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Written by John Crumlish    Friday, 09 June 2017 05:59    PDF Print
Studer Ready To Play 'Positive' Role On Swiss Team
(3 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

Swiss gymnast Fabienne Studer told IG that, although she enjoyed and was pleased with her performance at the European Championships in Cluj-Napoca in April, she wants to make quick improvements for better results in the future.

Fabienne Studer (Switzerland)

"The goal was to have a perfect competition without big mistakes," said Studer, who placed 28th in all-around qualifications in Cluj. "It was very fun and I really enjoyed my first one at the senior level. Obviously, I did not make the all-around final, which was a small personal target and an even smaller hope. The difficulty needs to be increased during the next month to get closer to the top."

Studer said the competition in Cluj was a marked change from the 2016 Europeans that her country hosted in Bern, where she was a member of the sixth-place Swiss team.

"The biggest challenge was to compete with all the 'big names,' formerly only seen on TV," she said. "A lot of them were and are still my role models."

Studer, who will turn 16 on June 26, resides in Thun and represents Gym Berner Oberland. Her coaches are Fabien Martin (head coach, mainly responsible for uneven bars), Natalia Mikhailova (assistant coach, mainly responsible for balance beam), Jérôme Martin (Fabien's brother, assistant coach, mainly responsible for vault and floor exercise) and Desislava (Dessi) Bürgi (choreography).

Aiming for the World Championships in Montreal in October, Studer and her coaches are preparing for a few possible competitions between now and the fall.

This month Studer is slated for the Flanders International Team Challenge in Ghent, Belgium, on June 10-11; and "Le Duel," a "very new format for Switzerland" in Lugano.

"The plan until Montreal sees four competitions," Studer said. "However, it is not finalized yet and things may change.

Potential September competitions for Studer include the Swiss Championships, the Swiss Team Championships and the Challenge Cup/French International in Paris.

In Cluj, Studer's all-around total 50.432 points ranked her third among Swiss gymnasts. Teammates Ilaria Käslin (51.199) and Lynn Genhart (50.632) advanced to the 24-gymnast all-around final. Studer said she too has the potential to move ahead in future competitions.

"We have to work on the difficulty level primarily," she said. "Adding new elements and combinations is what I am focusing on."

As Studer merges with the Swiss team's veterans including two-time Olympian Giulia Steingruber, Käslin and others, she said she has unique qualities to contribute.

"Positive thinking and a lot of positive energy are what I can bring to the team," she told IG. "I am a team player with ambition and the will to fight for the team and myself."

International Gymnast magazine's recent coverage of Swiss gymnasts includes:
"Finding Herself" - Genhart profile (November 2016)
Steingruber cover photo (May 2015)
"Brägger Breaks Through" - Pablo Brägger profile (January/February 2014)
Interview with former Swiss team head coach Zoltan Jordanov (January/February 2014)
"A New Swiss Standout" - Käslin profile (December 2013)
"Full Force" - Steingruber interview (June 2013)

To order back issues, or subscribe to the print and/or digital edition of International Gymnast magazine, click here.

Written by John Crumlish    Sunday, 04 June 2017 12:36    PDF Print
'Amazing' Senior Debut Rouses South Africa's Rooskrantz
(6 votes, average 4.33 out of 5)

First-year senior Caitlin Rooskrantz of South Africa told IG that placing fifth on uneven bars at last month's Challenge Cup of Koper, Slovenia, exceeded her expectations and gave her satisfaction.

First-year senior Caitlin Rooskrantz (South Africa)

"My goal was to at least to qualify in eighth place on bars," she said. "I was very pleased with my performance and the fact that I qualified in sixth position, which was better than I aimed for. Placing fifth in finals was an amazing achievement for me and I am very proud of myself, as this was my first-ever senior competition."

Rooskrantz's next international competitive targets include making the uneven bars final and "possibly try" to win a medal at the Challenge Cup of Szombathely, Hungary, in September; and qualifying for the World Championships in Montreal in October.

"I'm hoping to win the South African nationals as I believe I am capable," she added.

Rooskrantz, who placed second all-around at last fall's Junior Commonwealth Championships in Namibia, began training at age 7.

"I've always been a very agile and active child, and friends of my parents recommended enrolling me into gymnastics," she said. "I loved it and have never looked back."

To continue making international strides, Rooskrantz wants to better her form.

"My main focus is to tidy up all my elements so I can score higher marks in my execution," said Rooskrantz, who trains under coaches Ilse Pelser and Glen Hlongwane at Johannesburg Gymnastics Centre in Newlands, Johannesburg. "My difficulty is already up to standard for where I want it to be right now, but I can improve my execution score by quite a lot still."

No South African female artistic gymnast has competed at the Olympics Games since 2004, but the optimistic Rooskrantz said persistence and steadiness could help her earn advance to the 2020 Games in Tokyo.

"I think it will take a whole lot of hard work, dedication, commitment and consistency," she told IG. "I feel that I am fairly up to standard when it comes to my difficulty, at least for now, but my execution needs some more work. Since the Olympics has always been a very important goal, I will have to give it my all in the next three years to make it to Tokyo and end the 16-year drought."

Written by John Crumlish    Wednesday, 31 May 2017 22:55    PDF Print
Sütő and Tuuha Tie Knot in St. Maarten
(6 votes, average 4.67 out of 5)

In a beach ceremony witnessed by both of their families, veteran gymnasts Ágnes Sütő of Iceland and Tomi Tuuha of Finland got married Wednesday in St. Maarten.

In a beach ceremony witnessed by both of their families, veteran gymnasts Ágnes Sütő of Iceland and Tomi Tuuha of Finland got married Wednesday in St. Maarten.

"We have always dreamed about a beach wedding, and the idea popped into Tomi's mind of going on a Caribbean adventure to take our vows," said Sütő, a native of Hungary. "We wanted to keep our privacy and let only few people know about our exact wedding plans. Also, it would have been difficult to invite people to join us on our cruise. We decided to only have our family members there witnessing our special day, and of course we are planning to celebrate our marriage with our close friends this summer in Hungary, Finland and Iceland."

For the couple's fans, Sütő added a special message. "So please, don't feel offended if you heard the news first from International Gymnast magazine," she said.

Sütő said Tuuha surprised her with his proposal last summer when she was visiting Finland. "We were having a lovely picnic when he suddenly got on his knee with the question," she said. The couple began planning their wedding, which was part of a Caribbean cruise, following a trip to the Canary Islands late last year.

Sütő said she and Tuuha have maintained a long-distance relationship for several years after getting acquainted at the 2011 World Championships in Tokyo. Sütő moved to Finland in 2014 to be with Tuuha, but returned to Iceland last fall because of health issues and school.

"Luckily I have recovered and I am also finishing my studies in general design this summer," Sütő said. "Besides school I have also been training in the mornings and coaching in the evenings that keeps me quite busy. As we know Tomi has still been doing gymnastics full-time in Finland. Luckily he has been able to visit Iceland yearly for training and preparing for the seasons with the Icelandic team."

Sütő said the strength of their bond has kept their long-distance relationship intact, despite the emotional and logistical challenges.

"It hasn't been easy to be so far away from the person you care for the most, and words cannot describe how lucky I feel to have Tomi in my life," Sütő said. "There has never been a single doubt of me wanting him by my side in the future. Long-distance relationships are definitely not the easiest, but if you really love the other person it's totally worth the try. And I think, because of the long distance and the time apart, we have learned to appreciate each other and the time we spend together even more."

Following the wedding, Sütő and Tuuha will resume training for the World Championships in Montreal in October. "So there might be two Tuuhas participating," Sütő said. Tuuha is also training for the University Games in Taipei in August.

"Unfortunately this year will most likely be Tomi's last year competing at an international level, as he got accepted to the Finnish Aviation Academy to become an airline pilot," she said. "The studies will start early in 2018 in Pori, which is a really remote city in Finland. Tomi will most definitely take every joy in competing in his last year."

Sütő said she and Tuuha are still deciding on their domestic logistics.

"It is still unclear which country we will live in," she said. "We just have to wait and see. We are very excited for our future, and super thankful for gymnastics that brought us together."

Read a profile on Ágnes Sütő in the May 2017 issue of International Gymnast magazine, and a chat/photo spread featuring Tomi Tuuha in the December 2012 issue. To subscribe to the print and/or digital edition of International Gymnast magazine, or purchase back issues, click here.

Written by dwight normile    Sunday, 21 May 2017 08:15    PDF Print
'Undeniable Excellence' Honored at 21st Annual International Gymnastics Hall of Fame Ceremony
(5 votes, average 4.80 out of 5)

Guests and gymnastics supporters from 15 countries witnessed an inspiring induction dinner at the Petroleum Club in Oklahoma City on May 20, and the only tornado present this year was the combined vortex of talent represented by the four inductees: Oksana Chusovitina, Shun Fujimoto, Alexei Nemov and Alicia Sacramone. Their addition to the Hall of Fame, which is housed in Science Museum Oklahoma, brought the total to 95 individuals from 22 countries. And for the first time, the entire ceremony was streamed on Facebook LIVE.

Mike Jacki, former USA Gymnastics President, was honored first as the recipient of the Frank Bare award. (The late Bare was the first Executive Director of the U.S. Gymnastics Federation.)

"I'm a little overwhelmed," Jacki began. "You shouldn't get an award for something because you loved it."

Jacki, a former All-American gymnast at Iowa State, took over the U.S. Gymnastics Federation in 1983. During his 11 years as president, he eliminated the federation's $700,000 deficit and eventually gained more than $10 million in annual revenues via memberships, events, sponsorships, publications and merchandising.

He spoke about the annual dual meets in the 1980s between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, and how they neutralized Cold War tensions and united the countries through sport. He also witnessed the success of the American men's and women's teams at the 1984 Olympics, and Kim Zmeskal's breakthrough performance at the 1991 World Championships, where she became the first American to win the all-around gold. And in 1993 and ’94, Shannon Miller became the first American to win it twice.

Jacki's acceptance speech revealed many of the qualities that made him an effective leader of the federation: vision, creativity, humility and a sense of humor. "I have been truly blessed to be a part of this," he said.

1976 Olympic hero Shun Fujimoto was next, and his epic story had a profound result on his Japanese teammates in Montreal. Like Kerri Strug's vault landing in 1996, Fujimoto did the same 20 years earlier off rings. Having injured his knee on his floor exercise dismount, he kept his injury a secret. He performed on pommel horse and then faced the daunting challenge on rings. With his team-first attitude, Fujimoto was up to the task. He landed his full-twisting double back and winced in excruciating pain—and somehow scored a personal-best 9.70. He could not perform on the next three events, but his teammates picked up the slack and won Japan's fifth straight Olympic title, defeating the Soviet Union, 576.85-576.45.

Fujimoto gave his own acceptance speech in English. "It is a great honor," he began. "I express my sincere thanks to the Board to give me this great honor … I want to thank you for inviting me to the Hall of Fame. Thank you very much!"

Said emcee Bart Conner to Fujimoto, "Your honor and humility has been inspiring."

Oksana Chusovitina is the only inductee that is still actively competing, and there doesn't seem to be any sign that she will stop in the near future. When she competed at the 2016 Rio Games, she became the first gymnast to compete in seven consecutive Olympics. And she wasn't just an anonymous face in Rio. She qualified to the vault final, where she threw a Produnova (handspring-double front), the hardest vault ever! She also has won vault medals in nine World Championships.

Chusovitina's former teammate and now coach Svetlana Boginskaya translated her acceptance speech.

"Thank you very much, but it seems like this award is for people who are retired," she said. "But I am not." [Applause]

Chusovitina competed for the Soviet Union, the Commonwealth of Independent States, Germany and now her native Uzbekistan. Her move to Germany was tied to her young son's diagnosis of cancer, so they moved there to receive treatment. "As a mother, I would like to thank the gymnastics community all over the world," she began. "Because of their help, my child in cancer-free." [Applause]

At the last minute, Alexei Nemov could not make the trip because his mother needed emergency surgery. It is hopeful that he can attend the ceremony next year. But his absence cannot diminish the impact he had on the sport. With textbook technique and style to match, he helped Russia win its only Olympic team title, in 1996. Four years later he finally won a major all-around title at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. But it was at the 2004 Athens Games where his true character showed through. As defending Olympic high bar champion, he competed in the high bar final again. And when a 9.725 was flashed for his brilliant routine (six release skills), the crowd booed vehemently. When his score was raised to 9.762, the revolt continued. That's when Nemov remounted the podium, thanked the crowd and politely gestured for them to settle down, which they did.

Alicia Sacramone (USA), whose 10 World medals is second among Americans only to Simone Biles' 14, closed the ceremony with humor and humility.

"It is a huge honor to be here tonight," said Sacramone, who was accompanied by husband Brady Quinn, a former NFL quarterback. She continued by thanking her coaches, Mihai and Silvia Brestyan, and expressed regret that she had been difficult to coach at times. "I wouldn't have gotten anywhere in my career without my coaches … I am truly blessed to be here. I am so humbled."

Conner had opened the evening by saying, "Tonight we are honoring undeniable excellence." There was no argument about that at the end.

Read complete coverage the 21st induction ceremony in the June issue of International Gymnast.

Written by dwight normile    Friday, 19 May 2017 08:04    PDF Print
International Gymnastics Hall of Fame Ceremony To Be Streamed on Facebook LIVE
(1 vote, average 5.00 out of 5)

Four legendary gymnasts will be honored in Oklahoma City on May 20 at the 21st annual induction dinner for the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame. The ceremony will be broadcast LIVE on the International Gymnast magazine Facebook page beginning at 7:30 p.m. CDT.

The class of 2017 features Oksana Chusovitina (Uzbekistan), Shun Fujimoto (Japan), Alexei Nemov (Russia) and Alicia Sacramone (USA). After they are inducted on Saturday night, the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame will have grown to include 95 individuals from 22 nations.

2017 is the first year in which one of the inductees is still an active gymnast. At the Rio Games last summer, Oksana Chusovitina became the first gymnast to compete in seven consecutive Olympics. This year the 41-year-old Uzbek is competing on the World Cup circuit, winning vault in Baku, Azerbaijan, and Doha, Qatar.

Chusovitina, who has five skills named after her, has won 11 World Championship medals, including two individual golds, which were 12 years apart: floor exercise (1991) and vault (2003).

Shun Fujimoto will be honored for his courageous performances at the 1976 Montreal Games, where Japan had a chance to win five consecutive Olympic team titles. Trailing the USSR by 0.50 after compulsories, Japan began on floor exercise in optionals, where Fujimoto injured his knee on his dismount. His 9.55, however, replaced a 9.45 from Hisato Igarashi. He scored a 9.50 on pommel horse and later faced a daunting challenge on rings, where he would have to land his half-in half-out dismount from over eight feet in the air. He was up to the task. And although his dismount landing looked excruciating—"The pain was unexplainable," he said—he scored a personal best 9.70.

Unable to perform on the remaining three events, which meant no throwaway score on vault, parallel bars and high bar, his inspired teammates finished the job and defeated the USSR, 576.85-576.45.

Alexei Nemov made his World Championship debut in 1993 as a 16-year-old prodigy, and he fulfilled his potential with grace and character. At the 1996 Olympics he led Russia to its first, and still only, team gold following the dissolution of the Soviet Union. He also left Atlanta with six Olympic medals. Four years later, he finally won a major all-around title at the Sydney Olympics, where he again won six medals.

As the defending Olympic high bar champion in Athens 2004, Nemov rose above the politics of the sport. After he scored a 9.725 for his six-release routine, the crowed booed and jeered the result. When his score was raised to 9.762, the revolt continued. That's when Nemov remounted the podium and politely thanked the crowd and gestured for them to quiet down, which they did. Nemov always saw the bigger picture.

Alicia Sacramone did not waste any time asserting herself on the international stage. In her first World Championships, in 2005 in Melbourne, she won the gold on floor exercise and the bronze on vault, where her dynamic handspring-rudi remains one of the best ever done. She won a team silver at the 2008 Olympics, and ended up with 10 World medals, the most by an American until Simone Biles collected 14 from 2013-15.

After tearing her Achilles' tendon prior to the 2011 Tokyo Worlds, Sacramone rehabbed the injury and made a run for a second Olympics in 2012. She was in amazing shape at the Olympic Trials but did not make the team. Throughout her career, however, she always represented her country with dignity.

Mike Jacki, President of USA Gymnastics from 1983-94, will receive the Frank Bare Award. An All-American gymnast at Iowa State, Jacki rescued the U.S. Gymnastics Federation, a not-for-profit organization that had a $700,000 deficit. Among his contributions during his tenure, he renamed the federation USA Gymnastics, introduced coaching safety certification, gained more than $10 million in annual revenues, and enjoyed the success of the American teams at the 1984 Olympics. He also saw Kim Zmeskal become the first American to win a World all-around title, in 1991, which was followed by Shannon Miller's back-to-back titles in 1993 and ’94.

The induction ceremony will be live streamed on the IG Facebook page from 7:30-10 p.m. CDT.

Read complete coverage of the Hall of Fame dinner in the June issue of International Gymnast magazine. To subscribe or to order back issues, click here.


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