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Written by Amanda Turner    Wednesday, 02 April 2008 09:41    PDF Print
Joura: 'Onward and Upward' for Australian Women's Team
(2 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

Third all-around at the recent Pacific Rim Championships, Australian champion Dasha Joura said she is ready to "work, work, work" toward her goal of the Olympic Games this August in Beijing.

Dasha Joura

"That's the motto for this year," Joura said. "Get our difficulty back up, get our fitness back up and get ready for Olympic Trials that are coming up in May."

The Russian-born Joura finished 10th all-around at the 2007 Worlds, where Australia finished 11th as a team. She won the all-around silver medal at the Good Luck Beijing International Tournament, the Olympic test event held in December.

At the Pacific Rim Championships last weekend in San Jose, Calif., Joura won the all-around bronze medal and the silver medal on floor exercise. Australia finished fourth in the team competition, four tenths of a point away from the bronze.

"All the focus was on the team. The individual aspect was kind of insignificant for us," she said. "Unfortunately we didn't get the result we desired. We went out there with the intention of competing solid routines, so that didn't mean they were our hardest routines we could put out there."

Joura, who suffered a dislocated finger earlier in March, left out some of her harder tricks in San Jose, including a double-twisting Yurchenko vault and a new double layout on floor exercise.

"It's really important to keep safe, especially this year with everything that's coming up," said Joura, who turns 18 May 2. "We're just being a little bit careful."

In San Jose she competed alongside senior teammates Ashleigh Brennan and Lauren Mitchell and juniors Britt Greeley, 14, and Emily Little.

"I'm really happy with the atmosphere of our team right now and the way we worked together. That was really a highlight," Joura said. "I'm really proud of them and when I see them out there I see great potential, and I'm really happy to have them with us. I think it's onwards and upwards for us."

The 2010 Pacific Rim Championships will be in Melbourne.

Written by Amanda Turner    Tuesday, 01 April 2008 08:50    PDF Print
Lozhechko Out of Europeans

Russia's Yulia Lozhechko will miss the upcoming European Championships because of illness, a Russian coach confirmed to IG.

Lozhechko, the reigning European champion on balance beam, is suffering from the flu, said coach Marina Ulyankina. The team left Sunday for France, where the European Championships will be held April 3-6.

Lozhechko won the Russian National Championships last month.

Written by Admin    Friday, 28 March 2008 13:15    PDF Print
Yezhova Beaming to be Back

Though Lyudmila Yezhova faces stiff competition to fulfill her goal of winning the balance beam title this weekend at the Pacific Rim Championships in San Jose, the four-time world medalist said she is simply thrilled to be competing.

Lyudmila Yezhova Grebenkova
Yezhova, who turned 26 March 4, retired in 2005 after winning a bronze medal with the Russian team at the 2004 Olympics. She married fellow 2004 Olympian Georgy Grebenkov in 2005, but returned to training in 2006.

"I couldn't live without gymnastics and without performing," Yezhova told IG in San Jose.

Yezhova competes Saturday in the women's team competition with senior teammates Anna Myzdrikova and Alyona Zmeu and juniors Viktoria Komova, Violetta Malikova and Nailia Mustafina. Russia, which did not send a senior team to the 2006 Pacific Alliance Championships (now known as Pacific Rim), competes in the first of two subdivisions Saturday.

"This is a first-rate team and we're going to do our best," Yezhova said.

Yezhova told IG she hopes to win the individual title on beam Sunday, though she will have to overcome competitors like two-time world balance beam champion Nastia Liukin (USA) and 2006 world bronze medalist Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs (Canada).

Yezhova trained full sets on beam and bars during Thursday evening's podium training, and did a dance-through on floor exercise.

"In order to qualify to the Russian Cup [in June] I need to do the all-around, which is why I keep up on all four events," she explained.

She plans to compete bars and beam only in San Jose, where she also serves as a mentor to her teammates.

"Mila helps all of us a lot," Mustafina said.

Mustafina, 11, was not yet born when Yezhova made her major international debut at the 1996 Junior European Championships in Birmingham, England. Yezhova won the bronze on beam with the signature pass she still performs today: Onodi, front aerial, side somi.

Yezhova, who now competes under her married name of Lyudmila Grebenkova, trains at Moscow Dinamo with her husband as her coach. She's added new skills on balance beam, including a roundoff, layout to two feet and a double turn. Learning new skills as a veteran is not as difficult as it seems, she said.

"It's not as easy as if I were 16 years old, but one good thing is that I'm not growing anymore so my body is stabilized, which helps," she said.

Though she was not selected for Russia's squad for the upcoming European Championships, Yezhova is in the running for a second Olympic berth. She has won three World Cup medals on beam in the past six months: gold at the 2007 Glasgow Grand Prix, bronze at the 2007 DTB Cup and bronze at the 2008 Doha World Cup.

"I have a good chance of being on the Olympic team and I will do everything possible to represent Russia in China," she said.

Written by Paul Ziert    Thursday, 27 March 2008 22:34    PDF Print
Rave review of the new site!

BETA International Gymnast online — awesome. Finally, a web 2.0 online gymnastics magazine.

At first glance, the revamped IG looks GREAT. Far more functional than their nearest competitor, Inside Gymnastics online. The next best online magazine content-wise, from Europe, is positively hideous in comparison.

Congratulations to whomever is responsible for this huge upgrade. I’ll be far more actively engaged at the new site now that you have an RSS feed.

As editor of, I spend all day long looking at gymnastics websites. Even on launch, IG 2.0 is one of the best.

Written by Admin    Thursday, 27 March 2008 19:46    PDF Print
Artemev: Hamm's Return Takes Pressure Off U.S. Men

The return of Olympic champion Paul Hamm has reduced the pressure on the other members of the U.S. men's team, said 2006 U.S. champion Sasha Artemev.

"It make everybody work a lot harder, but at the same time it made our team way, way stronger," Artemev said. "It kind of [removed] some pressure off a lot of guys because he's so good on every event that we don't have to necessarily be perfect."

Sasha Artemev
Artemev will compete alongside Hamm and Raj Bhavsar at the Pacific Rim Championships Friday in San Jose, Calif.

Following a two-year layoff, Hamm made his return to competition at the 2007 U.S. Championships, also held in San Jose. He returned to international competition earlier this month in New York City, where he won the Tyson American Cup. Artemev finished second and Bhavsar finished sixth.

Artemev, 22, was a member of the U.S. men's team that finished 13th at the 2006 World Championships and fourth in team finals at the 2007 World Championships.

The American men's trio will be trying to recapture the team title when they take to the floor Friday evening. At the 2006 Pacific Alliance Championships (now known as the Pacific Rim Championships), the U.S. men finished out of the medals in fourth place, behind Japan, Canada and China.

"[My goal is] to hit pommel horse — I have a new pommel horse routine — and just to stay on the equipment," said Artemev, the bronze medalist on pommel horse at the 2006 Worlds. "Also to win, obviously, with the team, to beat every country out there."

At the U.S. Championships in August in San Jose, Artemev attempted a triple-twisting Yurchenko vault, but didn't land it cleanly. On Friday he plans to compete a safer Yurchenko 2 1/2 twist, though he still trains the triple-twisting version.

"Back home I play around with it but they won't let me do it now," he said with a laugh. "It's a pretty sketchy vault; you could get hurt pretty easily on it."

The Belarusian-born Artemev said his routines are mostly set for the Olympic year.

"On high bar I might add a skill before Visa (U.S.) Championships, a Tak-half," he said. "My p-bars, pommel horse are set. Vault too — no more triple twists for me for awhile, until at least after the Olympic cycle."

Log on to IG Online Friday at 1:30 p.m. PST for LIVE coverage of the Pacific Rim Championships in San Jose!

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