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Written by John Crumlish    Sunday, 31 December 2006 15:04    PDF Print
Hard Work Ahead for Hopfner-Hibbs
In the latest in IG Online's series of holiday features, 2006 world balance beam bronze medalist Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs (Canada) shares her new years resolutions.
Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs

Hopfner-Hibbs, the first Canadian woman to win a world championships medal, has gymnastics-related resolutions for 2007.

"My New Year's resolution is to continue working hard in the gym, and work on the 'performance' factor of my gymnastics," she said.

Hopfner-Hibbs, who is enjoying a nine-day training break for the holidays, celebrated Christmas Eve with her mother's side of the family.

"We all get together and have a gift exchange and a big Christmas dinner," she said. "This is actually my favorite day of the entire year!"

The family festivities continued on Christmas Day, Hopfner-Hibbs said. "We open gifts and have a big Christmas breakfast at my house. This is only with my immediate family. In the afternoon, my sister and I go to my dad's house for another Christmas celebration!"

In addition to her Worlds medal, the 17-year-old Hopfner-Hibbs had a memorable competitive year in 2006. At the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, she finished second all-around and first on uneven bars and balance beam. At the Pacific Alliance Championships in Honolulu, she was fourth all-around and third on balance beam and floor exercise. Hopfner-Hibbs also placed first all around at the Canadian Championships.

Earlier this month, Hopfner-Hibbs finished fifth on balance beam at the World Cup Final in Sao Paulo.

Hopfner-Hibbs, who trains at Sport Seneca in Toronto under coaches Carol-Angela Orchard, Brian McVey and Lawson Hamer, said her favorite Christmas tradition is getting together with her family.

"We have so much fun together," she said. "Because I travel so much for gymnastics, I don't get to see them very often, so I really enjoy the time I get to spend with them."

Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs is featured in the following issues of International Gymnast magazine:

December 2006 World Championships special issue
June 2006: Pacific Alliance Championships coverage
May 2006: Commonwealth Games coverage
March 2006: "One Step Towards 2008" (short profile)

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."


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