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Written by John Crumlish    Wednesday, 23 May 2018 09:22    PDF Print
Canada's Gagnon Aims To 'Crack Into That Top Tier'
(4 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

Canadian gymnast Joel Gagnon is hoping that the momentum he established at last month’s Pacific Rim Championships in Medellin, Colombia, will carry him to new success at the Canadian Championships taking place this week in Waterloo, Ontario.

The 22-year-old Gagnon made four apparatus finals in Medellin, one week after he helped his University of Minnesota team place second at the NCAA Championships in Chicago. He is now focused on graduate studies in Montreal and future international competitions leading to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

In this IG Online interview, the diligent Gagnon comments on his Pacific Rim performance, his goals for the Canadian Championships and his chances for making the Canadian team at this fall’s World Championships in Doha, Qatar.

IG: What was your plan prior to the the Pacific Rim Championships, and how did your actual performances measure up to your expectations?

JG: The plan going into the competition was to qualify to the floor final and hit my other routines, to help reach our team objective of placing in the top three. I ended up qualifying to four finals: floor exercise, rings, parallel bars and high bar, which was a pleasant surprise! Floor was my best shot of taking home an individual medal, so I was a bit disappointed that I didn’t perform my best floor routine in the final. However, overall I was extremely happy with my performance, especially since this was my first time competing in event finals at an international competition. As a team we ended up coming in second place despite having to compete four-up, four-count on half of the events due to an injury to William Emard that occurred in the warm-up. I was really impressed with how our young team was able to stay calm, despite the added pressure of not having William in our lineup, to put together a great team performance.

IG: At last year's Canadian Championships you didn't compete on all six apparatuses. What are your goals for this year's competition?

JG: A few years ago, I decided to retire from pommel horse as my skill level on this apparatus was far lower than it needed to be for me to contribute to a team, and it was decided my time would be better spent improving the other five events. The goal is to hit clean routines on the other five events and reach a few event finals. After placing first on floor exercise at Elite Canada earlier this year, my goal is to repeat that and take home the floor title.

IG: The Canadian team has several veterans and some of the younger guys, such as you, pushing them. What do you think you will need to get into the top group in Canada and especially to make the team for Doha?

JG: I think we have a lot of talented up-and-coming gymnasts that will soon be in the top group in Canada. Personally, I think that if I can make some slight changes to my routines and improve my overall execution, I will be able to able to crack into that top tier. Specifically, I will need to put in some release moves on high bar that I have been training but haven’t gotten quite consistent enough yet. As well, I think if I can keep my shoulders relatively healthy I will be able to increase some strength parts in my rings routine. After that, I think the focus for me will be to polish up the other routines, as I tend to have a few built-in deductions that hurt my execution score.

IG: Who were your coaches at Minnesota, and who will be coaching you going forward?

JG: Our head coach, Mike Burns, was my personal coach for the last four years, and my vault coach was assistant coach Konstantin Kolesnikov. I also had the pleasure of working with our other fantastic assistant coaches Russ Fystrom, for my first three years there, and more recently, Jordan Valdez this past season. Once in Montreal I plan on training at Centre Pere Sablon gymnastics club with coach Patrick Beauchamp.

IG: We understand that you will be pursuing your master's in aerospace engineering in Montreal. This is a big adjustment after competing for Minnesota week in and week out for the past four years. When will you start studies at McGill, and how will you be adjusting your training schedule to maintain your studies?

JG: I will be starting my studies at McGill (University) in September. In many ways, living and training in Montreal will be quite different from what I was doing at the University of Minnesota. As of right now, I plan on taking classes part-time to accommodate my training schedule. I’m hoping this will allow me to succeed in school while still focusing on reaching my gymnastics goals.

IG: Many Canadian gymnasts head south in order to study at and compete for U.S. universities. What were the greatest benefits that you gained from your time at Minnesota, especially those you didn't anticipate?

JG: The greatest benefit I gained from my time at Minnesota was learning how to properly prepare for a competition. As a junior gymnast, I was always putting elements in my routines that weren’t consistent. My time in Minnesota made me realize how valuable it can be to become a reliable competitor. One other thing I did not anticipate was figuring out how to use the added stress and pressure of competing for a team to my advantage. I was able to use my nerves to give me the additional adrenaline and energy that I needed, to help me focus in and give my best performances during competitions when it counts the most.

International Gymnast magazine’s recent coverage of Canadian gymnasts includes:

“Canadian Grace” - Brooklyn Moors interview (December 2017)

2017 World Championships special issue, incl. Canadians (November 2017)

Ellie Black on cover collage, 2017 Worlds preview (September 2017)

“Canadian Candor” - Ellie Black and Zachary Clay interviews (July/August 2017)

“Canadian Pace-setter” - Ana Padurariu profile (December 2016)

“Canadian on a Roll” - Jade Chrobok profile (April 2016)

Chrobok, Meixi Semple on cover inset photo and featured in 2016 Nadia International coverage (March 2016)

To subscribe to the print and/or digital editions of International Gymnast magazine, or to order back issues, click here.

Written by dwight normile    Thursday, 17 May 2018 07:44    PDF Print
Britain's Bevan Survives Rush, Enjoys Victory
(2 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

The May 2018 issue of International Gymnast magazine features an interview with recently crowned British senior all-around champion Brinn Bevan, who describes his satisfaction on winning the title after overcoming wrist and shoulder injuries.

“Due to this it was a rush to get myself back fit in time for the set of competitions, so I had a few routines that were slightly reduced,” Bevan said. “But I also put out a couple of new things, too. So for all the hard work I put in, it was great.”

Asked about his favorite social media platform, he says, “Definitely Instagram! You’ve got the main picture posts, which consist of my favorite photos. Stories, which can give a little insight into day-to-day life. And messages where fans, friends and companies can ask anything you like. @brinnbevan if you fancy a follow.”

In a more solemn tone, as a junior gymnast Bevan made a promise to his father that he would do his “absolute best” to medal at the 2016 Olympics. His dad passed away from cancer before those Games.

"This still makes me emotional! Yes, I did my absolute best. I hit every single routine I put out. The team did come fourth, but it was my journey to get there that I take pride in. And I know he would feel the same way.”

Read the full interviews in “Great Brits,” with 2018 British all-around champions Brinn Bevan and Kelly Simm, in the May 2018 issue of International Gymnast magazine. To subscribe to the print and/or digital editions, or to order back issues, click here.

Written by John Crumlish    Friday, 04 May 2018 09:31    PDF Print
Aussie Brown On Tokyo 2020: 'Take It Day By Day'
(1 vote, average 5.00 out of 5)

Veteran Australian gymnast Georgia-Rose Brown told IG that her fourth-place all-around finish at last month’s Commonwealth Games reflected her status as “probably the most confident I have ever been” as she heads towards the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

The 23-year-old Brown, a reserve for Australia’s 2012 Olympic team, intends to upgrade her program to stay on pace with the world’s best as she continues her journey towards this fall’s World Championships in Doha, Qatar, and hopefully Tokyo 2020. She shared her thoughts and plans in this IG Online interview.

IG: You came very close to an all-around medal at the Commonwealth Games, but looking back, how does fourth place feel considering the competitors, your actual performances and your goals for the competition?

GRB: To be honest I was extremely happy with my performance in the all-around final. I knew walking in that I didn’t have the highest difficulty, so I really needed to focus on making my routines as clean as possible. I was quite nervous in the team final on the previous day, so going into the all-around final my goal was to do my best and really enjoy the moment, and that’s exactly what happened. I couldn’t be happier with the result.

IG: You were an all-around finalist at the 2014 World Championships, but in World Cup competitions you have always had your best finish on bars. And now at the Commonwealth Games, you made three finals and won a medal on beam. How have you managed to regain four-apparatus strength and consistency?

GRB: I have always trained all apparatus. It keeps things interesting, but bars just happens to be one of my best. Leading into Commonwealth Games, I really focused on making all apparatus as clean and stable as possible. This competition was probably the most confident I have ever been in my ability to go out on the competition floor and successfully complete all my routines.

IG: What has helped you stay confident and motivated to continue through the current Olympic cycle, after serving as reserve for London and missing out on the Rio 2016 Games?

GRB: I was still quite young after my first Olympic cycle in 2012 and I didn’t feel I had reached my full potential, so at that point I didn’t really have any intention of stopping. It took me a little bit to regain my motivation, but once I did it was full speed ahead through to the next cycle. After Rio however, I definitely had my ups and downs, with injuries, motivation, etc. But with the support of my family and coaches, and my ability to always keep my eye on the goal of the 2018 Commonwealth Games) even if it did seem quite distant at times, I was able to persevere through and achieve my goal.

IG: Looking ahead to the rest of 2018, what key changes and improvements do you plan, so you can make the Australian team for Doha and continue your quest for Tokyo 2020?

GRB: My plan going forward is to just take it day by day. Looking too far ahead can sometimes be a bit overwhelming and cause me to focus too much on the future instead of the present. With my gymnastics, I would like to make small improvements on each apparatus so I can become more competitive within the international field.

To subscribe to the print and/or digital edition or to order back issues of International Gymnast magazine, click here.

Written by John Crumlish    Wednesday, 28 March 2018 08:08    PDF Print
Canada's Chrobok: 'You Must Stay Calm And Confident'
(1 vote, average 5.00 out of 5)

Canadian gymnast Jade Chrobok, who placed fourth all-around at last weekend’s World Cup of Birmingham, has big plans for other key competitions this year, starting with the Commonwealth Games that will begin April 4 in Australia.

Chrobok made her World Cup debut in Birmingham, where her score of 51.366 points ranked her fourth behind gold medalist Angelina Melnikova of Russia (54.465), silver medalist Margzetta Frazier of the U.S. (53.932) and bronze medalist Alice Kinsella of Great Britain (53.099).

As a first-year senior in 2017, Chrobok placed first all-around at the Elite Canada meet and third all-around at the Canadian Championships. Chrobok trains under 1980 Olympic all-around champion Yelena Davydova and Valery Yahchybekov at Gemini Gymnastics in Oshawa, Ont.

Chrobok assessed her World Cup results, and her hopes for upcoming meets, in this IG Online interview.

IG: How would you rate your overall performance in Birmingham, especially in terms of where you hope to be by the Canadian Championships in May and the World Championships in October?

JC: Overall, I am pleased with my performance. Competing in such a prestigious event was a new experience for me on the world stage, and I think that I handled the environment well. In terms of where I hope to be, I would like to improve both my D- and E-scores so that I can be more competitive alongside some of the top gymnasts.

IG: You have not had a lot of experience competing head-to-head with seniors such as Melnikova. How nervous or intimidated were you to be competing in a World Cup, and how did you manage the remain confident throughout the meet?

JC: Competing alongside such experienced seniors was an honor. A World Cup event alone is one of the largest competitions I have ever been a part of, and the atmosphere was definitely different, and a little bit more intimidating and distracting than a regular meet. My coaches and I have been focusing on each event and element, and when you get down to it, gymnastics is gymnastics, and you must tune out all of the distractions and stay calm and confident.

IG: Why didn’t you compete on vault at Elite Canada earlier this year?

JC: Prior to Elite Canada, I injured my hand in practice, which did not allow me to train well the week before. We weren’t sure if I would compete. I made it through three events, but vault was not my friend. As of now, the hand is better, and all is good.

IG: Canada has several solid all-arounders, so what do you think you will need to break into the top group at the Canadian Championships?

JC: All of the current Canadian gymnasts are very talented and all have a lot to give to the Canadian team. In order to break through, I must clean up my routines and continue to increase D-score to bump myself into the top group of athletes.

IG: Now that you have had 2017 and part of 2018 to get used to senior international competition, what changes and improvements do you plan to make between now and Worlds, so you can be competitive with all of the world's best seniors?

JC: The biggest change I have had, and must work on, is mindset. Staying focused, calm and confident are all very important in performing the best that I can. Taking in and learning from every experience makes me better prepared for any other competition that comes my way. Sometimes I just go back to remembering that I have practiced my routines many times and my body knows what to do. I have been working on a couple of new skills that I hope to compete in the near future.

IG: What is your goal for the Commonwealth Games?

JC: My goal is to be able to put out clean routines, so that I can contribute and support the team, while wearing the maple leaf proudly.

International Gymnast magazine Related Features: “Canadian on a Roll” - Jade Chrobok profile (April 2016), "British Breakouts" - Alice Kinsella interview (December 2016), ”Heaven Sent" - Angelina Melnikova profile (June 2016)

To subscribe to the print and/or digital editions of International Gymnast magazine, or to order back issues, click here.

Written by John Crumlish    Wednesday, 07 March 2018 07:13    PDF Print
Australia's Alexandra Eade: 'I Wanted to Prove Them Wrong'
(2 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

By winning the gold medal on floor exercise at the Melbourne World Cup last month, 20-year-old Australian gymnast Alexandra Eade has new reason to be confident as she heads towards this year's other important competitions including the Commonwealth Games in April and world championships in October. Pictured: Eade at the Melbourne World Cup, flanked by runner-up Isabel Barbosa of Brazil and Tjaša Kysselef of Slovenia.

By winning the gold medal on floor exercise at the Melbourne World Cup last month, 20-year-old Australian gymnast Alexandra Eade has new reason to be confident as she heads towards this year's other important competitions including the Commonwealth Games in April and world championships in October.

Eade, the 2013 Australian junior champion, trains at the National Centre of Excellence (NCE) in Melbourne. The Sydney native enjoyed moderate success as a senior in the previous Olympic cycle and now aims to establish herself as a contender for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. Following her success at the World Cup, she was named to Australia's team for next month's Commonwealth Games, which takes place in Gold City, Queensland.

In this IG Online interview, Eade shared her thoughts on her World Cup victory, last year's appointment of U.S.-based Mihai Brestyan as the Australian women's team's new head coach, and what her team will need to earn a berth to Tokyo in two years.

Alexandra Eade (Australia)

IG: What were your goals for the World Cup, and how close to achieving them did you come?

AE: Walking into the competition I wanted to hit nice, clean floor routines, and that's exactly what I did. My training leading up to the competition reflected in those routines as I felt confident in what I was doing.

IG: Based on your performance in Melbourne, what do you need to work on to score higher later this year?

AE: I still think I need to work on my landings. This is something that I have always struggled with but I am really focusing on it in my training at the moment. I am trying to have as few landing deductions as possible.

IG: You placed eighth on beam in Melbourne with a score of 9.800. What went wrong?

AE: I think my issue with beam is my confidence and self-belief. My training routines have been solid but when I competed, my nerves got the best of me. I just need to practice more competition routines by placing myself under that type of pressure.

IG: What are you plans for competing all-around going forward?

AE: Due to injury I don't participate in the all-around anymore. I focus on beam, floor and vault, trying to get my start scores and execution scores as high as possible so I can contribute to the team and hopefully make some finals in those events.

IG: Australia didn't qualify a team for the 2016 Olympics in Rio, so what do you think your team will need to get on track for the 2020 Games in Tokyo?

AE: I think we need to work on getting our start scores a bit higher. But we also need to work on quality and focus on the nitty-gritty details like pointed feet, etc. Every point counts. I believe we need to work on hitting clean routines in training and not just going through the numbers. All together we need to bump up our start scores a little bit and focus on having a good execution score.

IG: Who is coaching you now?

AE: Mikhail Barabach and Tracey Penaluna were my previous coaches but they have now both left NCE. I still stay in close contact with Tracey and I see Mikhail often as he comes to training camps with Queensland. My current coaches are Shaoyi Jiang, Qing Hua Yang and Michelle De Highden.

IG: How has the transition from national team head coach Peggy Liddick to new national team coach Mihai Brestyan been for you?

AE: It's definitely been different. Mihai has changed a lot about our program. We have a whole new warm-up and strength program which focuses a lot on fitness. He has also increased the number of routines we are doing. It was hard at first, but I think I've adapted well to the increase and it has made my competitions better for it. As Mihai is living in America and flying in and out of Australia, he stays in close contact with my coaches over email and monitors my routines via video footage that my coaches send him. I still work closely with Peggy as she is a coach at the NCE.

IG: You've had international success since 2010, so what keeps you motivated in this current Olympic cycle?

AE: It's definitely been hard. I've had a few setbacks with injuries which were difficult to recover from. I think after I got injured a lot of people thought I wouldn't make it back, so I wanted to prove them wrong. I've been working hard on the sidelines for a while, getting my fitness back, and I feel like, now, I'm finally at my at my strongest. Representing your country is an indescribable feeling and I've wanted nothing more than to have that feeling again.

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