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Written by Admin    Saturday, 28 June 2008 19:23    PDF Print
'Hyundai Capital Invitational II' World Gymnastics Gala
IG brings you exclusive video highlights and behind-the-scenes photos of the "Hyundai Capital Invitational II" World Gymnastics Gala, a three-night show held in mid-June in Seoul, Korea, produced by IG Publisher Paul Ziert.

The show lineup featured performers from nine countries, including world and Olympic champions Catalina Ponor, Ivan Ivankov, Jordan Jovtchev, Ashley Postell, Yulia Raskina and Li Ya.

A temporary venue was built specifically for the show in Seoul's Olympic Park. The venue featured 180 overhead lights, and video and images were projected onto the stretched canopy overhead.

The event was free to the public, but only 1,200 seats were available for each show. There were 20,000 requests put in for the 3,600 tickets, Ziert said.

"Of the more than 200 shows I have produced over the past 30 years, this was the most dynamic. Every performer gave us a maximum effort, and I would like to thank all of them for showing an extremely high level of gymnastics performed in an elegant and theatrical way," Ziert said.

"Hyundai Capital Invitational II" World Gymnastics Gala

 

 
Written by John Crumlish    Saturday, 28 June 2008 11:50    PDF Print
Poland's Pihan Primed for Summer Olympics, Fall Wedding
(1 vote, average 5.00 out of 5)

Marta Pihan

Marta Pihan of Poland is busy preparing for two of the most significant events of her life: the Olympic Games in August and her wedding in September.

Pihan, who earned the Polish women's only berth for Beijing based on her performance at the 2007 World Championships, is engaged to men's team member Roman Kulesza. She wants to maintain the competitive standard she showed at the 2008 European Championships held in Clermont-Ferrand, France, in April.

"I had a good competition at the European Championships, and now I have this same preparation and am going strong," Pihan told IG this week.

No formal all-around contest took place at this year's Europeans in Clermont-Ferrand, where Pihan finished eighth among gymnasts who competed in all four events in the team preliminaries.

Earlier this year Pihan made three events finals at both the World Cup of Moscow and the World Cup of Maribor, Slovenia. She won her first World Cup circuit medal, a bronze on uneven bars, at Maribor. Pihan has already competed in China in 2008, finishing fifth on uneven bars at the World Cup in Tianjin.

Pihan said she hopes to qualify for the all-around and balance beam finals in Beijing.

"I'm always concentrating mostly on beam, but I am preparing new connections on bars and floor exercise, and a new vault," Pihan said. "I want to do my job as well as possible, because many people believe in me and are keeping their fingers crossed."

Born July 23, 1987, in Szczecin, Pihan began training at age 7. "My friend's mother was a coach, and she took me to my first training," she said. "It was fantastic and I stayed."

Pihan now trains in Zabrze, under head coach Mikalai Hradoukin, Andrei Yarcav (uneven bars) and Joanna Uracz-Kocur (balance beam).

A strong tumbler and expressive dancer, Pihan said she naturally prefers balance beam and floor exercise.

"When I began, I liked beam," she said. "When I was 5, I walked on a wet wood fence and I never fell. I like dance, and maybe that is why my floor exercise is good."

In World Championships all-around competition, Pihan finished 18th in 2005 (Melbourne); 47th in 2006 (Aarhus, Denmark); and 63rd in 2007 (Stuttgart).

In European Championships all-around competition, Pihan finished 23rd in 2004 (Amsterdam); and 20th in 2005 (Debrecen, Hungary).

Poland's sole female gymnastics competitor in the previous two Olympiads was Joanna Skowronska. She placed 60th all-around in preliminaries at the 2000 Olympics, but was injured in training at the 2004 Olympics and did not compete.

The most successful Polish female Olympian to date is Natalia Kot, who placed ninth all-around at the 1956 Melbourne Games.

The highest-ranking Polish female gymnast in the past 50 years of Olympic all-around competition is Anita Jokiel, who placed 18th all-around at the 1980 Moscow Games.

2007 world vault champion Leszek Blanik will be the only Polish male gymnast in Beijing. Blanik, the reigning world and European champion on vault, won the bronze medal on vault at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

Pihan said she often speaks with Skowronska and Blanik about their experiences. "They don't have advice," she said. "We only talk about the Olympic Games."

Outside the gym, Pihan has several hobbies that help her relax.

"I observe the brand-new trends in fashion and make-up," she said. "I like shopping, clothes and cosmetics. Also I like music, dance and good food."

Pihan is currently devoting most of her time to her pre-Olympic training, and planning her Sept. 27 wedding to Kulesza. Kulesza was a finalist on high bar at the last three European Championships.

"I don't know when I will finish and what I will do after," she said of her post-Olympic agenda. "Now I think about Beijing mostly, and about my wedding."

IG Magazine Related Features
"Rebounding for Beijing" - Skowronska profile (July/August 2006)
"Pole Vaulter" - Blanik profile (February 2003)

To subscribe to the digital or print versions of International Gymnast magazine, or to order back issues, click here

 
Written by Admin    Thursday, 19 June 2008 11:47    PDF Print
Sender Hoping to Compete Saturday
(1 vote, average 5.00 out of 5)

Though an injury petition was filed Thursday on behalf of national champion U.S. champion David Sender, he plans to compete if possible in Saturday's finals.

Sender suffered a sprained ankle Wednesday afternoon, when he landed awkwardly on a mat and rolled an ankle when trying to still a vibrating high bar.

"He's frustrated," said Thom Glielmi, Sender's coach at Stanford. "He does not like this process (injury petition). He definitely is an athlete that wants to be on the floor."

Sender won the U.S. Championships in Houston in May after Paul Hamm broke a bone in his hand the first day. Sender also finished the competition with a healthy lead in the "10 Points" system, which rewards high event placements.

If Sender is unable to compete Saturday, 100 percent of his scores from Houston will count for his total.

"He's a proven athlete, but it's definitely not good for him not to compete," Glielmi said.

IG Online Related Items
Sender's Olympic Chances Jeopardized by Odd Injury (June 18, 2008)
Sender Wins U.S. Championships (May 24, 2008)

 
Written by Admin    Thursday, 19 June 2008 09:12    PDF Print
Ageless Chusovitina Turns 33
Preparing for her fifth Olympic Games, Oksana Chusovitina marked her 33rd birthday Thursday.

"I feel perfectly, like I'm still 18 years old!" she told IG this week.

A German citizen since 2006, Chusovitina defines "veteran" like no other gymnast today. Many of her competitors were not yet born when she won her first world championships gold medal in 1991.

Today a mother to a 9-year-old son, Chusovitina presses on with impressive results. In 2008 she won the vault title at the European Championships, and the all-around title at the German national championships.

"I continue training because I really love gymnastics and I still have a zeal for it," she said.

Under coach Svetlana Kuznetsova, Chusovitina made her world debut at the 1991 World Championships in Indianapolis. Originally the alternate to the Soviet team, she moved into the lineup when teammate Yelena Grudneva was injured.

Chusovitina delivered the goods in competition in Indianapolis, helping her team win the gold medal and winning the silver medal on vault and tying for the floor exercise gold.

In Indianapolis she also added three new moves to the Code of Points: the hop full and full-out on uneven bars and a layout full-out on floor exercise. She still competes all three elements today.

Following a team gold medal with the Unified team at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, Chusovitina began competing for her native Uzbekistan. From 1993 to 2005 she won five medals on vault for her native country, and finished 10th in the all-around at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.

She married Uzbek wrestler Bakhodir Kurpanov in 1997. She missed the 1997 and 1999 Worlds after suffering a torn Achilles, and becoming a mother to Alisher.

In the fall of 2002, Alisher was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia. Facing a lack of medical resources in Uzbekistan, she brought Alisher to Germany to seek treatment at the University of Cologne. Fundraisers and donations from gymnastics fans helped the family pay for the treatment.

She accepted an offer to compete for the Germany team in 2003, but had to wait an additional three years for citizenship. Chusovitina, who now trains with Shanna Polyakova in Cologne, said Alisher is healthy and happy today.

"Alisher is doing well," she said. "He is in second grade, and he does gymnastics too — he really loves it!"

With the Olympics in Beijing less than two months away, she had no extravagant plans to celebrate her 33rd, she said Wednesday.

"My plans are the same as always — preparing for the Olympics so I can show everything I can do!" she said.


 
Written by Admin    Wednesday, 18 June 2008 22:04    PDF Print
Sender's Olympic Chances Jeopardized by Odd Injury
U.S. champion David Sender is helped off the mat after spraining his ankle Wednesday in Philadelphia
U.S. national champion David Sender suffered a sprained ankle Wednesday in podium training for the Olympic Trials — but not while doing gymnastics.

After finishing his turn on high bar at Philadelphia's Wachovia Center, the Stanford senior jumped up to the bar to stop it from vibrating. When he landed, his foot rolled off the mat.

"It's one of those things you do every day in the gym," said Dennis McIntyre, U.S. men's program director. "It's really unfortunate."

Sender left the competition area in a wheelchair. X-rays were negative for a fracture, and an MRI on Thursday revealed no tears.

"His sprain is being treated aggressively. They will make a decision on his competing in the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials on a day-by-day basis," USA Gymnastics announced to the media Thursday morning.

If Sender is unable to compete in Philadelphia, he will petition to the U.S. Olympic team, which is scheduled to be announced Sunday.

Reigning Olympic champion Paul Hamm broke his hand at the U.S. Championships in Houston and has petitioned to the team.

Sender won the national title last month in Houston, defeating Jonathan Horton and Joseph Hagerty by a few tenths in the final event.

Results from the Olympic Trials and U.S. Championships will be combined to determine results, with the trials weighted 60 percent to 40 percent for the championships. The top two gymnasts will secure automatic berths to the team, provided they are also in the top three on three events.

Sender's status as national champion does not guarantee him a spot on the team, and he was looking to the trials as a fresh start, he said in Houston.

"It's the Olympics and anybody can make it," he told IG. "We have a really, really deep team. It's really up to consistency and whatever kind of team they put together, where you fit in with their strengths. I'm looking at it as a clean slate and going out there and making the best showing I can."

 


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