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Written by Dwight Normile    Friday, 10 February 2012 14:19    PDF Print
Full Slate of Activities With Nadia Comaneci International Invitational
(2 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

Top clubs from Romania, Israel, Great Britain, Canada and the U.S. have arrived in Oklahoma City for the fourth annual Nadia Comaneci International Invitational, to be held in Oklahoma City on Feb. 10-12. The competition, hosted by Bart Conner Gymnastics Academy, will be held in conjunction with the Bart & Nadia Sports & Health Festival, which includes a variety of health and fitness activities.

Past Nadia Comaneci International Invitational champions include Sandra Izbasa of Romania, and Canadians Kristina Vaculik and Anysia Unick. This year's field includes 2008 Olympian Imogen Cairns of Great Britain, and defending junior champion Mackenzie Brannan (Capital, Texas).

Two new gymnastics competitions have been added to this year's schedule of events.

The Perfect 10 Challenge, a women's collegiate meet featuring Oklahoma, Iowa State and Southeast Missouri State, will be held Friday, Feb. 10, at 7 p.m. in the main Cox Arena. Competition will be held on a podium.

Also, the Bart Conner International Invitational for boys, now in its 28th year, will be held in the Cox Convention Center.

The international session of the Nadia Comaneci International Invitational will be held Saturday, Feb. 11, at 7 p.m., also on a podium.

For a complete schedule of events, visit

Written by John Crumlish    Sunday, 05 February 2012 20:35    PDF Print
After Surgery, Fokin Focuses on Olympic Hope
(7 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

Recovering from surgery, Olympic bronze medalist Anton Fokin (Uzbekistan) is still hopeful to compete at this summer's Olympics.

Recovering from surgery after injuring himself at the Olympic test event last month, 2008 Olympic medalist Anton Fokin (Uzbekistan) told IG he is still hopeful to compete at this summer's Olympic Games in London.

Fokin became the first gymnast from independent Uzbekistan to win an Olympic medal when he earned the bronze medal on parallel bars at the 2008 Games in Beijing.

At the test event in London last month, Fokin tore a ligament in his left knee during his routine on floor exercise, his final apparatus.

Most gymnasts and teams were awarded berths to the London Olympics based on their performances at last fall's world championships in Tokyo and the test event.

Fokin and other gymnasts who did not qualify must hope for one of the few wild card spots to be determined by the FIG Executive Committee and the Tripartite Commission.

"I already had an operation and have recovered," Fokin told IG this week. "I will try to get a wild card (berth for London), and I will do everything necessary to do this."

Read "Swing Shift," a profile on Fokin, in the January/February 2012 issue of International Gymnast magazine. To subscribe or order back issues, click here.

Written by John Crumlish    Wednesday, 01 February 2012 13:01    PDF Print
Boczogo Steps in Style Toward Second Olympics
(6 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

Aiming to secure the Hungarian women’s only individual berth for this summer’s Olympic Games in London, Dorina Boczogo told IG she will keep artistry in her pre-Olympic training regimen.

Hungarian Olympian Dorina Boczogo

"I believe that gymnastics is a very feminine sport, and the judges look at the movements carefully," she said. "It is also important for me to give the spectators some elements of style."

Boczogo, who placed 53rd all-around in qualifications at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, said her performance at the Olympic test event in London last month showed the maturity she acquired since 2009, when she competed at the world championships in the same venue.

"I'm older, and I have a different attitude toward training," said Boczogo, who will turn 20 on Feb. 15. "My routines are stronger and more accurate, and I always try to do my best. As the (2009) world championships were also held in London, the apparatuses were already familiar to me this time."

Boczogo said she and teammate Laura Gombas, who also competed at the test event, are vying for the Hungarian women’s one Olympic berth.

"There was a competition in Hungary, where four of us competed for the two places for the test event," said Boczogo, who trains at Torna Club Bekescsaba. "We all knew that only one of us will be at the Games." Two Hungarian men – two-time world pommel horse champion Krisztian Berki and Vid Hidvegi – have qualified for the Olympics.

Until the Olympics, Boczogo said she plans to focus on all four apparatuses, with special attention to vault.

"I'm going to prepare for the-all around, but I need to improve in vault, because I may have a chance for a final in that," she said.

Boczogo placed 14th on vault at the 2011 world championships in Tokyo, and has won three of her four World Cup medals on the apparatus.

Also in Boczogo’s plans are university studies in Hungary, although she considered studying in the U.S.

"I haven't given up on going to the U.S. at some point in my life to work, to become a coach," she told IG, "but I decided to go to college in Hungary first."

Written by dwight normile    Monday, 30 January 2012 11:04    PDF Print
Knee Still Holding Back Shawn Johnson
(18 votes, average 3.72 out of 5)

The torn ACL Shawn Johnson sustained two years ago during a ski trip for her 18th birthday was pivotal to her return to the sport. Instead of ending any dreams of making a comeback, the injury actually made her realize how much she loved the sport. But after a full year of serious training at Chow's Gymnastics in West Des Moines, Iowa, Johnson is still not ready to really test her surgically repaired left knee.

So Johnson, who turned 20 on Jan. 19, has been spending time at Michael Johnson Performance in McKinney, Texas. Dallas native Michael Johnson, a retired Olympic gold medalist in track & field, opened the center in 2007. Its purpose is to help youth and professional athletes get stronger.

Shawn is hopeful that the intense workouts at MJP will make the difference and help her gain the confidence to do some of the difficulty she had in 2008. Coach Liang Chow said that Shawn can do an Amanar vault "beautifully," for example, but only into a loose-foam pit.

"She can jump straight very good," he said. "She's just afraid of twisting on a landing with that leg."

Shawn's clubmate Gabrielle Douglas, on the other hand, is doing well, Chow said. And while a pulled hamstring hampered her training of an Amanar last year, Douglas is working the vault regularly now with the goal of competing it this season.

"It's a really difficult vault, and you need some good training numbers and competitive experience," Chow said.

Douglas, who placed fifth on uneven bars at the 2011 world championships, is also upgrading that event.

"I'm not sure which [new skills] will be going into the routine, but we still have time," Chow said.

Which isn't the case with Johnson, he said.

"This is not an easy road for Shawn, especially after two years off, and also her knee condition," he said. "She's giving 100 percent, and we're giving her 100 percent, but we have to face reality. …The problem is that she has to have two [strong] legs."

Known for his perpetual smile, Chow is still able to keep things in perspective.

"I was joking with [Shawn], and I said, 'For your birthday there's no ski trip anymore,'" he said with a laugh.

Chow has two very different Olympic hopefuls in Johnson and Douglas. The former is an 2008 Olympic gold medalist (balance beam) who is desperately trying to find her form, while the latter is trying to learn how to harness her immense potential.

There are a lot of challenges ahead of us," Chow said. "But it's fun."

Written by John Crumlish    Thursday, 26 January 2012 01:47    PDF Print
Patterson Gets Proposal, Gives Pre-Olympic Support
(21 votes, average 4.00 out of 5)

2004 Olympic all-around gold medalist Carly Patterson of the U.S. said she is busy not only planning her wedding, but supporting the gymnasts training for this summer's Olympic Games in London.

Recently engaged to be married, 2004 Olympic all-around gold medalist Carly Patterson of the U.S. said she is busy not only planning her wedding, but supporting the gymnasts training for this summer's Olympic Games in London.

"This is definitely going to be an exciting and very competitive Olympic year to watch all the awesome girls vying for a spot on the (U.S.) Olympic team," Patterson said. "I am really looking forward to watching and cheering everyone on."

Patterson, who trained under coach Evgeny Marchenko at WOGA in Plano, Texas, said she is especially hopeful for 2008 Olympic all-around champion Nastia Liukin and two-time world all-around medalist Rebecca Bross, both of whom train at WOGA.

"I know they are both training and doing what they need to do to be ready for the competitions coming up," said Patterson of Liukin and Bross.

Although Patterson is retired from competition, she remains closely involved in the sport as well as in her academic, professional and charitable pursuits.

"I am halfway done with my Bachelor's degree in communications, and that is currently my main focus," said Patterson, who will turn 24 on Feb. 4. "I still love being involved in the gymnastics community, whether it is promoting our sport with USA Gymnastics, coaching at summer camps, or anything else that I can do to support our sport."

Patterson said she enjoyed her recent meeting with the family of Taylor Storch, an Arizona teenager who was killed in a skiing accident and whose parents donated her heart to a 40-year-old mother of two in need of a transplant.

"I am working with their amazing charity, called Taylor's Gift Foundation, to increase and promote organ donation," Patterson said.

Patterson is also planning her wedding, tentatively scheduled for next year in the Dallas area. She and fiancé Mark Caldwell, a strategy consultant for Accenture, got engaged on Jan. 21.

"Winning the all-around gold medal in 2004 was the best day of my life until this day, because now I have my best friend and the greatest guy I could have ever asked God to send me to share my past, present and future life with," she said.

Caldwell proposed in dramatic style next to a waterfall at a creek-side park outside of Dallas.

"Mark tricked me into thinking we were going to look at a house that his parents were buying, and when we pulled up closer to the area, he wanted to get out and look around," Patterson said. "When we got out of the car we turned a corner and I saw rose petals and candles all over the ground with a 'Will You Marry Me?' sign. He also had champagne and a scrapbook opened that I had made him in our first year of dating, and he had finished the last page."

Patterson's thrilled response to Caldwell's proposal met with the instant approval of both of their families, she said.

"Mark said some really sweet things and got down on his knee and asked if I would marry him," Patterson said. "I can barely remember all of this part because I was so surprised, but I know I said yes at least five times in a row and jumped to hug him. Our families were waiting across the creek hiding behind a big tree, and after he proposed they all came out and were waving and yelling at us."

Although Patterson's life has changed considerably since her Olympic victory in Athens nearly eight years ago, she can still offer words of encouragement for those seeking glory this summer in London.

"My advice for the girls training for London is to keep doing what you're doing, training hard, training smart, and keeping your eye on the end goal because it is so close," she told IG. "Enjoy this time leading up to everything because it goes by so fast, and try to have fun and take in every moment.


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