for an exclusive interview, which will appear in the January/February 2017 issue. Among other questions she was asked if anything positive resulted from her being stripped of the 2000 Olympic all-around gold medal.

"Oh yeah, of course. I remember very well our first Olympic title in the team final since ’84," said Raducan. "Everybody was really excited after we won the gold medal. And even with this moment with the Nurofen (which was administered by a team doctor and included pseudoephedrine, banned by the IOC but not the FIG), it was, of course, tough. "But even though I lost the gold medal, I understand how people can support and what that means. It also helped me to know myself better and understand how [to rise above] these kinds of bad situations. That helped me to understand many things in my life.”

Read the complete interview with Raducan in the January 2017 issue. To subscribe to the print and/or digital editions of International Gymnast, click here.

Written by John Crumlish    Saturday, 31 December 2016 15:08    PDF Print
Iceland's Odinsdottir Revels In History-Making 2016
(6 votes, average 4.33 out of 5)

International Gymnast Online's annual year-end tradition of holiday-themed features continues with this update from Iceland's Tinna Odinsdottir, whose results in 2016 gave her good reasons to celebrate.

Although veteran Icelandic gymnast Tinna Odinsdottir made finals at two World Challenge Cup meets this year, her team's success at the Nordic Championships and European Championships count as her most satisfying achievements of 2016.

Tinna Odinsdottir (Iceland)

"My favorite moment of this season was winning the Nordic Championships with my team," said Odinsdottir, who turned 22 on November 3. "It was the first time ever for Team Iceland to win the senior team competition. It was such an honor to be a part of this great team. We all got into the finals and all got on the podium. It only got better when I got a silver medal on floor, something I really didn't expect. And 14th place at the European Championships in Bern was the best result ever for Team Iceland."

Odinsdottir, who finished eighth on uneven bars at the World Challenge Cup of Ljubljana in April and seventh on floor exercise at the World Challenge Cup of Cottbus in November, said the milestones she achieved in 2016 have inspired her for the coming year.

"This year was amazing and really reminded me why I do gymnastics," said Odinsdottir, who trains in Aarhus, Denmark, under Dutch coach Rene Poutsma. "There is nothing better then getting a good result after working so hard."

As Odinsdottir aims for the major meets of 2017, she plans to upgrade her routines and make them consistent.

"My biggest goals for next year are making it to the European Championships in Romania and World Championships in Canada, and having good competitions there," she said. "I'm upgrading my D-score on vault, bars and floor, and focusing on stabilization."

Odinsdottir is celebrating Christmas and New Year's Eve in Denmark with her family and boyfriend, but noted the unusual holiday tradition of her native Iceland.

"Normally people are used to having one Santa Claus, but in Iceland we have 13," she said. "One by one, they come from the mountains to town and put small presents in children's shoes. Every Santa Claus has a different name. ‘Kertasníkir' is a Santa that sometimes steals candles. Some children put a candle in their shoe as a present for him. Our Santas were considered to be thieves and thought to know magic. But through the years they have changed and started to give children small presents during the 13 days before Christmas."

Improving her gymnastics is only one of Odinsdottir's ambitions for 2017.

"I just want to do things that makes me happy, and be around people who make me happy," she said. "I'm going to do my very best in everything I do, and by that I will reach my goals."

International Gymnast magazine's coverage of Icelandic gymnastics includes:
"Icelandic Warm-up" - feature on IG's visit to Icelandic clubs (November 2012)
"She's Keeping Her Cool" - Sigridur Bergthorsdottir profile (October 2012)

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

Written by Amanda Turner    Friday, 30 December 2016 15:48    PDF Print
Whitlock, Van Hoof Earn British Honors
(3 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

British gymnast Max Whitlock and coach Eddie Van Hoof will receive honors from Queen Elizabeth II as part of the 2017 New Year Honors, announced Friday. Both were named as Members of the Order of the British Empire (MBE).

Max Whitlock with his Olympic all-around bronze medal (Great Britain)

Whitlock made history for British gymnastics at the Olympics this past summer, winning gold medals on floor exercise and pommel horse, and the bronze in individual all-around. His gold was the first for a British gymnast, and he became the first Brit to medal in the all-around medal in 108 years. Whitlock is also the first British male gymnast to become world champion, winning pommel horse at the 2015 World Championships in Glasgow.

Now officially known as Max Whitlock MBE, the most successful British gymnast of all time said he was thrilled with the recognition.

"It is a great feeling now to see it on the name card – the three letters after my name – and it gives me a lot of motivation," said Whitlock, 23. "For me, it's a crazy feeling and I feel so, so proud. It does motivate me a lot to move forward to set more targets and go again for another four or eight years."

Van Hoof is the head coach and technical director of the men's team for British Gymnastics. He has overseen a period of tremendous success for men's gymnastics in Great Britain, which has shot to prominence over the past decade and is now one of the top powers internationally. The team won the silver medal behind Japan in Glasgow, and Whitlock, Louis Smith (pommel horse silver) and Nile Wilson (high bar bronze) all picked up medals in Rio.

Previous gymnastics recipients honored by Queen Elizabeth include British stars Smith, Neil Thomas and Beth Tweddle, who were all awarded MBEs. Gym owners Leonard and Yvonne Arnold, who sold their home to fund a new gym prior to the 2012 Olympic Games, were awarded OBEs (Officer of the Order of the British Empire), as was Tweddle's coach, Amanda Reddin. Smith's coach Paul Hall earned an MBE.

The UK had a record performance at the Olympics in Rio, finishing second in the medal table behind only the United States. Tennis star Andy Murray and athletes Jessica Ennis-Hill and Mo Farah were among those receiving the highest honours in the New Year's list, with Murray and Farah earning knighthoods and Ennis-Hill made a dame.


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