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Written by John Crumlish    Thursday, 06 September 2012 10:59    PDF Print
Celebrations, Preparations Continue for Nguyen
(7 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

Although two-time Olympic silver medalist Marcel Nguyen of Germany has been enjoying plenty of post-Games honors, he told IG he is also preparing for a busy competition schedule this fall.

Nguyen finished second all-around to Japan's Kohei Uchimura at the London Games held July 27-Aug. 12. In apparatus finals, he added a second silver medal on parallel bars.

Germany's Marcel Nguyen

"I had a lot of great festivities and experiences since London," he told IG. "My home club, TSV Unterhaching, and my actual club, KTV Straubenhardt, each organized warm welcome parties for me. Last week I was in Hamburg and was honored by the German magazine 'Sportbild' as 'Newcomer of the Year' ('Aufsteiger des Jahres' in German)."

Nguyen, who will turn 25 on Saturday, credited his Olympic success to calm self-assurance that he felt in the build-up to the all-around final.

"I had a strong season, with winning the gold medal on parallel bars at the European championships (in May)," he said. "My preparation also was quite good without any injuries, and after the qualification round I felt self-confident."

Nguyen said he felt sure he could win a medal after he hit his routine on horizontal bar in the fifth of six rotations in the all-around final.

"My exercise on horizontal bar was the key to my silver medal," he said. "After my strong performance I felt really self-confident and had a good feeling for my final exercise on floor exercise."

Despite the recent festivities, Nguyen has also been training for a busy slate of competitions until the end of the year.

"My schedule is really full for the next months," he said. "At the end of September the Bundesliga will start again. We have seven competitions and the final in Berlin. In December I will compete at the EnBW (DTB) World Cup in Stuttgart and the Glasgow World Cup."

Nguyen said major 2013 competitions such as the European and world championships will keep him motivated, even after his Olympic accolades.

"My success in London was really awesome," Nguyen told IG. "After the strong efforts I was able to take a short break. I recharged my battery and I'm now motivated to compete again."

Read about Nguyen's Olympic success in the September 2012 Olympic Games special issue of International Gymnast magazine. To subscribe or order copies, click here.

Written by Amanda Turner    Thursday, 30 August 2012 08:18    PDF Print
Rest, Not Retirement, on Horizon for Chen
(11 votes, average 4.91 out of 5)

Despite injuries and disappointment at the Olympics in London, Chinese gymnastics star Chen Yibing said this week he definitely plans to continue competing through 2013.

At the Olympic Games earlier this month, Chen narrowly missed defending his still rings title, losing the gold to Brazilian Arthur Zanetti by .1.

Chen Yibing (China) says he may compete through 2017.

"I won't retire because of what I went through in London," said Chen, 27. "I've invested myself in gymnastics for more than 20 years. So I can't just give it up."

The Tianjin native spoke to the media during the city's Olympic commendation conference on Wednesday, where he said he is considering possibly competing for five more years.

"I will for sure take part in next year's world championships and the National Games," he said. "The 2017 National Games will be held in Tianjin. I might also compete in my home city then."

In London, Chen helped the Chinese men win their third Olympic team title since 2000. He nailed his still rings routine but came up short in the final by a tiny margin.

The four-time still rings champion was one of the first to congratulate Zanetti, who made history by becoming the first South American gymnast to win an Olympic medal.

Chinese head coach Huang Yubin was furious, later slamming the judging and calling the results an "injustice," a "crime," and "injury to everyone in the world who loves gymnastics."

But Chen, who suffered a knee injury right before he Olympics, remains gracious.

"The referees' judgment was disappointing, but I saw all the spectators, my coach and even some opponents applaud to encourage me and I felt so relieved," he said.

Chen said he will enjoy a "good rest" with no training before undergoing knee surgery in October.

"I thought I wouldn't have any surgeries in my career (after London)," he said. "But now I will try again as I am not done yet."

External Link: Chinese Gymnastics Association

Written by John Crumlish    Saturday, 25 August 2012 22:52    PDF Print
Warm Friendships Keep Icelandic Gymnast Motivated
(8 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

Icelandic team standout Thelma Rut Hermannsdottir said international gymnastics bonds keep her motivated at age 19. Pictured: Hermannsdottir (second from left) poses with Gerpla teammates Birgitta Run Gudmundsdottir, Dora Gudmundsdottir and Harpa Steindorsdottir.

After a five-week stint with the Olympic News Service in London, IG's John Crumlish made a pit stop in Iceland, where Icelandic team standout Thelma Rut Hermannsdottir said international gymnastics bonds keep her motivated at age 19.

"I like flying around and doing stuff that nobody else can do," said Hermannsdottir during a training break at Gerpla Gymnastics Club, the country's largest gym, in the Reykjavik suburb of Kopavogur. "That's the thing. I like the friendship between all of us teammates. It's amazing. We've been friends since we were five years old, and it's going to last a lifetime. Everyone is so close."

Hermannsdottir, who is coached by Gudmundor Brynjolfsson, competed at the past three world championships. Despite her modest international results, she says her gymnastics friendships make competing worthwhile.

"I've made so many friends here in Iceland and in other countries when I'm traveling," she says. "I have a friend in Egypt, Poland, the Nordic countries and all over the world."

Hermannsdottir said she was particularly excited to contact her friend, Mexican gymnast Alexa Moreno, when Moreno competed in the vault final at the 2011 Worlds.

"When Alexa qualified, I was like, 'Oh, she's my friend!' Hermannsdottir said. "I was texting her and telling her, ''Good luck.' I know some Spanish so I was trying to speak some Spanish to her, too. It's amazing, and the friendships are what's kept me in gymnastics for so long."

Hermannsdottir said she hopes to find work at Woodward Gymnastics Camp in Pennsylvania next summer with Gerpla teammate Dora Gudmundsdottir, who spent the past school year as an exchange student in Cincinnati.

Although Hermannsdottir is considering a career in dentistry, she wants to stay professionally involved in gymnastics.

"I will always have a part-time job coaching, and hope to have a background at Woodward that's shown me how to train gymnasts," she told IG.

Written by Amanda Turner    Friday, 24 August 2012 22:09    PDF Print
Oprah Up Next for Olympic Champion Douglas
(8 votes, average 3.63 out of 5)

Following weeks of celebrity glitz and media appearances, new Olympic all-around champion Gabby Douglas (U.S.) is set to sit down with Oprah Winfrey. Pictured: U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama and Douglas backstage at "The Tonight Show."

Following weeks of celebrity glitz and media appearances, new Olympic all-around champion Gabby Douglas (U.S.) is set to sit down with Oprah Winfrey.

Douglas' episode of "Oprah's Next Chapter" airs Sunday at 8:30 p.m. (EST) on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN).

Winfrey revently traveled to Chow's Gymnastics in West Des Moines, Iowa. Douglas has trained at the facility the past two years since moving from Virginia Beach, where she trained at Excalibur Gymnastics.

In Iowa, Winfrey sat down with Douglas, her siblings and mother to discuss family struggles, her move from Virginia Beach and her new-found fame. Douglas, the first black gymnast to win an individual gold medal at the Olympic Games, also talked to Winfrey about the "controversy" surrounding her hairstyle, which received a flood of surprising snide comments on Twitter during the Olympics.

Since her team and all-around gold medals at the recent Olympic Games in London, the 16-year-old Douglas has enjoyed a whirlwind of events. She shared a couch on "The Tonight Show" with First Lady Michelle Obama, went on "The Late Show with David Letterman" with her Olympic teammates and guest-hosted "America's Got Talent." On Thursday, Douglas threw out the ceremonial first pitch at the New York Mets baseball game against the Colorado Rockies.

Prior to the game at Citi Field, Douglas spoke with a group of New York children through a charity group.

"I wanted to tell my story and where I came from and my background, because it was not easy," Douglas said. "I had to face a lot coming through this journey, a lot of sacrifices, difficulties, challenges, and injuries."

"I wanted everyone to know it's still possible for anyone really. I wanted to make them know to never give up and always keep fighting, because though times may be tough, the sacrifices do pay off, so just keep pushing towards your dream and just love it at the same time and enjoy it."

In Sunday's episode, Douglas will get to enjoy another first - teaching Oprah Winfrey how to do a scale on the balance beam.

First Look: Oprah's Balance Beam Routine

Gayle and Oprah stop by Liang Chow's world-famous gymnastics facility in West Des Moines, Iowa. For 22 months before the Olympic Games, Gabrielle trained with Coach Chow six hours a day, six days a week in this gym. Watch as Gabrielle teaches Oprah a skill on the practice beam. And the judges say... For more from Oprah's interview with Gabrielle, tune in Sunday, August 26, at 8:30/7:30c.

Written by Amanda Turner    Wednesday, 22 August 2012 08:19    PDF Print
Zanetti's Rings Title Floors Future Stars
(7 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

Once inspired by Brazil's floor exercise stars, the young gymnasts in the South American nation have taken to a new event, still rings, following Arthur Zanetti's gold medal earlier this month at the Olympic Games in London.

Until Zanetti's historic moment on Aug. 6, Brazil's most successful gymnasts had been Diego Hypolito and Daiane dos Santos, world champions and Olympic finalists on floor exercise.

Olympic still rings champion Arthur Zanetti (Brazil)

"Still rings had been the 'ugly duckling' event," said Roberto Nassar, a coach at the famous Flamengo club in Rio de Janeiro.

As the 2012 Olympic Games drew to a close Aug. 12 in London, the Olympic flag was passed off to the joyous Brazilians, who will host the world's biggest party four years from now at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

In London, Brazil won a record 17 medals, one more than had been forcasted and two more than the 15 medals won in both Atlanta 1996 and Athens 2004.

But Zanetti's gold medal on still rings was so much more than the eighth medal in London for Brazil.

"It's the very first Olympic medal for Brazil in gymnastics so I'm really happy with this," Zanetti said.

In fact, it was the first Olympic medal of any kind for a gymnast from South America, the continent set to dominate sports for the next four years. In addition to the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil will also play host to the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

"I hope this medal will open doors for new gymnasts in Brazil," Zanetti said. "In 2016, we even more chances to win more medals."

Zanetti, who edged defending champion Chen Yibing of China in the Olympic final, has been feted non-stop since his return to Brazil. In addition to television appearances and state honors, the celebration for Zanetti included a parade in his hometown of São Caetano with the champion atop a firetruck (see video).

Former Brazilian world team member Mosiah Rodrigues, who worked as a television commentator in London, said the value of Zanetti's gold medal cannot be underestimated.

"The whole is more than the sum of its parts," he said. "I believe Zanetti will become an example to be followed. Many children will be inspired. He is a very disciplined and focused athlete. I believe that he will impact not only medals in the sport, but in our culture, education. Certainly, many Brazilians will be inspired by him."

Zanetti's gold may be an important catalyst for investment in gymnastics in Brazil, which is already planning for 2016. In 2011, Brazil recruited former Belarusian coach Vladimir Vatkin to head it's men's team, which just missed qualifying a full team to London.

"The medal in gymnastics puts us at a new level," Rodrigues said. "I hope we can renew the sport. There are new talents and his achievement generate interest for new investment in the sport. Brazil has been growing in artistic gymnastics, and we've already been recognized internationally by winning medals in major competitions."

Rodrigues said the Brazilians should adopt the successful methods used by British gymnastics, which enjoyed record success at the Olympics in London.

"We need to expand the sport of gymnastics in the country - putting more gyms in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro - and investing in new arenas," he said. "We have the potential to do so. I hope we can do the same job as Britain, which has invested heavily in the sport in recent years and now has a very strong team."

The inspiration brought Zanetti's gold medal should pay off for young gymnasts dreaming of competing not just in 2016, but at the Olympic Games in 2020 and 2024.

"An Olympic champion shows what young people can become — it's real," Nassar said. "The children are encouraged to do the activity stronger than they already do."

Said gymnast Aladdin Macedo de Oliveira, 11, "Now everyone wants to be like Zanetti, to be strong, and to win an Olympic medal."


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