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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!"

Written by Amanda Turner    Wednesday, 26 February 2014 15:00    PDF Print
Tragedy Strikes Family of Former German Olympian
(5 votes, average 3.60 out of 5)

A former German gymnastics Olympian killed his son before committing suicide on Tuesday, German media reported.

A former German Olympian killed his son before committing suicide on Tuesday, multiple German media outlets reported.

Jürgen Brümmer, a member of the West German gymnastics team at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, reportedly killed his disabled 15-year-old son before jumping to his own death off a bridge.

Brümmer's son, Simon, had been in a nursing home since being hit by a car in 2012. He suffered a severe brain injury, leaving him paralyzed and unable to speak, according to media reports.

"The son was killed; there were no visible injuries. We assume he was killed by the father," said police spokesman Michael Schaal.

Brümmer left a suicide note but its contents would not be made public, Schaal said.

The former gymnast was a nine-time West German champion and a member of the West German squad that finished eighth at the 1987 World Championships, 12th at the 1988 Olympics and 10th at the 1989 Worlds. business website, he worked with gymnasts, handball players and soccer players since establishing his own practice in 1997 in Stuttgart.

Brümmer, 49, is survived by his wife and another son, aged 16.

Written by John Crumlish    Wednesday, 26 February 2014 12:07    PDF Print
Poland's Pihan-Kulesza Sets Sights on Third Olympics
(6 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

2012 Olympic all-around finalist Marta Pihan-Kulesza told IG that, at age 26, she feels more confident than ever as she aims for the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.

“I really don’t think about my age,” said Pihan-Kulesza, who competed at the 2008 Beijing Games and finished 19th all-around at the 2012 London Games. “I don’t feel like I’m the almost-oldest one. I feel really good, so I plan to do better in Rio than in London.”

Pihan-Kulesza said her unsteady performance at last weekend’s Gymnastics Legends International meet in Los Angeles was nonetheless a positive start to her competition year.

“I changed my vault to a Yurchenko,” she said. “In my 20 years in gymnastics I never did a Yurchenko, so I tried, because I didn’t see a chance to upgrade my front vault. I also did a new floor routine. Bars and beam were awful, but this competition was experience for me. It’s the best way to prepare for an important competition.”

During her 20s, Pihan-Kulesza has won 14 medals, including five golds, at World Cup and FIG Challenge Cup events. She placed 41st all-around at last fall’s world championships in Antwerp, despite short preparation.

“After the Olympics, I decided to quit, but life changes,” said Pihan-Kulesza who completed her degree in physical therapy and is now coaching young male gymnasts. “Shortly before worlds I decided to come back.”

Pihan-Kulesza said she enters the 2014 season in good health, following treatment late last year on one of her shoulders and surgery on her left ankle. She is already looking ahead to solid results in Rio.

“I hope to make the floor final, because my floor is pretty good, and I plan to upgrade my acrobatic passes,” said Pihan-Kulesza, who performed to “The Pink Panther” at the Legends meet. “So I hope it will be great.”

Pihan-Kulesza also has high hopes for her husband and fellow 2012 Olympian, Roman Kulesza, whom she married shortly after the 2008 Games.

“Roman is still training,” she said. “He doesn’t have any competitions right now so he’s focusing on training, but I think he’s in good shape. I really hope for him to do better.”

Is Pihan-Kulesza’s other goal for the Rio Games to again join her husband on the Olympic podium?

“Yeah, of course,” she said with a cheerful laugh. “Always together.”

Written by Amanda Turner    Friday, 21 February 2014 22:21    PDF Print
Aussies Aim for Fresh Start at Nadia Comaneci International
(5 votes, average 4.40 out of 5)

After bowing out of last fall's world championships, the Australian women are aiming to show off what they can do at Saturday's Nadia Comaneci International in Oklahoma City.

Australia sent a top squad of senior and junior hopefuls to the competition in Oklahoma City, where the lineup also includes gymnasts from Canada, Romania and the United States. The annual competition is part of a weekend of sport and health events through Bart & Nadia Sports Experience.

Georgia-Rose Brown

The Australian women bypassed the world championships in 2013 — a post-Olympic year that many countries typically view as a rebuilding phase for the new quadrennium.

Two-time Australian Olympian Allana Slater, who accompanied the team as a judge, expressed confidence in her group. 2012 Olympic alternate Georgia-Rose Brown leads the team of seniors Georgia Godwin, Maddi Leydin and Kiara Munteanu.

"It's the first competition pretty much in a year for these girls," Slater said. "We took a year off for these girls to build skills back in Australia and they've done a really good job."

Slater said that because it is still early in the season, it was good to bring the gymnasts back to competition at a relaxed atmosphere.

"For the Australian girls, it is really good to get a competition in at the beginning of the season, enjoying the travel and enjoying the training and competing," Slater said. "This is a lovely event to come to. There's a lot of very friendly people, but not a lot of pressure. We get to test out a lot of new combinations and that is our aims and expectations: to just try to hit our routines."

2014 will see major events for juniors and seniors, including the Pacific Rim Championships, the II Youth Olympic Games, the Commonwealth Games and the world championships. The gymnasts brought to Oklahoma City will all be in contention, Slater said.

"They've got a lot going on, but they're tough and they can get through it," she said confidently.

The competition roster also includes gymnasts from four Canadian clubs, as well as several rising talents from WOGA. The WOGA gymnasts include foreign-born Irina Alexeeva (Russia) and Ava Verdeflor (Philippines). Alexeeva is seeking U.S. citizenship while Verdeflor hopes to represent the Philippines.

Romania sent three young gymnasts who will be seniors in 2017: Olivia Cimpian, Ioana Ciprin and Alexandra Mihai.

Former champion Jessica Lopez, the two-time Olympian from Venezuela, was expected to compete but withdrew because of injury.

International Gymnast Magazine will do live commentary on itsOfficial Facebook Page beginning 7 p.m. CST.

2014 Nadia Comaneci International Invitational
Feb. 22, Oklahoma City

Georgia Godwin Gymnastics Queensland
Georgia-Rose Brown Victorian Institute of Sport (VIS)
Maddi Leydin Victorian Institute of Sport (VIS)
Kiara Munteanu Victorian Institute of Sport (VIS)
Yasmin Collier Western Australian Institute of Sport
Aya Meggs Western Australian Institute of Sport
Darcy Norman Western Australian Institute of Sport
Mariana Colussi-Pelaez Futures Gymnastics
Rose-Kaying Woo Gym Richelieu
Victoria-Kayen Woo Gym Richelieu
Hélody Cyrenne Gym Richelieu
Lauri-Ann Demers Gym Richelieu
Montana Fairbairn Stampede
Ava Verdeflor WOGA
Olivia Cimpian Cetate Deva
Ioana Crisan Cetate Deva
Alexandra Mihai Cetate Deva
Irina Alexeeva WOGA
Jenna Dunn Bart Conner Gymnastics Academy
Alexandra Marks Bart Conner Gymnastics Academy
Victoria Loomis Denton Gymnastics
Alexis Stokes Denton Gymnastics
Alyssa LaDieu Denton Gymnastics
Asia DeWalt WOGA
Lauren Farley WOGA
Samantha Ogden WOGA
Written by John Crumlish    Sunday, 16 February 2014 12:10    PDF Print
Ferlito: 'I Do Not Consider Myself a VIP'
(22 votes, average 3.68 out of 5)

Featured in an interview in the January/February 2014 issue of International Gymnast magazine, Italian Olympian Carlotta Ferlito told IG she is unaffected by her fame in and out of the gym.

Ferlito is one of the gymnasts featured on "Gymnasts: Parallel Lives," a reality television show centering around a group of elite gymnasts training in Milan. The show debuted in October 2011 and has turned its stars into teen idols in Italy.

Ferlito with actor Johnny Depp at the 2013 Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards in Los Angeles

Last March, Nickelodeon picked Ferlito to be the Italian correspondent at the 2013 Kids' Choice Awards in Los Angeles. At the MTV Italy Awards in June, the public again voted "Parallel Lives" as Best Reality Show; Ferlito won the Sport Hero trophy over superstars Lionel Messi and Kobe Bryant.

Ferlito, who turned 19 on Saturday, says fame has not gone to her head.

"I do not consider myself a VIP or special in any way," she told IG.

Ferlito's best results to date are the all-around bronze medal at the 2010 Youth Olympic Games and the silver medal on balance beam at the 2011 European Championships. At the 2012 Olympics, she helped Italy place seventh in the team final. She finished 11th all-around at the world championships in Antwerp in October.

The success of "Parallel Lives" has increased interest in gymnastics in Italy.

"I'm happy that finally people can really understand how much diligence and sacrifice this sport requires, just like in life," Ferlito said.

To read the complete interview with Ferlito, "Taming Fame," subscribe to the digital edition of International Gymnast now or order back issues here.


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