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Written by John Crumlish    Tuesday, 27 December 2016 15:39    PDF Print
Olympic Medal Turns Tinkler Toward Tokyo
(3 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

International Gymnast Online's annual year-end tradition of holiday-themed features continues with this update from 2016 Olympic bronze medalist Amy Tinkler of Great Britain.

Amy Tinkler (Great Britain) with her bronze on floor exercise at the 2016 Olympics

Although 2016 Olympic medalist Amy Tinkler of Great Britain enjoyed the greatest achievement of her career this year, she plans to expand on her success heading towards the 2020 Games in Tokyo.

"I got back into the gym pretty much straight away after getting back from Rio," said Tinkler, who placed third on floor exercise at this summer's Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. "I'm continuing to push on all four pieces, looking to make small improvements but also to maintain the form I've had this year. I definitely aim to establish myself further as an all-around gymnast in this next Olympic cycle."

Tinkler, the youngest member of the British delegation at the Rio Games, plans to enjoy an easy pace during the holiday season after a hectic year of competition and public attention. She was on the shortlist of three athletes for the BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year 2016 award, which para-swimmer Ellie Robinson won on December 14.

"I'm most looking forward to just having time at home with my family," Tinkler said. "2016 has been a crazy year, so a bit of quiet time at home will be perfect."

Tinkler's resolution for the New Year is simple and assertive.

"Just to work even harder!" she said.

International Gymnast magazine's recent coverage of British gymnasts includes:
"Britain's Best" - Amy Tinkler/Catherine Lyons interviews (June 2015)
"British Breakouts" - Maisie Methuen/Alice Kinsella interviews (December 2016)
Coach Barry Collie interview (July/August 2014)
"A Sorority of Success" - Becky Downie/Ellie Downie interviews (June 2014)
"Britain's New Bombshell" - Claudia Fragapane interview (December 2014)
"European Brilliance" - Ruby Harrold interview (September 2013)
Lisa Mason interview (May 2015)
"Mounting His Challenge" - Louis Smith interview (March 2016)
"Lord Max" - Max Whitlock interview (June 2013)
Becky Downie, Whitlock, Nile Wilson and Brinn Bevan on cover (June 2014)
"Branching Out" - Rebecca Tunney profile (May 2014)

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

Written by dwight normile    Tuesday, 27 December 2016 14:18    PDF Print
Looking Ahead To The New Year
(4 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

It's time to make up a list of New Year's wishes/resolutions to create a more perfect gymnastics world, even if "more perfect" is impossible. Regardless, here are 10 hopes for 2017…

Simone Biles (pictured): Since 2013 she has been the ideal ambassador for our sport. She makes gymnastics look fun despite her incredible level of difficulty. She's also humble in an era of pro athletes who often posture after slam dunks, touchdown catches and home runs—things they are paid obscene amounts of money to do, anyway. It's all about them. Simone will have none of that. And while the grapevine suggests that she will not return to competition in 2017, we can always hope. After all, she has a winning streak on the line. So here's to Biles showing up next October at the 2017 Montreal World Championships!

Aly Raisman (pictured): If the above doesn't happen, could the Rio runner-up have her eye on the 2017 World title? Why not? She looked more fit in Rio than in London four years ago.

Kohei Uchimura (pictured): What can we possibly impose on a guy who, like Biles, has won all of his titles with class and humility. Though his winning streak began in 2009, he is not afraid of defeat. So we hope he competes at the 2017 Worlds. It just wouldn't be the same without him.

Oleg Vernyayev: The wily, wiry Ukrainian finally won a major all-around medal in Rio, even if it went from gold to silver with the slightest landing shuffle in the final rotation on high bar. He, too, has a legitimate shot at the Montreal gold.

Oksana Chusovitina (pictured): It is strange to consider that this amazing Uzbek is still competing at 41, but she does it for the right reason: she loves gymnastics. That she learned a Produnova (handspring-double front vault) at her age shows that she is eager to expand her skill set. So let's celebrate what she adds to the sport and pray that she continues indefinitely!

Manrique Larduet: After winning the all-around silver at the 2015 Glasgow Worlds, this talented Cuban was humbled by injury in Rio. Like Vernyayev, he has the raw potential to capture the gold in Montreal, as long as it's refined (his potential, not the gold medal). So we hope to see a healthy Manrique in 2017 with all of his edgy bravado.

Morinari Watanabe (pictured): The new FIG President won his election, 100-19. There was no need for a recount. Raised as a Samurai, he rightly believes that "What you are going to do is not important, What you did is important." So by the end of his first term, which will effectively conclude with the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, we hope he can bring back the artistry that defined his Japanese compatriots, whose Olympic and World dynasty lasted from the 1960 Rome Olympics to the 1978 Strasbourg World Championships (five Olympic team titles; five World team titles).

Sam Mikulak: Let's hope that Sam, undefeated at the U.S. Championships since 2013, can get out of his own way and allow his exceptional ability to transfer to the world scene. He's just too talented.

Ragan Smith: A Rio alternate as a first-year senior, Smith could have a breakout year if healthy. According to Dominic Zito, her choreographer, she will retain her ingenious Addams Family floor exercise in 2017, a wise choice, indeed. One of her goals is an all-around medal at the 2017 Worlds, which is totally possible.

Donnell Whittenburg: Here's hoping that he can shake off his Olympic alternate status and focus on the future. He could have provided the wow factor that was missing from the U.S. men in Rio. The big rings routine, the booming vault, the incredible releases on p-bars. He flat out does things that others can't. Hopefully for him, he'll get to show his stuff at the 2017 Worlds.

Written by John Crumlish    Friday, 23 December 2016 12:43    PDF Print
Israel's Dolgopyat Has Medals In Mind For 2017
(2 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

International Gymnast Online's annual year-end tradition of holiday-themed features continues with this update on fast-rising Israeli gymnast Artyom Dolgopyat.

After coming close to podium finishes at this year's Challenge Cups of Baku and Varna, Artyom Dolgopyat of Israel is confident he can be a medal candidate at future competitions if he boosts his scoring components.

"I think that I still need to work on the D-score and the E-score, and then it will be possible to fight for medals not only at World Cups, but at the European and world championships," he said.

Artyom Dolgopyat (Israel)

Dolgopyat said competing at this spring's European Championships in Bern was the highlight of his year.

"The most memorable events are the European Championships, the World Championships and of course the Olympic Games, and since this year there was no World Championships and I did not get to the Olympics, my most memorable was the European Championships," he said. "This is a great competition, and the best of the best come to it from all over Europe."

Born June 16, 1997, in Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine, Dolgopyat moved with his family to Israel in 2009. He finished 10th all-around, fifth on vault and eighth on floor exercise at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing.

Last year Dolgopyat placed 22nd all-around at the European Championships in Montpellier, won gold on floor exercise at the Challenge Cup of Osijek and was fifth on floor exercise at the Challenge Cup of Varna.

Dolgopyat's standout performances in 2016 included fourth place on pommel horse and seventh place on floor exercise at the Challenge Cup of Baku, and fourth place on floor exercise at the Challenge Cup of Varna. He was also a member of Israel's 17th-place team at Europeans, where he competed on every apparatus but rings.

December has been a busy month for Dolgopyat, in and out of the gym. He and some of his Israeli teammates spent time training in Minsk. Dolgopyat is celebrating Hanukkah (which begins Saturday evening) and New Year's Eve with his family.

Although a clip of Dolgopyat training a triple front on floor into a pit went viral this year, his focus is on other skills as he prepares for 2017.

"I am working on a new combination, but the combination has not yet been confirmed," he said. "Regarding the triple front, I cannot say anything. At the moment I'm working on a triple back."

Written by Amanda Turner    Thursday, 22 December 2016 01:13    PDF Print
Gymnastics Wins Big at Dutch Year-End Awards
(1 vote, average 5.00 out of 5)

Gymnastics picked up three trophies Wednesday night at the Dutch Olympic Committee-Dutch Sport Federation's year-end gala. Olympic champion Sanne Wevers won Sportswoman of the Year, while her coach and father Vincent Wevers won Coach of the Year. Pictured: The Wevers family on the red carpet, with Sanne on the right and her twin, Lieke, on the left, flanking parents Gemma and Vincent.

Gymnastics picked up three trophies Wednesday night at the Dutch Olympic Committee-Dutch Sport Federation's year-end gala in Amsterdam, with victories for Olympic champion Sanne Wevers (Sportswoman of the Year), Vincent Wevers (Coach of the Year) and Eythora Thorsdottir (Young Talent of the Year).

Eythora Thorsdottir won Young Talent of the Year

Sanne Wevers, whose original and nearly flawless routine in the Olympic balance beam final won her the first-ever individual Olympic gold for a Dutch female gymnast, won Sportswoman of the Year.

Wevers is the sixth Dutch gymnast to win the honor after Klaas Boot (1959), Ans van Gerwen (1972), Verona van de Leur (2002), Yuri van Gelder (2005) and Epke Zonderland (2009, 2010, 2012, 2013). The winners are selected by Dutch journalists.

"It's fantastic to be able to receive this great prize," the 25-year-old Wevers told the audience at the RAI Arena. "It was a great year in which I lived up to my dream. My heart is through the roof here. As a little girl, I'd always dreamed I'd be able to make it to the Olympics, a dream all gymnasts hope. In Rio I got emotional the day before the (balance beam) final. I realized that everything was worth it; all the sacrifices and work. Everything had been a success."

Vincent Wevers won Coach of the Year following the Netherlands' success in Rio de Janeiro. The team's surprise decision to skip the European championships in the spring to focus on the Olympic Games paid off big in August. In addition to Sanne's gold medal on balance beam, the Dutch women placed seventh in the team final and Thorsdottir ninth in the all-around. Sanne's twin sister, Lieke Wevers, also qualified to the all-around final, finishing 20th.

"[This is] a very special honor," said Vincent Wevers, who especially thanked his daughters. "You'd be lucky just to coach two athletes like that every day. Therefore I'm twice as lucky because I'm also their father."

Thorsdottir, 18, won Young Talent of the Year, also a first for gymnastics. Her ninth place in Rio de Janeiro was the best-ever result for a Dutch gymnast at the Olympic Games.

Car racer Max Verstappen won Male Athlete of the Year, while women's rowing duo Maaike Head and Ilse Paulis, the Olympic and European champions, won Team of the Year. Swimmer Liesette Bruinsma was named Paralympic Athlete of the Year.

Written by John Crumlish    Wednesday, 21 December 2016 13:48    PDF Print
Challenge Cup Medals Fuel Czech Cenková
(1 vote, average 5.00 out of 5)

International Gymnast Online's annual year-end tradition of holiday-themed features continues with this update on Czech gymnast Veronika Cenková, whose success in 2016 bodes well for progress in 2017.

When Veronika Cenková of the Czech Republic won two medals at the Challenge Cup of Szombathely, Hungary, in October, she recorded the unanticipated highlight of her year.

Veronika Cenková (Czech Republic)

"It was my first competition after summer holidays so I traveled to Szombathely with no ambitions to compete in a final or bring home a medal," said Cenková, who placed second on floor exercise and third on balance beam there. "I went to this competition only to test my routines after the holidays and get back into competing again. So I was really surprised and pleased with my result because I didn't expect it."

Born February 11, 1999, in Ostrava, Cenková has emerged as one of the Czech team's top seniors after a successful junior career.

She placed 21st all-around at the 2014 European Junior Championships in Sofia, and14th all-around and sixth on balance beam at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing.

Last year Cenková finished 36th all-around in qualifications at the Europeans in Montpellier and competed at the World Championships in Glasgow. This spring she was eighth on floor exercise at the Challenge Cup of Cottbus.

Although Cenková's performance in Szombathely and other recent performances demonstrated her ability to perform confidently, she admits she was not always self-assured and resilient.

"A few years ago I was always very nervous before competitions, and when I fell, I cried so hard and fell at least twice on the other events," she said. "But after years of competing I am psychologically stronger and more patient. I know how to hold up after one event didn't go as I planned and finish strong on my other events. But I think that in every single training I get mentally stronger because you have to always get up after you fall down, you have to always try again and you know that you can get better every day."

Cenková is content to rest and regroup as 2016 draws to a close. Following the Czech team championships, which was her last competition of the year, she felt pain in her left knee that was diagnosed as a small ligament tear.

"I have a few weeks off now, so my main goal is to stay healthy," Cenková said. "But I'm looking forward to the European Championships in April and hope I will qualify to the team for the World Championships in the fall. And outside of gym, my goal is to balance my school and gymnastics well."

Cenková plans to celebrate the holidays in her traditional manner.

"As in every year, I will spend Christmas with my family at home," she said. "We always have a traditional Czech dinner – carp fish with potato salad – and then we go unwrap our presents and watch Christmas films. For New Year's Eve I always spend time with my gym friends."

Missing from Cenková's agenda, however, are any New Year's resolutions.

"I have never tried these resolutions because I know I wouldn't fulfill them!" she said.


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