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Written by Amanda Turner    Wednesday, 12 August 2009 08:24    PDF Print
Nastia Liukin Cup to Launch in 2010
(35 votes, average 2.49 out of 5)


2008 Olympic all-around champion Nastia Liukin (U.S.) is lending her golden name to a series of competitions for junior gymnasts.

2008 Olympic all-around champion Nastia Liukin (U.S.) is lending her golden name to a series of competitions for junior gymnasts.

The inaugural Nastia Liukin Cup is scheduled for March 5 in Worcester, Mass., on the same podium that will host the 2010 American Cup the following day.

Proceeds from the Nastia Liukin Cup will go to the National Gymnastics Fund to aid gymnasts with financial difficulties.

"I love gymnastics, and it has given me the opportunity to achieve my dreams and goals," Liukin said. "Gymnastics has given me so much, and now I want to give back to the community that has supported me for my entire career."

Liukin has won nine world championships medals since 2005 and won five medals at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. Despite a whirlwind year of award shows, television appearances and modeling, Liukin is still training toward the 2009 World Championships and 2012 Olympic Games. She plans to compete uneven bars and balance beam at the Visa (U.S.) Championships this week in Dallas, near her hometown of Parker, Texas.

Gymnasts will qualify for the Nastia Liukin Cup by competing at a designated meet in the Nastia Liukin Cup Series. Twelve competitions already have committed to joining the Nastia Liukin Cup Series, including her own club's annual competition for women, the WOGA Classic. WOGA also hosts an annual tournament for men, the Liukin Invitational, named after Liukin's father and coach, world and Olympic champion Valeri Liukin.

"I am excited about the development of the Cup, which will give athletes an elite competitive opportunity, and the creation of the Nastia Liukin Fund that will enable me to help others through scholarships or charitable support," the 19-year-old Liukin said.

Check back with International Gymnast Magazine Online this week for coverage from Dallas.

External Link: NastiaLiukin.com

 
Written by John Crumlish    Monday, 10 August 2009 11:04    PDF Print
Smith Aims to 'Silence Doubters' in London
(8 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

Taking part in a British-Canadian gymnastics team training camp in Calgary, 2008 Olympic pommel horse bronze medalist Louis Smith (Great Britain) told IG he is aiming for all-around success at this fall's world championships in London.


Louis Smith (Great Britain)

"I have worked really hard to raise my Start Values across all apparatus with a few new elements and combinations that, hopefully, will impress the judges and silence the doubters," Smith said.

Smith, one of 10 British gymnasts participating in the Calgary camp, said the exchange is benefiting his ongoing preparations for the 2009 World Championships that will take place Oct. 13-18 in London.

"Training in another country gives me the opportunity to experience and observe different gymnasts with various training approaches and techniques," said Smith, who is coached by Paul Hall at Huntington Gymnastics Club. "Hopefully I can learn something from this. Plus, the change of environment helps to motivate and challenge me."

Other British gymnasts at the camp are Smith's Huntington teammates Luke Folwell and Daniel Keatings, Yevgen Gryshchenko and Ruslan Panteleymonov (Hinckley), Sam Hunter (Nottingham), David Mott (South Essex), Daniel Purvis (Southport), Theo Seager (Bury) and Kristian Thomas (Earls). Coaches include Andrei Popov, Alex Shiryaev, Hall and Eddie Van Hoof.

The 20-year-old Smith said he is also enjoying the extra incentive offered by the seven teenage Canadian gymnasts with whom he has been training since Aug. 1.

"It gives me a chance to see the youngsters who are challenging for international places, and it is still good to show them that I am still pommel king!" Smith said, joking.

Canadian gymnasts at the camp include Anderson Loran, Jayd Lukenchuk, Kevin Lytwyn, Jackson Payne, Jason Scott, Max Vacca and Robert Watson.

Although Smith competed on only pommel horse at this spring's European Championships in Milan — where Keatings and Purvis placed second and seventh all-around, respectively — he said he plans to contend for an all-around slot on the British team at the Worlds in October.

"I would love to do all-around and I enjoy the training, which is demanding compared to just pommels," Smith told IG. "Plus, I will have to prove myself and earn the slot by impressing the coaches."

Read profiles on Smith, Keatings and Purvis in the June 2009 issue of International Gymnast magazine, which also features a Keatings center poster.

International Gymnast Magazine Related Features:
"Fame and Flair" - Smith short profile (June 2009)
"Royal Treatment" - Smith profile (December 2008)
"IG Interview: Daniel Keatings," Keatings center poster (June 2009)
"Early Graduation Day" - Keatings profile (July/August 2007)

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

 
Written by Dwight Normile    Thursday, 06 August 2009 14:17    PDF Print
Wieber Out of U.S. Junior Championships
(13 votes, average 4.08 out of 5)


Jordyn Wieber will not be able to defend her U.S. junior title next week in Dallas because of a hamstring injury that has bothered her since late June.

Jordyn Wieber will not be able to defend her U.S. junior title next week in Dallas because of a hamstring injury that has bothered her since late June.

John Geddert, who coaches Wieber at his Twistars USA gym in Lansing, Mich., says he wants to play it safe in view of more important competitions in the coming year.

“We’ve just been resting, resting, but it’s not coming around fast enough,” Geddert told IG. “I know they can turn into year-long injuries if you don’t shut them down. We didn’t want to push it now and have to miss Junior Pan Ams (in Brazil) and the Youth Olympics (in Singapore).”

Wieber, who turned 14 on July 12, had an excellent chance of outscoring the entire senior field in Dallas, just as Shawn Johnson did as a junior in 2006. Wieber won the 2009 American Cup with 60.200 under the latest version of the Code of Points. By comparison, Russia’s Ksenia Semyonova won the 2009 Europeans with 58.175, and Olivia Courtney won the recent Cover Girl Classic, a qualifier to the Visa (U.S.) Championships, with 57.400.

Read "Ahead of the Curve," a profile on Jordyn Wieber, in the March 2009 issue of International Gymnast Magazine.

 
Written by John Crumlish    Monday, 03 August 2009 22:39    PDF Print
Larson, Shapiro Push Past Injuries Toward Worlds
(70 votes, average 4.94 out of 5)


Recovering from ankle injuries, World Cup gold medalists Mattie Larson and Samantha Shapiro (U.S.) hope to be candidates for this fall's world championships, their coaches told IG this week. Larson (above) performs a switch ring leap on floor exercise at the U.S.-Germany dual meet held earlier this year in Mülheim.

Recovering from ankle injuries, World Cup gold medalists Mattie Larson and Samantha Shapiro (U.S.) hope to be candidates for this fall's World Championships, their coaches told IG this week.

Larson, who placed seventh all-around at the 2008 U.S. Championships and 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials, sprained both ankles on a tumbling pass at a U.S. national team training camp in Texas early last month. Shapiro, a first-year senior who placed second all-around at the 2007 and 2008 U.S. Junior Championships, had surgery June 13 to remove two bone chips from her right ankle.

Galina Marinova and Artur Akopyan, who coach Larson and Shapiro at All Olympia Gymnastics Center in Los Angeles, said both gymnasts are unlikely to compete at the Visa (U.S.) Championships that will take place Aug. 12-15 in Dallas. According to Marinova, however, Larson and Shapiro will train with other U.S. team members in Dallas and try to stay in contention for the World Championships in London in October.

"Both of Mattie's ankles are almost back to normal," Marinova said. "Even in a wheelchair, Mattie came into the gym and got a lot of support from the other girls. Then she came in on crutches, and started all kinds of conditioning while lying on the floor. She started slowly doing exercises wearing athletic shoes, and now she's doing bars with athletic shoes, and getting better and better. She's in great shape, and we're very positive she will be ready for the first (U.S. worlds team) selection camp in early September."

Based on their training in Dallas during the Visa Championships, Marinova said she hopes Larson and Shapiro can petition to the first selection camp.


Samantha Shapiro performs at the 2008 U.S. Junior Gymnastics Championships.

"Anyone who wants to try to get a place on the national team or go to Worlds has to show their mental and physical preparation, and their strength," Marinova said. "I think that, if the girls make a good impression with their preparation, they will be able to petition to the camp."

In addition to gymnastics conditioning and workouts, Marinova said Larson's and Shapiro's physical therapy has included laser treatments, acupuncture and swimming. "Mattie is also doing a lot of toe raises in the water, and other movement in the water for her ankles to get stronger," she said.

While Shapiro's post-surgery training has been limited to uneven bars and balance beam, Marinova said Larson could be ready to compete all-around this fall.

"Mattie has four good events," Marinova said of the 17-year-old Larson, who placed first on balance beam and floor exercise at the Gymnix World Cup in Montreal earlier this year. "We're very positive she will be back on track and in good shape. I believe she will be strong on floor and vault, and even beam, and possibly bars. That's our plan. Step by step we're positive."

As former gymnasts, Marinova said she and Akopyan can relate to the frustration their injured gymnasts feel, but they are working to keep Larson and Shapiro optimistic. Marinova competed for Bulgaria and made the all-around final at the 1979 Worlds, the 1980 Olympic Games and the 1981 Worlds. Akopyan, a native of Armenia who competed for the Soviet Union, finished first on vault and third all-around at the 1983 Worlds.

"We know that injuries happen, but if we take care during the recovery process, Mattie and Sami can be good for the Worlds selection camp in early October," Marinova said.

Marinova said that Shapiro, who placed first on uneven bars at the Gymnix World Cup in Montreal earlier this year, is gradually regaining strength.

"Sami is in almost the same situation as Mattie," Marinova said. "She's just started training bars, and a week ago she started walking without athletic shoes. The plans are to get her strong on bars, her best event, and also on beam. I believe that, after her surgery, she will be ready on bars and beam. Bars is possible for the first selection camp, and we'll work strongly on both of these events. I believe she can be ready if we do the recovery well, and if she feels healthy on her foot."

Akopyan said he, like Marinova, is optimistic about Larson's and Shapiro's prospects.

"I want to be positive, but it's a short time from now till Worlds," Akopyan said. "If they recover fast, I think they can make the team. They have some of the best routines in the country."

Akopyan said he and Marinova have been impressed by their gymnasts' determination.

"Mattie is very strong with her mind," Akopyan said. "I really admire what she's doing and how she's acting. To be injured is a hard process for an athlete. I like her mentality that she is keeping her physical shape. I believe she is going to come back strong. Samantha will take a little longer, but we are in good spirits. She wants to do it, and she will be back. They will both be back."

Akopyan said Larson and Shapiro could be even more impressive when they are completely recovered.

"In this sport, everyone gets injured," he told IG. "Everyone is behind the curtains sometime, and suddenly they show their faces. I believe that, soon, they will show better gymnastics."

Read "All for One," an in-depth profile on Larson, Shapiro and All Olympia Gymnastics Center, in the July/August 2009 issue of International Gymnast magazine. To subscribe to IG Magazine or order back issues, click here.

 
Written by Amanda Turner    Wednesday, 29 July 2009 00:00    PDF Print
Yang: Uchimura Early Favorite to Win Worlds
(10 votes, average 4.90 out of 5)


New Japanese star Kohei Uchimura could be unbeatable at October's world championships, reigning world and Olympic champion Yang Wei said this week.

New Japanese star Kohei Uchimura could be unbeatable at October's world championships, reigning world and Olympic champion Yang Wei said this week.

Yang, who announced his retirement earlier this year, picked the 20-year-old Uchimura as the favorite to inherit his crown at the 2009 World Championships.

At the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, Uchimura finished second all-around behind Yang, despite two falls on pommel horse.

"That he can manage to win the all-around silver medal despite huge mistakes shows that he is very strong indeed," Yang said.

The 2009 World Gymnastics Championships, to be held Oct. 12-18 in London, will be Uchimura's first worlds. He has the chance to reclaim the world title for the Japanese, four years after Hiroyuki Tomita won the 2005 World Gymnastics Championships in Melbourne.


2008 Olympic champion Yang Wei is flanked by silver medalist Kohei Uchimura and bronze medalist Benoit Caranobe.

The Chinese men's team is flush with apparatus specialists. In addition to Yang's all-around gold and the team title in Beijing, the Chinese men captured gold medals in five of the six individual events. But the team is struggling to find an all-around heir apparent to Yang, whose all-around achievements include golds at the 2006 and 2007 World Championships, and silvers at the 2000 Olympic Games and the 2003 World Championships.

"It's really difficult to talk about naming a successor," Yang said.

Most of China's top all-around gymnasts — including Chen Yibing, Feng Jing, Feng Zhe, Guo Weiyang and Lu Bo — did not compete in the all-around at last weekend's Chinese Gymnastics Championships in Xiantao. Deng Shudi won the men's all-around title with an unremarkable total score of 85.500.

Yang said Uchimura's biggest rival likely will be Germany's Fabian Hambüchen, who finished second to Uchimura at the recent Japan Cup. Hambüchen, who won the 2009 European all-around title, finished third all-around at the 2006 worlds and second in 2007.

Hambüchen's outgoing personality could make him the crowd favorite in London, which may give him an edge, Yang said.

"He is at home in Europe and America," he said.

The 29-year-old Yang is expecting a son in November with his wife, 2000 Olympic bronze medalist Yang Yun.

 


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