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Written by John Crumlish    Thursday, 18 October 2012 23:52    PDF Print
Swedish Women Set for Northern European Title Defense
(3 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

Led by defending all-around champion Ida Gustafsson, the Swedish women are cautiously optimistic in their potential to retain the team title at this weekend's Northern European championships in Glasgow, head coach Sebastian Melander told IG.

Ida Gustafsson

"Last year we had a stronger team than this year," Melander said. "We have some of the best gymnasts recovering and building up new programs for the next (Olympic) cycle. We have to hit routines, and we cannot afford mistakes."

Melander said Wales, who placed second to Sweden at the 2011 competition that the Swedes hosted in Uppsala, could be his team's strongest opponent in Glasgow.

"We believe that Wales will have improved a lot since last year when they just had started with a new German coach, Dieter Koch," he said. "Now one year later, I'm sure they have improved. We are looking forward to it."

The Swedish team in Glasgow includes Gustaffson, Emma Larsson and Lovisa Estberg from Eskilstuna; and Ece Ayan Leksand and Saga Svantesson from Stockholm. Lele Mattsson is the team's assistant coach.

Melander said each member of the team offers unique strengths.

"Ida is strong on uneven bars and has clean lines," he said. "Emma is also strong in the all-around, and on floor, vault and beam. Lovisa is strongest on beam. I believe Ece Ayan's best is beam, and Saga (is strongest) on vault. Last year we had three good gymnasts on bars - Ida Gustaffson, (2012 Olympian) Jonna Adlerteg and (2011 all-around silver medalist) Kim Singmuang. It made a difference!"

Melander said success at the Northern European championships can boost the Swedes as they head into the 2013 Europeans in Moscow.

"We are from a small gymnastics nation with very few gymnasts," he told IG. "We try to take one step at a time to climb up as a nation. We now have made all- around finals at Europeans championships and world championships. We have made apparatus finals at Junior Europeans and the Youth Olympics, and even won a Youth Olympics medal (Adlerteg in 2010). The next step is to make an apparatus final at Senior Europeans. We will see if it could come as early as 2013, but we are working for this."

International Gymnast Magazine Related Features:
"Scouting Scandinavia" – visit to Stockholm Top Gymnastics (March 2011)
"Swedish Upswing" – Swedish team profile (November 2010)
"Swedish history-maker" (Adlerteg feature) – November 2010

To order back issues of IG Magazine, click here.

Written by John Crumlish    Friday, 05 October 2012 19:58    PDF Print
Britain's Purvis Puts Focus on Redemption
(6 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

An unlucky 13th at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, British star Daniel Purvis is focused on redemption as he returns to competition next weekend.

After a disappointing 13th-place all-around finish at this summer's London Olympic Games, British star Daniel Purvis told IG that competing in next weekend's Mexican Open will be a step toward restoring his confidence and consistency.

Purvis, who turns 22 on Nov. 13, is slated to compete in Acapulco on Oct. 12-13. Purvis finished second all-around to American Danell Leyva at the 2011 edition of the Mexican Open.

"I have had more time out of the gym than ever before so it's going to be really hard putting six events together," Purvis said. "I'm working hard again now, hoping I can put on a reasonable performance in Mexico."

Purvis, who helped the British men win the team bronze medal in London, said nerves hindered his individual results at the Games. He was considered a candidate for an Olympic all-around medal after he placed fifth all-around at the 2010 World Championships and fourth all-around at the 2011 World Championships.

Purvis said he has already shifted his focus ahead to the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

"The disappointment has turned to massive motivation to prove to myself that I can compete at the highest level," he told IG. "I will try hard to make Rio because there is no better feeling than representing your country at the Olympic Games."

External Link: British Gymnastics

Daniel Purvis is featured in the following issues of International Gymnast magazine:
June 2012: 2012 European Championships coverage
March 2012: "Pure Purvis" (Purvis interview)
December 2011: 2011 World Championships special issue
November 2011: "Lilleshall: Backstage in Britain" (British team profile, with Purvis on cover)
December 2010: 2010 World Championships special issue
June 2009: "In Steady Pursuit" (Purvis profile)

To order back issues, click here.  

Written by John Crumlish    Tuesday, 02 October 2012 22:09    PDF Print
Orozco Fights On After London Olympics
(15 votes, average 4.93 out of 5)

After placing eighth all-around at this summer's Olympic Games in London, U.S. all-around champion John Orozco told IG that his starring role in Gym Class Heroes' video for "The Fighter" is helping inspire him toward new challenges.

John Orozco (U.S.)

"To me the whole message of the video was that everybody's going to have ups and downs in life, and you have to fight through some adversity somehow," said Orozco of the video, which earned a nomination as "Best Video with a Message" at last month's MTV Video Music Awards. "No matter what it is in life, you keep fighting until the end and make sure you don't let anything keep you down."

Currently performing in the Kellogg's Gymnastics Tour of Champions, Orozco said the video is helping him look ahead after his less-than-perfect performance in London.

"You have to get right back up from wherever you fell, just brush it off and go after it again, whether it's school, a sport or life in general," said Orozco, who turns 20 on Dec. 30. "Life's always going to knock you down. You just have to get up and keep fighting."

Orozco, whose attendance at the VMAs was among several public appearances he has enjoyed since London, said he is still getting accustomed to his status as a role model in and out of the gym.

"I try to walk down the street like I'm regular me, and someone comes up to me and says, "Oh, you're really inspirational,'" Orozco told IG. "And I'm like, 'Oh yeah, I forgot about that!'"

Read an in-depth profile on Orozco in the November 2012 issue of International Gymnast magazine. To subscribe to IG magazine, click here.

For more on the Kellogg's Tour of Gymnastics Champions, click here.

Written by John Crumlish    Wednesday, 26 September 2012 09:37    PDF Print
Palesova Considering Future as Performer
(6 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

Two-time Czech Olympian Kristyna Palesova told IG that her recent television performance with a theatre troupe gave her the chance to explore a potential new career once she is finished with gymnastics.

Palesova, who trains in Brno, performed with a Prague-based troupe on “Lidoscope,” a cabaret-style Czech television show. She filled in for an injured performer.

“I had a lot fun with them,” said Palesova, who competed at the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games. “They want me to perform in their theatre series, but it’s in Prague. So it would be pretty hard to handle traveling from Brno to Prague and training for gymnastics. But I am considering it because I would really like to do it.”

Palesova said she wants to stay focused on gymnastics, but is eying future opportunities as a performer.

“It’s probably better to start with this theatre when my gymnastics career is coming to the very end,” she told IG. “I feel it’s not right now, for sure, so maybe I will do only some shows with them.”

Written by Amanda Turner    Monday, 24 September 2012 14:16    PDF Print
Russia Removes Alexandrov as Women's Head Coach
(9 votes, average 4.56 out of 5)

The coaching council of the Russian Gymnastics Federation voted Monday to remove Alexander Alexandrov as head coach of the women's team, Russian media announced. Pictured: Alexandrov and two-time Olympian Ksenia Afanasyeva

The coaching council of the Russian Gymnastics Federation voted Monday to remove Alexander Alexandrov as head coach of the women's team, Russian media announced.

Alexandrov told a news agency that the move was purely spiteful, and he claims federation vice president Andrei Rodionenko manipulated the vote.

"The decision was not the federation's, but came from Andrei and Valentina Rodionenko," he said. "They gathered coaches who they could control. And we didn't have any freedom for each person to sit and say what he thinks, because he will be punished. All the others were just sitting there silent."

The Russian federation has not yet released a statement on the reasons Alexandrov will be replaced or who will take his job.

The unexpected vote came nearly four years after Alexandrov initially returned to revitalize Russia's struggling women's program. Russia, the once dominant power in gymnastics, was shamefully shut out of the medals at the 2008 Olympic Games. Under Alexandrov's guidance, the team stunned the defending champion U.S. squad to take the gold at the 2010 World Championships in Rotterdam.

Aliya Mustafina — who had been debating quitting the sport until Alexandrov took her under his tutelage — became an outright star in Rotterdam, winning the individual all-around title and four other medals. An injury to Mustafina kept her out of the 2011 Worlds, but Russia took the team silver and won individual golds from Viktoria Komova (uneven bars) and Ksenia Afanasyeva (floor exercise).

Shut out in Beijing, the Russian women won six medals in London: one gold, two silvers and three bronzes. Mustafina won the most medals of any gymnast, with the gold on uneven bars, team silver, and bronzes in the all-around and floor exercise. Komova took second all-around, while Maria Paseka won the vault bronze.

Alexandrov has been one of the world's most prominent coaches for three decades. In 1983, his pupil Dmitry Bilozerchev took the gymnastics world by storm, becoming the world champion at 16. After coaching the Soviet women from 1988-1992, Alexandrov moved to Texas where he had been working at various clubs before returning to Russia four years ago.

To date, Alexandrov is the only personal coach to to guide both male and female gymnasts to world all-around titles. He said he is unsure if he will stay in Russia to coach Mustafina, who has indicated she wants to continue competing.

"I do not know whether or not I will stay to coach Aliya," he said. "We will have to see. They told me that now I'm her personal trainer, and the head coach will be different."


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