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Written by John Crumlish    Thursday, 17 May 2007 08:36    PDF Print
Russo Reflects on Career, Retirement
Australian world medalist Monette Russo, who last week announced her decision to retire from international competition, said she plans to stay involved in the sport.
Monette Russo

Russo, 18, told IG she is retiring because of the fractured tibia that kept her out of the 2006 World Championships.

"I did not officially make the decision to retire until last week, but after my leg was not getting any better after six months, that kind of made my decision for me," Russo said. "This is the second time my tibia cracked, so I know how long the first one took."

Despite the injury, Russo said the decision to retire was a difficult one.

"It was definitely not an easy decision—it still is not," she said. "I wake up each day still thinking it is time to go to training! I really miss my gym 'sisters,' they are my best friends. I am looking forward to this next chapter in my life and finally finishing high school. My parents struggled with this I think more than I did, but they finally said, 'Just make a decision—we will support what ever you decide,' because they saw how divided I was."

Russo had a break-out performance at the 2003 World Championships in Anaheim, where she helped Australia take home the team bronze, its first women's world medal. Individually she finished 12th all-around and eighth on balance beam.

She was a member of Australia's eighth-place team at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. At the 2005 World Championships in Melbourne, she won the all-around bronze and the Longines "Prize of Elegance" award.

"After 2005 Worlds I felt very proud of my accomplishments and did not know if I could top that," she said. "I am seeing how hard this group of girls on the national team is working and I did not know if I could catch up. They look really good."

Australian coach Peggy Liddick said she was not surprised by Russo's decision.

"Monette had been mulling over this decision for a year now," Liddick said. "I told her to take her time and make sure it is what she really wants. This sport is too hard to be in it half-heartedly."

Russo said she is proud of the relationships she has with her personal coaches, Misha Barabach and Tracey Penaluna, and Liddick.

"I hope to have them continue to influence me in the future," said Russo, who is now helping coach at the Victorian Institute of Sport, where she trained.

Liddick said she hopes Russo, who will graduate from high school in December, will consider competing for an American university.

"We will miss her huge smile in the gym," Liddick said. "She was always ready to train and gave 100 percent all the time. She has a great rapport with the rest of the national team and was a great leader. I will definitely be having her serve some sort of mentoring role in the future. Unfortunately, her ankles and knees succumbed to the rigors of gymnastics training and ultimately, would not let her continue."

Russo said she can retire knowing she fulfilled her goals, but hopes she will be remembered for more than her many achievements.

"I am proud to be an Olympian—this is something that I will have for the rest of my life, a special club," Russo told IG. "It was something I told my Mum I wanted when I was 6 years old. I hope I am remembered for not only what I accomplished in the gym for Australia, but also for how much I really love gymnastics. Just because I am not going to compete anymore has not changed my love for the sport."

International Gymnast Magazine's related features:
Russo on cover, "Russo's World" (interview) - March 2006
"Smooth Transition" - Russo interview - April 2005

To subscribe to IG Magazine or order back issues, click here.

Written by John Crumlish    Tuesday, 15 May 2007 08:38    PDF Print
Veteran Kryukov Happy Among Medalists

Although his younger Russian teammates outshined him at the recent European Championships, 1999 world all-around champion Nikolai Kryukov told IG he was "in a bit of shock" after winning a medal of his own.

Nikolai Kryukov

Kryukov, 28, won the silver medal on parallel bars and tied for fifth on pommel horse at the Europeans, held April 26-29 in Amsterdam. He did not compete in the all-around, which 23-year-old teammate Maxim Devyatovsky won. Third was 20-year-old Russian Yuri Ryazanov. Their teammate Anton Golutsutskov, 22, won gold on the vault in the apparatus finals.

"It was a surprise," Kryukov told IG in Amsterdam, after placing second to Slovenia's Mitja Petkovsek on parallel bars. "I didn't expect to be second, because I didn't perform the routine well enough to the end. But, frankly speaking, I was in a bit of shock."

A native of Voronezh, Kryukov was the youngest member of the gold medal-winning Russian team at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games. He is the only member of that team who is still competing. He suffered a torn Achilles in early 2000, but came back to help Russia win a team bronze at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney.

At the 2006 World Championships in Aarhus, Denmark, Kryukov helped the Russian men win the team silver. He also finished fourth on pommel horse and fifth on high bar.

Kryukov said he is pleased to be competitive after a lengthy career, but is not certain how much longer he will compete. If he competes at September's World Championships in Stuttgart, it will be his eighth consecutive world championships appearance.

"I won't predict the future," he said. "I tell everyone, 'Let's wait till the World Championships, and we'll see."

Read complete coverage of the Men's and Women's European Championships in upcoming issues of International Gymnast magazine.

IG Magazine Related Feature
"All-Around Nice Guy" - Kryukov cover story (February 2000)

Written by Admin    Friday, 11 May 2007 08:33    PDF Print
Four Inducted into IGHOF

Former stars Simona Amanar, Yelena Davydova, Eberhard Gienger and Shigeru Kasamatsu were inducted into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame in ceremonies held Friday evening in Oklahoma City.

Amanar's competitive career included gold medal-winning performances for Romania at two Olympic Games. At the 1996 Atlanta Games, she placed first on vault, second on floor exercise and third (tie) all-around. At the 2000 Sydney Games, she placed first all-around and third on floor exercise. Amanar's best results in World Championships competition include first place (tie) on vault in 1995, first on vault in 1997, second all-around in 1997, second on vault in 1996 and 1999, and second on floor exercise in 1999.

Davydova, a native of Voronezh, Russia, won the 1980 Olympic all-around title and finished third all-around at the 1981 World Championships. She now coaches in Ontario, Canada.

Gienger, from Germany, won the gold medal on high bar at the 1974 World Championships and tied for the bronze on high bar at the 1976 Montreal Olympics.

Kasamatsu was the all-around gold medalist at the 1974 World Championships, where he also placed first on floor exercise and vault. He won three individual medals and a team gold with Japan at the 1972 Munich Olympics, and finished first on high bar at the 1978 World Championships.

Also honored in Oklahoma City was Vicelia Florenzano of Brazil, who received the International Order of Merit. Her achievements include serving as the president of the Pan American Union and Brazilian Gymnastics Federation, as well as a member of the Executive Committee of the International Gymnastics Federation.

Read in-depth coverage of the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame induction ceremonies in the June 2007 issue of International Gymnast magazine.

Written by John Crumlish    Wednesday, 09 May 2007 08:32    PDF Print
Patterson Enjoys New Harmony
Although 2004 Olympic all-around champion Carly Patterson is no longer competing, she remains involved in the sport as she pursues a career as a recording artist.

"There are some people that are upset because I'm not doing gymnastics anymore, but I want them to know that it's OK to have more than one dream in life," Patterson told IG this weekend. "Gymnastics at the level where I competed was very hard, and your body can only do it for so long."

Patterson, who is finishing her first semester of college in Texas, is preparing to release a five-song CD of songs she wrote. The disc will be available for sale on her MySpace Music site (, as well as at gymnastics camps where Patterson will teach this summer.

Patterson's gymnastics camp itinerary includes Flip Fest, Woodward, Lake Owen, USGTC, Colorado Camp and her home club of WOGA in Plano, Texas.

Patterson is also rehearsing for her first concert in Allen, Texas. The concert will be a benefit for the Tooth Fairy Foundation, a charity that helps provide dental care for underprivileged children in the area. Patterson has been involved in the charity for two years. In the concert, she will sing seven songs with a live band.

On May 3, Patterson sang the national anthem before 8,000 people at the Quarter Bowl, a charity flag-football game organized by Dallas Cowboys football legend Roger Staubach in Dallas.

Last fall, Patterson was a contestant on Fox Television's "Celebrity Duets," where she sang with stars of music including James Ingram, Lee Ann Womack, Anita Pointer and Jesse McCartney. She also sang on the Hilton Family Skating and Gymnastics Spectacular, which aired on NBC last Christmas Eve.

"Life is great," Patterson said. "I want to thank everyone for supporting me in gymnastics and music."

Patterson is featured in the following issues of International Gymnast Magazine:
"Carly's Star Turn" - profile (December 2004)
2004 Olympics special issue, Patterson poster, Patterson on cover collage (October 2004)
Patterson on cover (April 2004)
Patterson on cover collage (August/September 2003)
Patterson on cover (April 2003)
"Steady As She Grows" - Patterson profile (March 2003)
Patterson on cover (March 2002)

To subscribe to IG Magazine or order back issues, click here.

Written by Amanda Turner    Friday, 04 May 2007 08:31    PDF Print
Ponor Enlists Bitang in Comeback
(2 votes, average 3.50 out of 5)
Triple Olympic champion Catalina Ponor will begin working with former national team coach Mariana Bitang, according to a report in Romanian newspaper Libertatea.

"She's the only person who can bring me back to the form I was in!" Ponor told Libertatea. "She's the only coach who can guide me to a world title and another Olympic title."

Ponor retired after the 2006 European Championships but returned to training in 2007 with Matei Stanei, who originally coached her as a junior in Constanta.

Libertatea reports that Ponor sought Bitang's help because Stanei is suffering from poor health.

"We saw her very determined, and we were very surprised to see her appetite for competition," Bitang told the newspaper.

Bitang and former head coach Octavian Belu retired from coaching in 2005, and have been working as advisors to Romanian President Traian Basescu. The Romanian Parliament suspended Basescu in April, on accusations of constitutional violations, and a national referendum on his impeachment is scheduled for May 19, 2007.

Ponor has won three gold Olympic medals, four world medals (three silver and one bronze) and seven European medals (five gold, one silver, one bronze). She will turn 20 on August 20.


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