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Sekerova Has Designs on Further Success
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Although two-time Olympian Zuzana Sekerova of Slovakia did not compete internationally in 2006, she told IG her plans include this year's World Championships as she works toward a degree in graphic design in the United States.

Sekerova, the lone Slovakian gymnast to compete at the 2000 and 2004 Olympic Games, last competed for Slovakia at the 2005 World Championships in Melbourne. She said the head of the Slovak Gymnastics Federation presented her in Melbourne with the requirements for her participation in the 2006 European Championships and World Championships.

"One of the requirements, which I knew I would not be able to fulfill, was to train in Slovakia for a month before these major competitions," said Sekerova, who at the time was studying Business Administration at South University in Savannah, Ga. "I could not leave the university for that long. It's their policy. I let SGF know about this issue in Melbourne, so it was not a surprise to me or to SGF when I was unable to leave the school for the Europeans in the spring and for Worlds in the fall. I kept hoping we could work out different arrangement for showing my readiness to compete at major events, but SGF would not allow it."

Sekerova, who last summer earned her Associate's degree in Business Administration from South University, is currently studying graphic design at Savannah College of Art & Design. She said she is inspired by the creative stimulation provided by Savannah.

"Ever since I arrived in Savannah in 2002, I had been thrown between artists," said Sekerova, a native of Trnava. "Savannah is filled with magnificent colonial architecture and home to the Savannah College of Art and Design, which is an International University of the Arts. I think just being in Savannah, it's very easy to be drawn into the arts."

To apply at SCAD, Sekerova submitted a portfolio of projects she worked on while assisting her husband and coach, Wayne Evans. Evans, who produces gymnastics videos and also works in online commerce, helped Sekerova develop her skills in publishing, advertising and logo, web and apparel design.

Sekerova's portfolio earned her a scholarship, and she enrolled at SCAD in the fall of 2006. "My major is graphic design which focuses on 2-D design such as logos, posters, flyers, corporate identity, product labels and Web site design," Sekerova said.

One of her recent projects was contributing to the graphics, animation and overall build-out of the online flash-animated tumbling lessons that Evans authored. Sekerova's career goals include continuing to work with her husband and his partners' companies.

The 22-year-old Sekerova said watching the 2006 Worlds on the Internet brought mixed emotions.

"It was so great seeing my old friends and all the new faces," said Sekerova, who placed first on balance beam at the 2004 La Serena World Cup in Chile. "It was inspiring to see the new routines, but it was frustrating to not be participating."

Sekerova said she is looking forward to testing her skills again in a club competition next month in Las Vegas.

"Now I am getting back into competition spirit," she told IG. "It will be my first time to compete under the new rules and the first time since 2005 Worlds. My goal is to get judged under the new rules, see where I stand with my routines, and consult the judges for improvements."

Sekerova is cautiously optimistic that the Slovakian federation will allow her to compete in this year's World Championships in Stuttgart, which will be the qualifying meet for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

"For someone like me who has been competing at the highest level of gymnastics competitions for a while now, it is an important goal to compete at Europeans, World Cups, Worlds or the Olympics," she said. "I am hoping I will be able to compete at the 2007 Worlds, but I feel I must also be prepared for Slovakia rejecting it."

Ingrid Barutova, secretary for the the Slovak Gymnastics Federation, confirmed the federations's guidelines for Zekerova's participation in 2007 competitions.

"As regards to the 2007 World Championships, our federation give her conditions that she has to compete at the Slovak championships, and one month before the World Championships, she has to prepare in Slovakia," Barutova told IG. "If she fills the bill and will be prepared at this competition, she can compete."

Sekerova, who is balancing full-time course work with training, said she has another ambition if she is not able to compete at the 2007 Worlds and 2008 Olympics.

"If I am not lucky enough to reach these goals, I hope to be following in footsteps of (31-year-old, four-time Olympian) Oksana Chusovitina, and compete well beyond 2008," she said. "I do not know if I'll make it, but that's my goal for now."

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