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Written by Amanda Turner    Wednesday, 13 May 2009 22:50    PDF Print
Worlds Hosts Get Ready with Glasgow Grand Prix
(8 votes, average 4.88 out of 5)

British superstar Beth Tweddle, the recently crowned European uneven bars and floor exercise champion, headlines the Glasgow Grand Prix that begins Friday.

Beth Tweddle at the 2009 Europeans

Tweddle and four other British Olympians are among gymnasts from 24 countries scheduled for this weekend's Glasgow Grand Prix, five months before London plays host to the 2009 World Championships.

The annual Glasgow Grand Prix typically takes place in the fall, but was moved up this year to accommodate the world championships, scheduled for Oct. 13-18 at the O2 Arena in London.

The British men's lineup includes 2008 Olympic pommel horse bronze medalist Louis Smith and 2009 European all-around silver medalist Daniel Keatings. Both gymnasts are scheduled to compete pommel horse only at the Glasgow Grand Prix, part of the FIG World Cup series for individual events only.

Tweddle is scheduled to compete on uneven bars and floor exercise, the events she won at the European Championships held last month in Milan. Reigning British champion Becky Downie is in the lineup for vault, uneven bars and balance beam, and Olympic teammate Hannah Whelan plans to compete on beam and floor.

Other European, world and Olympic medalists scheduled for Glasgow include Diego Hypolito (Brazil), Anton Golotsutskov (Russia), Yuri van Gelder (Netherlands), Gabriela Dragoi (Romania), Krisztian Berki (Hungary), and Mitja Petkovsek and Aljaz Pegan (Slovenia).

A few top competitors expected in Glasgow withdrew, British Gymnastics spokesman Tim Peake said.

"As always there have been late changes — Sandra Izbasa (Romania) is out as are the Latvian and Ukrainian delegations," Peake told IG.

Swiss star Ariella Käslin, the 2009 European champion on vault, also withdrew after breaking her toe in practice.

The men's roster notably includes two gymnasts from North Korea, a nation which rarely competes in international events. The spectactular Ri Se Gwang is in the lineup for four events, including his specialties of floor exercise and vault. Ri, the 2006 Asian Games champion on vault, has competed a piked Dragulescu (double front-half) on the event.

London is also the site of the 2012 Olympics, while Glasgow will play host to the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

External Link: British Gymnastics

Glasgow Grand Prix: Men's Roster

Mario Gorosito
Juan Lompizano
Erazun Osvaldo Martinez
Mauro Martinez
Juan Sebastian Melchiori
Federico Molinari
Fabian Leimlehner
Marco Mayr
Jonas Toeback
Donna-Donny Truyens
Koen Van Damme
Barend Verbeke
Caio Americo Costa
Vitor Camargo
Diego Hypolito
Mosiah Rodrigues
Aleksandar Batinkov
Tomislav Markovic
Marijo Moznik
Robert Seligman
Jutto Kanerva
Timo Niemela
Olli Torkkel
Tomi Tuuha
Luke Folwell
Daniel Keatings
Daniel Purvis
Theo Seager
Louis Smith
Kristian Thomas
Dimitrios Markousis
Eleftherios Petrounias
Krisztian Berki
Vid Hidvegi
Eduard Gholub
Alexander Shatilov
Mohammed Abu Saleh
Ali Al-Asi
Jad Mazahreh
Yuri van Gelder
Jeffrey Wammes
Epke Zonderland
Adam Kierzkowski
Roman Kulesza
Marek Lyszczarz
Tiago Camacho
Gustavo Simoes
Kim Jin Hyok
Ri Se Gwang
Ovidiu Budoso
Cosmin Iancu
Alin Jivan
Cosmin Popescu
Anton Golotsutskov
Andrey Perevoznikov
Konstantin Pluzhnikov
Anatoly Vasilyev
Saso Bertoncelj
Ziga Britovsek
Saksida Gregor
Rok Klavora
Aljaz Pegan
Mitja Petkovsek
Samuel Piasecky
Wajdi Bouallegue
Regulo Carmona

Glasgow Grand Prix: Women's Roster

Khiuani Dias
Ana Claudia Silva
Jessica Gil
Nathalia Sanchez
Ana Maria Izurieta
Naomi Ruiz
Annika Urvikko
Becky Downie
Beth Tweddle
Hannah Whelan
Suzanne Harmes
Wyomi Masela
Sanne Wevers
Catarina Abrantes
Diana Chelaru
Gabriela Dragoi
Yulia Berger
Yekaterina Kurbatova
Anna Myzdrikova
Sasa Golob
Adela Sajn
Ariella Käslin
Lucia Tacchelli
Written by John Crumlish    Tuesday, 12 May 2009 23:08    PDF Print
Liddick: Aussies May Make 'Big Move This Year'
(53 votes, average 4.98 out of 5)

Following a recent training camp attended by four Olympians and other members of the Australian national team, coach Peggy Liddick told IG she has high hopes for her gymnasts at this fall's World Championships.

Dasha Joura (Australia)

"Since there is no team event at the World Championships this year, we have really taken an individual approach to the seniors from the Beijing squad," said Liddick, referring to the gymnasts who helped the Australian team place sixth at last summer's Olympic Games. "They all needed some time to regroup, let the 'niggles' heal and really get into their schooling that they all delayed."

Among the gymnasts who participated in the training camp, held April 12-18 in Canberra, were 2008 Olympians Dasha Joura, Lauren Mitchell, Georgia Bonora and Shona Morgan.

Liddick said she is encouraged that at least four of Australia's 2008 Olympians are continuing at the international level.

"I would like to think that they enjoyed their journey to Beijing and their experience at the Olympics, and that they still have a love of the sport," she said. "I know they all have goals that they want to achieve. I have taken the tack that these girls are adults now and they have been involved to a much greater extent in their next four-year plan. We are taking it slow. There is no hurry for them."

The other two competing members of the 2008 Olympic team — Olivia Vivian and Ashleigh Brennan — did not attend the camp. Vivian now competes for Oregon State University in the U.S., where Olympic team alternate Melanie Jones intends to enroll next season. Brennan is deciding her competitive future, Liddick said.

"Ashleigh is doing fitness training and has not officially retired yet," she said. "I am just not putting any pressure on her, giving her the space to make up her own mind."

Liddick said Joura, the most experienced member of the team, is healing from an ankle injury. Hampered by an ankle injury in Beijing, Joura is questionable for the World Championships that will take place Oct. 12-18 in London.

"Dasha is still rehabilitating her ankle and is making progress," Liddick said. "Only time will tell if she can be ready for October, but I will not rush her."

Lauren Mitchell at the 2008 World Cup Final in Madrid, where she won the gold on balance beam.

Among the younger gymnasts who attended the camp was 15-year-old Britt Greeley. Greeley placed second all-around to Emily Little at the 2008 Australian Junior Championships and 10th all-around in the junior competition at the 2008 Pacific Rim Championships in San Jose, Calif.

"Britt has been around an elite training environment since she was about 3 years old," Liddick said. "Her mother, Haedi, was an elite gymnast, and she has been on development squads that trained with Monette Russo, Stephanie Moorhouse and Karen Nguyen for the Athens Olympics, and with Ashleigh Brennan for the 2008 campaign, so she knows what it is all about and how to get there. It is nothing new for her."

Liddick said the Australian Championships in July should give her a good indication of which gymnasts will be candidates for Worlds.

"The girls who are ready and want to, will compete in London," Liddick said. "My expectations would be to only send gymnasts who have their routines up to a World Championships standard and those who can perform at that standard."

Although the April training camp included experienced gymnasts as well as emerging talent, Liddick said she would not single out any of them for success later this year.

"I am not going to make predictions at this time," Liddick said. "Each camp has been full of surprises and each gymnast is capable of making a big move this year, so I am looking forward to seeing what they present. I hope that they all present something exciting."

International Gymnast Magazine Related Features
"The Joy of Joura" - profile (March 2007)
Joura on cover (July/August 2006)
IG Interview: Lauren Mitchell (March 2008)
"National Pride" - Dennis profile (September 2007)
"Russo's World" - cover story (March 2006)
"Smooth Transition" - Russo interview (April 2004)
"More for Moorhouse" - profile (April 2003)

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

Written by John Crumlish    Monday, 11 May 2009 21:00    PDF Print
Johnson Tangos to Perfect Score on 'Dancing'
(150 votes, average 4.89 out of 5)

After scoring a perfect 10 from all three judges for their first of two dances, Olympic gold medalist Shawn Johnson and partner Mark Ballas finished second for the evening in ABC's "Dancing with the Stars" semi-finals on Monday.

Johnson and Ballas earned their first perfect total (30 points) of the season for their first dance, the Argentine tango. All three judges praised Johnson's dramatic flair and precision.

"You are our youngest competitor ever, so sometimes I worry if you're going to be able to deliver the emotional content," judge Carrie Ann Inaba said. "But I'm silly, because you delivered. The lifts were incredible. You're so connected to your movement. The focus is incredible. Precision is your middle name."

Agreeing with Inaba, judge Len Goodman said the 17-year-old Johnson danced with a maturity he was not expecting. "It was honestly, without a doubt for me, your best performance," Goodman said.

Bruno Tonioli, the third judge, dubbed Johnson "Catherine Zeta Shawn" in reference to actress Catherine Zeta Jones's role in the musical film "Chicago." "It was like watching the murderous tango in Chicago - 'He had it coming,'" said Tonioli, using a line from the musical. "You've got it coming big-time, honey. That was good."

For their second dance, the jive, Johnson and Ballas received 26 points. All three judges commended the couple's entertaining performance, but Goodman and Tonioli said the dance could have included more actual jive elements. "I felt you lost a little steam toward the end, but it was still a really wonderful performance," Inaba said.

Johnson and Ballas scored 56 out of 60 points for the evening, to finish second behind actor Gilles Marini and partner Cheryl Burke, who scored perfect 30s for both dances. Third were "The Bachelor" contestant Melissa Rycroft and partner Tony Dovolani with 55 points, followed by rodeo champion Ty Murray and partner Chelsie Hightower with 48 points.

Audiences could phone in votes until 30 minutes after the end of the show, and could vote online until noon Eastern time Tuesday. The couple with the lowest combination of judges’ scores and audience votes will be eliminated in Tuesday's results show.

During rehearsals, Johnson said anything less than a perfect pair of dances Monday would cost her a place in the finals. She was more confident after the jive performance, despite the less-than-perfect scores she and Ballas received.

"We have been working so hard," Johnson said. "I have had the time of my life here, and I didn't even think I'd make it to Week 2 let alone Week 10, the semi-finals. I'd love to make it to the finals, just to prove that I can do anything, and anything's possible."

UPDATE: Johnson and Ballas advanced to next week's finals during Tuesday's results show. Rodeo champion Ty Murray and partner Chelsie Hightower were eliminated.

External Link: Dancing with the Stars

Written by Amanda Turner    Monday, 11 May 2009 10:48    PDF Print
Bhavsar Begins New Role as Athletic Ambassador
(33 votes, average 4.88 out of 5)

2008 Olympic bronze medalist Raj Bhavsar (U.S.) said he is thrilled over his recent South Asian Excellence Award, and remains committed to being an ambassador of sport for India, host of the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

Bhavsar, a first-generation Indian-American of Gujarati descent, received the award Saturday night at a gala held in New York City. The South Asian Excellence Awards, first established in 2008, honor distinguished South Asians in several categories, such as business, entertainment, science, literature and sports.

"It is a tremendous honor to win an award of this magnitude!" Bhavsar told IG. "It truly shows how much support I have had over the years from my fans and the entire South Asian community. I hope this award and my recent accomplishment at the Olympics serve as an inspiration for young Indian-American athletes throughout the country."

The other two nominees in the sports category were professional golfer Simi Mehra and cricket player Neerja Patel.

"I was a little surprised to win given the other nominees' accolades in the category of sports," Bhavsar said. "All the nominees at the event were very accomplished so it was nice to be honored and especially great that the South Asian community recognized my accomplishments in a not-so-common sport among South Asians."

Bhavsar was a member of the silver medal-winning U.S. teams at the 2001 and 2003 World Championships. He served as alternate to the U.S. team at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, and four years later helped the team to an upset bronze at the 2008 Games in Beijing.

Bhavsar graduated from Ohio State University in 2004 with a degree in business administration and marketing, and continues to train in his hometown of Houston.

He is planning on competing in the Moscow Stars World Cup, May 29-30. He then heads to India on June 1 for a 10-day trip, where he hopes his fame can bring awareness to Olympic sports, including gymnastics.

"India may provide some opportunities for me that are not readily available in the U.S. right now, given the tough times," said Bhavsar, who turns 29 in September. "I am looking forward to visiting with the Indian Olympic Federation and the Gymnastic Federation of India to discuss my involvement leading up to the Commonwealth Games."

Delhi will play host to the XIX Commonwealth Games, scheduled for Oct. 3-14, 2010. It will be the largest multisport event ever held in India, with athletes from 85 teams competing in 17 sports.

"I would love to work with the gymnastics teams in India to prepare them for a breakthrough performance at the games," Bhavsar said. "I am looking into a sports commentator position for the event."

Bhavsar's big goal for the Moscow World Stars is to hit an original skill on parallel bars, and possibly one on still rings.

"It's a hybrid between a Tkatchev on high bar and a Tippelt on p-bars," he said. "I think it's revolutionary in that it could open a new form of thinking regarding release moves on p-bars. The move on rings is still being discussed as to whether or not I will compete it. It's a rendition of my existing skill called the Bhavsar, or a Pineda to Maltese."

Gymnastics fans can get updates from Bhavsar via his Twitter account,

External Link: 2010 Commonwealth Games

Written by John Crumlish    Sunday, 10 May 2009 23:05    PDF Print
Johnson Ready to 'Dance with My Heart' in Monday's Semi-Finals
(193 votes, average 4.89 out of 5)

Rehearsing for the semi-finals of ABC's "Dancing with the Stars" Monday, Olympic gold medalist Shawn Johnson told IG she is handling this high-pressure phase of the competition with the same approach she has taken to major gymnastics events.

"The way I think about it really is that I just finished (U.S.) Championships and now I'm headed to (Olympic) Trials," said Johnson, who will dance the Argentine tango and jive with partner Mark Ballas. "I still take it day by day and always make sure I'm having fun. Things happen for a reason, and that's what I live by."

Johnson, the 2008 Olympic balance beam gold medalist and all-around silver medalist, said she and Ballas are eager to be entertaining but precise in each of Monday's two dances.

"With the tango we are looking to take on the character and bring out the emotions of anger and love," Johnson said. "It's a dance about romance and hate, so it is a whole fight scene, basically. With the jive it's all about having fun and being crazy. So the dances are completely opposite and will take a lot to master, but will be a lot of fun."

Last week, Johnson and Ballas earned their highest scores of the season for their paso doble, a dance that required Johnson to perform with a serious, dramatic style. Johnson said she is working to be at least as passionate when dancing the Argentine tango on Monday.

"It's all about getting into character and taking the fire I have inside to get to the final and putting it out on the dance floor," Johnson said. "It's like acting. Once you've got it, there's no stopping you. I think, after our breakthrough performance with the paso, I can take on anything!"

Earlier in the season, Johnson and Ballas performed fast-paced dances such as the Lindy Hop and the quickstep. Johnson said the nuances of the jive make it a unique challenge this week.

"With the jive it's all about stamina and fast footwork," said the 17-year-old Johnson. "If you don't keep up and use your personality at the same time, then it's ballroom suicide!"

Johnson said she and Ballas, one of the competition's four remaining couples, are well-prepared for Monday's performances.

"I took Wednesday and Thursday to travel to New York for a promotion, which set us back a bit, but it was definitely a needed break," Johnson said. "I feel refreshed and ready to go now."

With a berth to the final at stake Monday, Johnson said she is calm and confident.

"The only thing I think about before I go on is to give my best and have fun," she told IG. "I leave no regrets on the dance floor, and dance with my heart. It's the only thing I can do."

External Link: Dancing with the Stars


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