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Interview: Adam Wong (Canada)
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Adam Wong

After winning the all-around title at the Canadian Championships held June 2-7 in his hometown of Calgary, Adam Wong is closing in on his target competition for 2008: the Olympic Games that will take place in Beijing in August.

Wong's performance in Calgary confirmed that he is back in top form, following an Achilles' tendon rupture that kept him out of last year's World Championships in Stuttgart. He was key in helping the Canadian men earn their historically best Worlds finish (sixth place in the team finals) at the 2006 Worlds in Aarhus, Denmark. There, Wong achieved the Canadian men's best all-around finish in Worlds history when he tied for ninth place in the all-around final.

Wong made his Olympic debut at the 2004 Games in Athens, where he was the youngest member of Canada's 11th-place team. He was also the highest ranking Canadian male all-arounder; he placed 29th in the preliminaries and narrowly missed qualifying for the 24-man all-around final.

Wong's other key international finishes include fourth all-around, first on floor and first with the Canadian team at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne; and sixth all-around at the 2008 Pacific Rim Tournament, held in San Jose in April.

Born March 29, 1985, Wong dominated Canadian junior competitions before emerging at the senior national level. He was the Under-15 all-around champion in 1999, the Under-16 all-around champion in 2000, the Novice High Performance all-around champion in 2001, and the junior all-around champion in 2002. In senior national all-around competition, Wong placed seventh in 2007, fourth in 2004, and first in both 2005 and 2006.

Wong is coached by Chinese native Fan Bin, who won a team silver medal and tied for the bronze medal on high bar at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.

In this IG Online interview, Wong details his comeback and the contributions he hopes to make on behalf of Canada this summer in Beijing.

IG: What exactly happened with your Achilles' tendon that kept you out of the 2007 Worlds?

AW: I ruptured my left Achilles' tendon. It happened in March 2007, while we were in a training camp in Thessaloniki, Greece. On the third day of the camp I took my second turn on floor doing my whip, 2½ twist, punch front-full line, and after the whip it snapped. They were able to fly me home that evening, and I had it surgically repaired within a couple days after that. It's now 100 percent, and I am able to compete floor and vault without any problems.

IG: How surprised were you to win at the Canadian Championships, and how close to your best were you there?

AW: Winning nationals was a bit of a surprise. I hadn't focused on results at all during my preparation. After coming back from my injury, it took me more time than I had anticipated to get back into competition form. For nationals I was very focused on cleaning up my routines and improving stability. My main goal for the event was to hit my routines. In terms of readiness, I felt well-prepared, but I still have a lot of work to do. Right now my main focus is still on cleanliness and stability.

IG: How did you keep your confidence after your injury last year, so you could show yourself as an Olympic contender in 2008?

AW: I don't know if I was just in shock, or stupid, but it took a few weeks for the severity of my injury to set in. Once that did hit me, I felt a little panic run through me. However, I have a great coach at home, as well as a great gym, and lots of family support. With all that positive influence surrounding me, it was never an issue keeping my morale up. It gave my brain a break from the sport, as well as allowing me to focus more on conditioning and flexibility.

IG: You and Kyle (Shewfelt) are both hoping to be back in peak form in Beijing. In what ways do you support each other in this quest?

AW: Kyle's injury (in training at the 2007 Worlds) happened just as I was just recovering from mine, so we were injured at fairly different stages. We would still be at physio(therapy) together every once in a while, and it was nice to be able to know that we were both working towards a common goal.

IG: How have your "non-leg" events benefited from your injury?

AW: Since I was able to work a lot of strength during my recovery, I think that has translated through to some of my non-leg events. However, I wasn't able to focus on the other four events as much as I had hoped, as there was always the danger of falling and setting back my recovery process, which was definitely not in my plan. We took a very cautious approach to my recovery, being sure to not cut any corners, in order to not jeopardize my post-injury career.

IG: Canada dropped at the 2007 Worlds, compared to 2006. What do you think is your team's potential rank in Beijing, and what do you see as the main challenge to achieving that target rank?

AW: Our team looks very good now. We have the same working group as we did at the 2006 Worlds, where we qualified for team finals in fifth position. A top-eight finish for Canada would not come as a surprise to me.

Wong shows off his wild hair at the 2008 Cottbus Cup

IG: Heading to Beijing, you have two unique Chinese connections: your heritage and your coach, Fan Bin. What kind of inspiration has each given you in terms of the Olympics?

AW: My father's parents were originally from China, and my mother's parents are of Scottish and German descent. I was born in Canada, as was my father, so my heritage doesn't have too much to do with inspiration towards the Games this summer. In terms of my coach, he has been a great influence in the last four years. I was sceptical in late 2004 to 2005 when I found out I wouldn't be working with my long-time coach, Mark Van Wyk, as much anymore. But Bin came into the picture and couldn't have been a better fit for both myself and the Calgary Gymnastics Centre, my gym. He has helped me a lot both in the gym and out, and I would consider him one of my few role models that I look up to.

IG: The Canadian team includes a pack of reliable all-arounders. Now that you have risen to the top in Canada, what do you think you need to do to stay there?

AW: Right now I'm more focused on my contribution toward the team, and far less on my own all-around situation. However, by improving my events, I will be able to help the team more. To do this, I need to continue to work on improving my B Scores as well as making sure that I can hit my routines.

IG: Finally, what was with the "wild hair" look you were sporting in competitions earlier this year?

AW: It was taken care of after Cottbus (Tournament of Masters, April 11-13 in Germany). I have returned to the old faithful buzz cut!

Adam Wong is featured in the following issues of International Gymnast magazine
October 2005: "Quick Chat: Adam Wong"
January 2003: "Canada's Sure Bet" - Wong profile

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