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Written by John Crumlish    Friday, 06 December 2013 16:04    PDF Print
Nichols Ends 2013 With Pride, Enters 2014 With Confidence
(4 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

IG Online kicks off its annual series of holiday-themed features with U.S. gymnast Maggie Nichols, who finished her 2013 competitive season with a successful performance at the recent Mexican Open in Acapulco.

Although her scores did not count in the official all-around standings, U.S. gymnast Maggie Nichols told IG she was pleased with her unofficial second-place ranking at the Mexican Open, held Nov. 29-30 in Acapulco.

Maggie Nichols (U.S.)

"I was very proud of my performance," said the 16-year-old Nichols, who trains under head coach Sarah Jantzi at Twin City Twisters in Champlin, Minn. "I had three amazing events on which I improved from previous competitions. The one thing I want to improve upon is staying calm and focused on beam."

Nichols said the key to her success in Acapulco was "to not over-think it and just have fun with the competition," which featured 2013 world all-around finalist Roxana Popa of Spain, U.S. teammate Peyton Ernst and six-time Olympian Oksana Chusovitina of Uzbekistan.

Popa, Ernst and Chusovitina finished first, second and third, respectively, in Acapulco. Nichols’ scores factored into only the mixed-pairs event, in which she teamed with Brazil’s Francisco Barreto to finish fifth. 2013 was a breakthrough year for Nichols, who finished 11th all-around in the junior division at the 2012 Visa (U.S.) Championships.

Nichols placed sixth all-around and second on floor exercise at the City of Jesolo Trophy meet in Italy on March 23; and fourth all-around at the U.S./Romania/Germany tri-meet in Chemnitz, Germany, on March 30. In both meets she also won a gold medal as a member of the winning U.S. team. Nichols finished fifth all-around, fifth on balance beam and sixth on uneven bars at the P&G (U.S.) Championships in August.

Despite Nichols’s success this year, she said securing her position on the U.S. team in 2014 will require her "to get more and more consistent and clean."

Nichols said she is looking forward to the upcoming holidays, after she spent Thanksgiving abroad during the competition in Acapulco.

"It didn't exactly feel like Thanksgiving because I wasn't with my family, but it was fun celebrating it in Mexico," she said.

Nichols said she looks forward to spending Christmas with loved ones, however.

"We just spend quality time catching up," she said. "We go to Mass and just enjoy family."

Outside of more gymnastics success in 2014, Nichols has other resolutions for the new year.

"I would like to try and get to church more, and spend more time with family!" she told IG.

International Gymnast magazine’s recent coverage of U.S. women’s gymnastics includes:
"10 Questions with Diane Amos" – interview with coach (September 2011) "10 Questions with Kim Hamilton Anthony" – interview with former gymnast/author (March 2010)
"Lights, Camera, Baskett" – Kristina Baskett update (June 2012)
Simone Biles chat (April 2013)
Simone Biles cover photo (September 2013)
Simone Biles four-page center poster (November 2013)
"10 Questions with Mihai Brestyan" – interview with coach (January/February 2013)
Rebecca Bross cover photo (July/August 2011)
"The Great Gabby" – Gabrielle Douglas profile (March 2011)
Gabrielle Douglas cover photo (April 2012)
Gabrielle Douglas chat (April 2012)
Gabrielle Douglas on cover photo collage (July/August 2012)
Gabrielle Douglas four-page center poster (September 2012)
"Gabbing with Gabby" – Gabrielle Douglas interview (October 2012)
"Gabby Gallery" – Gabrielle Douglas five-page photo spread (November 2012)
"Steady Influence" – Rhonda Faehn feature (April 2011)
"10 Questions with Rhonda Faehn" – interview with coach (December 2012)
Coach Maggie Haney interview (October 2013)
"Catching up with Michelle Goodwin" – profile (April 2011)
"Expressing Herself" – Laurie Hernandez profile (October 2013)
Kytra Hunter cover photo (May 2012)
"One on One: Shawn Johnson" – interview (January/February 2010)
"Texas Dreams’ Junior Hit" – Bailie Key profile (May 2013)
"Rebound" – Mattie Larson interview (March 2011)
"Valiant Effort" – Anna Li interview (December 2012)
"It’s Showtime" – McKayla Maroney profile (May 2011)
"Maroney on the Mend" – McKayla Maroney interview (January/February 2013)
Dominique Moceanu interview (July/August 2012)
"Sky’s the Limit" – Katelyn Ohashi cover story (October 2011)
Katelyn Ohashi cover photo (April 2013)
"10 Questions with Sarah Patterson" – interview with coach (November 2011)
Elizabeth Price cover story (January/February 2013)
"Young Reliable" – Alexandra Raisman profile (April 2011)
Alexandra Raisman two-age center poster (December 2012)
Kyla Ross cover photo (November 2012)
"Focus Forward – Kyla Ross interview (November 2012)
Bridget Sloan cover photo (May 2013)
Bridget Sloan chat (May 2013)
"10 Questions with Mary Lee Tracy" – interview with coach (October 2012)
"The USA Reloads for Rio" – cover photo collage and feature on U.S. junior team (October 2013)
Jordyn Wieber cover photo and chat (April 2011)
Jordyn Wieber cover photo (September 2011)
Jordyn Wieber cover photo (December 2011)
Jordyn Wieber cover photo (April 2012)
Jordyn Wieber on cover photo collage (July/August 2012)
"Tears to Triumph" – Jordyn Wieber interview (October 2012)
"Shooting Star" – Grace Williams profile (September 2011)
"Vintage Greats" – Hall of Fame induction feature including Kim Zmeskal Burdette (June 2012)
"Don’t Wake Me" – Kim Zmeskal Burdette feature (October 2013)

To subscribe or order back issues, click here.

Written by Amanda Turner    Sunday, 01 December 2013 22:54    PDF Print
Kysla Wins One-of-a-Kind $10,000 Leotard
(6 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

Ukrainian gymnast Angelina Kysla finished fifth all-around Saturday evening at the 3rd Mexico Open in Acapulco, but her artistry brought her a very valuable prize: a customized leotard valued at approximately $10,000.

Angelina Kysla (Ukraine)

Ukrainian gymnast Angelina Kysla finished fifth all-around Saturday evening at the 3rd Mexico Open in Acapulco, but her artistry brought her a very valuable prize.

An expert panel that included Olympic gymnastics legends Nadia Comaneci (Romania) and Svetlana Boginskaya (Belarus) chose Kysla as the winner of the GK Prize for Elegance among the female gymnasts in Acapulco.

Her reward? A one-of-a-kind white leotard valued at approximately $10,000.

The leotard is made with GK's "Mystique" fabric, which is a nylon spandex with a foil finish. But the leotard is also covered with hundreds of Swarovski crystals, giving the leotard its rare value.

Kysla's coach, Inna Korobchinskaya, said they were thrilled with the surprise reward.

"As a coach, I am very pleased that my gymnast was chosen as the most elegant, and doubly pleased that such outstanding gymnasts as Nadia Comaneci and Svetlana Boginskaya picked her!" Korobchinskaya told IG on Sunday. "And I also want to say thank you to the GK company for such a unique prize."

The 22-year-old Kysla, a member of the Ukrainian team at the 2011 and 2013 world championships, showed off the leotard Sunday on the beach in Acapulco. She did a spontaneous photoshoot with IG, including posing with Korobchinskaya and Olympic champion Lilia Podkopayeva, who was also in Acapulco after taking part in the first national coaching clinic in Mexico.

Wearing her one-of-a-kind leotard, Kysla poses on the beach Sunday in Acapulco with 1996 Olympic champian Lilia Podkopayeva and coach Inna Korobchinskaya.
Written by John Crumlish    Thursday, 28 November 2013 23:06    PDF Print
Tsang Set For 'Solid Competition' in Stuttgart
(2 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

Canada's Briannah Tsang told IG she is confident and determined to perform to her potential at this weekend's DTB Cup team competition in Stuttgart. Pictured: Tsang with clubmate Scott Morgan, flanked by coaches Vasi Corsariu and Dorina Stan, pose at the 2013 Anadia World Challenge Cup in Portugal.

Canada's Briannah Tsang told IG she is confident and determined to perform to her potential at this weekend's DTB Cup in Stuttgart.

"My goal for the DTB Cup is to have a solid competition," she said. "I want to perform the routines I have been doing well in training with the best job I can, among some of the best gymnasts in the world."

Tsang is a member of the Canadian team that competes in the DTB Cup team qualification. The top four teams advance to Sunday's finals. She is also slated to compete in the FIG all-around World Cup on Saturday.

Born Jan. 26, 1996, in Vancouver, Tsang trains at Flicka Gymnastics in North Vancouver, where her coaches are David Kenwright on vault and uneven bars, Dorina Stan on balance beam and choreography, and Vasi Corsariu on floor exercise.

Tsang has earned her best historical results on vault, on which she placed first at the 2009 Junior Elite Canada meet, 2010 International Gymnix Youth Cup, 2010 Canadian Junior Championships, 2010 Elite Canada meet, 2011 Canada Winter Games and 2013 Elite Canada meet.

Earlier this year Tsang placed second on vault and 10th all-around at the Canadian Championships; and sixth on vault and seventh on floor exercise at the FIG Challenge Cup of Anadia, Portugal.

Tsang credits several factors for her success in 2013.

"I have had fewer injuries to deal with this year and my back issues are under control, so I believe that has contributed to my successes," she said. "Also, I have had enormous support from my coaches, teammates, and family." Next year will bring Tsang to a new phase of her gymnastics life.

"I plan to start university at Penn State in the fall of 2014, so I will be transitioning from an international gymnastics career to a college gymnastics career," she said.

For now, however, Tsang is concentrating on Stuttgart.

"My mindset for this meet will be the same as for any other," she told IG. "I'll be relying on my physical and mental preparation."

International Gymnast magazine's coverage of Canadian female gymnasts over the last decade includes:
"Gotta Dance!" – Sandra Botnen/Sasha Ivanochko profile (December 2004)
"Aiming to Top the Charts" - Maegan Chant interview (October 2013)
"Canadian Diversity" - Ellie Black profile (July/August 2013)
"Black to Business" - Ellie Black interview (November 2012)
Madeline Gardiner, Anysia Unick and Victoria Moors cover photo (March 2011)
"Candid Canadians" - Madeline Gardiner interview (September 2011)
"A Gymnastics Jet-Setter" – Jordan Harvie (May 2004)
"All in a Day's Work" - Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs profile (March 2007)
"Catching up with... Larissa Lowing Libby" (August/September 2004)
Christine Peng-Peng Lee interview (April 2011)
"A Passion for Performing" - Christine Peng-Peng Lee profile (June 2005)
Gael Mackie profile (July/August 2011)
"Canadian Standout" – Gael Mackie profile (January 2003)
"Pride for Family and Canada" – Charlotte Mackie profile (November 2006)
"Sudden Impact" - Victoria Moors interview (January/February 2013)
"10 Questions with Carol-Angela Orchard" (May 2011)
"Pegg Much More Motivated" – Dominique Pegg profile (March 2010)
"Plante in Bloom" – Amélie Plante profile (June/July 2003)
"Staying Power" – Heather Purnell profile (May 2003)
"Uneven Parallels" – Kate Richardson/Yvonne Tousek profile (March 2004)
"Confident Canadian" - Brittany Rogers interview (May 2012)
"Shooting Star" – Brittany Rogers profile (July/August 2007)
"Savona Surges into Recovery" – Jessica Savona short profile (October 2011)
"Work in Progress" – Sydney Sawa profile (September 2009)
"Holding Pattern" – Richelle Simpson interview (April 2004)
Richelle Simpson cover photo (January 2004)
Richelle Simpson center poster (June/July 2003)
"Catching up with... Lori Strong Ballard" (June 2012)
Jennifer Wood update (June/July 2004)
"Stage Flight" - Yvonne Tousek update (November 2010)
"Veteran Presence" - Kristina Vaculik profile (July/August 2010)
Kristina Vaculik cover photo (April 2010)
"Canadian Conquerors" – Kristina Vaculik profile (September 2007)

To subscribe or order back issues, click here.

Written by John Crumlish    Thursday, 28 November 2013 18:22    PDF Print
Oldham Ready to Go in Stuttgart, Glasgow
(2 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

2013 Olympic bronze medalist Sam Oldham of Great Britain told IG that, after injuries hampered him at this fall's world championships, he is healthy and ready for success at DTB-Pokal in Stuttgart and Glasgow World Cup.

Sam Oldham (Great Britain)

Oldham will take part in the team competition in Stuttgart, which begins Friday in Stuttgart with the qualification &mash; and held in conjuction with the Stuttgart all-around World Cup. He will also compete at next weekeend's Glasgow World Cup.

"My goals for DTB are firstly for the team to make the final, and then my personal target is to perform clean routines and use it as a warm-up for the Glasgow World Cup the following week," said Oldham, a member of the bronze medal-winning British team at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. "This competition gives me my first opportunity to compete on all six apparatuses internationally. It also gives me and my teammates the chance to compete as team for the first time this year, as it has been solely individual at both major championships."

Oldham, who placed second on horizontal bar and fourth on floor exercise at this spring's European championships in Moscow, said a pair of injured ankles hindered him in the lead-up to this fall's world championships in Antwerp.

"My preparation through the summer went very well," said Oldham, the 2010 European junior all-around champion. "My routines were strong enough to be competitive with the world's top all-arounders. Unfortunately, the week of our final trial, I landed extremely short on floor, jamming both of my ankles. I couldn't walk for two days and spent the whole week off routines. Under the circumstances I competed as well as I could, but it was obviously a very frustrating time for me."

Despite competing on only floor exercise in Antwerp, Oldham said he feels strong and confident for Stuttgart and Glasgow.

"Right now my ankles are doing well," he said. "I have to strap up the left one for floor and vault, but they get stronger each week. My level of fitness right now is very good."

Oldham said he has had no problem staying focused and enthusiastic for two major competitions so late in the year.

"For me it has been rather easy to get motivated for this competition and Glasgow the week after," he told IG. "I see this as my chance to get out there and produce the performances I'm capable of and have trained for this whole year. The routines will give an indication of the level I am looking to compete at throughout 2014."

International Gymnast magazine's recent coverage of British gymnasts and coaches includes:

Sam Oldham on cover photo collage (July/August 2010)
Sam Oldham interview (June 2010)
"Welsh Wisdom" - Raer Theaker profile (October 2013)
"European Brilliance" - Ruby Harrold interview (September 2013)
"Lord Max" – Max Whitlock interview (June 2013)
"Shooting Star" – Brinn Bevan profile (June 2013)
"The Good Shepherd" – Ed van Hoof interview (April 2013)
"Nervous Purvis" – Daniel Purvis profile (November 2012)
"British Blitz" – 2012 European Men's Championships coverage (June 2012)
"Divide and Conquer" – Kristian Thomas interview (May 2012)
"Pure Purvis" – Daniel Purvis interview (March 2012)
Imogen Cairns, British men's team on cover photo collage (March 2012)
"No Turning Back Now" – Imogen Cairns profile (January/February 2012)
"Lilleshall: Backstage in Britain" – cover story on British national program (November 2011)
Daniel Purvis cover photo (November 2011)
"Sibling Revelry" – Angel and Venus Romaeo profile (September 2010)
"Bright for Britain" – Niamh Rippin profile (July/August 2010)
"10 Questions with Paul Hall" – interview (January/February 2010)
Neil Thomas update (December 2009)
Beth Tweddle cover photo (September 2009)
"The British Invasion" – Beth Tweddle profile, Hannah Whelan profile, Becky Downie profile, Daniel Keatings interview, Louis Smith profile, Daniel Purvis profile, Daniel Keatings center poster (June 2009)
"10 Questions with Adrian Stan" – interview (June 2009)
"Royal Treatment" – Louis Smith profile (December 2008)
"Royal Ambitions" – Marissa King interview (April 2008)

To subscribe or order back issues, click here.

Written by Amanda Turner    Thursday, 28 November 2013 04:01    PDF Print
Azerbaijan Recruits Three Russian Gymnasts
(9 votes, average 4.56 out of 5)

Olympians Anna Pavlova and Konstantin Pluzhnikov will now represent Azerbaijan internationally, as will 2011 Russian world team member Yulia Inshina, the FIG announced Thursday.

Russia Olympians Anna Pavlova and Konstantin Pluzhnikov will represent Azerbaijan internationally, as will 2011 Russian world team member Yulia Inshina, the FIG announced Thursday.

The International Gymnastics Federation officially announced the changes of nationality for six artistic gymnastics on Thursday in its bulletin.

The popular Pavlova, a 2004 and 2008 Olympian, has not represented Russia in a major competition since the 2008 Olympics. Now 26, she has continued training and competing regularly and successfully but in smaller international invitationals. She has suffered from knee injuries, including a torn ACL following the the 2008 Olympics.

The 26-year-old Pluzhnikov, a 2008 Olympian and the 2011 European champion on still rings, reportedly decided to compete for Azerbaijan a year ago when rival rings specialist Alexander Balandin was chosen instead to represent Russia at the Olympics in London.

Inshina, 18, was a member of Russia's silver-medal squad from the 2011 World Championships in Tokyo, where she finished sixth in the balance beam final.

The former Soviet republic of Azerbaijan, which has a population under 10 million, has achieved tremendous success in rhythmic gymnastics with imported Russians Aliya Garavayeva, who won eight world and five European medals, and world medalists Dinara Gimatova and Anna Gurbanova. Mehriban Aliyeva, the wife of the president of Azerbaijan, became president of the Azerbaijan Gymnastics Federation in 2002.

The oil-rich nation has not yet had a strong presence in artistic gymnastics, however, but has been attempting to recruit gymnasts from abroad.

Two-time Russian Olympian Anna Pavlova will now represent Azerbaijan.

Athletes switching nationalities for ethnic reasons or financial support is nothing new in sports, but Azerbaijan has openly adopted the practice of recruiting athletes, which erupted in an epic bidding battle prior to the 2012 Olympics. Azerbaijan agreed to pay more than $500,000 for two Bulgarian weightlifters, Boyanka Kostova and Valentin Hristov, to switch nationalities. However, when Bulgarian officials realized the change of nationality would occur prior to the Olympics, the Bulgarian federation reportedly demanded more money. The weightlifters eventually represented Azerbaijan in London, where Hristov won the bronze medal, the first for an Azeri athlete in the sport.

Azerbaijan also announced its intention to pump up its presence at the upcoming Winter Olympics.

"Azerbaijan will be represented by four athletes in the upcoming 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi," Youth and Sports Minister Azad Rahimov said at a press conference in September. "Of course, it is not enough. The country has all the necessary conditions for the development of winter sports, so we can start to prepare the athletes. For now, we are holding negotiations with several sports federations to recruit athletes and coaches."

2012 Ukrainian Olympians Nikolai Kuksenkov (who now represents Russia) and Oleg Vernyayev both said they turned down lucrative offers to represent Azerbaijan.

The most famous gymnast to come from Azerbaijan to date is Valery Belenky, a gold and bronze medalist for the Unified team at the 1992 Olympic Games. At the 1993 World Championships, Belenky competed under no flag as Azerbaijan had not yet established an independent gymnastics federation with the FIG. He later went on to represent Germany, where he has since become a successful coach to two-time Olympic medalist Marcel Nguyen.

Shakir Shikhaliyev represented Azerbaijan at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. He lives and trains in Germany, where he is coached by Anatoly Yarmovsky, coach of Belenky and the legendary Alexander Dityatin.

The Azeri capital of Baku has played host to several major rhythmic events, including the world championships in 2005, and the European championships in 2007, 2009 and will again in 2014.

Baku also will be the site of the inaugural European Games, a new multi-sport event set to take place in 2015. The massive event will feature some 7,000 athletes representing 49 European nations in at least 18 sports.

Russia's depth has allowed more than a few gymnasts to continue their careers in other countries, including Andrei Likhovitsky and Dmitry Barkalov for Belarus, Daria Yelizarova for Uzbekistan and Yevgenia Kuznetsova for Bulgaria. Ukraine's Viktoria Karpenko and Yaroslav Vovk also ended up in Bulgaria. Two-time Ukrainian Olympian Alina Kozich ended her career competing for Uzbekistan in 2009.

The FIG also announced that former U.S. junior national team member Sophina De Jesus will represent Puerto Rico internationally. She is currently a freshman at the University of California at Los Angeles. Eileen Diaz also went from the U.S. junior national team to represent Puerto Rico at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.

In addition, former British national team member Cameron MacKenzie now will represent South Africa. MacKenzie was born in South Africa but spent 10 years living in Britain and training at the Huntingdon Gymnastics Club. He placed sixth in the senior all-around at the 2013 British Championships in Liverpool.

Sweden's Oskar Kirmes, 17, is now representing Finland. He lives and trains in Espoo, Finland, where his father, Mati Kirmes, is a coach. Oskar's younger brother Robert Kirmes is also a gymnast.

Read a profile on Likhovitsky in the December 2013 issue of International Gymnast Magazine, and "Still a Stunner," a profile on Pavlova, in the December 2012 issue. To subscribe or order back issues, click here.


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