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Written by John Crumlish    Monday, 26 October 2009 11:40    PDF Print
Worlds Bonus: Behind the Scenes in London
(23 votes, average 4.78 out of 5)

IG Online offers more from behind the scenes at the 2009 World Championships, held Oct. 13-18 in London!

Enjoy these bonus scoops from London, and look for in-depth coverage including exclusive quotes in the December 2009 issue of International Gymnast magazine. Click here to subscribe today, and take advantage of our special worlds offer of only $10 for a digital subscription! Get it while it lasts!

Bridget Sloan (U.S.)

Sloan: 24/7 friend

Women's all-around champion Bridget Sloan of the U.S. expressed mixed emotions about leaving London and her American teammates.

"I'm very happy to be going home," Sloan said. "But at the same time, I really like being around the girls."

Sloan said she would especially miss Ivana Hong, an alternate on the U.S. team at last year's Beijing Olympic Games, for which Sloan competed and won a silver medal. Hong placed third on balance beam in London.

"I'm around Ivy 24/7," Sloan said. "She's my roommate and she's probably getting a little annoyed with me, but at the same time we love each other."

Sloan said she is prepared for the emotional letdown that comes after a major competition.

"It's one of those things, like after the Olympics," Sloan said. "It's that depressed stage where you're like, 'Man, I really want to go back.' I'll probably have that, but I'm very happy and excited about everything that happened here."

While in London, Sloan said she kept in touch with her friends in Indiana via the Internet from her hotel room. She said she looked forward to seeing them soon after her victory.

"I don't think a lot of them know exactly what I'm doing here," Sloan said, "but I think they'll get the hint when I go back."

Porgras: 'She's special'

Romanian national team coach Nicolae Forminte had only positive words for newcomer Ana Porgras, despite a fall from balance beam that dropped her to seventh place in the all-around final.

"Look at her," Forminte said, motioning to Porgras as she chatted with a Romanian TV crew. "That makes her special. She works hard. She trains hard and does it with pleasure."

Forminte said Porgras's performance in London was impressive, considering she had suffered a leg injury earlier this year.

"She was recovering for two or three months, so she worked on the secure parts of her body — bars, and easy movements on floor and beam, but not high difficulty," Forminte said. "I don't push her, because there are very few (Romanian gymnasts). Every year there are fewer and fewer, so it's important that we keep the gymnasts we have."

Ana Porgras (Romania)

Forminte: Code Challenge

Forminte said the Code of Points does not help Romania develop and retain many gymnasts.

"Now the scoring is open(-ended), so everyone tries to do many difficult combinations that take a lot out of the body," he said. "It's not easy to make many routines. There are two notes, Difficulty and Execution. To have good execution you have to do it many times, and when the difficulty is higher, it is not easy to do many times."

Tweddle: Crowd-pleaser

After winning the gold medal on floor exercise, Great Britain's Beth Tweddle said she hoped her performance was as memorable for the British audience as it was for her.

"Winning in front of the home crowd and not on my signature piece makes it one of the career highlights," said Tweddle, whose challenge for a medal on her best event, uneven bars, ended when she fell in qualifications. "The British crowds have always made their voices quite well known, and for them to see me win it instead of seeing the highlights on TV is really nice for them."

Tweddle said the support of her British teammates boosted her morale after her mistake on uneven bars, and motivated her for the floor exercise final.

"The spirit is always high, especially if you see someone down, whether it's on the girls' or lads' team," Tweddle said. "Louis (Smith) was one of the first to come up to me and say, 'Don't worry about it. You have floor to sort yourself out.' They're always there for you and we're always there for them."

Mackie: Going up

First-time worlds competitor Charlotte Mackie of Canada said her performance in London should lead to higher things.

"I feel pretty good," said Mackie, whose 28th-place all-around finish in qualifications designated her as fourth alternate for the all-around final. "I think I'm good with handling the stress."

Mackie, who turned 16 on Oct. 6, said she maintained her concentration during a long delay before her first event, floor exercise. Her tumbling passes included a piked full-in, triple twist, 1-1/2 twist through to double twist, and double pike.

"The first event was definitely nerve-wracking," said Mackie, who competed in the day's first subdivision. "It was kind of bad that we had to wait so long, but I just had to keep warm, staying focused and visualizing things in my head."

Mackie said she was disappointed with the mistake she made on uneven bars, where she put her hands down on her double front dismount.

"The dismount has been the opposite of what I did today," Mackie said. "Over-rotating is something I don't usually do, but I was kind of upset because I could have landed it."

The highlight of Mackie's routine on balance beam was a one-armed Onodi. She also performed a regular Onodi; front aerial; flip-flop, layout; switch leap, Kochetkova; and dismount series of flip-flop, flip-flop, double pike.

Mackie, the younger sister of 2004 Canadian Olympian Gael Mackie, said the chance to compete in London gave her motivation after a difficult past year. She broke two bones in her right foot last year, and switched gyms early this year.

"The past year has been about worlds," she said. "I really wanted to show what I can do."

Mackie said she is happy to be training under head coach David Kenwright and assistant coach Cathy Chapell.

"I think the coaching is a lot healthier and definitely more constructive," Mackie said. "I can work longer hours without breaking down, and I'm enjoying it again. It was up and down, but now it's definitely going up."

Veronica Wagner (Sweden)

Mackie said the London worlds gave her a new level of optimism, and a new perspective on the challenges ahead.

"I want to start with this and build up," Mackie said. "I want to get my routines cleaner, because judging here was really tough. They're really focusing on artistry, and that's something I'm pretty good at but want to improve more."

Wagner: 'It's hard to hold back!'

After earning the Swedish women's best worlds all-around finish in 55 years, 2004 Olympian Veronica Wagner said she continues to thrive, despite missing out on the 2008 Olympic Games.

"I love the sport, even if I'm not as good as I want to be and I don't like the rules changing all the time," said Wagner, who placed 21st in the all-around final. "Even my doctors didn't know if I could come back. I have competed in three competitions in two years, so I'm glad to be back."

Wagner's performance at the 2007 Worlds qualified her to compete at the 2008 Olympics, but the Swedish Olympic Committee declined to send her. She said she was pleased with her results in London, and can improve in future competitions.

"I trained really well these past few weeks, even though I'm not doing as much as I can," Wagner said. "I can do a better vault and better floor. Still, I went out of bounds on floor. It was a five-tenths deduction, because I flew. It's hard to hold back!"

Written by Amanda Turner    Friday, 23 October 2009 17:22    PDF Print
Gymnastics Stars Fall Back into Action
(6 votes, average 4.33 out of 5)

The 2009 World Championships drew to a close Sunday, but gymnastics' busy fall season is just beginning. International events will be held every week through mid-December.

World silver medalist Ariella Käslin (Switzerland) competes Wednesday at the Swiss Cup.

Britain's Daniel Keatings, the all-around silver medalist at the recent world championships in London, will be back in action Sunday at the third stage of the Champion's Trophy in Hannover. The withdrawl of series leader Fabian Hambüchen, who was injured while training in London, opens the competition to an unexpected winner. Russia's Maxim Devyatovsky, with 11 points from the series' first two events, is the new points leader in the series, which concludes Nov. 15 in Stuttgart.

The other seven challengers are American Joseph Hagerty (10 points); Germany's Marcel Nguyen (7); Keatings (6); Switzerland's Niki Böschenstein (5) and Romania's Flavius Koczi (5); Germany's Helge Liebrich (3), replacing Hambüchen; and France's Benoit Caranobe (1).

Ariella Käslin, who made history for the Swiss women with her vault silver in London, will headline two upcoming competitions on her home turf. A nearly identical field will compete at the Arthur Gander Memorial on Wednesday in Morges and the Swiss Cup on Nov. 1 in Zurich. (Gymnasts on the roster for Morges but not Zurich include Switzerland's Claude-Alain Porchet, Germany's Eugen Spiridonov and Bulgaria's Jordan Jovtchev.)

Käslin will be paired with Böschenstein for the Swiss Cup, a mixed-pairs event featuring 11 teams. The host nation will enter a second Swiss pair of Linda Stämpfli and Daniel Groves.

Fresh off his two gold medals in London, Romanian superstar Marian Dragulescu will pair with Anamaria Tamarjan in Zurich. Eight years ago, Dragulescu paired with Silvia Stroescu to win the competition.

Chinese veteran He Ning, who won the 2008 Swiss Cup with Lu Bo, will return to Zurich with Liang Fuliang.

Other nations entering teams are Canada (Cynthia Lemieux-Guillemette and Casey Sandy); Germany (Kim Bui and Matthias Fahrig); France (Pauline Morel and Cyril Tommasone); Italy (Serena Licchetta and Enrico Pozzo); the Netherlands (Mayra Kroonen and Jeffrey Wammes); Russia (Ksenia Semyonova and Sergei Khorokhordin); and Ukraine (Yana Demyanchuk and Nikolai Kuksenkov).

The 13th international tournament in Combs La Ville, France, Oct. 30-31, features teams from Australia (Fiona Coley, Emma Collister, Emma Dennnis, Britt Greeley and Emily Little), Switzerland (Sara Catanzaro, Nadia Mulhauser, Sarina Gerber, Mélanie Steinacher, Yvonne Hunziker and Sara Metzger), Hungary (Renata Toth, Olivia Kapitany and Luca Diveky), Netherlands (Joy Goedkoop and Sanne De Smet), Canada (Bianca Dancose-Giambattisto, Coralie Leblond Chartrand, Briannah Tsang and Anna Gamelo) and the host nation.

The World Cup season returns with an event Nov. 6-8 in Osijek, Croatia, and will conclude Nov. 13-15 in Stuttgart with the annual DTB Cup. With the elimination of the biennial World Cup Final, the top gymnasts from the eight World Cup events in 2009 will be recognized in Stuttgart.

Other events in November include the SA Cup, Nov. 5-7 in Pretoria, South Africa; the Italian Grand Prix, Nov. 22 in Milan; the Junior Pan American Championships, Nov. 25-29 in Aracaju, Brazil; the 14th Alpen Adria Cup, Nov. 28 in Klagenfurt, Austria; and an international Nov. 28 in Liestal, Switzerland.

Doha, which played host to a World Cup event in September, will hold a junior gymnasiade Dec. 7-14. Japan's Toyota Cup will be held Dec. 12-13 in Toyota City.

2009's international competition draws to a close with the annual Voronin Cup, Dec. 17-18 in Moscow.

Written by Amanda Turner    Thursday, 22 October 2009 10:59    PDF Print
Yuri Ryazanov Laid to Rest in Vladimir
(20 votes, average 4.80 out of 5)

Russian national champion Yuri Ryazanov was buried Thursday in his hometown, one week after he won the all-around bronze medal at the world championships in London.

Yuri Ryazanov at the 2009 World Gymnastics Championships in London.

Friends, family and community members paid their respects to Russia's top gymnast, who was killed in an automobile accident Tuesday afternoon on a highway outside Vladimir. He was 22.

Following an open-casket service in the Orthodox tradition, a funeral procession of cars and buses continued to the Ulybyshevskoe Cemetery, where Ryazanov was buried with honors in the city's Walk of Fame. He was laid to rest next to Olympic champion skier Alexei Prokurorov, who was killed in an auto accident in October 2008.

Friends say they are still in a state of shock over Ryazanov's death, while police have launched a full investigation into the accident.

Ryazanov had been driving to his hometown of Vladimir after returning to Moscow from the world championships in London, which concluded Sunday. At 12:40 p.m. Tuesday, his car crossed the highway and collided head-on with an oncoming car. The occupants suffered minor injuries, but Ryazanov was killed instantly.

"[That he did not suffer] is probably the only consolation," said Vitaly Akimov, director of the Vladimir gymnastics school where Ryazanov began the sport.

Akimov said Tuesday was initially filled with joy and excitement, as gymnasts decorated the gym with posters of congratulations in anticipation of their star's return. Ryazanov's bronze in London was the Russian men's first world all-around medal in 10 years.

"Nobody at our club believed it at first," Akimov told newspaper "Komsomolskaya Pravda" of hearing the news. "Everyone thought it was somebody's idea of a stupid joke. Only after we called the police did we understand it was all true."

The school received messages of condolences from around the world, including England, Japan, Bulgaria, Greece, Romania and the U.S., Akimov said.

Investigators said they are focusing at this point on three possible theories of what caused the accident: that a tired Ryazanov fell asleep at the wheel; that he suffered a medical crisis that left him dizzy or unconscious; or that there was a mechanical failure of the automobile. Blood tests revealed he had not been drinking, and the weather was sunny at the time.

Those who knew Ryazanov well say it was impossible he could have fallen asleep while driving, and that something must have gone wrong with the car to make him to lose control of the vehicle.

"He was the most responsible on the national team," Olympian Georgy Grebenkov said. "From what I know, he flew to Moscow on Monday. But he didn't go straight to Vladimir. Instead he decided to sleep first."

Gymnast Timur Kuzmin said that 10 minutes before the accident, he spoke with Ryazanov, who told him, "I'll be there soon!"

Ryazanov touched on the subject of driving in his final interview.

"When I was 17, I got a motorcycle license and a year later I got a full license," he told "Izvestia" Monday. "My first car was a 1999 Lada. Ouch, I taught myself with it. That's why I knew the best autoshops and where they had the best prices for repair. And now for two years I've been driving a Chevrolet with Korean parts, and it hasn't needed any repairs. By the way, my most positive experience with Russian automotive technology was riding a 1978 'Minsk' motorcycle when I was on vacation... the engine didn't overheat even once!"

Ryazanov had planned to take Tuesday off, and return to training on Wednesday in Vladimir with his long-time coach, Igor Kalabushkin. He had been excited about his future, he said, and spoke of staying positive during his medal-winning run in London.

"The final started badly," he said of Oct. 15's all-around competition. "After my pommel horse routine the judges deliberated for a long time [because of a mistake on my dismount]. As a result, it reduced my A-score by .9. I was 21st of the 24 finalists. I was ashamed almost to tears. But I calmed down and I realized that I had nothing to lose. I said to myself, 'Yuri, don't give up, this is not your last worlds, try to look dignified.' After that I decided to add more difficulty on the remaining five events. And although I had another mistake [on high bar], it was enough to win a medal in the end."

A video clip and a photo gallery of the funeral service can be found at Komsomolskaya Pravda Vladimir's Web site.

External Link: Yuri Ryazanov Fan Page on Facebook

Written by IG Online    Tuesday, 20 October 2009 23:13    PDF Print
Photo Gallery: Remembering Ryazanov
(17 votes, average 4.53 out of 5)

IG brings you a photo gallery dedicated to Russian Olympian Yuri Ryazanov, who was killed Tuesday in a car accident on a Russian highway. He was 22.

The two-time European all-around bronze medalist (2007, 2009) won the Russian championships in March and the Russian Cup in August.

Ryazanov's biggest achievement came at his final competition. He won the all-around bronze medal at the 2009 World Gymnastics Championships in London, just five days before his death.

Yuri Ryazanov, 1987-2009

Written by Amanda Turner    Tuesday, 20 October 2009 08:56    PDF Print
Yuri Ryazanov Killed in Car Accident
(19 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

Russian Olympian and world medalist Yuri Ryazanov was killed in a car accident Tuesday on a Russian highway. He was 22.
Russian Olympian and world medalist Yuri Ryazanov was killed in a car accident Tuesday morning outside his hometown of Vladimir. He was 22.

Ryazanov won the all-around bronze medal Thursday at the world gymnastics championships in London, finishing behind Japan's Kohei Uchimura and Great Britain's Daniel Keatings.

According to reports, the accident occurred 160 km east of Moscow at 12:50 p.m., when Ryazanov was returning to his hometown of Vladimir following the world championships. Police believe he was killed instantly when he lost control of his car and swerved into oncoming traffic. His Chevrolet collided with an Audi, injuring two of its passengers.

Ryazanov had been Russia's most successful all-around gymnast the past few years, winning bronze medals at the European championships in 2007 and 2009. He won both of Russia's top domestic meets in 2009 — the Russian national championships in March and the Russian Cup in August.

"This is a human tragedy," Russian head coach Andrei Rodionenko said. "He was very good, kind, honest. The whole team respected him."

Ryazanov's shocked coaches and teammates spoke with the media, and said they were trying to piece together details of what could have caused the tragedy. The team returned to Moscow from London on Monday, and drove to the Round Lake national training center. Ryazanov had picked up his car at Round Lake and was driving home to Vladimir, 200 km (124 miles) east of the capital.

"I'm still stunned. I don't understand how this could happen. Yura was a great guy, kind, friendly, hard-working," teammate Maxim Devyatovsky said. "I do not understand why this happened to him, why God allowed this. He has driven for years, and everyone knew that he drove very quietly, calmly, without any foolishness. Yura was such a positive guy, that it is simply impossible [that he could have been drinking]. We talked with some guys from the junior team, and they claim they saw his Chevrolet recently and it was too low in the front. Maybe that was the cause? Although it is no longer important..."

Russian men's head coach Yevgeny Nikolko also spoke out against speculation that any alcohol was involved in the crash.

"Yura was a very good driver," Nikolko said. "I exclude the possibility that he would ever drink before getting behind the wheel. He was overall a very responsible and calm young man. This wonderful man had the whole world ahead of him.

Continued Nikolko, "I'm still in shock. When he told me he was going to drive home, I just told him, 'Please, be careful.' And now this terrible thing happened. I have no words to describe it."

Ryazanov was born March 21, 1987 in Vladimir, a city with a strong gymnastics tradition. He trained at the N. G. Tolkachov Olympic Reserve School, where he was coached by Igor Kalabushkin.

He joined Russia's senior national team in 2006, and later that year helped the team win silver at the 2006 World Championships, where he placed 16th all-around. He improved that rank at the 2007 Worlds, finishing 13th. He was a member of Russia's gold medal-winning team at the 2008 European Championships. His team placed sixth at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

Ryazanov's bronze medal at the world championships Thursday, won in a close-fought men's all-around final, was the biggest achievement of his career. He qualified only eighth to the final, landing him in the second-seeded group that began on pommel horse. While several favorites faltered, Ryazanov's consistent performances moved him into medal contention. His fall on his high bar dismount in the fifth rotation was his only break of the day, but he followed it with a strong routine on floor exercise. His final score edged him past Japan's Kazuhito Tanaka by .1.

"Yesterday he returned to Moscow after the world championships, where he won the country's most distinguished medal — a medal in the all-around," the Russian Gymnastics Federation stated on its Web site in a brief announcement on his death. "Yet another day he tightly fought for his place on the podium, and we admired his skill, perseverance and tenacity."

Rodionenko said federation representatives will go to Vladimir to help Ryazanov's family prepare for the funeral.


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