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Written by John Crumlish    Saturday, 12 October 2019 10:41    PDF Print
McClenaghan Saving The Best For Last In World Final
(3 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

Ireland’s Rhys McClenaghan said he is ready to give his best, including higher difficulty and execution scores, in Saturday’s pommel horse final at the World Championships in Stuttgart.

"I can increase my difficulty a lot, and my execution can go up even more,” said McClenaghan of his performance in qualifications, where his second-ranked score of 15.200 reflected a difficulty score of 6.30 and an execution score of 8.90. “I had a little bit of an issue on my dismount, so that’s something we can completely take away. The execution score can be in the nines, and the start value can be very high, too, so I can potentially be pushing in the 16s.”

McClenaghan, the first Irish gymnast to advance to a world championships final, said the anxiety that comes with competing on the global stage subsides as soon as he touches the apparatus.

“When I wake up, the heart’s going and I feel a little bit shaky,” he said. “But once I get warmed up and especially once I put my hands on the pommel horse for the routine, the nerves go away. That’s what I’ve been practicing hundred of times, so it’s very comfortable.”

In qualifications, McClenaghan yielded just 0.066 to two-time world pommel horse champion Max Whitlock of Great Britain, who qualified first to Saturday’s final.

McClenaghan is confident he can better his qualifications performance with a dif-ficulty level that he will reveal in the course of his routine.

“I’ll save it for the final,” he said. “You’ll see it in the final.”

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Written by John Crumlish    Friday, 11 October 2019 00:30    PDF Print
‘Sometimes I Wonder How I Do It,’ Says Five-Time Winner Biles
(6 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

U.S. gymnast Simone Biles struggled to grasp the reality of her talent and dominance even as she handily won her fifth world all-around title at the World Championships in Stuttgart on Thursday.

“Sometimes I wonder how I do it,” said Biles, who collected the 16th gold medal and 22nd overall medal of her world championships career. "I feel like it’s not me. I wish I could have an out-of-body experience to witness it, because sometimes I think I’m going crazy.”

Biles said she was “most definitely” more pleased with her Stuttgart all-around performance, where she bettered silver medalist Tang Xijing of China by 2.10 points, than with her winning performance at last year’s Worlds in Doha. She won gold in Doha by 1.693 points, even counting falls on vault and balance beam.

“Last year was kind of tragic,” Biles said. “It definitely wasn’t my best per-formance, but you live and you learn, and I feel like today going out there I didn’t want to do that again.”

Biles earned her top score of the final on vault, where she performed a Cheng vault. She said coach Laurent Landi dismissed her suggestion of going for her namesake Biles vault, which includes a half-twist more than the Cheng but which she missed in the Doha all-around final.

“I did ask Laurent if I could do the double full vault, and he said, ‘No,’” Biles said. “I was like, ‘Are you having flashbacks?’ And he was like, ‘Just stick with the one-and-a-half.’”

Landi said he anticipates more success for Biles in this weekend’s appa-ratus finals. Biles has qualified for all four finals, and heads into the bal-ance beam and floor exercise finals as the top qualifier.

“I just expect the same as she’s been doing,” Landi said. “Four more events made, and then we will take whatever we have at the end.”

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Written by John Crumlish    Friday, 11 October 2019 00:00    PDF Print
Derwael On Title Defense: ‘Hopefully It Will Be Enough For Gold’
(2 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

Belgium’s Nina Derwael said her fifth-place finish in Thursday’s all-around final has given her an extra jolt of fortitude as she prepares to defend her title on uneven bars at the World Championships in Stuttgart on Saturday.

“I always have a little pressure, but mainly the pressure I put on myself to do well,” said Derwael, who qualified first to the uneven bars final. “(The all-around final) gave me a lot of confidence for the final, and I hope that will help me do my best routine there.”

When told that five-time world all-around champion and fellow uneven bars finalist Simone Biles of the U.S. considers her unbeatable on the apparatus, Derwael quickly dismissed her own or any gymnast’s invincibility.

“In the final everyone starts from zero, and everyone needs to hit their routine,” she said. “(When) I do my exercise, we’ll see. Hopefully it will be enough for gold. I still need to do my routine.”

Derwael’s admiration for Biles, who finished second to her on uneven bars at the 2018 Worlds in Doha, is mutual.

“I look up to her incredibly,” said Derwael of Biles, who on Thursday earned her fifth world all-around title. “She’s such an amazing gymnast, how she goes out there every time and hits her routine. It’s just amazing to see how keeps getting better and better. Even when you think she’s already the best in the world, then she proves us wrong, that she can do more.”

Derwael said vying with Biles for the same titles in the all-around and on uneven bars is its own thrill and reward.

“It’s amazing to be able to compete with her and do finals with her,” Derwael said.

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Written by John Crumlish    Thursday, 10 October 2019 00:23    PDF Print
‘There’s Room For Improvement,’ Says All-Around Favorite Biles
(3 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

Even after U.S. superstar Simone Biles primed herself for her fifth world all-around title by drubbing the field in qualifications, she said she is finessing her routines for an even better performance in Thursday’s all-around final at the World Championships in Stuttgart.

“On beam, that’s how I train so I’m really excited that I got to finally go out there and compete like I train,” said Biles of her performance in qualifica-tions, where her 59.432 all-around total easily ranked her first above U.S. teammate Sunisa Lee (57.166) and France’s Melanie De Jesus Dos Santos (56.782) heading into the all-around final.

“I think there’s room for improvement on the other three events, and that’s what training’s for."

Between Saturday’s qualifications and Thursday’s all-around final, Biles squeezed in a record-breaking performance when she led the U.S. women to their fifth consecutive world team title in Tuesday’s team final.

Biles’ team gold in Stuttgart boosted her career world championships medal tally to 15 gold medals, the most of any gymnast (male or female), and 21 medals overall, the most of any female gymnast.

She savored that historic individual milestone with characteristic humility and team spirit.

“With the legacy we have for the U.S., coming in and winning the world championship means the world to all of us,” Biles said. “We have a rookie (Lee) on the team, so I know it is really special for her, but for the rest of us, winning another gold medal means the world to us, and we’re just proud to represent our country.”

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Written by John Crumlish    Monday, 09 September 2019 15:45    PDF Print
Steingruber ‘Back On Track’ For Tokyo 2020
(6 votes, average 4.33 out of 5)

2016 Olympic vault bronze medalist Giulia Steingruber, who won the Swiss national all-around title this weekend, told IG that her faithful support system helped her remain confident during her recovery from a July 2018 knee injury.

“The week in the hospital was hard for my mind,” said Steingruber, who tore her left ACL and damaged her left meniscus during a competition in France last summer. “I was thinking about my life and how I should move on. But I couldn’t think about a life without gymnastics. That’s why I took these long nine months to work hard to get back on track.”

Steingruber, who is preparing for next month’s World Championships in Stuttgart as a big step toward the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, credits her successful return to her circle of devotees.

“It was very hard but I had my great teammates, coaches and especially my family behind me,” she told IG. “So that’s why I can start my season now, which makes me happy and all the hard work worthwhile.”

Read the rest of Steingruber’s chat with IG in the October 2019 issue of International Gymnast magazine.

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


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