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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, GYMmedia.com 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 GymnasticsCoaching.com, 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!
 
Written by Dwight Normile    Thursday, 27 March 2008 15:32    PDF Print
Kupets Ready to Rebuild
(1 vote, average 5.00 out of 5)

Georgia junior Courtney Kupets has been through a lot recently, beginning with a torn right Achilles' tendon March 1 during a home meet against Arkansas. Two days later, at the Athens Orthopedic Surgical Center, Dr. Dan Moye reattached the tendon on the second Kupets sister in as many years. Though the injury finished gymnastics for Ashley Kupets, who was a Georgia senior in 2007, her sister Courtney feels fortunate that she still has another year to compete.

Courtney Kupets

"I want to finish off [my career] — just doing gymnastics, not with an injury," Courtney Kupets says.

And if she's not quite ready by next January, will she redshirt the season? "Oh, I'll be ready," she adds with determination. "There's no doubt about it."

There certainly was no doubt in Kupets' mind as to what happened when she punched for her Arabian double front on floor exercise. "I was so shocked," Kupets says, adding that the tendon had been a little sore the Wednesday before. "I was like, 'Are you kidding me? No, no, this isn't happening,' because I knew exactly what it was when I took off. It was more like I was in disbelief that that little bit of pain could turn into an Achilles tear."

Kupets, the 2002 world champion on uneven bars, had been through this before. She ruptured her other Achilles' tendon on the same trick during training at the 2003 World Championships in Anaheim, Calif. She made it back in time to win the 2004 U.S. Championships, Olympic Trials and two medals at the 2004 Olympics (team silver, uneven bars bronze).

Now she's got her sights set on 2009. "That's what's keeping me motivated," she says.

Though she will miss the chance for her third consecutive NCAA titles in the all-around and with her team, Kupets says she would like take on a "new role" as a team leader this April in Athens. That's when the Gym Dogs will shoot for their fourth NCAA title in a row. Should they succeed, their total will climb to nine and match the record set by Utah.

That's a lot to miss out on, but to speak with Kupets you would never know it. She sounds as cheerful as ever. In fact, she sounds downright ecstatic when she tells you her cast comes off Thursday.

It's been an interesting year for Kupets, who at one point had considered a return to elite and a shot at the Olympics in Beijing. "I was very serious about it, but it was kind of getting in the way of the college gymnastics," she says.

Now gymnastics won't necessarily get in the way of college, so Kupets can probably concentrate a little more on her studies in interior design. "I knew what I wanted to do and I'm sticking with it," says Kupets, whose favorite design shows include "Property Ladder," and "Flip That House." "It's so much more work than I ever could have imagined."

That's as close to a complaint as you'll likely hear from the hopelessly upbeat Kupets. She seems to face everything with the same bubbly optimism.

Since she's rehabbed an Achilles' tendon before, Kupets knows what lies ahead. In the meantime, she refuses to wallow in self pity. It's just not her style. "I'm already on a plan for next year," she says cheerfully. "I've already started thinking about new things."

Asked if she will continue to compete an Arabian double front, Kupets laughs and says, "I said afterward that I was going to change that tumbling pass. [But] I'll probably do it again."

 
Written by Admin    Thursday, 27 March 2008 15:05    PDF Print
Motherhood, Comeback Come Easy for Harmes
(1 vote, average 5.00 out of 5)

Less than a year after becoming a mother, 2004 Dutch Olympian Suzanne Harmes told IG she is eager to test her renewed fitness level at next month's European Championships.

Harmes at the 2004 Olympics

"I still really loved the sport, so when I went back to the gym I wasn't bothered where it would lead," said Harmes, who gave birth to son Lugano last May 24. "I just wanted to try gymnastics again. I am really glad that it all went so easily. Qualifying for Europeans wasn't a problem, and it made me really happy. I'm getting a lot of positive responses from other gymnasts in the Netherlands, that they like the fact that I'm back in the game so quickly."

The 22-year-year-old Harmes has been named to the Dutch team for the European Championships that will take place April 3-6 in Ferrand-Clermont, France. She placed first in the first of two qualification competitions that decided the Dutch team for Europeans.

Also named to the Dutch senior team were Lichelle Wong, Anne Tritten, Sanne Wevers and Verona van de Leur.

The Dutch junior team for the European Championships consists of Wyomi Masela, Natasha Blind, Cerine van Gerner, Yvette Moshage and Naoual Ouassani Chadi.

Harmes, who placed third on floor exercise and 10th all-around at the 2005 World Championships in Melbourne, told IG this week she has a different perspective on gymnastics now that she is a mother.

"It really felt very comfortable and familiar very quickly," she said. "I think I changed a bit as a gymnast. I have a different outlook on life now that I am a mom, and my main responsibility is the well-being of my son. My coaches say that it has also changed my attitude in training. I'm not so stressed anymore when things don't work out right away in the gym, and that's one of the reasons I'm actually better in training than before."

Harmes said she was not concerned about the weight she gained during her pregnancy, and that she returned to her pre-pregnancy weight less than three months after Lugano’s birth.

"Now, I'm actually slimmer and lighter than I was before," Harmes said. "I didn't do anything specific to lose that extra weight. What I did do is start fitness exercises about two months after giving birth, so that I could slowly regain my strength and muscle power. I really noticed in the beginning that I had lost so much power. Now, I actually feel more fit than ever before!"

Harmes, who finished 42nd all-around in preliminaries at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, said she has new incentives for training and competing.

"My motivation is that I find it a challenge to see what skills I can still do, and that I really love being a gymnast," she said. "Also, I'm not putting pressure on myself on reaching certain goals. As long as I enjoy myself and my body handles it well, I will keep going."

Based on the Dutch women’s 17th-place team finish at the 2007 Worlds in Stuttgart last year, they have qualified only one gymnast for this summer’s Beijing Olympic Games. Harmes, who did not compete at the 2006 or 2007 Worlds, said she is confident that she can earn that spot, but will be satisfied regardless of which Dutch gymnast is chosen.

"I stand a real chance, but of course there is only one ticket and more than one gymnast that can achieve the qualification norm," she said. "I just train all four apparatus, and if I make it to the Olympics (a second time), that's super. If not, it's bad luck for me but not the end of the world. I had never thought a year ago that I would even make it this far in gymnastics again, so I just enjoy every moment and see where it leads me."

IG Magazine Related Feature:

"Double Dutch" – Harmes profile (May 2005)

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

 


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