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Written by Amanda Turner    Saturday, 12 September 2009 15:15    PDF Print
Can Kanayeva's Medal Feat Be Topped?
(32 votes, average 4.84 out of 5)

Russian rhythmic gymnast Yevgenia Kanayeva's new all-time record for gold-medal success at a world championships is unlikely to be beaten with the increased specialization in gymnastics.

Russian Yevgenia Kanayeva's new all-time record for gold-medal success at a world championships is unlikely to be beaten.

The 19-year-old superstar won six out of six possible gold medals at the world championships in Mie, Japan. Over the past week she took golds with the Russian team, with each of the four apparatus (rope, hoop, ball and ribbon) and finally the all-around title.

Kanayeva matched Belarusian legend Vitaly Scherbo's record of six golds at a single competition, which he achieved at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona.

Kanayeva is the fourth rhythmic gymnast to sweep the world championships. Soviet Lyudmila Savinkova won the three categories contested at the 1963 World Championships: the all-around, the exercise with apparatus and the free routine with no apparatus. Bulgaria's Bianka Panova in 1987 and Russia's Oksana Kostina in 1992 won or tied for all five gold medals. No team competition was held at that time, however.

No artistic gymnast has swept a world or Olympics, and the increasing specialization make it an unlikely future scenario. The record of five gold medals at a worlds is held by the late Boris Shakhlin (Soviet Union), who accomplished the feat at the 1958 World Championships.

Eighteen gymnasts have walked away from a world championships or Olympic Games with four golds; Japanese legend Akinori Nakayama did it twice.

It is rare for gymnasts to win even three gold medals at a single world or Olympic competition. Among the names of gymnasts who have accomplished the feat are the Soviet Union's Galina Shugarova (1973 and 1977 Worlds), Romania's Nadia Comaneci (1976 Olympics), China's Li Ning (1984 Olympics), the Soviet Union's Svetlana Boginskaya (1989 Worlds), Romania's Daniela Silivas (1987 and 1989 Worlds, 1988 Olympics) and Shannon Miller (1993 Worlds). The most recent gymnasts to score a hat trick are American Shawn Johnson (2007 Worlds) and China's Zou Kai (2008 Olympics).

Soviet gymnast Alexander Dityatin holds the record for the most medals won at a single competition. He won the maximum eight medals — three gold — at the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow.

Gymnastics Records - Four or More Golds at a Single Competition

Six Gold Medals
Vitaly Scherbo1992 Olympic Gamesteamall-aroundpommel horsestill ringsvaultparallel bars
Yevgenia Kanayeva2009 Worldsteamall-aroundropeballhoopribbon
Five Gold Medals
Boris Shakhlin1958 Worldsteamall-aroundpommel horseparallel barshigh bar
Bianka Panova1987 Worldsall-aroundropehoopclubsribbon
Oksana Kostina1992 Worldsall-aroundropehoopballclubs
Alina Kabayeva*2001 Worldsteamall-aroundropeballclubs
Olga Kapranova2005 Worldsteamall-aroundropeballclubs
Four Gold Medals
Viktor Chukarin1952 Olympic Gamesteamall-aroundpommel horsevault
Larisa Latynina1956 Olympic Gamesteamall-aroundvaultfloor exercise
Akinori Nakayama1968 Olympic Gamesteamstill ringsparallel barshigh bar
Vera Caslavska1968 Olympic Gamesall-aroundvaultuneven barsfloor exercise
Akinori Nakayama1970 Worldsteamfloor exercisestill ringsparallel bars
Lyudmila Turischeva1974 Worldsteamall-aroundbalance beamfloor exercise
Shigeru Kasamatsu1974 Worldsteamall-aroundfloor exercisevault
Nikolai Andrianov1976 Olympic Gamesall-aroundfloor exercisestill ringsvault
Alexander Dityatin1979 Worldsteamall-aroundstill ringsvault
Dmitry Bilozerchev1983 Worldsall-aroundpommel horsestill ringshigh bar
Ecaterina Szabo1984 Olympicsteamvaultbalance beamfloor exercise
Dilyana Gergieva1985 Worldsall-aroundropeballclubs
Yuri Korolyov1985 Worldsteamall-aroundstill ringsvault
Dmitry Bilozerchev1987 Worldsteamall-aroundpommel horsehigh bar
Alexandra Timochenko1989 Worldsall-aroundropehoopball
Alexandra Timochenko1991 Worldsropehoopballclubs
Maria Petrova1993 Worldsall-aroundhoopballribbon
Yekaterina Serebryanskaya1994 Worldshoopballclubsribbon
Yelena Vitrichenko1997 Worldsall-aroundropeclubsribbon

* Disqualified

Could an artistic gymnast ever sweep a world competition? Can gymnastics records be compared across the years? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below!

Written by John Crumlish    Saturday, 05 September 2009 17:37    PDF Print
Wong Pursuing Olympic Goal, NCAA Success
(21 votes, average 4.48 out of 5)

Enrolled at UCLA since July, Dutch all-around champion Lichelle Wong told IG she plans to simultaneously pursue her university studies and her ultimate goal — the 2012 Olympic Games.

2009 Dutch champion Lichelle Wong

"I hope that the World Championshipss in 2010 and 2011 will be the best years Holland ever has, and that we will be able to go as a team to the Olympics," said Wong, who arrived in Los Angeles on July 26. "If everything works out well, I am definitely trying to go to the Olympics in 2012."

The 19-year-old Wong said she is not trying for the 2009 World Gymnastics Championships (Oct. 13-18 in London) because she wants to "completely recover" from surgery on her left Achilles' tendon, one of three procedures she underwent in the summer of 2008. Wong also had surgery to shorten a ligament in her right ankle, and surgery to repair the labrum of her shoulder.

"My shoulder is doing great, and I can do everything I want," said Wong, who placed first all-around at the Dutch Championships in June. "My right ankle is pretty good. My Achilles' needed a little bit more time, but we're working very hard on it, and it is working out very well."

Wong, who placed 17th all-around and eighth on uneven bars at the 2007 European Championships in Amsterdam, was a member of the 17th-place Dutch team at the 2007 Worlds in Stuttgart. Her top World Cup results include fourth place on uneven bars at Paris (2007), Shanghai (2007) and Moscow (2008); fifth place on uneven bars at Stuttgart (2007) and Maribor, Slovenia (2007); seventh place on balance beam at Maribor (2007); and eighth place on balance beam at Moscow (2008).

During the Freshman Summer Program at UCLA, Wong has been studying Composition and Ethnomusicology (History of the Blues). Her fall classes will include Pre-Calculus, Chemistry and English Composition 2. Wong said she is considering a major in Life Science, because she wants to attend medical school.

Wong said she is looking forward to competing for UCLA in the 2009-2010 NCAA season, and resuming her international career competing for the Netherlands next year.

"The greatest achievement in college gymnastics is to win the NCAA championships, so that is the goal," Wong said. "Everything that is needed to achieve that, is the goal I have for the coming years. I definitely want to continue doing international gymnastics, and I am aiming for the 2010 World Championships in Rotterdam - Holland!"

Wong said she is motivated by several of her Dutch teammates, including Suzanne Harmes and Gabriella Wammes, both of whom returned to gymnastics after giving birth, and 26-year-old Fieke Willems.

"Fieke quit doing gymnastics for a while, while she was doing medical school, but at the moment she's combining them both," Wong said. "I think that's really demanding. My sister is doing medical school now, too, and I can't imagine how to combine both on the highest level."

Wong said Dutch male gymnastics star Epke Zonderland impresses her with his ability to maintain his studies and his international gymnastics status.

"Epke has inspired me because he is also combining medical school and his elite gymnastics," she said. "On top of that, he ended up seventh on high bar in the Olympics and won the World Cup Final on high bar."

Written by Dwight Normile    Friday, 04 September 2009 11:02    PDF Print
Gymnastics Coach Tom Cook Mourned
(11 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

Tom Cook, who owned the Atlanta School of Gymnastics in Tucker, Ga., died unexpectedly Tuesday. He was 66.

Tom Cook, who owned the Atlanta School of Gymnastics in Tucker, Ga., died unexpectedly Tuesday. He was 66.

"We're all getting over the initial shock of it all, because he was fine one day and gone the next," said Nathan Simmons, a coach at the gym for 25 years. "And he was in great shape for his age, so it's a little strange."

Cook had felt ill on Sunday night, and went to the hospital. After suffering two mild heart attacks, he died two days later.

Cook was born Aug. 6, 1943, in Waukegan, Ill. He competed for Southern Illinois University, where he remained to get his master's degree. He earned his Ph.D. at the University of Georgia.

He and his wife, Bunny, started the Atlanta School of Gymnastics in the mid-1970s.

The gym's most prominent gymnasts included Kathy Johnson, a two-time medalist at the 1984 Olympics; Kristie Phillips, 1987 U.S. champion and 1987 world team member; and Kevin Davis, a 1988 Olympian.

When she was 15, Johnson lived with the Cooks to pursue her Olympic aspirations. Tom drove her to school in the morning, and Bunny picked her up in the afternoon and took her to the gym. Johnson did not make the 1976 Olympic team and eventually moved away to train at clubs in Louisiana and Chicago.

"Though I had great gymnastics success, it came with a lot of personal trauma," Johnson said. "My return to Atlanta was crucial, as Tom and Bunny picked up the pieces of a broken dream and nurtured me back into training," Johnson said. "Without them I would never have made my first Olympic team in 1980 or continued well into my twenties to competed at two subsequent world championships, and finally, the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. The depth of their commitment to and love for me sustained me through immeasurably difficult times, and in the end, gave me the happiest times of my career."

Said Simmons: "He was like a father to a lot of people."

A viewing will be held tonight (Sept. 4) from 6-8 p.m. and a memorial service Saturday, Sept. 5, at 2 p.m., both at Wages and Sons Funeral Home, 1031 Lawrenceville Highway, Lawrenceville, GA 30046.

External Link: Atlanta School of Gymnastics

Written by Dwight Normile    Monday, 31 August 2009 13:22    PDF Print
Liukin Withdraws from Worlds Contention
(29 votes, average 3.41 out of 5)

2008 Olympic champion Nastia Liukin (U.S.) announced that she will not be available for team selection to the 2009 World Gymnastics Championships, which will be held Oct. 13-18 in London.

2008 Olympic champion Nastia Liukin (U.S.) competes at the 2009 U.S. Championships

Liukin competed only on the balance beam at the recent Visa (U.S.) Championships in Dallas, but her two-day total on that apparatus ranked her only fourth.

"I have given a lot of thought to this since the 2009 Visa Championships," she said. "Getting back into the gym and competition has been a major goal for me this summer, and I have worked hard to balance my training and obligations. This past year has been wonderful and a whirlwind. With the selection process for worlds beginning next week, I realized I need to take some time to get myself where I need and want to be competitively."

Liukin, 19, said she would support her teammates as they vie for spots on the world team. She also said she isn't through with gymnastics completely.

"This is by no means a retirement," said Liukin, who had attended every training camp at the Karolyis' ranch since the 2008 Olympics. "I do want to take a little break right now."

For how long, Liukin could not say. Aside from professional obligations, she said she wanted to take a much-needed vacation, "hopefully on an island somewhere."

After discussing the decision with her parents over the weekend, Liukin said the hardest person to tell was national team coordinator Marta Karolyi, who is taking a vacation herself in Romania.

"I honestly didn't even know how to start the conversation," Liukin said. "I could tell that it was a little hard for her to take."

Considering her current physical state, Liukin said it would be better for other gymnasts to have an opportunity to compete. She also said that when she does compete, she wants to be able to challenge for the gold.

"I don't want to go out there and compete if I'm not 100 percent," she said.

Said Karolyi: "We appreciate her making a decision that is right for her, as well as putting the goals of her teammates ahead of her own."

Though she said the decision was very difficult, Liukin hinted that her future goals include more than just winning another world medal, which would set a new American record. (She and Shannon Miller are currently tied with nine.)

"The 2012 Olympics in London remain an important goal for me," she said. "I have more to accomplish in this sport."

Written by John Crumlish    Saturday, 29 August 2009 00:18    PDF Print
High Spirits for Ferrari, High Hopes for Galante
(28 votes, average 4.86 out of 5)

2006 world champion Vanessa Ferrari continues to make progress following surgery, and Italian teammate Paola Galante is on target for this fall's world gymnastics championships, coach Enrico Casella told IG this week.

Italy's Paola Galante

"Vanessa is now in a recovery period," said Casella of the 18-year-old Ferrari, who had surgery on her right foot and ankle June 10. "She is psychologically very good, but we cannot speak about a confidence level for competition yet. I am very happy with her work and her spirit."

Casella, who coaches Ferrari and Galante at his Brixia Gymnastics Club near Milan, said he is not sure if Ferrari will be ready for the 2009 World Gymnstics Championships that will take place Ocr. 13-18 in London.

"All will be decided at the last minute," Casella said. "We hope to definitely resolve Vanessa's problem, but she needs time to recover. Now she is training on bars and conditioning."

Casella said he is hopeful that Galante, 16, will be selected for the Italian team that will compete at worlds. Galante placed fifth all-around at the 2008 European Junior Championships in Clermont-Ferrand, and 24th all-around in qualifications at this spring's European Senior Championships in Milan.

"Paola is a very elegant girl and gymnast," Casella told IG. "She has recovered from a past injury to her right foot, but she lost a lot of time, so her acrobatic work has been affected by her long period of trouble."

Casella said Galante has potential for success at worlds, if she is named to the Italian team.

"In London, Paola can get very important experience, with the goal of the all-around final," Casella said.

At the 2009 Italian Championships, held in Meda in May, Ferrari and clubmate Erika Fasana placed first and second, while Galante finished fourth.

Casella said Ferrari and Galante have spent the summer training at Brixia with clubmates Fasana, Greta Carnessali and Elisa Meneghini.

The club also has a new coach, three-time Olympian and former Brixia gymnast Monica Bergamelli.

"Monica finished as an athlete in May, and started to coach with me in Brixia, of course," Casella said.

IG traveled to Brixia for an in-depth report on Brixia Gymnastics Club and a dual interview with Ferrari and Casella, both of which appear in the January/February 2009 issue of International Gymnast magazine. To subscribe to IG Magazine or order back issues, click here.


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