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Written by Amanda Turner    Tuesday, 01 July 2008 20:25    PDF Print
Russian Cup Begins Wednesday

The Russian Cup competition that begins Wednesday in Lobnya will determine the final 18-member Olympic training squad for men and women.

Currently 12 male and 12 female gymnasts are in contention for the Olympics in Beijing, head coach Andrei Rodionenko said. Following the six-day competition in Lobnya, nine from each squad will proceed to the training camp in the Siberian city of Leninsk-Kuznetsky, where the final Olympic teams will train before departing for China.

"I am happy with how the preparation has gone for the championships," Rodionenko said. "Nothing out of the ordinary has happened. Everybody is healthy, and there aren't any compromising injuries. Everything has gone according to plan. What will happen next will unfold on the podium."

Russian Cup Schedule
Wednesday, July 2
2:30 p.m. Men's Qualification
Thursday, July 3
4 p.m. Women's Qualification
Friday, July 4
4 p.m. Men's All-Around Final
Saturday, July 5
11 a.m. Women's All-Around Final
Sunday, July 6
11 a.m. Event Finals (Russian Championships)
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2004 Olympian Anna Pavlova led a Russian sweep of the top six places at the Dutch Open held June 22 in Amsterdam. Pavlova won the all-around, followed in the rankings by Ksenia Semyonova, Ksenia Afanasyeva, Yekaterina Kramarenko, Yulia Lozhechko and Svetlana Klyukina. Kristina Goryunova finished ninth, and 2007 Russian Cup champion Kristina Pravdina finished 20th.

The Russian men won the team title at the European Championships in Lausanne in May. Top contenders for the men's title in Lobnya include reigning Russian national and Russian Cup champion Sergei Khorokhordin, European all-around champion Maxim Devyatovsky and Yuri Ryazanov.

"I don't wish to praise or criticize anyone right now — the only criteria is their performance at the championships," Rodionenko said.

Team elder Nikolai Kryukov, a member of the Russian teams that won the gold medal at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta and the bronze at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, plans to do pommel horse, vault, parallel bars and high bar in Lobnya. Kryukov, the 1999 world all-around champion, finished eighth all-around at the 2007 Russian Cup.

"Unfortunately I won't do the all-around," said Kryukov, who turns 30 in November. "Because of my age and the overall difficulty needed in gymnastics I had to give up this idea."

The competition will be held at the Sports Palace in Lobnya, a suburb of Moscow. The Sports Palace offers a public webcam that may be active during the competition (see box for webcam link and competition schedule).

Pavlova on floor exercise, 2008 Dutch Open

Kramarenko on floor exercise, 2008 Dutch Open

Lozhechko on balance beam, 2008 Dutch Open

IG Online Related Items
Russians Sweep Dutch Open (June 22, 2008)
Russians Shine Bright in Moscow (May 30, 2008)
Russians Count Down to Beijing (May 28, 2008)
Russia Defends European Title (May 10, 2008)
Russians Emphasizing Teams in Stuttgart (July 27, 2007)

Written by Admin    Sunday, 29 June 2008 21:17    PDF Print
Viner Gets Warning from FIG
(1 vote, average 5.00 out of 5)

The FIG has given Russian rhythmic gymnastics coach Irina Viner an official warning for statements she made to the media in 2007, the federation announced Monday.

The FIG Disciplinary Commission summoned Viner for a hearing June 15 in Lausanne, prompting speculation that the coach could be officially sanctioned. In April, the FIG handed Viner's Ukrainian rival, Irina Deryugina, an eight-year ban for violating numerous FIG statutes.

In a release, the FIG stated that it began an investigation of Viner in April concerning statements she made after the 2007 Rhythmic Gymnastics World Championships, held in September in Patras, Greece.

"The statements in question could notably damage the image of gymnastics and affect the dignity of judges and affiliated federations. As such, this could be an infringement of art. 5 of the FIG Code of Discipline," the federation stated.

At the 2007 World Championships, the Russian gymnasts lost the individual all-around title for the first time since 1997. After Ukrainian Anna Bessonova won the title over Russians Vera Sesina and Olga Kapranova, Viner blamed the results on biased judging.

"If the individual competition had not concluded with the all-around final, then it would have come out completely differently," Viner said following the competition. "After my girls won five gold medals, someone hinted that the world championships were not an all-Russian competition. So the judges artifically decided to pull up Anna Bessonova over Sesina... After the all-around results, I worried for the outcome of the group tournament, and undertook the necessary measures to ensure that this situation does not happen again."

The FIG stated that Viner had apologized for her remarks that "may have been misinterpreted and reported by the media in a manner that could damage the judges and gymnastics."

Stated the FIG, "Having considered the circumstances of the case, the Presidential Commission, based on art. 10 of the FIG Code of Discipline and art. 42.2 (a) of the Statutes, has decided to pronounce a warning against Mrs Viner. The warning is the lowest sanction foreseen in the FIG Statutes."

IG Online Related Items
FIG Delays Viner Verdict (June 17, 2008)
Viner Faces Disciplinary Commission, Possible Sanctions (June 14, 2008)
FIG Suspends Deryugina till 2016 (April 22, 2008)

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)


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