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Written by John Crumlish    Monday, 23 September 2019 09:06    PDF Print
Huddleston: ‘Bulgaria Will Be Back’
(4 votes, average 4.25 out of 5)

Born in the Netherlands to a Bulgarian mother and an American father, recent Challenge Cup of Mersin medalist David Huddleston of Bulgaria told IG he is hopeful that the once-mighty country he represents internationally can regain its former gymnastics stature.

“I of course strive to succeed,” said Huddleston, who earned the first Challenge Cup of his career when he won silver on vault in Mersin, Turkey, on September 1. “Not just for myself, but to help and show the world that Bulgaria, once on the top of the world in gymnastics, will be back sooner or later.”

Huddleston’s gymnastics journey is unique and indeed international. He was born in the Hague, the Netherlands, and lived in the Caribbean for eight years. He has lived “on and off” in the U.S. for a total of about five years, and in Bulgaria for a total of about six years.

“We have traveled a lot throughout the years,” Huddleston said.

Huddleston said he owes his gymnastics career to his mother, Gergana Georgieva, a former track athlete in her native country. She runs her own trucking company in Texas, assisted by Huddleston’s father, Herbert Justus Huddleston, who used to work for a solar company.

“My mother was the reason I started gymnastics in general,” said Huddleston, who holds dual citizenship with Bulgaria and the U.S. “She is an ex-athlete and saw potential in me as a gymnast. She made me do the splits every day and taught me how to do a back flip. In 2007 my mother was talking with my now coach, Damyan Ignatov, on the phone, and she took a big step of moving from the Caribbean to Bulgaria just so I could train with him.”

Huddleston also thrived while training in the U.S. during a couple relocations. He first trained under coach Vladimir Artemev at 5280 Gymnastics in Colorado, and later under 1988 Olympic all-around champion Vladimir Artemov (not to be confused with Artemev) in Texas. Later he trained at Alamo Gymnastics in Texas and then under coach Ryan Maskell at Powerhouse Gymnastics in San Antonio. “He is such an amazing coach and person,” said Huddleston of Maskell. Ignatov, with whom Huddleston now trains in Sofia, is responsible for his more recent progress.

“I am very thankful for him,” said Huddleston of Ignatov. “He was the one who pushed me and advanced me into being a better gymnast.”

Huddleston said he believes the current and future generations of Bulgarian gymnasts can thrive with more financial support. As another example of their potential, teammate Yordan Aleksandrov won two medals in Mersin and one medal at the Challenge Cup of Szombathely, Hungary, the following weekend.

“It's sad to know that the country you compete for was once at the top and now it's not — not even close,” Huddleston told IG. “In my opinion it all has to do with finances. We have a lot of young talented gymnasts that I dearly want to see, future-wise. I want them to succeed. We have really good gymnasts overall. It's just that, in my opinion, money is what's lacking. We don't go to many competitions to show what we can do.”

Huddleston now looks to qualify for next summer’s 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo through his performance at next month’s World Championships in Stuttgart.

“My plan to go to Tokyo is through the World Championships,” he said. “I will be doing my all-around performance.”

Check out David Huddleston on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/davidhuddleston_/

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, 05 September 2019 08:39    PDF Print
Rebeka Groulx: ‘Ready For The Rush!’
(1 vote, average 5.00 out of 5)

There is a feature in the 2019 October issue of International Gymnast magazine with Canadian junior all-around champion Rebeka Groulx may have been too young to compete at this summer’s World Junior Championships, but she won’t let her youth keep her from working hard and dreaming big.

“Of course, I was sad at the beginning and thought I deserved to go,” says 13-year-old Rebeka, who won the all-around and three events at the Canadian Junior Championships in May.

“But I figured it would only give me another reason to work harder this summer to have the chance to be there next year.”

Rebeka has been looking ahead and moving up since she chose gymnastics over dance, which she had also been practicing.

“My coaches wanted to put me in a higher level because I was pretty good, and I had to make the biggest decision of my life,” she says.“I chose gymnastics but I keep wondering what my life would be if I would’ve chosen dance. It would be completely different!”

Although floor is Rebeka’s favorite event, her composure on beam has proven to be key in her success. She has always been at ease on this worrisome event.

“Since I started, my beam made me change categories,” says Rebeka, the ’18 Canadian novice all-around champion. “For example, when I started in the recreational program, my coach wanted to put me in competitive since (in recreational) I could not do all the skills I was able to do. Also, I am very stable on beam and it’s an apparatus on which there are many falls. So, that benefits me.”

<p>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, 04 September 2019 11:36    PDF Print
Alistratava: ‘The Strongest Wins’
(2 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

Profiled in the September 2019 issue of International Gymnast magazine, Anastasia Alistratava of Belarus told IG that she has reconciled her fourth-place finish on uneven bars at this spring’s European Championships.

"In the final, I tried to perform well,” said Alistratava, who earned the highest execution score of the final. “It is a pity that people who believe I was worthy of a medal were not among the judges. But sport is sport. The strongest wins.”

Born October 16, 2003, in Olga Korbut’s hometown of Grodno, Alistratava began training at age 4. She credits her previous and current coaches for assuring the foundation and continuity of her progress.

Irina Murza instilled a love of gymnastics, sports education and the original correct technique,” Alistratava says. “After that I continued to train with Olga Knysh (wife of Korbut’s late coach, Renald Knysh), whom I work with now. Thanks to her, I have successful performances. Many other coaches care about me. They help me develop in every possible way.”

Read the complete profile on Alistratava in the September 2019 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, 30 August 2019 07:30    PDF Print
Germany’s Rida Gains Confidence Through All-Around Bronze
(2 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

First-year German senior Karim Rida told IG that his bronze medal-winning all-around performance at this month’s German Championships was as satisfying as it was unexpected.

“Third place was a real surprise for me,” said the 19-year-old Rida, whose all-around score of 81.60 points placed him third behind 28-year-old gold medalist Andreas Toba (83.10) and 31-year-old silver medalist Marcel Nguyen (82.35). “I was thinking about being in the top 10 perhaps, but then it happened and I got the bronze medal. It was a great feeling to stand on the winner’s podium beside the experienced athletes.”

Rida said his podium finish was the product of intense training in the lead-up to the competition.

“I trained very hard before the championships,” said Rida, who is coached by Robert Hirsch in Berlin. “It wasn’t always easy and it took a lot of effort, but I had a good feeling because my coach prepared me very well.”

Rida’s performance at the German Championships positions him well for this fall’s World Championships in Stuttgart and next summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo, but he has not burst into the German senior ranks as an unknown.

Rida placed first all-around at the 2017 German Junior Championships and second all-around at the 2018 German Junior Championships. Last year he was eighth all-around, second on parallel bars and eighth on floor exercise at the European Junior Championships in Glasgow.

Although Rida’s recent success has made him a strong candidate for Tokyo, he said he and his team must earn a Games berth through a solid performance in Stuttgart.

“We are still not thinking of the Olympic Games because first we have to qualify for them,” said Rida, a native of Eberswalde whose Moroccan father was born in Casablanca and whose mother is German. “Only if we will have passed the championships in Stuttgart we will know if we can take part in the Olympic Games. So a good result in Stuttgart is our next goal.”

To secure a spot on the German team in Stuttgart and hopefully Tokyo, Rida said he wants to demonstrate reliability and precision.

“I do not have much experience but I can improve my performances and try to clean up my exercises as well as possible,” he told IG. “I hope to show stable and well-done exercises, and I will train for this very hard.”

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, 15 August 2019 07:28    PDF Print
Bhardwaj: ‘Balance, Diversity Are Keys To Longterm Success’
(6 votes, average 4.33 out of 5)

The July/August 2019 issue of International Gymnast includes an update on 2004 U.S. Olympic team captain Mohini Bhardwaj de Freitas, who told IG that a well-rounded lifestyle is key to longterm success in the sport.

“Rest days, sleep, rehab and diet are just as important as your training,” said Bhardwaj, who now competes in weightlifting and is gym director at OOA Gymnastics in Bend, Oregon. “Quality is more important than quantity when it comes to doing skills in gymnastics, so keep the pounding down to a minimum.”

Bhardwaj said gymnasts can and should enhance their gymnastics training by enjoying other forms of fitness.

“Do lots of cross-training,” she said. “Getting out of the gym is fun and any sort of training — yoga, spin class, weightlifting, hiking, paddle boarding, et cetera — are great ways to complement your gymnastics training without feeling burnt out.”

Read “Raising the Bar,” the complete update on Bhardwaj, in the July/August 2019 issue of International Gymnast magazine. To subscribe to the print and/or digital editions, or to order back issues, click here.

 


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