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Written by John Crumlish    Wednesday, 11 December 2019 08:56    PDF Print
Third Olympic Berth ‘Biggest Boost Of Motivation’ For Chile’s Castro
(5 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

Heading towards her third consecutive Olympic Games, 30-year-old Chilean gymnast Simona Castro intends to make her performance at next summer’s Tokyo Games her strongest yet.

Born January 11, 1989, in Santiago, Castro became Chile’s first female gymnastics Olympian when she competed at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, where she finished 43rd all-around. She qualified for her second Olympic Games in 2016 in Rio, where she placed placed 52nd all-around in qualifications. Castro earned a berth to next summer’s Tokyo Games through her performance at this fall’s World Championships in Stuttgart.

Castro has enjoyed varied successes beyond her Olympian credentials. Since 2014 she has qualified for 11 Challenge Cup finals, winning the silver medal on balance beam and the bronze medal on floor exercise at the 2016 Challenge Cup of Sao Paulo. Castro placed 15th all-around at the 2018 Senior Pan American Championships and 14th all-around at the 2019 Pan American Games. She is coached by her mother, Isabel Lazo. Her older sister, Martina Castro, competed at the 2009 and 2013 Worlds.

After competing for the University of Denver for four years, Castro earned a degree in business administration from the university in 2013. She serves as an ambassador of the ONU Mujeres (UN Women) program, a United Nations project promoting self-confidence in young women.

In this IG Online interview, the resolute Castro reflects on her past Olympic fortunes and projects her hopes for Tokyo.

IG: Going into Stuttgart, what did you think of your chances to qualify for Tokyo, and after your actual performance in Stuttgart, did you think it was enough?

SC: I believe Stuttgart was our only chance to qualify for Tokyo 2020. We did plan on qualifying and we understood how well we had to do in order to qualify. There was a lot of pressure for me as well as for many other gymnasts, so we planned on having the least amount of mistakes and took out every possible skill that could get punished by the judges. I did believe for a second that I didn't make it. I had a mistake starting on beam, but really focused on making up for it in the next three events. After that, it was just about waiting for everyone else to compete. Competition is competition, and anything could have happened but I was very hopeful I was in.

IG: We know that your performance in London was limited by injuries (chronic pain in her Achilles tendon and an inflamed shoulder muscle, and having just recovered from a torn abdominal muscle), but in Rio you also did not have your best performance. To what do you attribute your performance in Rio?

SC: Overthinking. Rather than focusing on the routine itself, I focused on what I wanted to accomplish. Gymnastics is about taking one thing at a time, one skill at a time, and unfortunately, it affected my performance.

IG: How is your mindset different in this Olympic cycle, compared with your preparations for London and Rio? In terms of physical preparation, how has your training in this Olympic cycle been different from the previous two?

SC: It has been very different compared to the past. I believe it has been more about overcoming my own limitations. I suffered a major injury right after Rio that took me out for almost two years. At one point I really thought I wasn't going to be able to come back. Everything else felt hard after that. Recovery took way too long, as well as getting back in physical shape. Being strong enough to endure throughout routines was a bit harder on my feet, especially on floor and beam. My body felt different, and I had to learn how to deal with different. I learned to adapt, and I got smarter in terms of recovery on how many hours and repetitions I took, as well as mind very much how I had to eat. I have focused on getting physically stronger in order to prevent injuries as well as give my body a little bit more recovery time during the weeks of training. My first goal during these past three years was to get back to my comfort level, which I accomplished at the 2018 Worlds. After that it has been about the Tokyo qualification and earning trust and confidence. Qualifying for the Olympics gave the biggest boost of motivation and certainly paid off all the hard work that it took to come back from the injury, as well as all the not-so-bright days in the middle. I'm I still working on my all-around by trying to get stronger on bars and vault.

IG: At 30, what drives you onward towards another Olympic Games?

SC: Enjoying and improving myself.

IG: With such a lengthy career, what more do you have left to prove to yourself?

SC: I know I can do more, which is what I hope to put into my routines this year. I have been working a couple of skills on the side and I'm hoping I get the chance to compete them this year.

IG: How has your role as ONU Mujeres (UN WOMEN) ambassador inspired you, in and out of the gym?

SC: This role has certainly changed my perspective on what kind of example I want to give to future generations. How to teach children about confidence and self-esteem is a very hard task to accomplish since there are so many factors that affect today's society. Sports is a very good tool, and I hope to do my best to help get rid of stereotypes as well as give them the tools they need to help us become a gender-equal society. I want to help empower women as well as help create new opportunities for women in sports.

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

 
Written by John Crumlish    Friday, 29 November 2019 13:38    PDF Print
Cournoyer Aims ‘To Be More Competitive’ At Tokyo 2020
(2 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

The December 2019 issue of International Gymnast magazine includes an inter-view with Canada’s René Cournoyer, who earned an individual berth to next summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo through his performance at last month’s World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany. Excerpts from the interview follow.

IG: How are you balancing your emotions regarding Tokyo 2020, qualifying as an individual while the full Canadian team did not qualify?

RC: It was devastating to realize that we failed to qualify the team. For a whole day I felt the disappointment with the rest of my teammates. When I learned that I qualified individually, I had truly mixed feelings. On one hand I was ecstatic that I made it, but it didn’t happen the way I hoped. I couldn’t share that victory with my team because of our recent defeat. It’s only after the World Championships were over that I could appreciate my Olympic qualification.

IG: How are you adapting your training to prepare for your best possible all-around performance in Tokyo?

RC: We realized, based on the judging from the last competitions, that a clean routine with good execution is not enough to be part of the best. My preparation for Tokyo will be focused on increasing my difficulty to be more competitive.

To read the full interview with René Cournoyer in the December 2019 issue, subscribe to the print and/or digital editions of International Gymnast magazine by clicking here.

 

 
Written by John Crumlish    Tuesday, 26 November 2019 09:14    PDF Print
Jamaica’s Francis Revels In Ancestry, Olympic Berth
(5 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

The December 2019 issue of International Gymnast magazine includes an in-depth interview with charismatic Jamaican gymnast Danusia Francis, who earned an individual berth to next summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo. Excerpts from the interview follow.

IG: You have a unique pedigree with a Polish mom and a Jamaican dad. How and where did your parents meet? And what kind of affinity do you have for your Polish roots?

DF: They met in the U.K. I am extremely proud of my roots. My grandparents on my mum's side are both refugees of World War II, and my great-grandmother is a survivor of Auschwitz. We celebrate Polish Christmas and I grew up eating some Polish foods. My name is actually Polish too, which surprises people who don’t know.

IG: What have you discovered about your ancestors’ experiences with slavery in Jamaica, and how has it impacted you?

DF: I visited Rose Hall (plantation) and Sam Sharpe Square (named for the Jamaican national hero, former slave and anti-slavery activist). I knew about slavery and what my ancestors experienced but I saw the Freedom Monument with the names of the heroes and heroines of the anti-slavery movement inscribed. These names are from the trial and punishment records, and my surname was amongst them multiple times. This made it all very real, and I am proud to know I had such strong ancestors who fought for their freedom. It definitely empowers me.

IG: Beside the fact that Usain Bolt was an amazing athlete, why is he your hero?

DF: His personality and charisma aren’t just an act. He is a true showman. Despite the obvious of being so fast, he also brought entertainment and fun to his sport.

IG: Between now and Tokyo, what revisions will you be making to your routines so you can optimize your performance there? DF: I am trying a new skill on bars so would love to get that. Other than that it’s pretty much small tweaks here and there and going for execution.

To read the full interview with Danusia Francis, subscribe to the print and/or digital editions of International Gymnast magazine by clicking here.

 

 
Written by Araceli Martinez-Rose    Thursday, 21 November 2019 10:58    PDF Print
Moreno Wins Mexico's Athlete Of The Year Award
(4 votes, average 4.00 out of 5)

The Mexican gymnast, has given a huge vitality to this sport in her Aztec land. For two decades, Alexa Moreno has been practicing artistic gymnastics in Mexico.

The young Olympic athlete concludes with great emotions this 2019, after being nominated to receive the Sport Person of the Year award twice. Considering her sporting achievements, she was chosen as winner of the National Sports Award in Mexico, and also the Sports Award in her state of Baja, California where she lives and trains. The awards gave her a prestigious and significant Diploma, money and two cars, a new model for each award.

It is the first time that a female gymnast has achieved national and state distinctions, such as those won by Alexa, in a country that begins to stand out internationally in the sport. "I am very excited about my awards, because I did not expect them. I am very grateful for these recognitions. Tokyo will be my last Olympic Games; I intend to give my best and try to step up at the Olympic podium." - said Alexa, while already training for her Olympic performances in Tokyo.

Alexa began in gymnastics at age 9. Her mother Mrs. Yenderina de Medina, enrolled her in a local gym because Alexa was a restless girl, who kept jumping and hanging upside down on everything.

Since starting to qualify to compete internationally, Alexa quickly won a bronze medal at the 2015 Kazan World Cup which brought great joy to Mexico, a country that had never before won a medal in women's gymnastics.

In addition, Alexa, led Mexico for the first time, to participate in the Summer Olympics in Rio 2016, where she had a prominent presence. However, social media started a war, when some were used as a forum and platform to criticize their physical figure, different from the other ones known in the world. For Mexico female public, that network war was very strong because so many were talking about her physical appearance rather than about Alexa's significant sporting achievements.

She was able to stay oblivious to cruel comments and did not participate in the negative game of tweets, Facebook comments or Instagram debates, but focused on the hard training with Alfredo Hueto her Spanish coach and former male gymnastics Olympic trainer.

Being a gymnast isn't easy. Sacrifice and absolute dedication robbed her of many family moments, her chances of having some fun with friends was null. She loves reading, watching movies, and mainly enjoying learning about the Japanese culture. Alexa has a long and an inexplicable love for everything Japanese, enjoys and knows the comic series perfectly, loves Japanese food and even speaks the language.

"It is my pride and it is my great passion to practice gymnastics, and it strengthens me to try new challenges and compete internationally." My life has been artistic gymnastics. I have participated in five World Cup finals, the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, and in Stuttgart Germany, I managed to make the Vault final finishing in sixth place, after failing on my first vault, but I did my second vault impeccably. The most important thing is that I also got my Olympic ticket. I'll be the only Mexican (on the women’s side) to represent my country in Tokyo 2020 and I intend to get it right," Alexa said.

Vault is her favorite discipline. It is unbelievable that she flies free with her vaulting, after a serious accident she had in a previous practice, before traveling to the Pan American competitions in Canada. Her knees did not reach her descent, and she crashed into her eyes, breaking her cornea and fracturing her cheekbones. Alexa lost consciousness, was hospitalized, but with great willpower, even with purple evidence of the accident, she was training and competing again within 3 months.

Alexa's daily routine isn't glamorous. She must train early, then go home and cook her food, then return to training at the gym, and also attend media interviews constantly regarding Sports awards and Tokyo. But now, she has a PR agency that helps her with press requests and that selects endorsements requests; she will also receive a ready-made food under an established nutritional regimen, so she can rest more.

"I have started my journey by adding more difficult elements in my quest to do my best work yet, to do it in an impeccable and unforgettable way and with the illusion of finally climbing the Olympic podium-a great dream, which I would like to fulfill.”

Mexico has a new awakening in the Olympic women's gymnastics, which resembles those years after Montreal 76, when Nadia Comaneci 'the perfect 10' arrived at the Mexican auditoriums with the Romanian delegation causing great upheaval among the young women in different Mexican cities, who fell in love with gymnastics while watching Nadia Comaneci perform.

Alexa lives and trains in the city of Tijuana, just across the border from San Diego, California. Her family (parents and siblings) live in Mexicali, the capital city of the state of Baja California. She had to move to Tijuana, a city that provides her with the best gym, coach and sports facilities to advance her international participation. She is accompanied by a small pet; it is a curious and affectionate hedgehog whom she loves very much.

This is Alexa, that has become the great ambassador of Gymnastics and a beloved face of the hard work to achieve an Olympic Dream.

SPANISH

La deportista mexicana, ha dado una enorme vitalidad a este deporte en su tierra azteca. Desde hace dos décadas, Alexa Moreno practica la gimnasia artística en México.

La gimnasta concluye con grandes emociones el año 2019, siendo campeona del deporte dos veces. Considerando sus logros deportivos, fue elegida la gran ganadora del premio Nacional del Deporte en México, y también el Premio al deporte en su estado de Baja California en donde vive y entrena. Los premios le significaron un prestigioso y significativo Diploma y con los premios recibió dinero y automóviles.

Es la primera vez que una mujer gimnasta, ha alcanzado las distinciones nacionales y estatales, como las que ha ganado Alexa, en un país que empieza a destacar internacionalmente en este deporte.

“Yo estoy muy emocionada de mis premios, porque no los esperaba. Estoy muy agradecida por estos reconocimientos. Tokio serán mis últimos juegos Olímpicos, pienso dar lo mejor de mí de nuevo”. - dijo Alexa que ya se prepara para su entrenamiento olímpico en Tokio.

Alexa comenzó en la gimnasia a los 9 años de edad. Su mama Yenderina Medina, la inscribió en un gimnasio porque Alexa era una niña inquieta, que no dejaba de dar saltos, se colgaba de todo y evidenciaba que la acrobacia era una flexibilidad favorita.

Desde que comenzó a clasificar internacionalmente, Alexa rápidamente gano una medalla de bronce en el Mundial de Kazán 2015 lo que dio gran alegría a México, país que nunca antes se había ganado una medalla en gimnasia femenil.

Además, Alexa, llevo a México por vez primera, a participar en los Juegos Olímpicos de verano en Rio 2016, en donde tuvo una presencia destacada. Sin embargo, las redes sociales iniciaron una guerra, cuando algunas fueron utilizadas como foro y plataforma para criticar su figura física, distinta a la conocida en el mundo. Para México, esa guerra de redes fue muy fuerte pues se hablaba mas del físico, que de los logros deportivos tan significativos de Alexa.

La gimnasta pudo mantenerse ajena a los comentarios crueles, y no participo del juego negativo de las redes y se concentro en el entrenamiento duro de cara a mundiales de la mano de Alfredo Hueto su entrenador español.

Ser gimnasta no es fácil. El sacrificio y la dedicación absoluta le roba muchos momentos familiares, es nula sus posibilidades de tener alguna diversión con amigas. Ama leer, ver películas, y principalmente la cultura japonesa. Alexa tiene desde hace mucho tiempo, un inexplicable amor por todo lo japones, disfruta y conoce a la perfección las series de comics, le encanta la comida japonesa e incluso ya habla el idioma.

“Es mi orgullo y es mi gran pasión practicar la gimnasia y me fortalece el intentar nuevos retos y competir internacionalmente”. Mi vida ha sido la gimnasia artística. He participado en cinco finales mundialistas, los Juegos olímpicos de Rio 2016 y en Stuttgart Alemania logre quedarme en la final de Salto de Caballo quedando en un sexto lugar, por un fallo en uno de mis dos saltos, el segundo fue impecable. Lo más importante es que también obtuve mi clasificación olímpica. Seré la única mexicana que representara a México en Tokio 2020 y pienso hacerlo bien”- dijo Alexa de 25 años de edad.

El salto de Caballo es su disciplina preferida. Es increíble que vuela libre en los saltos, tras un grave accidente que tuvo en una practicaba previa, antes de viajar a las competencias Panamericanas en Canadá. Sus rodillas no alcanzaron a descender y se estrellaron contra sus ojos, rompiéndole la córnea del ojo y fracturando los pómulos. Alexa perdió el conocimiento, fue hospitalizada, pero con gran fuerza de voluntad, aun con el rostro con evidencias del accidente, ya en 3 meses estaba entrenando y compitiendo de nuevo.

La rutina de Alexa no es glamurosa. Debe entrenar temprano, luego, ir a su casa y cocinarse sus alimentos, después debe regresar a entrenar al gimnasio, y además, atender entrevistas de medios constantemente cambiara de cara a Tokio. Pero ahora, tiene una agencia de PR que le ayuda con las solicitudes de prensa, selecciona las solicitudes de patrocinadores; otras cosas también cambiaran para Alexa, quien recibirá sus alimentos ya listos bajo un régimen nutricional establecido, para que pueda descansar más.

“He comenzado mi rutina agregando elementos de mayor dificultad en mi búsqueda de hacer primero mi mejor trabajo, hacerlo de forma impecable e inolvidable, y, con la ilusión de subir al podio olímpico finalmente”- un gran sueño, que desearía cumplir.

México tiene un nuevo despertar en la gimnasia olímpica femenil, que se asemeja a aquellos años después de Montreal 76, cuando Nadia Comaneci ‘el 10 perfecto’ llegaba a los auditorios junto a la delegación rumana causando gran revuelo en las jóvenes que se enamoraban de la gimnasia artística viendo las presentaciones de gimnasta Nadia Comaneci en distintas ciudades mexicanas.

La atleta, vive y entrena en la ciudad de Tijuana, frontera con San Diego California. Su familia, padres y hermanos viven en Mexicali la ciudad capital del estado de Baja California. Ella tuvo que trasladarse a Tijuana, ciudad que le proporciona el mejor gimnasio, al entrenador y las facilidades deportivas para avanzar en su participación internacional. Se acompaña de una pequeña mascota a la cual tiene muy consentida, se trata de un curioso y cariñoso erizo a quien Alexa quiere mucho.

Alexa se ha convertido en la gran embajadora de la Gimnasia y el rostro mexicano del esfuerzo por un sueño Olímpico.

Read complete coverage of the 2019 World Championships in the November 2019 issue of International Gymnast magazine, available now.

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

 
Written by John Crumlish    Thursday, 21 November 2019 00:00    PDF Print
Padurariu Pushes To ‘Come Back to Prime Competition Shape’
(2 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

Featured in a chat in the December 2019 issue of International Gymnast magazine, Canadian gymnast Ana Padurariu told IG she is hopeful to return to all-around competition in February following a foot injury that prevented from competing on all four apparatuses at this fall’s World Championships in Stuttgart.

“I am currently training on all four events and trying to get all my skills back,” said Padurariu, the 2018 world silver medalist on balance beam. “The goal is to compete all-around at Elite Canada in February.”

Padurariu said the prospect of competing at next summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo helps her persevere as she rebuilds her all-around program.

“I stay optimistic and get the strength to push through by thinking about my ultimate goal, the Olympics,” she told IG. “Being injured also gives you that spark of motivation to get back into training as soon as possible, as just conditioning all day gets boring very fast. My coach Elena (Davydova), Gymnastics Canada and I work hard together to get through any setback and come back to prime competition shape in the best and most successful way possible.”

Read the complete chat with Ana Padurariu in the December 2019 issue of International Gymnast magazine. The March 2019 issue features Padurariu on the cover and “Ana Hits Her Stride,” an in-depth interview with her.

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

 


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