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Written by John Crumlish    Saturday, 30 December 2006 14:59    PDF Print
No Holiday Downtime for Garcia
In the latest of IG Online's holiday features, Elsa Garcia of Mexico describes her holiday season full of travel and training.
Elsa Garcia

Garcia, the top Mexican performer at the 2006 World Championships, spent Christmas with her parents and sister in Monterrey. On New Year's Eve, she is traveling to Veracruz for a get-together with her father's side of the family (including his brother and sister) and one of her mother's sisters.

"We usually play card games like UNO, and the food is a variety of traditional Mexican dishes," Garcia told IG. "We stay up late talking about just about everything!"

Garcia enjoyed a very successful competition year in 2006. Coached by the husband-and-wife team of Antonio Barraza and Teresa Lopez, she placed fifth all-around at the American Cup in March; first all-around at the Central American and Caribbean Games in the summer; and 33rd all-around in preliminaries at the World Championships, held in Aarhus, Denmark, in October.

Although Garcia is busy outside the gym during the holidays, she has been training regularly (with the exception of December 24, 25 and 31). She expects to join other members of the Mexican national team at a training camp that begins January 2 in Cancun.

"Antonio is planning a training camp in Cancun because the weather is going to be too cold here for us to train, (since) we don't have a heater in our gym," Garcia explained.

At the 2006 Worlds, Mexico placed 18th. The top 12 teams at the 2007 Worlds (to be held in Stuttgart in September) will qualify for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, and teams 13-18 will qualify two individuals each for Beijing. Garcia's gymnastics goals for 2007 include Olympic qualification.

"My New Year´s resolution will be to train as hard as I can so I can be in the best shape possible for Worlds," she said. "This will help Mexico fight and achieve a place among the first 18 countries, so we can send at least two gymnasts to Beijing. Although finishing among first 12 countries would be like a dream come true, I think that (top 18) will be the goal for most of the girls on the national team."

No matter what, Garcia said she wants to be content throughout the new year.

"A personal resolution would be to enjoy every moment as it were my last, because it's not coming back," she said. "I want to make the most out of everything."

Read a profile on Garcia in the May 2006 issue of International Gymnast magazine.

Written by John Crumlish    Friday, 29 December 2006 14:55    PDF Print
Horton Ready to Bring On New Year
(1 vote, average 5.00 out of 5)
Continuing IG Online's series of holiday features on gymnasts around the world, American Jonathan Horton talks about his plans in and out of the gym.
Jonathan Horton

Horton, a member of the 13th-place U.S. team at the 2006 World Championships, is looking forward to Christmas with his family in Texas.

"I am going to be in Houston with my family until January 2," Horton told IG. "It is exciting for me to be home for so long because I spend all year in Norman, Oklahoma, for school. My whole family meets at one house and we spend all day together. I have a pretty large family, and it can be a pretty interesting day when everyone is opening gifts and going crazy at the same time."

A junior at the University of Oklahoma, Horton finished first all-around at the 2006 NCAA Championships. He finished second all-around at the 2006 U.S. Championships.

Horton said he plans to train during the holidays, with the exception of Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year's Eve (his 21st birthday) and New Year's Day. "Other than that, I am still training a lot in the gym and doing routines to prepare for next season," he said.

Horton added that he does not have a resolution for 2007.

"I've never had a New Year's resolution before," he said. "I don't think I have anything for this year, either."

Jonathan Horton is featured in the following issues of International Gymnast magazine:

May 2006: cover photo, NCAA Championships coverage
October 2006: U.S. Championships coverage
October 2005: U.S. Championships coverage
May 2005: NCAA Championships coverage

To order back issues of IG magazine, click here.

Written by John Crumlish    Thursday, 28 December 2006 14:53    PDF Print
Mys Family Prefers Mystery
(6 votes, average 3.33 out of 5)

Continuing IG Online's series of holiday features on gymnasts around the world, Gaelle Mys of Belgium talks about her family-filled Christmas gathering.

Gaelle Mys

Mys celebrated Christmas with her family at her grandmother's house.

A week before Christmas, Mys said, her family members each pick a name out of a box, which dictates for whom they must buy a present. On Christmas Eve, the gifts are placed under the Christmas tree.

"Everybody gets a present from a family member, but we don't know which one," Mys, 15, told IG. "We all pick a number to know who will open a present next. After we've opened our present we have to guess who it's from. That's not always easy, if you've gotten a pair of socks or pajamas!"

At the 2006 European Junior Championships, held in Volos, Greece, Mys won the bronze medal on floor exercise and placed sixth all-around. She also finished sixth on balance beam and seventh on vault. In 2005, Mys won the junior all-around title at the Stella Zakharova Cup in Ukraine.

Mys, who trains under coach Gerrit Beltman at the Belgian national team training center in Ghent, had a training break from Dec. 22-27, and will resume training from Dec. 28-31. On New Year's Eve, Mys will train in the morning, and then celebrate the new year at her parents' home.

Mys, who will return to training on Jan. 2, said she has ambitious plans for the new year.

"I'm going to try to train harder and do my best to get a good result at the world championships in 2007," she said. "Of course I'll try to have fun and have a good year."

Gaelle Mys is featured in the following issue of International Gymnast magazine:

October 2005: "Mighty Mys" (profile)

To order back issues of IG magazine, click here.

Written by John Crumlish    Wednesday, 27 December 2006 14:50    PDF Print
Gilmore, Kikuchi Enjoy Belated Holiday Honeymoon
(5 votes, average 3.00 out of 5)
Continuing IG Online's series of holiday features on gymnasts around the world, Canadian wife-and-husband Olympians Crystal Gilmore and David Kikuchi talk about their belated Christmastime honeymoon.
Crystal and David Kikuchi

"Dave and I were both too busy this past summer after our wedding to find time for a honeymoon, so we just managed to take a Caribbean cruise just before Christmas," the 23-year-old Gilmore told IG. "We are planning on spending Christmas with Dave's family in Fall River, Nova Scotia, where we live."

After a few days off from training, the couple returned to the gym Dec. 27 — Kikuchi's 27th birthday.

Gilmore competed at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games (where Canada placed ninth) and the 2001 World Championships, then retired from international competition. She returned to major competition at the 2006 World Championships in October in Denmark, where Canada finished 14th in the team standings. Earlier this month, Gilmore finished placed fourth all-around at the Elite Canada competition.

Kikuchi, who finished 20th all-around at the 2003 World Championships, was a member of Canada's 11th-place team at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games and its sixth-place team at the 2006 World Championships. He won the all-around title at the 2006 Canadian Championships.

Outside the gym, the couple has a full agenda. Kikuchi works as an "RBC Olympian." According to Gilmore, he is involved with the RBC bank's program which gives him the opportunity to continue competing and training, while developing skills in the bank. Kikuchi is involved in numerous public speaking engagements, where he does motivational talks and speaks about staying physically active and leading a healthy lifestyle.

Gilmore is completing her final year at Mount Saint Vincent University, in the Bachelor of Science in Applied Human Nutrition program. Gilmore said she hopes to become a registered dietitian. "I also enjoy coaching gymnastics, but have taken a break from it at the moment, while I focus more on training," she said.

Gilmore and Kikuchi have set ambitious goals for 2007.

"Dave and I would both like to be a part of the upcoming Worlds team to Stuttgart and help Canada qualify full teams to the 2008 Olympics," Gilmore said. "Out of the gym, Dave hopes to continue his athlete job with RBC, and is coaching the Nova Scotia men's gymnastics team at the Canada Winter Games in March. I plan on finishing up my last semester in university this coming April, and continue on into an integrated internship program to complete my Dietetics degree."

Written by John Crumlish    Tuesday, 26 December 2006 14:46    PDF Print
Shapiro Enjoys Snowy Holiday Weekend

In the latest IG Online holiday-related feature, U.S. junior national team member Samantha Shapiro talks about her family weekend in the snow.

Samantha Shapiro

Shapiro, who lives in Los Angeles, spent Dec. 23-25 at her family's condo in the ski resort of Mammoth Lakes, 300 miles from her hometown.

"I usually don't ski, but I play games and hang out with the family, and play in the snow," Shapiro told IG.

The weekend followed the Shapiro family's traditional observance of Hanukkah, the eight-day Jewish holiday which ended Dec. 23.

"All the days are about the same," Shapiro explained. "We celebrate and come together. We play games, sing songs and exchange gifts."

Joining her were her parents; younger sister Nikki (who competed Level 6 last year, and will compete either Level 7 or 8 in the coming season); and her aunt, uncle and cousins from Indiana.

Shapiro said she and Nikki often receive gymnastics-related holiday presents, such as competition shoes and keychains. "This year, I got mostly regular gifts - clothes, movies and stuff like that," she said.

Although Shapiro did not train over the weekend (and always has Sundays off from the gym), she was conscientious while at Mammoth Lakes.

"At the condo I've been doing some conditioning and stretching," Shapiro said Monday. "Just whatever I feel my body needs, I'll do. I take walks outside to keep my body active."

Shapiro began gymnastics in a pre-school class at age 4. Her potential was quickly noticed by coach Galina Marinova, a 1980 Bulgarian Olympian.

"My mom told me the story," Shapiro said. "We got a call on our answering machine from this woman (Marinova) that my parents didn't even know, saying I had great upper-body strength, and that she wanted me to come a couple mornings a week. My parents didn't really know about gymnastics and didn't know what to expect, but I just loved it."

Shapiro, who trains under Artur Akopyan and Marinova at All Olympic Gymnastics Center in Los Angeles, finished 13th all-around at the 2006 U.S. Junior Championships. She said last year's experience will help her in 2007.

"I think it's a lot about experience," Shapiro said. "It really helps to know what to expect next year, to be in control of your body, to feel powerful in big competitions."

Already known in the U.S. for her excellent technique and execution, Shapiro said the key to good form is attention to detail.

"I've definitely worked on it," she said. "During conditioning, I make sure the body is tight so when you actually do the skill and fly through the air, it just comes."

The 13-year-old Shapiro is age-ineligible for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, but she has a big aim for 2007.

"I would like to represent the U.S. in international competition," she said. "That's my main goal for the new year."

Samantha Shapiro is featured in the following issues of International Gymnast magazine:

November 2006: center gallery (includes Shapiro)
October 2006: "Substance and Style" (profile)

To order back issues of IG magazine, click here.


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