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Written by John Crumlish    Wednesday, 01 July 2015 07:41    PDF Print
Malaysia's Ang Aims for Finals at University Games
(1 vote, average 5.00 out of 5)

Following her team’s gold medal-winning performance at the recent South East Asian Games, veteran Malaysian gymnast Tracie Ang told IG that she looks forward to solid personal results at the University Games that begin July 3 in Gwangju, Korea.

“Competitions with a short break in between is quite tough but I’ve managed to upgrade my difficulties in this short period,” said Ang, the oldest member of the Malaysian team that placed first at last month’s South East Asian Games in Singapore. “I hope to perform well and score a good score, and that would give me a chance for me in the finals.”

Ang said she considers the SEA Games, which were her first competition of the year, as a warm-up for Gwangju.

“I have been out of the team for awhile due to my operation and recovery,” said Ang, referring to a hip injury she sustained last year. “It was a good start for me to motivate me for the Universiade.”

Ang said that, although she intended the University Games to be her first competition of 2015, team officials encouraged her to prepare for the SEA Games if she felt ready enough.

“At the end of April I was released from rehab and began to start full training,” she said. “I was asked if I could be able to ready for the SEA Games. I took the advice and tried to compete on at least two events, and in the end I managed to compete in all events. That was quite a quick recovery after my surgery which was last October.”

Ang is already looking ahead to competitions later this year, including the Asian championships in Hiroshima that will begin July 31, and the world championships in Glasgow in October.

Through a clean performance in Glasgow, Ang hopes to earn an individual berth for next summer’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

“I'm still giving my best shape to prepare for worlds and qualify for Rio,” she told IG. “It would be my dream to qualify for Rio and I believe that with a good performance, there are chances waiting for me. I need to get back to my peak shape to perform better.”

 
Written by dwight normile    Tuesday, 30 June 2015 14:16    PDF Print
Rebeca Andrade, Top Prospect for Brazil, Tears ACL
(1 vote, average 5.00 out of 5)

Rebeca Andrade tore her right ACL last week in training, and the injury will keep her out of the upcoming Pan American Games in Toronto this summer and the world championships in Glasgow in the fall. More critical, however, is how her injury will impact Brazil's chances of qualifying a full team to the 2016 Rio Olympics. Brazil was the 12th and last women's team to qualify to the 2012 Olympics at the test event in London.

Andrade, who turned 16 on May 8, has returned to her native Sao Paulo for surgery on Thursday. Dr. Caio D'Elia, the same surgeon who repaired Sergio Sasaki's ACL earlier this year, will perform the operation on Andrade, according to GloboEsporte.com.

Andrade, who trains at Clube de Regatas do Flamengo, has struggled to remain healthy recently. Last summer she missed the Youth Olympics in Nanjing, China, because of a foot injury. Flavia Saraiva went in her place and won a gold on floor exercise and silvers in the all-around and on balance beam.

In an interview with IG in 2012, Alexander Alexandrov, who had just accepted a position as Brazilian women's head coach, described Andrade as "a talented gymnast [who] has the potential to be a very good one."

That may still happen at some point, but the timing of this injury will likely slow the development of Andrade individually, and also decrease the Olympic qualification potential of the Brazilian women's team.

 
Written by John Crumlish    Monday, 29 June 2015 09:30    PDF Print
Hambüchen Ready to Ace Universiade
(4 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

German superstar Fabian Hambüchen told IG that, after winning gold at the recent European Games in Baku, he has new plans for the University Games that will begin July 3 in Gwangju, Korea.

“The goal is to have a great competition without mistakes, and have a lot of fun," said Hambüchen, who placed first on high bar, second on floor exercise and fifth all-around in Baku. “You cannot compare it with Baku. It’s something different, but still, we want to be as successful as possible.”

Hambüchen, who placed second all-around at the 2013 Universiade in Kazan, said Gwangju is a late but important addition to his competition agenda in preparation for the world championships in Glasgow in October.

“Honestly, Universiade wasn't planned for me,” Hambüchen said. “But I had a flu in January and couldn't start into the season as early as I wanted, so I decided to do Baku and Gwangju to get ready for worlds. Baku was great and Gwangju will be the next step in my season. Universiade is such a great event, and I’m excited to be here again.

Hambüchen said he is optimistic that he and teammates Helge Liebrich and Fabian Lotz can produce a good team ranking in Gwangju.

“We all have to do all-around because every score counts for the team result, so it will be exciting,” Hambüchen said. “If we hit all 18 routines, I think top five is possible for us. Fabian and Helge are good guys. We’re going to push hard in competition.”

Hambüchen said peaking for Baku and Gwangju in quick succession is not a major challenge.

“It's exactly two weeks between the competitions, so that's not a big deal to get focused again,” he told IG. “It depends on your attitude, so I feel pretty good and ready for the next meet.”

 
Written by dwight normile    Friday, 12 June 2015 07:08    PDF Print
Mustafina, Komova Set for Return in Baku
(5 votes, average 4.20 out of 5)

The inaugural European Games, a multi-sport event, will begin on Sunday, June 14, in Baku, Azerbaijan. Following is a preview of the artistic gymnastics competition from the European Gymnastics Union.

The first two disciplines to step onto the gymnastics podium are men’s and women’s artistic gymnastics. In these Olympic disciplines up to 88 male gymnasts (26 teams and 10 individuals) and 89 female gymnasts (26 teams and 11 individuals) will compete, from 14 to 20 June, at the National Gymnastics Arena

Competition format:

During qualification (CI) all competitors aim to qualify for the all-around and event finals. Qualification is spread over 2 days with 3 men’s artistic gymnastics (MAG) and 2 women’s artistic gymnastics (WAG) events taking place in parallel per day and the results serve as the team standings (CIV). A team consists of 3 gymnasts, all 3 gymnasts can present their routine and the 2 best scores count towards the team total.

In the all-around final the top 18 competitors (max. 1 per country) on all events combined will compete for the title. There will be alternation between men and women. All competitors start from zero in the final.

In event finals the top 6 competitors (max. 1 per country) on each event compete. Men’s floor is followed by women’s vault and men’s pommel horse in alternation, rings together with uneven bars, men’s vault with women’s beam, parallel bars with floor; the finals end with high bar om its own. Scores from qualification don’t carry on to the final.

Alternation explained:

To make the events easier to follow for spectators both in the hall and at home, 1 gymnast will compete at a time. One male gymnast competes and while he waits for his score, a female gymnast competes. While she waits for her score, the next male gymnast performs. This way there is always a gymnast performing.

Men’s and women’s gymnastics will be in alternation during all-around and event finals. During qualifications they will compete in parallel as it would take too long in alternation.

Who to watch in Women’s Artistic Gymnastics:

The field is headlined by newly-crowned European all-around champion Giulia Steingruber (SUI) and will see the return to competition of Russian stars Aliya Mustafina and Viktoria Komova. Many teams have send new names to these Games, to let them gain experience before the important World Championships in Glasgow (GBR) in October, which serve as the first qualifying step towards the Rio 2016 Olympics.

Russia is expected to be strong with Olympics bars champion Mustafina, 2011 world bars champion Komova and Youth Olympic Champion Seda Tutkhalian who recently won the 4 Nations Cup in Italy. Mustafina and Komova have been out for a while and have little competition rhythm. Romania is sending Andreea Iridon, Laura Jurca and Silvia Zarzu. Germany can definitely challenge them, teaming the experienced Elisabeth Seitz up with bars specialist Sophie Scheder and newcomer Leah Griesser. Strong European gymnastics countries like Great Britain and Italy have left their most experienced gymnasts at home so it will be exciting to see how they place. In the all-around Steingruber looks to strengthen her authority on the European scene, after her historic win at the European Championships in Montpellier last April. She has a good chance to qualify for all event finals as well. Kelly Simm (GBR) will challenge her on vault. On beam also look out for the elegant Vasiliki Millousi (GRE) and Katarzyna Jurkowska-Kowalska (POL).

Due to the ‘1 per country’-rule it will be a tough battle within many teams to reach the all-around and event finals.

Who to watch in Men’s Artistic Gymnastics:

Several big names are on the roster! 2015 European champions Oleg Vernyayev (UKR, all-around and parallel bars), Marijo Moznik (CRO, high bar) and Eleftherios Petrounias (GRE, rings) will compete against Fabian Hambüchen (GER), who opted out of the European Championships to focus on this competition, and Azerbaijan’s medal hope Oleg Stepko. Russia sends a strong team of all-arounders: 2013 European Champion and 2015 runner-up David Belyavsky, Nikolai Kuksenkov and Nikita Ignatyev. Great Britain sends a young and very talented team consisting of junior European Champions Frank Baines, Brinn Bevan and Nile Wilson. Competing without a team is Israel’s Alexander Shatilov, always a strong challenger on floor and high bar.

Competition schedule:

14 June: qualification (CI) day 1: men’s floor, pommel horse and rings, women’s vault and uneven bars, 10.00 to 12.30 and 14.30 to 19.00

15 June: qualification (CI) day 2: men’s vault, parallel bars and high bar, women’s beam and floor + Team award ceremonies, 10.00 to 12.30 and 14.30 to 19.30

18 June: all-around finals (CII): men and women in alternation, 17.30 to 20.20

20 June: event finals (CIII): men and women in alternation, 16.00 to 20.15

Follow the gymnastics on YouTube here.

 
Written by dwight normile    Wednesday, 10 June 2015 12:02    PDF Print
My Story: The British Are Coming
(4 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

Following is a "My Story" submission by Samantha Challinor, which appeared in the May 2015 issue of IG.

Much attention has (rightly!) been devoted in recent years to the rapid rise of British gymnastics as a medal prospect on the international stage. Prior to Beijing 2008, Britain had never won an individual Olympic gymnastics medal or successfully qualified full men’s and women’s teams to a non-boycotted Olympics in the modern era. Just one cycle later, following London 2012, two British teams had delivered a total of five medals across two Olympic Games, including men’s team bronze and three individual medals on pommels. Continued progress in this cycle means that the dream of a first Olympic gold remains a hope.

But little attention has been given to the fan experience of this transformation, and of British gymnastics in general. What is it like to be a gymnastics fan in a non-competitive country? What is it like when that country subsequently becomes competitive? This is my story.

As a child gymnast and fan in northern Britain in the early 1990s, I would eagerly flick through my quarterly issue of the British Gymnastics governing body’s magazine, The Gymnast, and marvel at the photographs of mythical creatures scattered throughout: British gymnasts.

Where were they? Why did I never see them anywhere else?

Gymnastics coverage on British television was often an every-other-year event, limited to the Olympics or Commonwealth Games. (Even now, coverage of other events is rare.) Where television coverage could be found, cheering on a home medal hope was not an option for the simple reason that there were none. Even the option to cheer on a home competitor was not guaranteed; if a British gymnast was present, the chance that the television feed would choose to show his or her routine was slim.

Newspaper and news coverage was minimal. The pictures in my quarterly magazine were, for long periods of time, all I had. Until the mid-2000s, when Beth Tweddle appeared on the international scene as a lone realistic medal contender, this was the reality of gymnastics as a fan sport in Britain.

The advent of multiple British medal contenders later in the decade was one highlight of the new century, but even greater for the British fan has been the advent of the Internet. The Internet has been a gateway into a new world in which what I and others love is shared globally. Across oceans and continents, people are watching, talking about and writing about gymnastics. A world of discovery: of International Gymnast, and the ability to digitally subscribe; of YouTube, the cause of many an evening lost to re-watching routines new and old. And if British gymnasts medaling in major competitions has been a surprise, this has been the greater surprise. Access to gymnastics coverage, analyses, competitions, results, tweets, blogs, videos and discussion is something I will never take for granted. There has never been a more exciting time to be a British gymnastics fan, certainly, but more than that, I think, there has never been a more exciting time to be a gymnastics fan.

Do I wish that I had experienced gymnastics as a fan sport in a different country? That I had known, for example, how it felt to be a home supporter at moments like the Magnificent Seven taking home gold in Atlanta? Perhaps. What is most clear, however, in the pages of International Gymnast and beyond, is that gymnastics is simply not that kind of sport.

We don’t watch solely because we want our favorite, our team, our country, to win. We watch because we love the sport. We watch because there is no greater pleasure than watching somebody—anybody—excel at gymnastics. Cheering and applauding success, wherever it comes from, is, in my view, one of the greatest strengths of the gymnastics community. To watch the success of a fellow Brit is a great privilege—but just to watch at all is the greater pleasure. And with gymnastics returning to Britain for the world championships in Glasgow in just five short months, there has never been a better time, as a British fan, to hope to indulge both.

Samantha Challinor is a former gymnast and lifelong fan who lives in Manchester. She intersperses her YouTube addiction with occasional attempts at recreational gymnastics and can next be spotted cheering on Team GB in Glasgow in October.

What’s YOUR story? Share your personal gymnastics experiences in IG. Email your story (500-800 words), along with high resolution JPEGs, to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Subject line: My Story.

 
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