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Written by dwight normile    Tuesday, 28 May 2019 11:36    PDF Print
'Amazing Grace: Valorie Kondos Field Has Had Quite A Ride'
IG: Are you religious or spiritual?

VK: I am both religious and spiritual.

IG: What do you like to do to escape the gym?

VK: I love to have lunch or an early dinner on one of our many outside gorgeous patio restaurants near campus with friends. One thing I’m always grateful for living in LA, we don’t have a lot of bugs so sitting outside for a meal is heaven on earth.

IG: As a dancer in Sacramento and Washington D.C., what types of dances did you perform?

VK: Mainly the classics, Nutcracker, Giselle, Swan Lake, Coppelia.

IG: How did you beat cancer?

VK: I beat cancer because I live at a time that has the chemo for my particular type of breast cancer. Had I gotten diagnosed 10 years earlier they had nothing for this type. Also, my doctors believe my extremely positive and grateful attitude had a lot to do with it.

IG: How do you think your emotions will play out after retiring?

VK: I know I’m really going to miss seeing the girls on a daily basis. However, I’m going to be really busy so I don’t think it will set in until next Fall when I don’t report to UCLA for the next season.

IG: How will you remember Katelyn Ohashi?

VK: First of all, Kate and I have a lot of gigs already set up together for after NCAA’s. Gymnastically, I will remember Kate as one of the most talented and fun competitors I’ve ever coached.How will you remember Katelyn Ohashi?

Read the entire interview in the 2019 June issue of International Gymnast. 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, 19 April 2019 08:10    PDF Print
Slovenia’s Sajn: ‘I Consider Every Competition A Gift'
(6 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

2008 Slovenian Olympian Adela Sajn turned 29 on the last day of the recent 2019 European Championships in Szczecin, Poland, and she continues to celebrate her lengthy and successful career.

A mainstay for Slovenia in three Olympic cycles, Sajn (pronounced “shine”) competed on balance beam and floor exercise at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. Best among her numerous performances in World Cup or Challenge Cup finals is her silver medal-winning routine on balance beam at the 2016 Challenge Cup of Ljubljana, the city of her birth.

Sajn, who finished 21st on balance beam and 35th on floor exercise in qualifications at Europeans that took place April 10-14, shares her thoughts and experiences in this IG Online interview.

IG: Was competing at Europeans a gift in itself?

AS: After all the injuries I dealt with throughout my career I take nothing for granted. I also battled through serious health issues in 2017 and 2018, which I thought might even end my career. I spent quite some time in and out of the hospital, which was really tough. Ever since my health improved I really consider every competition as a gift. I think I am very lucky I can still do what I love every day.

IG: How would you rate your performance on beam and floor in Szczecin?

AS: I was very nervous prior to this competition as I am not too comfortable performing on the new “soft touch” beam, so I am happy with what I managed to show in the end, although there was still some room for improvement in the execution area. I am very happy with my performance on floor as I managed to show some of my best landings since I started doing floor again, and my pirouettes were pretty clean, as well. But, I was disappointed with my final score. My routine was fairly simple but I thought the execution was not as bad as the judges decided. Overall I am very happy with my performance especially since my statistics at European Championships were not the best.

IG: You were 0.50 away from the beam final, so what do you think you will need to make it into the final in major competitions?

AS: I know where my weakest areas are in the execution department so I will try to work on that, and I definitely need to add a few tenths in my D(ifficulty)-score.

IG: How do you support yourself financially outside of gymnastics?

AS: I am lucky to be employed by one of our public administration departments, which enables me to be involved in sports professionally, but the standards to renew the contract each year are getting tougher and tougher. BTC City, my main sponsor, has been by my side for many years, and I have a scholarship from the Slovenian gymnastics federation.

IG: With so many years competing at the top level, what keeps you motivated to continue at age 29?

AS: I have been in love with this sport since the beginning of my career in 1995, and after investing so much in it, it is hard to just let it go. And I know that once I am finished, there is no turning back; you are done forever. That's why I want to continue doing gymnastics as long as my body lets me and as long as I enjoy it. Another thing that motivates me are my fans who continue to support me. It's really rewarding to see many of them stick around for so long. Gymnastics is not really popular in Slovenia so it is heartwarming to be well-accepted abroad. Gymnastics has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. Gymnastics is who I am and I love to express myself through it. So if fans like my gymnastics, that is the ultimate compliment for me.

IG: How many more years do you plan to compete, and how much better do you think you can get?

AS: When I was little I once wrote in my club's New Year's magazine that I will do gymnastics until age 28. How I did that math I have no idea, but obviously I have already surpassed that. I didn't set an exact date for myself but it will definitely not be much longer since there comes a time in life where you focus on other things, as well.

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

Written by John Crumlish    Tuesday, 02 April 2019 08:15    PDF Print
Online Interview With Victoria Kayen Woo
(3 votes, average 3.67 out of 5)

Embarking this month on a training camp in Japan with her Canadian teammates, two-time World Championships competitor Victoria Kayen Woo is focusing on a top all-around finish at next month’s Canadian Championships, as well as berths to this fall’s Worlds in Stuttgart and next summer’s Tokyo Olympic Games.

The 21-year-old Woo, who placed fifth all-around at last month’s World Cup of Birmingham, has been a mainstay on the Canadian squad for the past two Olympic cycles. She trains under coaches Michel Charron and Marie-Josée Laperrière at Gym-Richelieu in Saint-Hubert, Quebec.

Woo finished 52nd all-around in qualifications at the 2014 Worlds in Nanning, and 44th all-around in qualifications at the 2015 Worlds in Glasgow. She was a member of Canada’s silver medal-winning team at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto, where she won the bronze medal on balance beam. Last year she was sixth all-around at both the Canadian Championships and Pacific Rim Championships in Colombia, and seventh all-around at the World Cup of Tokyo.

Woo, the older sister of 2016 Canadian Olympian Rose Kaying Woo, shares her thoughts and hopes in this IG Online interview.

IG: How did your performance in Birmingham boost your confidence for the big meets coming up, such as the Canadian Championships and World Championships?

VW: Competing alongside some of the world’s best gymnasts really opened my eyes as to my belonging on the international plateau. I was very grateful to be given this opportunity, and this competition was certainly a milestone for my upcoming meets.

IG: At the 2014 Worlds and in Birmingham, you competed against your favorite gymnast, Aliya Mustafina. Why is she your favorite gymnast? And given that she is your favorite, how were you able to perform calmly against her?

VW: I have always loved her elegance and poise in her gymnastics. I always thought she was the nicest gymnast to watch. At first, I was a little bit intimidated by her, but I soon comforted myself by focusing on my gymnastics and staying calm. I just enjoyed the moment.

IG: Had you competed at the 2016 Rio Olympics, do you think you would still be competing today?

VW: My sister Rose Woo was part of the team and I traveled to Rio to watch her. Looking back to Rio, I would not have thought I would be still competing today. I had a scholarship for Ohio State University starting August 2016 and decided to stay home to compete one more year for Canada.

IG: What is the purpose of your team’s training camp in Japan?

VW: It is a national team training camp. We are nine seniors traveling to train in Japan. The general objective of this camp is to familiarize ourselves in preparation for Tokyo 2020. It is also a team-building camp, which will be a lot of fun.

IG: What is your target for the Canadian Championships? Will you be aiming for a high all-around finish, or do you think you have a better chance to earn a spot for Stuttgart on one or more apparatuses?

VW: I consider myself to be more of an all-around gymnast, thus I will be aiming for a high all-around finish.

IG: Canada almost won a team medal at the 2018 Worlds (fourth place), and many people think Canada can continue to challenge for a team medal in Stuttgart and Tokyo 2020. What do you think Canada will need to improve in order to win team medals in those competitions?

VW: Yes, it was a record finish for Canada. I believe Canada has everything necessary to contend for a medal and just needs to focus on consistency and teamwork, and we will be back on track to maintaining our success.

IG: What do you think you can offer to the Canadian team in Stuttgart, and moreover, in Tokyo?

VW: I believe that I can contribute to Canada because I have a lot of international experience. I believe I also have a good team spirit.

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

Written by dwight normile    Tuesday, 19 March 2019 12:45    PDF Print
Gymnastics Legends to be honored by the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame Class of 2019
(4 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

OKLAHOMA CITY – Five gymnastics legends will be honored at the 23rd annual International Gymnastics Hall of Fame (IGHOF) ceremony on Saturday, May 18, 2019, at the Petroleum Club in Oklahoma City.

The IGHOF Class of 2019:

Shawn Johnson (USA): 4-time Olympic medalist, including Gold Medalist on Balance Beam (2008 Beijing) and 2007 World All-Around Champion

Maria Filatova (Russia): 3-time Olympic medalist (1976-1980), and 4-time World Championship medalist

Ivan Ivankov (Belarus): 11-time World medalist, including 2-time World All-Around Champion (1994 and 1997)

Li Xiaopeng (China): 5-time Olympic medalist, including 4 golds, 11-time World Championship medalist

In addition to the Class of 2019 Inductees, the 2019 IGHOF International Order of Merit will be presented to Hardy Fink (Canada), the Director of Education & Academy Programs for the International Gymnastics Federation, for his 4 decades of leadership and service.

“The 2019 IGHOF honorees include some of the most famous, and influential, names in the history of our sport, so this year’s ceremony promises to be especially exciting and inspiring,” said Bart Conner, Chairman of the IGHOF board.

Over the past 22 years, 99 of gymnastics greatest stars and contributors, representing 22 countries have been formally honored by the Hall of Fame.

The IGHOF is home to gymnastics greats such as Vera Caslavska, Nadia Comaneci, Olga Korbut, Mary Lou Retton, Nikolai Andrianov, Sawao Kato and Vitaly Scherbo.

Founded in 1987, the IGHOF was originally located in Oceanside, California. In 1996, it relocated to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, where it has developed a solid foundation of private support.

“The goal of the IGHOF board of directors is to preserve the legacies of these gymnastics icons and inspire future generations.” said Conner.

For more information about the IGHOF and how you can be a member or donor, visit For tickets to the IGHOF dinner ceremony to be held on Saturday, May 18, at the Petroleum Club in Oklahoma City, contact Lynn Landis at 405-364-5344.

For media requests, contact Allison Keiffer ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) or call 405-364-5344.

Endorsed by the Fédération Internationale de Gymnastique based in Lausanne, Switzerland, The International Gymnastics Hall of Fame is a dynamic, forward-looking non-profit organization that celebrates the athletic and artistic excellence of gymnastics’ most accomplished athletes and legends, and connects them with future generations of young gymnasts and fans.

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

Written by Christian Ivanov    Wednesday, 06 March 2019 09:43    PDF Print
Larisa Iordache Is Back In The Game
(9 votes, average 3.67 out of 5)

After rupturing her Achilles’ tendon at the 2017 Montreal World Championships, Olympic and World medalist Larisa Iordache, 22, went through several surgeries. IG caught up with the Romanian icon for an interview.

IG: After sustaining your Achilles’ injury in Montreal, tell us what you have gone through in terms of surgeries and recovery.

LI: After the first operation on the Achilles’ tendon, I had to have a second, and the second was not a successful one. After seven months of daily recovery I did not feel OK, and my progress was not visible. I started to have pain again, and then I decided to do more tests and examinations. There was a need for a third operation because my tendon was half torn, and I could risk tearing it again on any movement.

IG: In late January you posted on Instagram that you were cleared by your doctor to begin training. What was your reaction to that news?

LI: Yes, I did! The doctor told me I was fine, and could start training again. I was very happy, and I enjoyed it very much because I knew I was really fine.

IG: What is the status of the tendon now? Are you able to walk, run and do light tumbling, and are you pain free?

LI: My condition is very good and the tendon is fine. I do not have pain, and I feel confident.

IG: It was reported that you are training with Mariana Bitang and Octavian Bellu. Have you sat down with them and talked about a return to competition?

LI: I spoke with them, of course. But for now I have to take it easy, because I have to accommodate my movement and training after a year and a half break.

IG: What competition are you targeting for your return?

LI: I still do not know, exactly. But I hope for the 2019 World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany.

IG: Do you have any short-term or long-term goals, for this year and for 2020?

LI: I want to be healthy and enjoy gymnastics. The rest will come by itself.

IG: You have had a good share of injuries and setbacks in your career? How do you manage to stay positive and motivated?

LI: I have always done nothing but gymnastics, and clearly during the time when I stood around and did nothing, like a normal person, it was not enough for me. My passion for gymnastics keeps me motivated every day.

IG: Although you missed 2018, did you follow the main events?

LI: Of course!

IG: During your difficult times, did you hear from some of the gymnasts from other countries? For example, Simone Biles or Morgan Hurd?

LI: Of course! Everyone encouraged me, which helped me to be stronger.

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


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