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Written by Paul Ziert    Wednesday, 29 March 2017 09:03    PDF Print
Penny Resignation: Tip of the Iceberg?
(5 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

Although Steve Penny finally resigned on March 16, the fact that it took him so long to make that decision only reflects on how very bad the environment is within USA Gymnastics. Remember, it took a very strong threat from the USOC after the Board of Directors appeared to be favoring Penny’s retention over the plight of the assaulted gymnasts who were victimized during his term. With almost no one ever taking responsibility for problems or failures, the spotlight is blinding on the subject of a complete overhaul. It’s time to raise the bar on our expectations for objective and transparent leadership.

Steve Penny resigned as president of USA Gymnastics on March 16.

Our sport reeks with intimidation, cronyism and brown-nosing gone crazy. Add in too much use of the Peter Principle and “you scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours,” and you have the perfect storm for what has happened lately. Plus, the Board of Directors is completely impotent! I attended a Board meeting years ago and was completely blown away with how little discussion there was on some really important issues. At that meeting, I was the only vote to not give Penny a significant bonus for a year of rather average finishes on the international level and no new revenues added. The Board has become a stamping device for the administration. This must stop right now because we presently have proof that no or little honest oversight can be a culture for complete disaster. And this fungus at the top trickles down very quickly.

For many years, we have had to tolerate the secrecy of the women’s elite program. In fact, I’m not sure who first coined the phrase, “What happens here, stays here.” Was it Las Vegas or the Karolyi Ranch? Why did it have to be so closed to the outside world? Why did people have to lie when leaks were discovered?

A perfect example is when, in Rio, I exposed the fact the Laurie Hernandez had a minor stomach muscle pull that had prevented her from training bars at the same level as the other team members; hence, she was not given an all-around spot on the team. Everybody went wild to the extent that Laurie and her coach, Maggie Haney, whom I adore, made a statement that my report was completely false. Soon after, Marta Karolyi acknowledged the injury in a press conference, and Laurie herself stated in her book, “And having a small muscle strain in my stomach didn’t help me.” What kind of environment does it take to get people to lie about things like this? Certainly not an advantageous one. Plus, this climate, where people put themselves above the truth, is perfect for someone like Larry Nassar to flourish. We are at the point where most people don’t know what reality is.

At the American Cup this year, I was astonished when a person from another magazine told me how surprised he was that we were discussing the sexual abuse scandal on our various media platforms. He related that they were not reporting anything for fear of losing their “in” with the federation. Really!

Also, many of you might not remember that Penny got contaminated with this culture while serving as the marketing person under Bob Colarossi. After Colarossi left, he served on the selection committee for his replacement. One candidate had served as the Vice President of Marketing for the NBA and later the marketing person for the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City after the huge scandal there. That person told me that Colarossi took several cell phone calls during her interview! Not very classy! Was that interviewing process even necessary? The deal had already been made. And from there, Penny grew his salary to more that $600,000 a year. How can this happen? Can you imagine how much half of his salary could have impacted the division of our sport other than women’s artistic gymnastics?

I hear all the time about all the sponsors he has attracted. Please show me one sponsor that USAG has right now that wasn’t sold because of the target audience we have. AT&T, Hershey’s, Kellogg’s, Secret, P&G, etc., are all based on what young girls want and need. The athletes have sold the sponsorships, not the federation office. Where is an automobile company? Where is a large insurance company? Where are the companies who want to be on board a well-run federation that’s producing athletes who will not only win medals, but also impact our society during their lifetime.

Please remember that $12+ million goes into the federation from memberships and event revenue that all of us support! All of us, athletes included, deserve better, honest and transparent leadership. Let’s demand more from those who wish to serve!

Paul Ziert/IG Publisher

Written by dwight normile    Friday, 24 March 2017 14:44    PDF Print
John Orozco Retires, Excited for What Lies Ahead
(9 votes, average 4.56 out of 5)

Last summer the gymnastics gods played a cruel trick on John Orozco. After making the 2016 Olympic team in June, he landed a high bar dismount in July that tore the ACL in his left knee and shredded his dream of a second trip to the Olympics.

"I wasn't depressed at all, really. Just confused," he said. "The end result wasn't what I wanted, but that's just life. I try to look at it as maybe a push in the right direction. Maybe I was never meant to really go to the Olympics (again) or never meant to win an Olympic medal."

Orozco, 24, has retired from gymnastics and is leaving the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, where he has trained for the last seven years.

And what will he miss most about training and being an athlete?

"Being able to travel and see friends from different countries, and to compete with them," he said. "That was the best part about it for me."

Orozco did reveal that his future plans will involve music, so relocation is a necessity.

"I'm moving to L.A. soon, but I'm also not telling anyone where," he said with a laugh. "I like discretion."

He also said retiring "wasn't as hard as I thought it would be." He said he needed to give his body a break, and is excited for the next chapter in his life.

Asked if he would consider a comeback, Orozco said it will "always be in the back of my mind," but "most likely, probably not."

Read the full in interview in the May issue of International Gymnast. To subscribe to the print and/or digital editions, or purchase a back issue, click here.

Written by John Crumlish    Wednesday, 22 March 2017 08:27    PDF Print
From Fabrichnova With Love
(7 votes, average 4.14 out of 5)

Among her responses to an interview for the March 2017 issue of International Gymnast magazine, 1990s Russian star Oksana Fabrichnova Kolozina shares this personal message to IG readers and her fans.

“My dear and favorite readers,

I don’t even know where to begin. So much time has flown and so much has been forgotten. But I just want to tell you that I am very happy to give your magazine an interview. In the old cabinet at our summer cottage there are sports magazines, diplomas and medals. And every time I go there, I take them out and peruse them, and recall my not-easy childhood. After all, sport is big and tremendous work!”

Kolozina continued with details about her family, including her daughter, an aspiring athlete.

“Who knows, maybe some day she will grow to become a great athlete, achieve her goals and make her dreams come true. May God give her strength, and to all of us, my dear readers! I love and adore you. Love, happiness and wealth to you!

Your Oksana Kolozina (Fabrichnova)”

Read “Healing Power,” an update on Oksana Fabrichnova Kolozina, in the March 2017 issue of International Gymnast magazine. To subscribe to the print and/or digitals editions, or to purchase back issues, click here.

Written by Amanda Turner    Friday, 17 March 2017 17:26    PDF Print
Ponor Tops Two Events in Baku Qualification
(2 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

Three-time Romanian Olympian Cătălina Ponor led both women's events as qualification concluded Friday at the 2nd FIG World Challenge Cup in Baku.

Gymnasts from 23 countries have gathered at Baku's beautiful National Gymnastics Arena for the second edition of the FIG World Challenge Cup, dubbed the AGF Trophy 2017 by the Azerbaijani Gymnastics Federation. The competition for individual events is part of the FIG World Cup series. The arena was back to full lighting on Friday, following Thursday's unusual choice to have the gymnasts compete under spotlights, exhibition style.

Cătălina Ponor qualified first on both balance beam and women's floor exercise in Baku.

Ponor, 29, topped qualification on both balance beam and floor exercise. On beam, she competed a new routine with a few wobbles (Yurchenko mount; ff, layout; switch leap, Kochetkova; swing ring; Onodi, split jump, Omelianchik; front aerial, split ring jump; RO, stuck double pike; 14.200/6.0).

Australia's Emma Nedov qualified second on balance beam (ff, ff, two-foot layout; ff, layout; switch ring; switch ring jump; front aerial, sheep jump; front tuck; RO, double pike; 13.266/5.5) just ahead of first-year senior Wang Cenyu, who fell on her layout (switch ring to sheep jump; RO, two-foot layout; switch half; Korbut; front aerial, split jump, straddle jump; side somi; RO, 2 1/2; 13.200/5.6).

Ponor went out of bounds on floor exercise (13.233/5.4/-.3) and qualified first over Russian-born Marina Nekrasova of Azerbaijan (13.100/4.9) and Australian Emily Little (12.700/5.0), who also qualified to the vault and beam finals.

2012 Olympic champion Krisztián Berki, who celebrates his 32nd birthday on Saturday, led qualification on pommel horse with an excellent routine that earned a rare 9+ Execution score (15.233/6.2). China's Weng Hao, third behind Berki at last month's World Cup in Melbourne, qualified second (14.800/6.4). France's Cyril Tommasone, the silver medalist at the 2011 Worlds, qualified third with the highest D-score of the field (14.733/6.5).

The French men led qualification on the other two events. Zachari Hrimèche, alternate to France's team at last summer's Olympics, averaged 14.383 to top vault over Australia's Christopher Remkes, who had the same score but took second after a tie-break. 2010 European champion Tomi Tuuha (Finland) qualified third (14.233).

Edgar Boulet topped high bar (14.266/5.9) over Japan's Naoto Hayasaka (14.233/5.9) and Croatia's Anton Kovačević (13.866/5.7).

Competition continues Saturday in Baku with the first of two days of apparatus finals.

External Link: Azerbaijani Gymnastics Federation

2017 AGF Trophy/FIG World Challenger Cup
March 17, Baku, Azerbaijan

Balance Beam QualificationDENDScore
1.Cătălina Ponor6.08.23314.233 Q
2.Emma Nedov5.57.8660.113.266 Q
3.Wang Cenyu5.67.60013.200 Q
4.Vasiliki Millousi5.27.93313.133 Q
5.Marina Nekrasova5.08.00013.000 Q
6.Emily Little4.88.03312.833 Q
7.Göksu Üçtaş Şanli4.57.90012.400 Q
8.Ofir Kremer4.67.80012.400 Q
9.Yulia Inshina4.67.7000.112.200 R1
10.Ioanna Xoulogi5.16.86611.966 R2
11.Rosanna Ojala4.37.4000.111.600 R3
12.Oksana Chusovitina3.97.30011.200
13.Tzuf Feldon4.96.20011.100
14.Anamaria Ocolișan5.16.0660.111.066
15.Demet Mutlu4.46.60011.000
16.Maria Butskikh3.95.7009.550
17.Khilola Doniyorova3.94.9660.18.766

Women's Floor Exercise QualificationDENDScore
1.Cătălina Ponor5.48.1330.313.233 Q
2.Marina Nekrasova4.98.3000.113.100 Q
3.Emily Little5.07.8000.112.700 Q
4.Göksu Üçtaş Şanli4.67.9330.212.333 Q
5.Dogs Ketenci4.47.83312.233 Q
6.Ioanna Xoulogi4.47.80012.200 Q
7.Maria Butskikh4.27.96612.166 Q
8.Gaya Giladi4.67.40012.000 Q
9.Rosanna Ojala4.37.7000.111.900 R1
10.Yulia Inshina4.87.06611.866 R2
11.Tzuf Feldon4.27.60011.800 R3
12.Ominakhon Khalilova4.77.2000.111.800
13.Khilola Doniyorova4.27.56611.766
14.Argyro Afrati4.86.8330.111.533
15.Anamaria Ocolișan4.46.8330.410.833

Pommel Horse QualificationDENDScore
1.Krisztián Berki6.29.03315.233 Q
2.Weng Hao6.48.40014.800 Q
3.Cyril Tommasone6.58.23314.733 Q
4.Filip Ude6.28.46614.666 Q
5.Zoltán Kállai6.08.46614.466 Q
6.Saeedreza Keikha6.08.36614.366 Q
7.Robert Seligman5.68.70014.300 Q
8.Daulet Narmetov5.38.90014.200 Q
9.Moran Yanuka5.58.66614.166 R1
10.Rhys McClenaghan5.68.36613.966 R2
11.Christopher Remkes5.78.10013.800 R3
12.Bence Tálas5.58.06613.566
13.Jure Pavlica4.88.73313.533
14.Sašo Bertoncelj5.77.73313.433
15.Tomas Kuzmickas4.78.70013.400
16.Shogo Nonomura5.77.70013.400
17.Yevgen Yudenkov4.98.46613.366
18.Oleksandr Petrenko5.27.96613.166
19.Michael Tone5.97.23313.133
20.Georgios Chatziefstathiou5.77.40013.100
21.Cristian Bățagă5.97.16613.066
22.Andres Martín5.47.50012.900
23.Liu Rongbing5.97.00012.900
24.Andrei Ursache6.06.83312.833
25.Konstantin Kuzovkov4.58.30012.800
26.Abdulla Azimov5.67.20012.800
27.Murad Agharzayev4.87.80012.600
28.Naoto Hayasaka5.57.10012.600
29.Juho Kanerva5.47.13312.533
30.Andrew Smith5.27.06612.266
31.Vyacheslav Kim5.66.40012.000
32.Abdollah Jamei5.06.43311.433
33.Harnza Yılmaz4.86.13310.933
34.Eyal Glazer4.66.20010.800
35.Pol Díaz4.66.03310.633
36.Ilkay Uğuz4.26.23310.433
37.Antonios Tantalidis4.75.73310.433
38.Timur Kadirov5.05.06610.066
39.Saba Abesadze2.75.9004.04.600

Men's Vault QualificationDENDScoreAverage
1.Zachari Hrimèche5.28.9000.114.00014.383 Q
2.Christopher Remkes5.69.10014.70014.383 Q
3.Tomi Tuuha5.29.30014.50014.233 Q
4.Pavel Bulavsky5.68.36613.96614.216 Q
5.Konstantin Kuzovkov4.89.03313.83314.067 Q
6.Heikki Saarenketo5.28.90014.10013.983 Q
7.Andrey Medvedev5.67.93313.53313.917 Q
8.Maksym Ivanov5.28.8660.313.76613.916 Q
9.Cristian Bățagă5.28.63313.83313.783 R1
10.Clay Mason Stephens5.28.20013.40013.767 R2
11.Ilya Yakovlev5.67.9000.313.20013.617 R3
12.Dmitry Govorov5.27.93313.13313.500
13.Saman Madani5.27.96613.16613.333
14.Kazuyuki Takeda5.27.7330.412.53313.150
15.Ali Saadi Mohsin Al-Tameemi5.68.4660.413.66613.150
16.Anton Olivson4.89.0330.313.53312.583
17.Ilkay Uğuz4.88.53313.33312.383
18.Mustafa Arca4.08.8660.112.76612.200

High Bar QualificationDENDScore
1.Edgar Boulet5.98.36614.266 Q
2.Naoto Hayasaka5.98.33314.233 Q
3.Anton Kovačević5.78.16613.866 Q
4.Tomas Kuzmickas5.18.66613.766 Q
5.Shogo Nonomura5.77.96613.666 Q
6.Mitchell Morgans5.68.00013.600 Q
7.Tin Srbić5.48.06613.466 Q
8.Alen Dimic5.97.53313.433 Q
9.Eduard Shaulov4.28.63312.833 R1
10.Oleksandr Petrenko4.88.00012.800 R2
11.Bence Tálas5.66.93312.533 R3
12.Danil Baturin5.17.30012.400
13.Oskar Kirmes5.26.93312.133
14.Nikolaos Iliopoulos4.87.26612.066
15.Vlad Cotuna5.66.43312.033
16.Alexander Shatilov5.06.96611.966
17.Ümit Şamiloğlu5.46.16611.566
18.Konstantin Kuzovkov3.87.60011.400
19.Saman Madani4.17.00011.100
20.Dmitry Govorov4.26.83311.033
21.Ioan Nistor5.15.43310.533
22.Sercan Demir3.86.36610.166
23.Michael Sorokine4.55.53310.033
24.Andres Martín5.14.90010.000
25.Timur Kadirov3.96.0009.900
Written by Amanda Turner    Thursday, 16 March 2017 23:00    PDF Print
Ireland's McClenaghan Living 'Dream Come True' in Baku
(3 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

IG Online's traditional coverage of Irish gymnastics on St. Patrick's Day continues with this update on rising Irish star Rhys McClenaghan, 17, Junior European championships silver medalist on pommel horse.

IG Online's traditional coverage of Irish gymnastics on St. Patrick's Day continues with this update on rising Irish star Rhys McClenaghan, 17, Junior European championships silver medalist on pommel horse.

In Baku for his first World Cup event, Irish gymnast Rhys McClenaghan, 17, will be celebrating St. Patrick's Day on Friday by doing what he perhaps does best.

"St. Patrick's Day will be celebrated by doing my pommel routine! What better way?!" he told IG.

McClenaghan will compete in the pommel horse qualifications on Friday at the AGF Trophy, an FIG World Challenge Cup event. The pommels lineup includes world and Olympic champion Krisztián Berki (Hungary), Olympic silver medalist Filip Ude (Croatia), 2015 European Games champion Sašo Bertoncelj (Slovenia) and Naoto Hayasaka, a member of Japan's gold medal-winning squad at the 2015 World Championships.

McClenaghan found a surprise welcome in Baku in the brilliant emerald green pool at the hotel. (Photo courtesty @rhysmcc1 on Instagram.)

"Andrew Smith, my teammate, is also competing on pommel so we can represent the Irish flag on St. Patrick's Day," McClenaghan said.

McClenaghan, who turns 18 on July 21, was born in Antrim, Northern Ireland. He trains at the Rathgael Gymnastics Club in Bangor, where he is coached by former Irish standout Luke Carson. (McClenaghan, like all Northern Irish citizens, holds both British and Irish citizenship and is eligible to compete for either country in athletic events.)

McClenaghan had an outstanding year in 2016 that boosted his confidence going into 2017. He made history for Irish gymnastics at the Junior European championships in Bern, becoming the first Irish gymnast to qualify for an all-around final at a European championships, and then winning the silver medal on pommel horse – Ireland's first ever medal at a European championships.

McClenaghan competed as a guest gymnast in the junior ranks at the 2016 British Championships, where he qualified for the Master's Final on pommel horse. (The Master's Final features the top gymnasts from both senior and junior age groups competing in one combined event final.) He picked up the bronze medal behind pommel horse giants Max Whitlock and Louis Smith, who went on to take gold and silver, respectively, at the Olympics in Rio last summer.

"2016 was a hugely successful year for me and I gained a huge amount of experience from that year," he recalled. "I finish every year by looking back on what I have achieved or learned throughout the year, and after each year as a gymnast I gain a huge amount of experience, more than I could expect. 2016 certainly opened my eyes, and showed me that I could be the best. I believe that I can be."

Now in 2017, he's joining the senior scene for the first time in Baku.

"It truly is a dream come true for me," he said. "From such a young age I always aspired to be an elite gymnast competing with the best in the world, and I can finally say I am doing that. I don't get to see a lot of senior gymnasts training in Ireland so it's refreshing, and I can learn a lot from the way that they compete and train. I have realised now from being at this world cup in Baku that I still have a lot to learn to progress."

McClenaghan frequently posts training videos on social media, some with jaw-dropping moves on pommel horse. The social media shares are helping get name recognition not just for himself but for Irish gymnastics.

"I like to share videos for everybody in the gymnastics community to see," he said. "It gets my name known and opens people's eyes to what an Irish gymnast can do. Gymnastics in Ireland is progressing very quickly, especially with the new National Indoor Training Centre. This is even more reason for me to share my progress and get my name and country noticed in the world of gymnastics. I am capable of doing one of the most difficult pommel horse routines in the world, although it is not perfected so there is still a lot of work needed to be put into my training."

Pommel horse may be his specialty, but McClenaghan is no pommel horse specialist, and he still has his eyes on the all-around. On Thursday, McClenaghan competed parallel bars in Baku during the first day of qualification.

"Of course pommel horse is still my strongest piece of apparatus, but I will always aim to be an all-around gymnast," he said. "I will compete all six apart throughout this whole year and stand out as an all-around gymnast and not only a pommel worker."

Despite his excitement, McClenaghan is taking a pragmatic approach to his first year as a senior. His goals for next month's European championships in Cluj and October's world championships in Montreal are "simply to gain experience," he said. "No other thoughts are going through my head other than gaining experience from these major competitions."

Gymnastics in Ireland may be booming but the team is not likely to qualify a full team to the next Olympic Games in Tokyo. McClenaghan will be looking to qualify as an individual, a feat accomplished by only two other Irish male gymnasts: Barry McDonald in 1996 and Kieran Behan in 2012 and 2016. With the FIG's new rules, the World Cup series will begin to be included as part of the Olympic qualification process for individuals for 2020. With Rio in the rearview mirror and attention turned to Tokyo, McClenaghan is not counting his luck, but taking it one meet at a time.

"Every gymnast's goal is to get to the 2020 Olympics," he said. "I wouldn't be human if I didn't see the Olympics as a major goal. Although, at the end of the day [Baku] is another competition, which I need to go and do my job at."

Follow McClenaghan on Instagram here and on YouTube here.


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