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Written by Amanda Turner    Sunday, 09 September 2012 20:36    PDF Print
Retiring Jovtchev Grateful for 'Awesome' Fans
(7 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

Retiring after his record sixth Olympic appearance, Bulgarian legend Jordan Jovtchev told IG he is grateful for the legions of gymnastics fans that supported him during his incredible career.

"They are awesome," he told IG on Friday.

Jovtchev, 39, officially announced his retirement on Aug. 24 when receiving the "Silver Falcon" award from the Bulgarian press.

"It is time to say enough is enough," Jovtchev told the media. "I could go on, but I see no point."

Jovtchev salutes the audience after his final performance during the still rings final in London.

The Bulgarian star made his Olympic debut at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona. Like Oksana Chusovitina, who represented the Unified Team in Barcelona, Jovtchev competed in a record six Olympic Games: Barcelona 1992, Atlanta 1996, Sydney 2000, Athens 2004, Beijing 2008 and London 2012.

From 1995-2007, Jovtchev won 13 world medals (four golds, five silver, four bronzes) and four Olympic medals (one silver and three bronzes). He was at his peak at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, where he finished a still-controversial second on rings behind Greece's own Dimosthenis Tambakos.

Jovtchev's final performance was his seventh-place finish in the still rings final at the Olympic Games that concluded last month in London. He was one of the most celebrated gymnasts in London, where his achievements were not lost on the crowd.

"I am happy because I feel that my efforts were appreciated," he said. "I didn't win a medal, but I feel great. My motivation was the people and their support. It's not a burden but a moral obligation to do well for the fans."

Following his finals performance in London, an overjoyed Jovtchev initially hinted he may try for a seventh Olympic appearance at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. But the gymnast, who is suffering from several muscle and bone injuries in his arm, said he does not want to be competing just for the sake of competing.

"There is nothing more to chase," he said. "I don't even think about training anymore. I think it makes no sense to continue. I can, but it's unlikely. It would be ridiculous to compete at the age of 50."

For the past several years, Jovtchev also has served as president of the Bulgarian Gymnastics Federation and is trying to revive the sport. He is planning a farewell gala in February featuring several of his star gymnastics friends, including 2000 Olympic champion Alexei Nemov (Russia), and young talent in Bulgaria.

Jovtchev, who is, said he plans to help national coach Krasimir Dunev with rebuilding the national team.

"We have a plan for the Bulgarian gymnastics," he said. "My mission is to work. I will help Krasi [with our goal], which is very ambitious. Hopefully my desire does not evaporate quickly. I'm convinced that we will have gymnasts going to the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in four years. I'll be satisfied and happy if I can contribute to the development of young people."

Read about Jovtchev and Chusovitina's record Olympic appearances in the September 2012 Olympic Games special issue of International Gymnast magazine. To subscribe or order copies, click here.

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.


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