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Written by John Crumlish    Monday, 08 July 2019 08:56    PDF Print
GB’s Carter on NCAA Life: ‘It’s An Awesome Thing, Really’
(3 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

British national team member Hamish Carter has found a new academic and training home at the University of Illinois, where he heads into his sophomore year with big goals for more international and collegiate success.

Born November 24, 1998, in West Bridgford, Nottingham, Carter trained at Notts School of Gymnastics until the age of 12. He then moved to Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham , where he trained under coach Lee Woolls at City of Birmingham.

Carter finished second all-around at the 2015 British Under-18 Championships, third all-around at the 2016 British Under-18 Championships, 10th (tie) all-around at the 2017 British Championships and fifth all-around at the 2018 British Championships. A genuine all-arounder, he has won at least one medal on five of the six apparatuses in the junior or senior level at the British Championships.

Carter’s international achievements also span the junior and senior levels. He was a team gold medalist and floor exercise silver medalist for Great Britain at the 2015 European Youth Olympic Festival. He represented Scotland at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, where he placed sixth all-around, fourth on floor exercise and eighth on high bar.

In his freshman (2018-2019) season at the University of Illinois, he earned NCAA All-American honors on high bar, the apparatus he won at the Big 10 conference championships.

The ambitious Carter recently shared with IG Online his thoughts on representing himself well at the national, international and collegiate levels.

IG: You have had success at the junior international, senior international and U.S. collegiate levels. What has been the key to your apparently smooth transition from one level to the next?

HC: After I completed my A-levels exams in 2017 at Bishop Vesey’s Grammar School, I decided to train full-time at the GMAC centre in Perry Barr, Birmingham. At this time, I was relieved of my rigorous academic schedule and was able to dedicate many more hours to my training. I went from 23 to 32 hours a week, which initially took a great toll on my body. I developed a few repetitive injuries, some of which put me out of competitions. But within in a few months, I had become used to the increase in workload and the extra hours in the gym, and noticed it began to strengthen me physically and mentally. I acquired a toughness. 
 Also, none of this would’ve been possible without the constant support of my family — my mum, dad and brother. My parents have picked me up at my lowest and helped me get to where I am today, which happens to be thousands of miles from them. They have done nothing but give unconditionally to me and my love for the sport, which I why I owe a lot of my success to them.

IG: What led to your decision to compete for a U.S. university, and what made you choose the University of Illinois?

HC: Really, this all happened by complete chance. I was catching up with an old coach of mine, Nick Blanton, when I casually asked him about the NCAA and, should I wish to ever go, how I would go about it. Nick coached me at Notts School of Gymnastics and was an NCAA gymnast himself in his day. He is also very close friends with (University of Illinois head coach) Justin Spring and was able to put me in contact with him, and from there things just took off. I was already aware of the NCAA and the University of Illinois in particular, but just never considered it an opportunity for me. Earlier in 2018, Australian gymnast and good friend of mine, Clay Stephens, committed to the University of Illinois.

IG: Given the timing of your university studies and the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, what is your plan for combining your NCAA study/competitive obligations with the chance you have to try for Tokyo?

HC: The initial reason I came to the NCAA was because I had found the place where I could become the best gymnast I could possibly be. My move was purely to further my chances of making it to major championships and becoming an Olympian, Tokyo and beyond. But a huge benefit of me joining the NCAA is I can gain a degree whilst doing that. The school has around 500 student-athletes, so it is expert in dealing with academically driven athletes. I have everyone’s total support in fulfilling my dreams outside of my collegiate career and studies. The gymnastics team has access to an academic support system and is in direct contact with an academic counselor at all times. We have specially made class schedules that make balancing our studies with our training plans as smooth and efficient as possible. Although there is not much let-up from studies and my schooling commitments, here is really the best place to do it. Going into next semester I’ll be continuing with my chemistry and kinesiology classes. As our official NCAA competition season ended in April, I was able to start planning new and upgraded routines for my return to the U.K. in August. I plan to compete in the London Open and the British Team Championships with the hopes of qualifying to the World Championships in October, which will be the true beginning of my senior gymnastics journey.

IG: How does the NCAA’s restriction on training hours impact your international program, for better and for worse?

HC: With classes normally running to midday, just before usual practice hours start, there are only so many hours we can physically spend in the gym. However, my new training schedule here in Illinois suits me much better than my previous one. My training is very efficient. I would describe it now as quality over quantity. I have very clear and very well thought-out goals for each piece every day, even down to every go I take. My coach, Daniel Ribeiro, and I are constantly planning my progression with the very smallest of details. All in all, if I am fitter and healthier, whether that be because I’m training 20 or 40 hours, I’m happy. I’ve found a great formula to allow me to train at my best.

IG: What is your agenda for training and competition between now and Tokyo?

HC: As I mentioned, I am traveling back home to compete in the two World Championships qualifiers that British Gymnastics is hosting to help me cement a solid position in the G.B. senior national team. After that I will come back to Illinois to continue preparations for any internationals that come up and the beginning of my 2020 college season. Over the years, as my gymnastics continues to develop, I hope to be a regular in the major championships teams for my country.

IG: How are you coordinating your training between your longtime club coaches and your university coaches?

HC: I remain in close contact with my head national coaches, Paul Hall and Barry Collie. I share my progress with them and I’m kept informed of any potential international competitions which suit my annual schedule. Both are hugely supportive of my collegiate commitments and am happy that I am progressing so well in my time here. I also remain in close contact with Phil Barrow, gymnastics development officer at Birmingham City Council, who helps me greatly in arranging club commitments and competitions on my return to the U.K.

IG: What aspects of U.S. life have been enlightening, difficult or amusing to you?

HC: At Illinois, we do extensive work on building team philosophy and culture. In our locker room, we have our “Core Values” plastered on the wall. They are Preparation, Purpose, Passion, Growth Mindset, Fight, Illini Pride and Attitude. … One thing I will forever be grateful for is the brotherhood and bond I have with my teammates that is created by the NCAA. I am even luckier to still have that relationship with my Birmingham teammates Joe Fraser, Joshua Nathan, Dom Cunningham, Donell Osbourne and Korben Fellows back home.

For our Spring Break, we spent an extra week at Penn State and trained at the famous International Gymnastics Center, a place I grew up watching on YouTube. That of course led to some great memories that we shared together. But some of my fondest memories so far come from spending my time with my class at IT (Illini Tower, freshman dorms). As a class, we would come home from our practice, and finish any homework or studies we had as quickly as possible, just so we could hang out together. You develop very strong relationships with all of your teammates over your NCAA career, but your class never leaves your side. We all came in together as freshmen, and will finish our college careers together as seniors in time.

IG: For how many more years do hope to represent Scotland and/or Great Britain?

HC: Simply, for as long as I can. My coach Dan is totally invested in my journey. He recognizes my full potential in the sport, my strengths, my character and my emotional needs intrinsically. For this reason, I don’t doubt that I will be able to a strong and consistent member of the GB team in my senior years. The 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, where I will get to represent Scotland at my second games, happen just a few months after I am set to officially graduate from the university. And of course the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris will be fast approaching once my time here at Illinois is done, so I plan to be as ready for that as possible.

To subscribe to the print and/or digital edition, or to order back issues of International Gymnast magazine, click here.

Written by dwight normile    Wednesday, 26 June 2019 12:32    PDF Print
‘Tom Forster Has Been The High-Performance Director For The Women’s Gymnastics Team’
(3 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

Tom Forster has been working for a full year and attempting to improve the women’s elite program.

The women’s team has won three Olympic Games: 1996 in Atlanta, 2012 in London and 2016 in Rio.

The women’s gymnastics team has also won gold medals at six World Championships: 2003 in Anaheim, 2007 in Stuttgart, 2011 in Tokyo, 2014 in Nanning, 2015 in Glasgow and 2018 in Doha. The 2018 Worlds were under Forster’s tutelage.

Forster, who was born in Wichita, Kansas, is one of the best uneven bars coaches in the United States, if not the entire world. He takes a more humbled approach to the gymnasts he is currently coaching, whereas Marta Karolyi was rather stern.

He is CEO and owner of Aerials Gymnastics in Colorado Springs, and Co-Owner of Uneven Bar Boot Camp. His wife, Lori, majored in dance at the University of Northern Colorado, and she choreographs all of the women’s floor routines at Aerials.

Lori Bresciani and Tom Forster have been married for 38 years, so let’s hear from him now…

IG: How many times per year do you go to the EVO gym in Florida?

TF: Between the national team camps and selection camps we meet between five and six times a year.

IG: Who handles the junior team, or do you also invite them?

TF: The High Performance Team Coordinator is responsible for both divisions. Both juniors and seniors come to every national team camp. I have the ability to invite more athletes than just those officially on the national team which I do depending on the time of year and what events we are preparing for.

IG: Are there strictly test skills every now and then, or is it a hybrid of gymnastics training too?

TF: It has long been established as a successful model to instill in our athletes that two things occur at every camp: 1) The athletes are scored and awards given for Physical Ability testing which encompasses strength and flexibility exercises. 2) They are required to officially verify something at every camp. Depending on the time of year it would range from a full routine to a new skill.

IG: What do you think of Simone Biles?

TF: I first met Simone when she was invited to the Development Camps many years ago. I was the staff member responsible for bars. Simone didn’t appear to enjoy bars at that time. I remember watching her vault and thought to myself, “She can do anything she wants on that event.” She was unbelievable.

Not too long after those years Simone has become the greatest of all time in women’s gymnastics. She is determined and a tenacious competitor. Simone has the rare combination of having tremendous natural talent, excellent technique and the determination to do the work required to be the best every time she steps on the podium.

She is an inspiration and has raised the level of gymnastics in our country more than anyone in our history. I’m truly grateful to be part of her journey and thankful for all she gives to our wonderful sport.

Read the complete interview in the 2019 July/August of International Gymnast.

To subscribe to the print and/or digital edition, or to order back issues of International Gymnast magazine, click here.

Written by John Crumlish    Friday, 21 June 2019 09:02    PDF Print
Morgans: Australian Title ‘More Than I Had Hoped For’
(3 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

First-time Australian men’s all-around champion Mitchell Morgans hopes his recent national victory will lead to global success at this fall’s World Championships in Stuttgart and ultimately a berth to next summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Born September 23, 1992, in Wahroonga, NSW, Morgans has been a mainstay on the Australian senior scene since 2011. As a junior he trained under coach Robert Hong, and when he began his senior career he trained under coach Sergei Chinkar. Morgans currently trains under coach Vladimir Vatkin. Morgans won the all-around title at the Australian Championships in Melbourne in late May by a convincing 2.467-point margin of victory.

Morgans has earned his top international results on high bar, on which he finished second at the 2017 World Cup of Melbourne, fourth at the ’17 World Cup of Doha, fifth at the ’17 World Cup of Cottbus, seventh at the ’17 World University Games in Taipei, and second at the ’18 World Cup of Cottbus. He made his World Championships debut in Montreal in 2017, and also competed at the 2018 Worlds in Doha.

In this IG Online interview, the optimistic Morgans shared his thoughts on winning the Australian all-around title, his role on the determined Australian team and his finals-focused plans for upcoming international competitions.

IG: Going into the Australian Championships, what was your goal in terms of placement and performance, and how did you measure up to those expectations?

MM: This year was a little different to previous years as it was also the Oceania Championships. This meant Australia was competing against New Zealand in order to qualify a team into this year’s World Championships. As such, my primary goal was to help team Australia finish first, while getting back into the all-around and making all six of my routines. I knew achieving this would put me in good contention for the all-around title. However, having not competed in an all-around competition for two years, I wasn’t expecting to win. I was hoping to use this as stepping stone to the World Championships, so coming away with that win was more than I had hoped for and it being my first one made it even more exciting.

IG: You won the all-around by a comfortable margin; how did you stay as competitive as possible knowing you did not have anyone especially close to you challenging for the title?

MM: As the team result was more important, that was what drove me to stay competitive throughout the competition. However, I never think about how far in front I am. I want to be the best I can be, which means pushing as hard as I can, all the way until the end. I guess it did help having my main two events at the back end of the competition as I was really hoping to make the finals.

IG: How much pressure do the recent injuries to (Australian team standouts) Chris Remkes and Clay Stephens place on you to lead the Australian team?

MM: Not having Chris and Clay was a massive loss to the strength of our team and, although it was really unfortunate for them, I’m incredibly proud of my fellow teammates who were able to put aside all the pressure and handle the competition like the champions they are. I always knew it was going to be hard but I was confident the team could rise to the occasion.

IG: What improvements have you and the team made since last year's World Championships in Doha?

MM: Leading into the World Championships last year a lot of our team members were either coming back from an injury or had just sustained an injury. This year, we will be focusing on staying fit and healthy. We have been working closely with our extended coaching and support team to ensure we can compete to the best of our ability.

IG: What are your personal and team targets for the World Championships in Stuttgart?

MM: My personal targets are to compete in the all-around and hopefully qualify for the Olympics. I would also like to either make a final or finish as close to making a final in one of my two main events. As for the team, we are really hoping to pull together some really solid and clean routines, finishing as high as we can. I know many of my teammates will be hoping to finish as close to the finals as they can.

IG: Historically you have achieved your best results on the "bar" events. What makes you especially suited to parallel bars and high bar?

MM: I’ve always loved high bar and p-bars. It was something my junior coach always tried to encourage me to do more of, as it was something I really enjoyed doing as a kid. I wouldn’t say my physique is suited to these events; I just enjoy doing them.

IG: What will your competition agenda look like between now and Tokyo?

MM: I definitely plan on trying to qualify for the Olympics so I would like to finish off the last part of the World Cup series. This would give me some more competition experience leading into the Games and if all goes well, give me an opportunity to qualify. I would also like to compete at the Toyota Cup in Japan later this year. This competition will allow me to get a feel for the atmosphere in Japan and the equipment they will use at the Games. If I’m lucky enough to qualify, my main focus will be staying fit and healthy.

IG: With a long trail of success behind you, what are your thoughts on staying on through the next Olympic cycle and trying for Paris 2024?

MM: I would love to consider continuing on for another Olympic cycle. I guess it would depend on whether my body can keep up with the demand. Even if I have to cut back on the all-around and specialize on a few events, I would consider it.  If I had it my way I’m sure I would do another two cycles!

To subscribe to the print and/or digital edition, or to order back issues of International Gymnast magazine, click here.

Written by John Crumlish    Wednesday, 19 June 2019 07:51    PDF Print
Höck on Tokyo: ‘I Will Take All The Chances I Have’
(6 votes, average 3.67 out of 5)

Since winning the 2014 European junior title on rings, Austria’s Vinzenz Höck has been hovering close to major senior finals on his best apparatus, and he continues to push closer to the top as he aims for next summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo.

The 23-year-old Höck was second reserve for the rings final at the European Championships in Szczecin, Poland, in April, an improvement of one rank from his performance at last year’s Europeans in Glasgow. He finished among the top 20 on rings at the 2017 and 2018 World Championships.

In this IG Online interview, Höck describes the work and strategy he is employing in his quest to qualify for the Tokyo Games.

IG: You came very close to making the rings final in Szczecin, but what do you think you could have done better, in order to make it into the final?

VH: This year I tried to push my D-score to 6.2. It is the highest D-score I have shown in competition yet, but as everyone knows a high D-score does not guarantee an event-final qualification. As you said, it was close for me to make the final, but unfortunately I made a few costly mistakes at the end of my routine, thus could not advance to the final.

IG: Over the past few years you have been close to making the rings final at the World Championships and other major competitions. There are many strong rings guys, so what improvements or changes to your routine will you make in order to make the Worlds final?

VH: Until now I mainly focused to improve my D-score, but now that I finally achieved a D-score above 6.0, I try to work on my execution and details. In my opinion, working on very small details is the only way to reach a major championships final in the future. Therefore I don’t plan any changes in my routine this year, but to improve my execution.

IG: What are your target competitions between now and Tokyo?

VH: The first step is the Universiade next month in Italy. It will be my first all-around competition in two years. The next target is the World Championships in Stuttgart in October. After Stuttgart I will know if I have the chance to participate in Tokyo and so any further plans can only be made after Stuttgart.

IG: What is your plan for trying to qualify for Tokyo as an individual? What chance do you think you have?

VH: I know that the qualification process is tough, and so I will take all the chances I have. I am returning to the all-around stage and trying to secure an all-around spot in Stuttgart. Since the places for pure event specialists are still very limited I think the all-around is my highest chance to qualify for the Games.

IG: Although you are known mainly for your expertise on rings, you are also an all-arounder. Going forward, do you plan to remain an all-arounder, or narrow your focus to competing on only rings and/or a few other apparatuses?

VH: I thought a lot about continuing in the all-around because it is very entertaining to practice and compete, but rings is a very special event and needs a lot of time to practice. Therefore I am thinking of narrowing my focus on rings and trying to become a true specialist in the future. However, until the World Championships in Stuttgart this year, I will focus on the all-around and try to qualify for Tokyo.

To subscribe to the print and/or digital edition, or to order back issues of International Gymnast magazine, click here.

Written by John Crumlish    Wednesday, 05 June 2019 07:41    PDF Print
Nedoroscik: ‘I’ve Learned To Trust My Training’
(2 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

Following his international debut this spring, U.S. pommel horse specialist Stephen Nedoroscik has made substantial upgrades as he aims for titles at this summer’s World University Games in Naples, this fall’s World Championships in Stuttgart and the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

The 20-year-old Nedoroscik, a Massachusetts native who is heading into his senior year at Penn State University, placed first on pommel horse at the 2017 and ’18 NCAA Championships, and second on pommel horse at the ’19 NCAA Championships. He was seventh on pommel horse at the ’17 U.S. Championships and ninth on pommel horse at the ’18 U.S. Championships.

Following his victory on pommel horse at the U.S. Winter Cup Challenge in February, Nedoroscik was named to the U.S. national team. He finished sixth on pommel horse at the World Cup of Doha in March, which was his first international start. In April he was named to represent the U.S. at the World University Games in Naples in July.

The ambitious Nedoroscik, who participated in the recent training camp at the U.S. Olympic Training Center, shared his thoughts in this IG Online interview.

IG: With only one international meet behind you, and having completed a long NCAA season, how are you physically and mentally preparing yourself for the challenge of competing at the World University Games?

SN: I am extremely excited for World University Games. I have continued to train just as rigorously as I did during the NCAA season. I’ve managed to escape injury thus far and feel great physically, good enough to upgrade my routine by six tenths. With the progression of my upgrades and consistency of my routines during the season, I feel confident going into the World University Games.

IG: Looking back on Doha, what do you think caused your fall in the final, and what steps have to taken since to avoid it going forward?

SN: During the competition at Doha, I experienced a nervousness I had never felt. Despite the complicated feelings going into competition, I was able to hit a solid routine in the preliminaries, qualifying for finals. Going into finals, I knew I was against the strongest horse competition in the world, but I wasn’t nervous about it. I was excited. I made a mistake during preliminaries on my Russian flop so I focused a lot during warm-ups to correct it. During my competitive routine I executed a phenomenal first half and was certain I’d finish the rest. It was my own confidence that diverted my focus and I accidentally rushed my reverse Roth, resulting in an unrecoverable front loop, and I fell. Since that competition, I’ve warmed up every skill equally. More specifically I’ve learned to trust my training despite how warm-ups feel and to stay focused throughout the routine.

IG: With two NCAA titles, a World Cup final and now World University Games participating to your name, what do you feel you can offer to the U.S. team in Stuttgart and Tokyo?

SN: I believe I can offer the USA a really good shot at the pommel horse title in Stuttgart and Tokyo. Although my international career is extremely young, so was my NCAA career when I won in my freshman year. Besides my gymnastics abilities, a (Penn State) teammate of mine, Samuel Zakutney, labeled me as a teammate that can keep the momentum rolling regardless that I only compete a single event. Whether it’s helping Team USA strive for a pommel horse medal, or it’s cheering and applauding my teammates, I offer Team USA a great teammate to have.

IG: What is your plan for bolstering your pommel horse routine for a better chance to make the U.S. teams for Stuttgart and Tokyo?

SN: Currently I am training a 16.8 start-value routine. I am upgrading to a Mikulak, G-Flop and Bezugo, a total of six tenths added from my previous routine. It has been two weeks of working the routine, and I have already gained consistency in all of my upgrades and even hit a routine last week. I have also been focusing on my swing in general, trying to eliminate any further deductions.

IG: Considering the competition to earn a spot on the U.S. team for Tokyo, what plans do you have for trying to earn an individual spot through participation in the World Cup series?

SN: To further my chances of making it to Tokyo, I must earn points through World Cups this coming year. My plan is to gain consistency with my new routine to increase my chances of winning at these World Cups. If I were to win three World Cups on pommel horse, scoring higher on average than the gymnast from Taipei who already has won three times, then I believe I would guarantee myself an individual spot for Tokyo. For now, my goal is to make the U.S. national team once again, and for that I need consistency and execution. I have goals that may seem improbable, but I trust with these goals in mind, I will pursue my dreams.

To subscribe to the print and/or digital edition, or to order back issues of International Gymnast magazine, click here.

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