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Written by John Crumlish    Wednesday, 15 April 2009 22:40    PDF Print
Käslin Stays Steady in Swiss Spotlight
(27 votes, average 4.74 out of 5)

Two weeks after making Swiss gymnastics history at the European Championships in Milan, Ariella Käslin told IG she continues to enjoy her fame and stay focused on her training.

Käslin with her vault gold medal at the 2009 European Championships

"The media attention was huge," said Käslin, whose gold medal on vault and bronze medal in the all-around at the Europeans in Milan (April 2-5) were the first medals for the Swiss women in the competition's history. "Luckily I enjoy being in the spotlight. I have fun doing interviews and photo shoots. My dealing with the media is informal. I know most of the people from the media in person by now, and notice how they are feverish with me and support me."

Käslin's performances in Milan escalated her fame in Switzerland, where her fifth-place finish on vault at last summer's Beijing Olympics helped earn her Sportswoman of the Year honors for 2008.

Following the Europeans, Käslin returned to Switzerland via train. She was greeted at the station by officials from her hometown of Lucerne, officials from her current residence of Meggen, and flag-waving club mates and friends. The crowd accompanied Käslin to the Europaplatz for a ceremony.

"It was a short celebration with speeches, honors and congratulations," said the 21-year-old Käslin. "It was very friendly."

Of the two medals Käslin won in Milan, she said the all-around medal was particularly satisfying.

"The medal on vault almost was a 'must' for me, but the medal in the all-around was a very nice surprise," she told IG this week. "I knew I would be able to reach a great ranking without mistakes, but that it would be a place on the podium. That is something I didn`t care about before. This has to do with my goal-setting, also. I don`t evaluate my goals by points or placings, but with the fact that I give everything I have on day 'X.'"

Known as a strong vaulter, Käslin credited diligence and consistency to her all-around success at Europeans.

"On beam I have a high Start Value for a long time already, but most of the time precision was still a handicap there," she said. "With repetitions and experience I was able to improve on that, and so I had a good beam routine. On bars I was able to add another flight element on which I had been working for a longer time already. Floor is not my best event, but if I manage to get through without mistakes, it`s OK."

Käslin said she has yet to determine which changes she will make to her program for the 2009 World Championships, to be held Oct. 13-18 in London.

"I just go on working hard on my routines," she said. "In which exact direction things will go, I will only know once my trainers and I organize the definitive planning. We will see about that once I have recovered from the strains of Europeans."

As her fame rises in Switzerland, Käslin said several factors keep her focused and level-headed.

"It`s now also the job of my management to keep my head free for my future career," Käslin said. "I have very good surroundings, and I think that`s very good. I was already able to train again in Magglingen (Swiss national team training center) the week after Europeans. I`m also very motivated to take this drive with me to the Worlds in London."

International Gymnast Magazine related Features:
"Swiss Hit" - Käslin profile (December 2008)
"Swiss Thrill-seeker" - short Käslin profile

To subscribe to IG Magazine or order back issues, click here.

Written by Amanda Turner    Wednesday, 15 April 2009 21:53    PDF Print
Johnson Wins Sullivan Award
(44 votes, average 4.09 out of 5)

World and Olympic champion Shawn Johnson won the 79th Sullivan Award, announced at a banquet Wednesday night in New York.

Shawn Johnson (U.S.)

Johnson, 17, joins the company of Kurt Thomas and Paul Hamm as the only gymnasts to win the award, which each year honors the top U.S. amateur athlete.

The Sullivan Award winner was selected by officials of the Amateur Athletic Union, U.S. Olympic Committee members and college sports information directors, as well as fan votes cast online.

At the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, Johnson won the gold medal on balance beam, and silver medals with the U.S. team, in the all-around and on floor exercise. The Iowa native won three gold medals at the 2007 World Championships, including the all-around title. She is currently starring on the hit ABC series "Dancing with the Stars."

2008 Olympic champion Nastia Liukin also was a finalist for this year's award along with volleyball player Cynthia Barboza, basketball player Tyler Hansbrough and the U.S. Olympic men's 4x100m free relay swim team.

"This is an incredible honor for Shawn and it recognizes her outstanding gymnastics accomplishments, as well as her character both on and off the field ofplay," said USAG Gymnastics President Steve Penny. "We also congratulate the other Sullivan Award finalists, especially Nastia, who achieved great success and is also a wonderful ambassador for gymnastics."

Shawn Johnson accepts 79th Sullivan Award

Written by Amanda Turner    Tuesday, 14 April 2009 19:29    PDF Print
Penev Poised for More International Success
(10 votes, average 4.40 out of 5)

Eighth on floor exercise at the recent European Gymnastics Championships in Italy, Bulgaria's Eddie Penev described his finals experience as "pretty awesome."

Eddie Penev (Bulgaria)
The 18-year-old Bulgarian-American competed two events at his first European Championships, held April 2-5 in Milan. In qualification, he finished fifth on floor exercise (15.300) and 14th on vault (15.612 average for a Yurchenko 2 1/2 and Tsukahara double full).

In floor finals, the springy Penev finished eighth (14.425) after a break on his fifth pass cost him .5 in Start Value.

"I could have done better in finals, but I'm OK with it because it's only my second major international meet," said Penev, who first competed for Bulgaria at the 2006 World Championships, at age 16.

In Milan, Penev proved himself to be a promising talent for Bulgaria, the former gymnastics power that has struggled to field competitive teams in the past decade. His competitors in the floor final included 2008 Olympic bronze medalist Anton Golotsutskov (Russia), Olympic floor exercise finalist Alexander Shatilov (Israel) and two-time Olympian Fabian Hambüchen (Germany).

The son of two former Bulgarian team members, Penev trains at Rochester Gymnastics Academy in Rochester, N.Y. His father, Marian Penev, was a double bronze medalist at the 1984 Alternate Games in Olomouc, while his mother, Yulia Hristova, was sixth at the 1984 Junior European Championships.

Penev is coached at Rochester Gymnastics by Ivaylo Grahovski, alternate to the Bulgarian men's team at the 1999 Worlds in Tianjin. Grahovski, who graduated from the National Sports Academy in Sofia, recently was named New York State Men’s Gymnastics Coach of the Year for 2009.

"My coach was unfortunately not able to come with me [to Milan] because the other boys from my gym had regionals, but I still talked to him every day on the phone to tell him what's going on," Penev said.

In Grahovski's absence, Penev said he found support in Milan from five-time Bulgarian Olympian Jordan Jovtchev, who placed third on still rings at the competition.

"I have to say it was an honor to compete alongside someone like Jovtchev, who is a gymnastics legend," Penev said. "He is such an inspiration and always gives me great advice. He just told me to stay focused and do my routines as best I could do them. He reminds me a lot of my coach, and that made me feel really comfortable."

Penev, who turns 19 in August, will attend Stanford University in the fall. In addition to competing for Stanford, he is looking forward to getting more experience in international competition.

"I can't wait for the next meet so I can do even better!" he said. "We are currently looking into possibly having me compete at one of the World Cups, so I'm pretty excited."

Eddie Penev, 2009 European Championships floor exercise finals

Written by Amanda Turner    Monday, 13 April 2009 16:33    PDF Print
Barbosa Planning August Competitive Comeback
(17 votes, average 4.59 out of 5)

Slowed by a wrist injury, 2008 Olympian Jade Barbosa said she is enjoying life away from Brazil's national training center, but plans to be back at the Brazilian nationals in August.

Barbosa, who has necrosis of the right wrist, at the 2008 Olympic Games in Brazil

Barbosa, the 2007 world all-around bronze medalist, suffers from necrosis of the right wrist, which hindered her performance at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. Necrosis results from poor blood circulation in one area, which causes the bone tissue to die. Taking a break from training can help the area to heal, and surgery is also a method of treatment.

Barbosa, who turns 18 July 1, is aiming for a return to competition at the Brazilian National Championships, Aug. 21-23.

"I have no doubt I'll keep on doing gymnastics," she told Brazilian news service UOL. "In August I'll be competing at the Brazilian nationals. I don't know if it will be with only one arm, but I will compete."

Barbosa was named Brazil's 2007 Sportswoman of the Year after a breakout year, her first as a senior. At the 2007 Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, she won the vault gold and floor exercise bronze. At the 2007 World Championships in Stuttgart, Barbosa tied Italy's Vanessa Ferrari for the all-around bronze medal.

The Brazilian star has won five World Cup medals, including the gold on vault at the 2008 Moscow World Stars.

Barbosa said she is no longer in pain from the wrist, but that doctors warned the pain could return as she resumes full training for competition.

"What I don't want is to spend all year without a tournament. You lose the rhythm. And if I stay away for too long, it will feel like I never competed before," she said.

After four years at the national training center in Curitiba, Barbosa is training again in her hometown of Rio de Janeiro. She has been at odds with the Brazilian Gymnastics Confederation (CBG) since after the Olympics, when she made accusations that she and her teammates were exhausted and injured from overtraining and mistreatment.

Fifth in Stuttgart, the Brazilian women's team finished eighth in Beijing. Unable to compete at full difficulty, Barbosa finished 10th all-around and seventh on vault.

Barbosa at the national training center in Curitiba in 2006. After four years in Curitiba, Barbosa is training again in her hometown of Rio de Janeiro.

Barbosa said the CBG hid the severity of her wrist condition from her for months, and that she only learned of the necrosis when she returned to Rio and met with her own doctors.

As one of Brazil's biggest sports stars, Barbosa sells "JadeSport" T-shirts, socks and hats, which she said helps fund her medical treatment.

Barbosa, whose mother died several years ago, said she is enjoying living at home again with her father. She said she no longer "lives at the gym," and has time to spend with her friends, including her first boyfriend.

"Sometimes I eat dinner at my friends' homes, something I had not done before," she said. "Sometimes I go to parties. Man, how long did I go without a party in Curitiba? I had no social life. I have more time for me. I love drawing, and I come home and draw. Things I was not doing before."

The challenges she's faced have helped her mature as both a person and athlete, Barbosa said.

"I did learn at lot from it," she said. "Wanting to or not, I went through things most teenagers don't go through. I stayed away from home, traveled a lot and suffered lots of pressure because Pan American Games, Worlds and Olympics are all very demanding. I went to the Olympics with a totally different mindset, and I think that for the next one I'll be even better."

Continued Barbosa, "Experience isn't something you are born with it, you learn from it gradually. I used to be very impatient, had a short temper, kind of a bratty kid... I would miss a skill and be extremely mad, wouldn't wait or listen or reflect on what I did. Now I have grown because of all this, my mom, the CBG and all these other things."

External Link: Jade Barbosa's Online Store

International Gymnast Magazine Related Features
"Another Milestone for Brazil!" - Barbosa cover story (December 2007)
"Building Brazil" - Brazilian team cover story (March 2007)

To subscribe to IG or order back issues, click here.

Written by John Crumlish    Monday, 13 April 2009 03:19    PDF Print
Johnson Rumbas to Third-Place Tie on 'Dancing'
(95 votes, average 4.74 out of 5)

After earning a standing ovation for their rumba, Olympic gold medalist Shawn Johnson and partner Mark Ballas shared a third-place tie on ABC'S "Dancing with the Stars" Monday.

Johnson and Ballas scored 26 out of 30 points from the three judges, tying them with actor Gilles Marini and partner Cheryl Burke for third place among the eight couples who remain in the competition. Marini and Burke danced the jive.

Rapper Lil' Kim and partner Derek Hough had the evening's highest score (28) for their jive, followed by "The Bachelor" contestant Melissa Rycroft and partner Tony Dovolani (27), who danced the rumba.

All three judges praised Johnson's and Ballas's flowing, romantic interpretation of the rumba.

"Shawn, that was so beautifully pure, it was almost angelic," judge Bruno Tonioli told Johnson. "The innocent side of romance (was) unfolding in front of me, and yet again, sometimes I can see the hint of the devil!"

Judge Carrie Ann Inaba said she sensed the romantic nature of the rumba was difficult for 17-year-old Johnson because "it calls upon you to dig into something that is new to you." Inaba credited Ballas for helping demonstrate a romantic quality in the second half of the couple's dance.

"I think you got it just right, and I enjoyed the whole performance," said the third judge, Len Goodman.

UPDATE: Johnson and Ballas survived Tuesday's results show, during which reality star Steve-O and partner Lacey Schwimmer were eliminated.

External Link: Dancing with the Stars


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