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Written by Amanda Turner    Thursday, 01 March 2012 15:45    PDF Print
Penev Motivated by Switch to US Squad
(16 votes, average 4.50 out of 5)

A world championships finalist for Bulgaria, Stanford junior Eddie Penev told IG he is finding new motivation by his recent switch to the U.S. side.

Penev won the NCAA vault title for Stanford in 2010.

The dual citizen has been a bright spot in Bulgarian gymnastics over the past few years — making the floor exercise final at both the 2010 Worlds and 2009 Europeans — but recently changed his affiliation with the International Gymnastics Federation.

"I have been considering switching for a while now, and I felt that in the end it was going to be the best thing for me," Penev said. "It's hard to make the commitment to Bulgaria when I live in the U.S. and I am a full-time student at Stanford. At the same time I loved competing for Bulgaria and the experience I have gotten out of it has been simply incredible if not life-changing."

Penev was born in Sofia to former Bulgarian team members Yulia Hristova and Marian Penev, who moved to the United States shortly after his birth. He was a national champion in U.S. Junior Olympic competition but opted to compete internationally for Bulgaria, taking part in the 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2011 Worlds.

The floor and vault standout said he realizes he has an outside shot at making the 2012 Olympic team for the United States, but is nevertheless motivated by the challenge of making the national team.

"Right now my immediate goal is to make the team and from there to hopefully make it to Olympic Trials," he said. "The 2012 Olympics is a bit of a long shot for this year but not totally out of the question because you never know what could happen. Rio in 2016 is something that I am really going to push for but I haven't thought about it too much since there's quite a bit of time till then."

Penev has excelled at Stanford, winning the NCAA vault title in 2010 and helping the Cardinal with the team title in 2011. He is currently ranked No. 1 in the NCAA all-around standings, ahead of U.S. world team member Jake Dalton (Oklahoma).

"My improvements in the all-around have really come from my motivation to compete at the U.S. elite level as well as a determination to help Stanford win another NCAA title this year!" he said. "We don't necessarily have as much depth as we have in past years but we are definietly a strong enough team to win and I am really working to fill the spots that were left from the senior class last year. I have made several improvements on all the events but I still have improvements to make on each event, especially on pommel horse and high bar. I wouldn't say that they are weak events for me but I have a few things I can add/clean up."

Stanford is currently ranked No. 4, behind Oklahoma, Penn State and Illinois. The 2012 NCAA Championships take place in April in Oklahoma, where Oklahoma will be searching to reclaim the title.

In June, however, Penev hopes to have more of a home court advantage at the Olympic Trials in San Jose, close to the Stanford campus.

"I really look forward to competing for the U.S. and I know how competitive it is," Penev said. "I am really motivated to improve and work my way into the national team, and we will see what happens from there."

Written by John Crumlish    Sunday, 26 February 2012 21:00    PDF Print
Maroney Moves into Olympic Mode with Upgrades
(31 votes, average 3.94 out of 5)

2011 world vault champion McKayla Maroney told IG this weekend that she is confident with the upgrades she has been making to boost her all-around prospects for this summer's Olympic Games in London.

McKayla Maroney (U.S.)

"I'm really working on the all-around," said Maroney, who placed 12th all-around in qualifications and competed on two apparatuses in U.S. team's gold medal-winning effort in the team final at last fall's world championships in Tokyo. "That's my main goal and my main priority."

Maroney said she and the other candidates for the U.S. Olympic team are in good form, based on their performances at a recent U.S. team training camp in Texas.

"It's always really fun to see all the girls, and it was a very serious camp," said Maroney, who trains under coaches Galina Marinova and Artur Akopyan at All Olympia Gymnastics Center in Los Angeles. "Everybody is training hard and getting ready for the Olympics. All of the girls are pretty much in 80 percent routine shape, so we're all kind of training our routines that we're going to compete."

Maroney said she has upgrading or stabilizing her performances on all four apparatuses. She recently added an additional half-twist to her second vault, which is now a round-off, half-on, full-twisting layout front somersault (Mustafina).

"I've done (the new second vault) at two (U.S. team training) camps so far, and it's going pretty well," Maroney said. "On bars, I've increased my start value a little bit, and now I'm working on getting things cleaner and ready to compete. I'm doing pretty much the same floor routine as at worlds, and the same beam with a couple more things to add to my start value."

Maroney said finally reaching the Olympic year is the realization of her childhood dream.

"It's so cool, because I remember when I was little, and looking at it like, 'Four more years, three more years...," she said. "When you're younger it's just a number to you, and now to be 2012 and know it's finally here is just amazing."

Maroney was on hand to sign autographs and cue floor exercise music at this weekend's All Olympia Invitational at the Los Angeles Convention Center. She said she enjoyed her uncustomary role as a supportive spectator.

"I really love competing, so it's kind of weird to not be actually competing," she told IG. "But it was really fun to cheer my teammates on. They did a good job and I'm proud of them."

McKayla Maroney is featured in the following issues of International Gymnast magazine:

December 2011 – 2011 World Championships special issue
September 2011 – 2011 U.S. Championships coverage
May 2011 – "It's Showtime" (Maroney profile)
September 2010 – Maroney cover photo, 2010 U.S. Championships coverage

To subscribe to IG Magazine or order back issues, click here.

Written by Amanda Turner    Saturday, 25 February 2012 15:14    PDF Print
FIG Conducts 2012 Olympic Draw for London
(10 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

The International Gymnastics Federation conducted the draw Friday for the 2012 Olympic Games, determining the order of competition for this summer's competition.

The random draw was attended by FIG President Bruno Grandi and the FIG Technical Presidents for all the federation's Olympic disciplines — artistic gymnastics, rhythmic gymnastics and trampoline.

The Chinese men, the reigning world and Olympic champions, drew the first of three subdivisions of qualification on July 28. Host Great Britain will join the Chinese in the early round, beginning on pommel horse.

Japan and the U.S. — silver and bronze medalists respectively at both the 2008 Olympics and 2011 Worlds — both compete in the second subdivision. Medal contenders Germany and Russia headline the third and final session.

In the women's competition, the world champion U.S. squad will compete in the third of five subdivisions, alongside Great Britain. Defending Olympic champion China and 2010 world champion Russia drew the fourth subdivision. Three-time Olympic champion Romania compete in the fifth subdivision.

The FIG also named its wild card recipients for artistic gymnastics, all representing Africa: Mohammed Sherif El Saharty (Egypt) Wajdi Bouallegue (Tunisia) for men's artistic gymnastics, and Ashleigh Heldsinger (South Africa) and Salma Mahmoud El Said Mohamed (Egypt).

The FIG awarded rhythmic gymnastics wild cards to Julie Zetlin (USA), Yasmine Mohamed Rostom (Egypt) and Janine Murray (Australia), as continental representatives from North America, Africa and Oceania, respectively.

Two more wild cards — one each in men's and women's artistic gymnastics — are yet to be determined by the IOC Tripartite Commission.

External Link: International Gymnastics Federation Official Website

2012 Olympic Draw — Artistic Gymnastics
Feb. 23, 2012, Lausanne

Men's Qualification - July 28
Subd. 1MG 3MG 4
Subd. 2MG 6MG 5MG 1
Subd. 3MG 2

Men's Mixed Groups
OrderMG 1MG 2MG 3MG 4MG 5MG 6

Women's Qualification - July 29
Subd. 1MG 2MG 6MG 1
Subd. 2MG 4MG 3
Subd. 3
Subd. 4MG 7
Subd. 5MG 5MG 8

Women's Mixed Groups
OrderMG 1MG 2MG 3MG 4MG 5MG 6MG 7MG 8
Written by Dwight Normile    Thursday, 16 February 2012 11:04    PDF Print
Memmel Giving It One Last Shot
(15 votes, average 4.60 out of 5)

Chellsie Memmel is not ready to quit. Not just yet, anyway. And even though she led the U.S. to its first world team title in 2003 (and also tied for the gold on uneven bars), she faced immeasurable disappointment the following year when a broken foot spoiled her Olympic dreams.

She rebounded to make the 2008 Olympic team, placing third at both the U.S. championships and Olympic trials. But an ankle injury limited her to one event, uneven bars, in Beijing, where the world champion U.S. women won the silver.

"It wasn't quite the experience I had in mind, but I was still happy to be there, happy to at least do a bar routine to help the team get a medal," Memmel told IG.

Memmel looked excellent on balance beam and floor exercise last summer at the Visa championships, but she tweaked her surgically repaired right shoulder on uneven bars and had to withdraw on day two. After attending two training camps between the championships and 2011 world championships, she had shoulder surgery Sept. 23.

Memmel, 23, had another surgery on the shoulder Feb. 13.

"There was some debris in there that was causing pain when I was doing all my overhead stuff," she said, adding that the procedure should keep her out for a few weeks.

As for her chances of making the 2012 Olympic team, which will comprise five gymnasts instead of the usual six, Memmel is trying not to look too far ahead. She doesn't want to consider her life without gymnastics just yet.

"I have mixed emotions, to be honest," she said. "But I'm just trying to stay positive because it's still something that I want to do. But I just have to take it a day at a time."

Memmel's plans for the immediate future include returning to national team training camps, and competing in the CoverGirl Classic. If all goes well, she'll move on to the pressure-cooker of another Olympic team qualification process. It's either that or call it quits.

"It's hard to think about retiring," she said. "I've been prepared for it, because I've taken a break from gymnastics, but [it] was always like, 'I can come back to it.' But I know for sure that this would be the last go for me."

Though she and her sister are coaches at their parents' gym (M & M Gymnastics) in New Berlin, Wis., Memmel is not ready to take over the family business either. Instead, she would like to finally go to college.

"It's a big world out there, and there are so many different things that you can do," she said. "And I always liked school, and it is something I want to do."

For the coming months, however, she will focus on reaching whatever potential is possible under the circumstances. Only then will she consider the alternative.

"I love doing [gymnastics] so much," she said, a hint of sadness in her voice. "There is always going to be an emptiness there [when I retire], but life goes on … but it will be difficult."

Written by John Crumlish    Friday, 10 February 2012 21:18    PDF Print
Caranobe Confident Despite 'Compromised' Career
(9 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

2008 Olympic bronze medalist Benoit Caranobe is headed toward his fourth surgery on the ankle he injured in 2010, but remains hopeful for an Olympic appearance this summer.

As 2008 Olympic all-around bronze medalist Benoit Caranobe of France prepares for his fourth surgery since he injured his ankle in 2010, he told IG he is frustrated but hopeful as he prepares for this summer's Olympics in London.

"The feat of the Olympic Games and the course of my career in gymnastics are very strongly compromised," he said. "My injury doesn't allow me to train 100 percent and this bothers me in my life, every day."

Caranobe tore his right Achilles' tendon, tore the tendons and ligaments in his right ankle, and fractured the right ankle bone on floor exercise at the 2010 Worlds in Rotterdam. He said he is still limited in power and mobility.

"I train a lot on four apparatuses, but without dismounts," said the 31-year-old Caranobe, who is also the proprietor of "Dix sept sur vin," a wine shop in Noisy le Grand. "I can't run or walk normally to this day."

Caranobe said he has faith in the French team's prospects for the London Games, whether or not he is able to contribute to its success.

"For me the team will be very strong in every respect because there are a lot of talented gymnasts in France," he said. "Our captain, Yann Cucherat, is the pillar of the team."

Despite Caranobe's personal setback, he is optimistic that he can eventually return to top form.

"Because of my injury, I can't project into the future," he told IG. "But I remain very motivated in case my ankle recovers."

Benoit Caranobe is featured in the following issues of International Gymnast magazine:
April 2009: "Uncorked" (Caranobe interview)
October 2008: 2008 Olympic Games special issue
May 2004: "Taking Success in Stride" (Caranobe profile)

To order back issues, click here.


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