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Written by John Crumlish    Tuesday, 20 May 2014 11:49    PDF Print
Aït Saïd Ready For Europeans Title Defense
(3 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

2013 European rings co-champion Samir Aït Saïd of France told IG he is confident about his medal prospects at the men's European championships that will begin Wednesday in Sofia.

2013 European rings co-champion Samir Aït Saïd (France) told IG he is confident about his medal prospects at the men's European championships that will begin Wednesday in Sofia.

Aït Saïd, 24, tied Ukraine's Igor Radivilov for the gold medal on rings at last spring's Europeans in Moscow.

"I want to do a really good routine and show beautiful gymnastics," he said. "And if the routine is good, then I can hope for a medal."

Aït Saïd said he also wants to help redeem France from its eighth-place finish in the team final at the 2012 Europeans in Montpellier, where a Europeans team final last took place.

In Montpellier, Aït Saïd severely injured his right leg when he crashed his Dragulescu vault. The mistake resulted in a score of zero and dropped France to last place.

"Before my injury we were in third place," he said. "My injury put the team in trouble. In Sofia, we hope to make a good competition to be in the top five."

Other French seniors scheduled to compete in Sofia are Kévin Antoniotti, Olympians Hamilton Sabot and Cyril Tommasone, and Arnaud Willig.

Although Aït Saïd is likely to face off with Radivilov and other rings specialists in Sofia, he is eager to compete with Dutch gymnast Epke Zonderland, the 2012 Olympic champion on high bar.

"I really like Zonderland," Aït Saïd told IG. "He impresses me a lot. You have to be crazy to do everything he does! I really like his gymnastics."

Competition begins Wednesday in Sofia with the junior team and qualification, and continues Thursday with the senior men's qualification.

International Gymnast Magazine Related Features:

Samir Aït Saïd interview (June 2013)
Arnaud Willig interview (January/February 2014)
"Skilled and Studious" – Epke Zonderland cover story (March 2014)
"The Flying Dutchman" – Zonderland interview (May 2010)

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

Written by John Crumlish    Monday, 19 May 2014 09:15    PDF Print
Aussie Veterans, Newcomers Have Title Potential, Says Liddick
(2 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

Australian national team head coach Peggy Liddick told IG that, while defending senior all-around champion Madelaine Leydin is not at full strength, several gymnasts should contend for titles at the Australian championships that begin Thursday in Melbourne.

"Honestly, it will be a challenge for Maddi to retain her title," said Liddick of Leydin, who has been troubled by a foot injury for the past several months. "I don't expect that she will be at full strength, although she is giving it a good go in training. I would not put that kind of pressure on her, and we spoke about this last week."

Liddick said she still looks for a steady if conservative performance from Leydin in Melbourne.

"I would expect Maddi to debut her new bars routine and perform consistently on the other apparatuses, as best she can, with the limited training she has been forced to do," Liddick said. "I would not risk any further injuries by trying to outperform her limited physical condition."

Georgia-Rose Brown

Two-time Olympian Lauren Mitchell, the 2010 world champion on floor exercise, is expected to compete on three events in Melbourne, Liddick said.

"Lauren is going from strength to strength each week," Liddick said. "I just spent last week with her in Perth and she has surpassed my expectations as to where she is, both physically and performance wise. I would expect her to debut her new beam routine and a world-class floor routine. Her vault is coming back strong as well."

2013 Australian all-around bronze medalist Georgia Godwin has had limited preparation time for the championships since she injured her ankle in training prior to the Jesolo Cup in Italy earlier this year, Liddick said.

"I would not expect Georgia to perform anything that she has not been doing in training, so her difficulty might have to be compromised for safety," Liddick said. ‘We will make that call during the podium training."

Veterans Georgia-Rose Brown, Olivia Vivian and Mary-Anne Monckton should also challenge for top positions, Liddick said.

"Georgia's training has been one of the most consistent," Liddick said of Brown, who placed fifth all-around last year. "She is relatively healthy and I would look for her to have a good nationals."

Liddick said the 24-year-old Vivian, a 2008 Olympian, is looking strong on several apparatuses.

"(Vivian’s) beam is at a 5.9 (Difficult score), and I have recently seen a few very good performances from her on that event during training," Liddick said. "Vault and floor are not her strong points, but she does like to perform them, so she does have all-around potential."

Monckton, the 2012 all-around bronze medalist, is in good form despite a recent health scare, Liddick said.

"Just two weeks ago, Mary-Anne was rushed to the hospital for a near ruptured cyst, not gymnastics related, that had to be removed arthroscopically," Liddick said. "She is back in full training again, and I expect her to shine on beam and vault."

Liddick said 2012 Olympian Larrissa Miller has title-winning potential in Melbourne.

"Larrissa will be performing on two apparatuses, uneven bars and floor," Liddick said. "She has recently added some new skills and combinations to her bars routine, and I would expect her to vie for the bars title. Larrissa will be a contender for the floor title, as well, if she can land all her tumbles cleanly."

Other gymnasts whom Liddick considers leading candidates in Melbourne include Kiara Munteanu, who placed fourth all-around last year; Isis Lowery, who placed ninth all-around in 2012; Emma Jane Nedov, the 2013 gold medalist on balance beam; and Alexandra Eade, the 2011 and 2013 junior all-around champion.

"Kiara could be a contender for the all-around title if she goes clean both rounds of competition," Liddick said. "Isis has been upgrading her difficulty and will be a contender for the vault title. Emma Jane has the potential on beam to be a world-class performer. I know she has had a renewed interest in her training and she hopes this will pay off at nationals. I look for Alex to burst onto the senior scene at nationals, as well, this year."

The championships will also play a strong part in determining the Australian squad that will try to win its fifth consecutive team title at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow this summer, Liddick said.

"The Commonwealth Games Association is requiring that the teams be named this early, for logistical reasons as per the Olympics," she said. "I would prefer to wait until the week of the actual competition, but we all have to follow the regulations. The national championships will be a major part of the criteria for selection, along with training camps and verification performances, international competition performances, international ranking and current health status. These are some of the important criteria that will be considered in naming the Commonwealth Games team."

As Liddick prepares to select her team for Glasgow, she is also considering its composition for this fall’s World Championships in Nanning.

"I am mindful of the world championships in October, as well," Liddick told IG. "So I will be considering the correct strategy for injured athletes staying home from the Commonwealth Games and preparing for Worlds in some cases. I have been given directives from my superiors that the team must be named directly after the finals on Sunday (May 25) at the competition. Team, medal chances and health, such as ability to train, will be the main criteria, while their latest competition results will be fresh in my mind."

International Gymnast magazine's recent coverage of Australian gymnasts includes:

Georgia Godwin cover photo (March 2014)
"10 Questions with Olivia Vivian" - interview (March 2011)
"Aussie Long Shot" - Daria Joura profile (July/August 2012)
Peggy Liddick interview (January/February 2011)
"Late Bloomer" - Amelia McGrath profile (October 2010)
"Golden Surprise" - Lauren Mitchell cover story (January/February 2011)
Lisa Skinner chat (September 2010)

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

Written by Amanda Turner    Sunday, 18 May 2014 16:42    PDF Print
Gymnastics Hall of Fame Honors Five Legends
(8 votes, average 4.75 out of 5)

Five gymnastics legends were honored Saturday evening at the annual International Gymnastics Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Oklahoma City. Matthias Köste (who accepted the award on behalf of his late father, inductee Klaus Köste), Jackie Fie, Frank Bare Award winner Gordan Maddox, Natalia Yurchenko and Li Yuejiu.

Five gymnastics legends were honored Saturday evening at the annual International Gymnastics Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Oklahoma City.

The 18th annual ceremony, held at Oklahoma City's Petroleum Club, formally inducted Li Yuejiu (China), Klaus Köste (Germany), Natalia Yurchenko (Russia) and Jackie Fie (United States). Former ABC Wide World of Sports commentator Gordon Maddux received the Frank Bare Award.

Chinese legend Li Yuejiu with his IGHOF ring as a member of the induction class of 2014.

The new additions bring the total number of International Gymnastics Hall of Fame inductees to 85 gymnastics legends representing 21 nations.

Li was China's first male world champion, winning floor exercise at the 1981 World Championships in Moscow. He's gone on to become a successful coach in Canada, China and the USA. Today he owns his own club, Legacy Elite, along with his wife, fellow 1984 Olympian Wu Jiani.

"I am honored to accept this award into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame," he said. "I hope my induction inspires my gymnasts at Legacy Elite and all around the world. I also want to thank my beautiful wife, Wu Jiani, and my coaches and teammates who helped me get to where I am today."

Matthias Köste accepted the posthumous award on behalf of his late father, who passed away in 2012. Klaus Köste, a three-time Olympian and the 1972 Olympic champion on vault, became a coach in East Germany after his retirement. However, he continued to compete in an adult gymnastics league well into his 60s, showing impressive skill.

"We (children) learned from him that everyone needs a dream," said Matthias, who presented a handstand sculpture to the IGHOF. "We also learned to accept victory and failure."

Matthias said his mother decided not to travel because it would be too emotional for her. But he also said his father often emphasized positivity and liked the motto, "Don't cry that they are gone; smile that they were here."

Yurchenko, who pioneered the famous round off, back handspring vault, talked of her lifelong passion for gymnastics. Coached by the legendary Vladislav Rastorotsky, she said she woke up each morning excited about going to the gym.

"All my life was dedicated to gymnastics," said Yurchenko, the 1983 world all-around champion. "I had great moments and hard times, but I would never give up that journey. It was love from first sight. All gymnasts know those feelings. It was just a passion and love for it. Every day when I came to the gym - magic. I am so grateful to my country, my parents, my coaches that I had that magic in my life."

Fie, 1956 Olympian, described her humble beginnings in gymnastics that eventually led her to judging. She went on to become the president of the Women's Technical Committee of the International Gymnastics Federation from 1993-2004.

"To be inducted into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame is a most humbling experience," she said, "but tonight to me it is a golden evening in my life."

Fie joked that she hoped her speech would be judged out of a 10.0, which brought a huge round of applause from the audience.

"Being up here is harder than judging 10 Olympics Games because my family is here," Fie said. "I just wonder if they will give me a score. I would much prefer to be judged on a 10-point system than to get a 15.7, which is meaningless to me. I held onto it as long as I could, but after I retired we lost that 10-point system and that was my biggest disappointment."

Gordon Maddux received the Frank Bare Award for his contributions to the sport. Maddux was a long-time commentator for ABC Wide of Sports. His enthusiasm and excitement during the 1972 Olympics helped make Olga Korbut a household name in the United States, promoting the popularity of the sport.

"To be honored in his name is really special to me," Maddux said. "Wish you were here, Frank."

All the inductees will have their portraits hang on the wall of the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame exhibit in Oklahoma City. The female inductees received a silver bracelet, while the male inductees each received a ring.

The honorees will extend the celebration with a trip to Las Vegas, where the planned festivities include behind-the-scenes visits to two Cirque du Soleil show.

External Link: International Gymnastics Hall of Fame

Written by John Crumlish    Saturday, 10 May 2014 06:57    PDF Print
Berger Has Finals in Focus For Europeans
(6 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

2012 Olympic vault finalist Janine Berger of Germany told IG that she is aiming for team and apparatus finals at the upcoming European Championships.

Berger with her gold medal on vault from the 2014 Tournament of Masters in Cottbus
2012 Olympic vault finalist Janine Berger of Germany told IG that she is aiming for team and apparatus finals at the European Championships, which begin Monday in Sofia.

"The goal for our team is to show an excellent competition," said Berger, who finished fourth on vault at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. "If our routines function the way they should, we will hopefully qualify for the team final. Individually I am looking for two good and secure vaults. If all goes well, that could be good enough for the final."

Berger, who missed last year's Europeans in Moscow because of a knee injury, said she is particularly optimistic about her chances on her best apparatus. Earlier this year, she won vault at the Tournament of Masters, a World Challenge Cup held in Cottbus.

"I am indeed focusing a bit more on my vault, especially on having a clean technique and a secure landing," she said. "Nevertheless I am training on other apparatuses as well."

No team competition took place at last year's Europeans, but Berger said Germany should at least match its eighth-place finish in the team final at the 2012 Europeans in Brussels.

"I believe our chances for reaching the team final are really good, because we have a great team," she told IG. "We support each other, complement one another on the different apparatuses, and have a positive and team-oriented mindset. We will give our best and then see where that takes us."

International Gymnast magazine's recent features on German women's gymnastics include:

"Tough Lesson" - Janine Berger interview (October 2012)
Kim Bui interview (April 2013)
"New View from the Top" - Lisa Katharina Hill profile (July/August 2013)
"Leaps and Bounds for Germany" - Nadine Jarosch profile (January/February 2012)
Steffi Kräker interview/Hall of Fame induction feature (June 2011)
"Calm, Clean Style" - Sophie Scheder profile (December 2013)
"Seizing the Moment" - Elisabeth Seitz interview (July/August 2011)

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

Written by Amanda Turner    Wednesday, 07 May 2014 23:47    PDF Print
FIG to Aid Ukraine's Trip to Europeans
(6 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

The International Gymnastics Federation will help fund the Ukrainian team's trip to the upcoming European championships in Sofia, the FIG confirmed to IG on Thursday. Pictured: Oleg Vernyayev (Ukraine)

The International Gymnastics Federation will help fund the Ukrainian team's trip to the upcoming European championships in Sofia, the FIG confirmed to IG late Wednesday.

"The [Executive Committee] voted for a fund to help the Ukrainian gymnasts to participate in Sofia," FIG Press Officer Philippe Silacci told IG.

Earlier this week, the Ukrainian Gymnastics Federation announced it had failed to secure the 38,000 euros needed for the trip from the Ukraine's sports ministry. The federation, struggling in a nation embroiled in political crisis, appealed to the FIG for emergency assistance to help fund the delegation's trip to Sofia.

Igor Korobchinsky, vice president of the Ukrainian Gymnastics Federation, said Wednesday the FIG had promised to assist the federation with an interest-free loan to cover its costs and expenses. The 2014 Europeans, which begin Monday, serves as a qualifying competition for the 2014 Youth Olympic Games and 2015 European Games.

Korobchinsky was among several gymnastics officials and coaches who gathered for a press conference Wednesday called "The Crisis in Ukrainian Sports." The team needs a long-term solution for funding its program, they said.

Women's coach Oksana Slyusarchuk described the national training center as in a terrible state of disrepair, with only one gym to accommodate the junior and senior national teams for both men and women.

Igor Radivilov, a bronze medalist on vault at the 2012 Olympics and the 2013 co-European champion on still rings, said the equipment is unsafe.

"It's easy to get injured on such apparatus, but then there's nowhere to be treated and, more importantly, nothing to be treated with," Radivilov said. "We don't even have enough chalk or a regular bandage. The first-aid kit is empty. The team doctor just shrugs because he wasn't given any medication."

The annual Stella Zakharova Cup, which had originally been moved from March to April because of the political crisis, was postponed until September. Zakharova said she had secured some of the funding but not all of it.

Although independent Ukraine has won more than a dozen Olympic medals in gymnastics since 1992, the Sports Ministry's annual funding for the sport amounts to approximately half a million dollars, officials said.

"It's crushing," said Korobchinsky, himself a world and Olympic champion. "It's nothing compared with what they have in gymnastics' leading powers - like the U.S., China, Japan and Russia. We don't have to go too far to see [better conditions] even in neighboring Poland and Romania. And we are still trying to compete with all of them!"


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