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Stretching Out: Random notes from a busy week
(12 votes, average 3.92 out of 5)

Dwight Normile offers his thoughts on Alexandra Raisman (she's good), Ivana Hong (she's got time) and Dong Fangxiao (he doesn't care).

Alexandra Raisman

Raisman was the final American woman added to the American Cup roster. With the Cup in Worcester, Mass., Raisman, who lives in Needham, Mass., should have plenty of family and friends to support her. This is a big step for the 15-year-old Raisman, who trains at Brestyan's in Burlington, Mass. She has a natural talent, but is still quite young (she'll be 16 on May 25). At the Visa Junior Championships last August, Raisman was in position to win the all-around going into her last event, floor exercise. But she seemed a little over-excited and completely over-rotated a triple twist and fell to her back. Still, she finished third and no doubt gained valuable experience, which she'll put to the test on Saturday.

Ivana Hong

I was saddened by the news of Hong's torn ACL in her right knee, which she sustained last Sunday during a U.S. national team training camp. It seems the ACL injury can happen to anyone at any time. Hong was in terrific shape last summer at the Visa Championships in Dallas, and her bronze medal on beam at the 2009 Worlds in London gave her the confidence to maintain a leadership role on the U.S. women's team.

An injury is never a good thing, but for Hong, at least she has time on her side in terms of the 2011 Worlds and 2012 Olympics. She also has positive examples to follow. Both Annia Hatch and Justin Spring tore their ACLs only one year before they medaled in the Olympics. And both performed on "leg" events when they returned. With hard work and patience, Hong can come back just as strong, if not stronger. Her gymnastics has always been beautiful, but in 2009 it was more complete, as well.

Muriel Grossfeld Scholarship Fund

IG recently received a letter from 1967 U.S. champion Carolyn Hacker Kohn, who was an early student of the venerable Muriel Grossfeld. She left her California home to train under Muriel in New Haven, Conn. She credits Muriel for helping her make the 1966 World team.

Kohn informed IG of a scholarship fund that has been set up at Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven. It was set up by Sandy Thielz, who also trained under Muriel before coaching the West Chester women's team.

Writes Kohn: "Muriel has a truly unique talent which, coupled with her vast experience since her first Olympics in 1956, was able to bring out the best in others such as Sandy and myself. …It is truly an honor to contribute to Muriel's scholarship fund. I hope it reaches the full endowment quickly."

To make a donation, checks can be send to the address below, payable to "SCSU Muriel Grossfeld Scholarship":

Gregg Crerar, SCSU Development Officer

501 Crescent St. WT 174, New Haven, CT 06515

Oklahoma-Alabama meet televised

As mentioned in a previous online story, the March 5 women's meet between No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 Oklahoma will be televised live on Cox throughout Oklahoma. Commentators are Bart Conner (1984 Olympic gold medalist) and Jenny Ester Rowland (1989 World team).

Crowds at Oklahoma home meets are sparse compared with the 15,000 that routinely show up in Tuscaloosa. But if Sooner coach K.J. Kindler can continue to build the program she took over four years ago, her fan base should grow. Winning championships is what raises interest and attendance, and Kindler definitely has the team to do it this year.

U.S. Men's Spring Assignments

Paris-Bercy World Cup, April 11-12, Paris

Jonathan Horton, Danell Leyva

Pacific Rim Championships, April 23-May 2, Melbourne, Australia

SENIOR: Chris Cameron, Danell Leyva, Steven Legendre, Tim Gentry

JUNIOR: Dylan Akers, C.J. Maestas, John Orozco, Sam Mikulak

Dong Fangxiao

I really don't know what to make of the recent FIG ruling that Chinese gymnast Dong Fangxiao was underage at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. It just seems so irrelevant in light of the age controversy that erupted at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. That the FIG implemented a "licensing" system to identify gymnasts is a noble idea, but I doubt it will prevent anyone from cheating if they really want to.

When the age limit was raised to 16 in 1997, I knew it would cause problems. Why penalize a girl who turns 16 on Jan. 1, one day after the deadline for a particular Olympics? That's silly.

Truth is, some 16-year-old gymnasts are not emotionally mature enough to compete on the world stage, while certain 14-year-olds are. So, age is really just a number, and not much else. It certainly isn't the most accurate indicator of how "old" someone is. With that in mind, it would be best to eliminate the age limit, once and for all. It's impossible to enforce, anyway.

Comments (5)add comment
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Suzanne Suzy said:

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Alexandra Raisman
In the photo you have posted above, her feet are so FLAT!!!
 
March 05, 2010
Votes: -1

Diane Lee said:

0
...
Finally someone says somthing tha makes sense. I could not agree with you more that the age limit should be eliminated. If a gymnast is 14 and is ready to compete she should be allowed to. Think of all the fantasic 14yr old gymnast that we would have missed out on.. Nadia, Shannon, And so many more. Also I would love to hear your opinion of why they keep reducing the number of gymnast on a olypmic team. I think they should increase it NOT decrease it...
 
March 06, 2010 | url
Votes: -2

Rachel T said:

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I respectively don't agree with your comments regarding Dong
I disagree with your comments regarding Dong. Whether you agree with the rules or not, they are rules and sould be followed. You actually SHOULD care about this issue, since this negative behavior clearly affects many innocent gymnasts and has negative impact on their standing. Strict consequences should be made if these rules are not followed. Anyone that has blatently lied about their age regardless of how long ago it was, should suffer the consequences of their actions. I also believe the licensing system is a wonderful idea. IT may not be 100% full-proof, however it is an excellent start and should discourage many from trying to cheat. Over time I am sure the licensing program will be tweeked and improved upon. Anyone that turns a blind eye on this issue, simply is taking a very irresponsible approach.
 
March 06, 2010
Votes: +5

LadyJane1976 said:

0
Hello? Do we want a circus or artistic gymnastics? Keep the age limit!
No, the age limit absolutely, positively SHOULD NOT be eliminated! This sport is called ARTISTIC gymnastics. If we allow, 10, 11, 12, 13-year-olds to compete - and I guarantee there would be quite a few, this sport would devolve rapidly. We would have a multitude of kids (babies?) with outstanding tumbling ability and ZERO expression. Let's face it, kids that age, despite their best efforts, generally haven't developed in terms of choreography For a sport that it is already criticized heavily as lacking in artistic expression, eliminating the age limit would be tantamount to suicide.
 
March 06, 2010
Votes: +1

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