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Written by Admin    Thursday, 27 March 2008 15:05    PDF Print
Motherhood, Comeback Come Easy for Harmes
(1 vote, average 5.00 out of 5)

Less than a year after becoming a mother, 2004 Dutch Olympian Suzanne Harmes told IG she is eager to test her renewed fitness level at next month's European Championships.

Harmes at the 2004 Olympics

"I still really loved the sport, so when I went back to the gym I wasn't bothered where it would lead," said Harmes, who gave birth to son Lugano last May 24. "I just wanted to try gymnastics again. I am really glad that it all went so easily. Qualifying for Europeans wasn't a problem, and it made me really happy. I'm getting a lot of positive responses from other gymnasts in the Netherlands, that they like the fact that I'm back in the game so quickly."

The 22-year-year-old Harmes has been named to the Dutch team for the European Championships that will take place April 3-6 in Ferrand-Clermont, France. She placed first in the first of two qualification competitions that decided the Dutch team for Europeans.

Also named to the Dutch senior team were Lichelle Wong, Anne Tritten, Sanne Wevers and Verona van de Leur.

The Dutch junior team for the European Championships consists of Wyomi Masela, Natasha Blind, Cerine van Gerner, Yvette Moshage and Naoual Ouassani Chadi.

Harmes, who placed third on floor exercise and 10th all-around at the 2005 World Championships in Melbourne, told IG this week she has a different perspective on gymnastics now that she is a mother.

"It really felt very comfortable and familiar very quickly," she said. "I think I changed a bit as a gymnast. I have a different outlook on life now that I am a mom, and my main responsibility is the well-being of my son. My coaches say that it has also changed my attitude in training. I'm not so stressed anymore when things don't work out right away in the gym, and that's one of the reasons I'm actually better in training than before."

Harmes said she was not concerned about the weight she gained during her pregnancy, and that she returned to her pre-pregnancy weight less than three months after Lugano’s birth.

"Now, I'm actually slimmer and lighter than I was before," Harmes said. "I didn't do anything specific to lose that extra weight. What I did do is start fitness exercises about two months after giving birth, so that I could slowly regain my strength and muscle power. I really noticed in the beginning that I had lost so much power. Now, I actually feel more fit than ever before!"

Harmes, who finished 42nd all-around in preliminaries at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, said she has new incentives for training and competing.

"My motivation is that I find it a challenge to see what skills I can still do, and that I really love being a gymnast," she said. "Also, I'm not putting pressure on myself on reaching certain goals. As long as I enjoy myself and my body handles it well, I will keep going."

Based on the Dutch women’s 17th-place team finish at the 2007 Worlds in Stuttgart last year, they have qualified only one gymnast for this summer’s Beijing Olympic Games. Harmes, who did not compete at the 2006 or 2007 Worlds, said she is confident that she can earn that spot, but will be satisfied regardless of which Dutch gymnast is chosen.

"I stand a real chance, but of course there is only one ticket and more than one gymnast that can achieve the qualification norm," she said. "I just train all four apparatus, and if I make it to the Olympics (a second time), that's super. If not, it's bad luck for me but not the end of the world. I had never thought a year ago that I would even make it this far in gymnastics again, so I just enjoy every moment and see where it leads me."

IG Magazine Related Feature:

"Double Dutch" – Harmes profile (May 2005)

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Written by John Crumlish    Wednesday, 26 March 2008 15:19    PDF Print
Al-Harazi 'Still in Shock' Over Wild-Card Olympic Berth
(1 vote, average 5.00 out of 5)

Yemen's Nashwan Al-Harazi told IG he is "still in shock" after recently receiving a wild-card berth for this summer's Olympic Games in Beijing.

Jim Holt and Nashwan Al-Harazi

Al-Harazi will be the first gymnast from Yemen to take part in Olympic competition, after a tripartite commission selected him and female gymnast Thuong Di Thi Ngan (Vietnam) for the two available wild-card berths for Beijing.

The tripartite commission consists of the International Olympic Committee, the International Gymnastics Federation and the Association of National Olympic Committees. Geographic representation at the Olympics is one of the factors for designating wild-card berths.

"I know that there are gymnasts with greater accomplishments than me who have not been invited to Beijing," Al-Harazi told IG from Yemen this week. "I feel a great responsibility to them and to the international gymnastics community to perform my best, and to be a worthy example of what the Olympic spirit is supposed to mean."

Al-Harazi got the news of his wild-card berth at home, where representatives of the Yemen Olympic Committee telephoned him. "I am still in shock," he said, noting that officials from his country's gymnastics federation are equally enthusiastic.

"They are very, very pleased and hopeful that this will help gymnastics develop in our country, so that we might have a full team compete at some point in the next quadrennium and beyond," Al-Harazi said.

At the 2007 World Championships in Stuttgart, which served to qualify gymnasts for the Beijing Games, Al-Harazi competed on five events only because of a sore wrist.

Al-Harazi said that, prior to the start of his U.S.-based training under coach Jim Holt in Seattle, Wash., he had never trained on rings, parallel bars or high bar. In Stuttgart, he competed for the first time ever on rings and parallel bars.

As Al-Harazi awaits approval of his visa to return to the U.S. for pre-Olympic training under Holt, he said his training plan has shifted "from the 'long-term' to 'competitive preparation' phase." He intends to compete in the all-around at the Beijing Games.

"I'm looking to have my floor, pommel horse and vault Start Values in the top 15 in the competition," said Al-Harazi, who placed 27th on vault at the 2006 Worlds and 21st on vault at the 2007 Worlds. "Ensha Allah, my goal is to perform my exercises cleanly!"

Holt said Al-Harazi's 2007 Start Values were 6.3 on floor exercise, and 6.2 on pommel horse and vault. "We're trying to do a little better, yet be clean, clean, clean," he said.

Al-Harazi credited Holt and his wife, Hannah, for their support of his career. Under the Holts' partnership he became Yemen's first gymnast to compete at a World Championships when he competed in 2006 in Aarhus, Denmark. Al-Harazi trained briefly under Holt at Metropolitan Gymnastics in Seattle prior to Aarhus, and spent eight months training with Holt prior to Stuttgart.

"Jim started me on the path that led to Beijing," Al-Harazi said. "It was a dream come true for me to be able to live and train in America with him and Hannah this past year, and to be at Worlds with 'my second parents.'"

In 1996 Holt conducted an IOC Solidarity Course in Sana'a, Yemen, where he asked a group of 40 Yemeni coaches and gymnasts to define their goals.

"They said, 'We'd like to be competitive with the Arab countries,'" Holt recalled. "I responded, 'That's too small. If you're going to do this, you need to pick an impossible dream and chase it. There's no reason that Yemen can't have a gymnast compete at the World Championships or even qualify for the Olympic Games.'"

Al-Harazi, then age 9, was among the group of gymnasts standing on a mat next to a homemade vault board. "I pointed to Nashwan and said, 'This could be your guy. This could be the first gymnast from Yemen to compete at Worlds,'" Holt said. "And as Nashwan told you, he believed me."

IG Magazine Related Feature
"A First for Yemen" - short Al-Harazi feature (February 2007)

Written by Amanda Turner    Thursday, 20 March 2008 22:53    PDF Print
Liukin, Hamm Headline Pacific Rim Championships
2008 American Cup champions Nastia Liukin and Paul Hamm (USA) will lead the U.S. teams against 13 nations at the Pacific Rim Championships, March 28-30 in San Jose, Calif.
Nastia Liukin

Formerly known as the the Pacific Alliance Championships, the biannual Pacific Rim Championships features junior and senior athletes competing in artistic gymnastics, rhythmic gymnastics and trampoline.

In addition to Liukin and Hamm, individual world medalists on the roster include Philippe Rizzo (Australia), Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs (Canada), Lyudmila Yezhova Grebenkova (Russia), and Jana Bieger and Sasha Artemev (USA).

Liukin, the reigning world balance beam champion, is set to lead the U.S. women in defense of their senior team title. Liukin won the junior all-around title at the 2004 Pacific Alliance competition and tied teammate Chellsie Memmel for the title in 2006.

Hamm led the U.S. men to the team title at the 2004 Pacific Alliance Championships, where he also won the all-around title. At the 2006 edition, the U.S. men finished fourth behind Japan, Canada and China.

Asian powers China and Japan are sending B squads, but Australia, Canada and Russia are sending teams of Olympic contenders. Russia, sending seniors to the event for the first time, will be represented by national champion Sergei Khorokhordin and 2007 European all-around bronze medalist Yuri Ryazanov.

Log onto IG Online next week for complete coverage of the Pacific Rim Championships, including live coverage of every session!

2008 Pacific Rim Championships Participants
March 28-30, San Jose, Calif.

Mathew Curtis, Jack Rickards, Luke Wadsworth (junior men); Joshua Jefferis, Philippe Rizzo, Samuel Simpson (senior men); Britt Greeley, Emily Little, Tain Molendijk (junior women); Ashleigh Brennan, Dasha Joura, Lauren Mitchell (senior women)

Anderson Loran, John Hall, Jackson Payne (junior men); Nathan Gafuik, Brandon O'Neill, Adam Wong (senior men); Peng Peng Lee, Charlotte Mackie, Brittany Rogers (junior women); Nansy Damianova, Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs, Kristina Valculik (senior women)

Chen Xuezhang, Fang Lixiang, Liu Zhanteng (junior men); Liang Mingsheng, Lu Bo, Wang Heng (senior men); Cui Jie, Guan Wenli, Huang Ying (junior women); Zhang Xin, Huang Qiushuang, Tian Mengsi (senior women)

Chinese Taipei
Lin Wei Ming, Shu Ping Chien (junior men); Chang Che Wei, Chen Chih Yu (senior men); Chen Yu Chun, Lo Yu Ju, Wu Chen Hsuan (junior women); Chen Chun Min, Mai Liu Hsiang Han (senior women)

Jorge Hugo Giraldo, James Brochero (senior men); Jessica Gil Ortiz, Nathalia Sanchez (senior women)

Hong Kong
Jim Man Hin, Poon Chun Kit, Shek Wai Hung (junior men); Leung Ka Man, Tsui Lok Yee, Zhang Wei (junior women); Choi Nim Yan, Vut Tsz Ying, Wong Hiu Ying Angel (senior women)

Ryotaka Deguchi, Hiroyuki Imai, Riku Munakata (junior men); Genki Takeshita, Takuya Inatera, Yusuke Saito (senior men); Erica Lynn Danko, Akiho Sato, Shizuka Tozawa (junior women); Nanaho Hidaka, Chinami Otaki (senior women)

Noor Hasleen Fathihin Hasnan (senior women)

Javier Balboa, Asiel Lopez, Adrian Prieto (junior men); Kalo Traslocheros, Luis Alberto Sosa, Aldo Torres (senior men); Daniela Espinosa, Paula Martinez, Karla Salazar (junior women); Marisela Cantu, Elsa Garcia, Ericka Garcia

Frances Audrey P. Munoz, Dezirie Saldana (junior women); Ma. Virginia Helen D. Acuna, Cintamoni D. De Guzman, Patricia Kathryn P. Paraso (senior women)

Britt Reusche-Lari (junior women)

David Belyavskiy, Nikita Ignatyev, Igor Pakhomenko (junior men); Maxim Devyatovsky, Sergei Khorokhordin, Yuri Ryazanov (senior men); Anastasia Grishina, Viktoria Komova, Violetta Malikova (junior women); Lyudmila Yezhova Grebenkova, Anna Myzdrikova, Alyona Zmeu (senior women)

Heem Wei Lim, Jia Hui Tay, Xi Hui Tay (senior women)

Glen Ishino, Danell Leyva, John Orozco (junior men); Sasha Artemev, Raj Bhavsar, Paul Hamm (senior men); Rebecca Bross, Rebecca Clark, Samantha Shapiro (junior women); Jana Bieger, Darlene Hill, Nastia Liukin (senior women)

Written by Admin    Thursday, 20 March 2008 20:52    PDF Print
German Team Goes Online
The German gymnastics federation has developed a new Web site,, devoted to its current World and Olympic hopefuls, featuring news, athlete blogs and more.
Bui, Brechktken, Gienger and Andergassen

The Deutschen Turner-Bundes held a press conference Sunday in Cottbus to discuss Turn-Team, as well as the current state of gymnastics in Germany. Attending the press conference were DTB President Rainer Brechtken, current German athletes Kim Bui and Thomas Andergassen and West German legend Eberhard Gienger.

The first special features on the site include blogs from Katja Abel (at the American Cup in Florida) and Robert Weber (at the French International in Paris). also offered live commentary from the World Cup event held last weekend in Cottbus.

Brechtken explained that Turn-Team members include not just the gymnasts preparing for the 2007 Worlds in Stuttgart and the Olympics 2008, but all other people involved in the preparation.

The point of the site is to emphasize the unity of the German team and its goal of qualifying full men's and women's squads to the 2008 Olympic Games. Brechtken said the athletes have agreed to put the team qualification as the highest priority, above individuals second. An athlete should set aside their aspirations for the individual all-around when there is another gymnast who is able to score a few tenth higher on one of the events. Every tenth will be needed for the team in the team to finish in the top 12 to qualify for Beijing.

The DTB is expecting some individual medals from the German gymnasts in Stuttgart, specifically from 2006 World medalists Fabian Hambüchen and Oksana Chusovitina.

The site is also selling Turn-Team shirts to raise money for young children in the sport and to donate to children's hospitals, such as the hospital in Colgne where Chusovitina's son, Alisher, underwent treatment for leukemia. (Alisher, who was diagnosed with leukemia in 2002, is now healthy, attends a public school in Cologne and recently competed in his first gymnastics meet.)

The Turn-Team shirt will be limited to 500 pieces. Each shirt is numbered, and the buyer can choose to have his or her own name printed on the back. Shirts with the numbers 101 to 500 will sell for at least 40 Euros each. The first 100 shirts will be autographed and sold either at a higher rate or at auction.

Bui and Andergassen stated that they were both happy to be able to support small children with the money raised by Turn-Team. Bui noted that during her early years of gymnastics, her family required outside financial support to fund her training.

Gienger, the 1974 world high bar champion, bought the first shirt at the press conference and modeled it for the photographers. Gienger will be inducted into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame on May 11.

External Link:

Written by Admin    Wednesday, 19 March 2008 15:40    PDF Print
Code of Points Gets Tweaked
The big news out of the recent FIG Executive Committee meeting in St. Petersburg, Russia, concerns changes to the Code of Points for 2009, which will "promote the artistic nature of the sport and ... increase safety in exercises," according to the FIG news release. "Gymnasts from all disciplines will have to show exemplary mastery in their exercises. Execution will be favored."

These principles are not new, and exist within the philosophy of the current Code of Points. However, beginning in 2009, the women's Code will reduce the number of required elements from 10 to eight. That should lead to shorter routines and longer careers.

The proposed changes for the men's Code focus mainly on the juniors, for which eight skills will count toward the A-score. Also, the A-score will be halved for juniors, thus further de-emphasizing difficulty. Other safety measures for juniors include the prohibition of diving elements that end in a roll-out on floor, and saltos to upper arms or bent arms on parallel bars.

A "G" category, worth 0.7, will be added to the difficulty table, and skills listed there include a Ri Jong Song (triple-twisting double back) and Liukin (triple back) on floor, and a Cassina (layout Kolman) and Shahan (Kovacs with 1.5 twists) on high bar.

On rings, swing-to-strength combinations will count as two separate elements if the swing reverses direction (e.g., front uprise to Maltese).


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