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Written by Amanda Turner    Thursday, 08 March 2018 10:18    PDF Print
India's Aruna Reddy Vaults into Spotlight
(1 vote, average 5.00 out of 5)

Aruna Reddy has vaulted her way into national fame and put gymnastics back in the spotlight in India after her historic bronze on vault last month at the Melbourne World Cup in Australia.

Despite heavy obstacles in her way, Aruna Reddy has vaulted into national fame and put gymnastics back in the spotlight in India after her historic bronze medal last month at the Melbourne World Cup in Australia.

"My moment of glory has finally arrived," Reddy told The Times of India, which reported her voice choking with emotion as she spoke from Melbourne.

Reddy, 22, has become the newest star in Indian sport since February 24, when she became the first gymnast in the nation's history to win a medal at a World Cup event, an accomplishment that even eluded her famous training partner, 2016 Olympic vault finalist Dipa Karmakar. Reddy was given a hero's welcome upon her arrival in Hyderabad last Friday morning, with a cavalcade of official cars, media and well-wishers waiting to receive her at the airport.

International success has largely eluded gymnasts in India, where adequate training facilities and world-class coaches are rare, and sports like cricket, field hockey, badminton, and tennis are more popular. Reddy is only the third Indian gymnast to win a major international medal, following Karmakar and male gymnast Ashish Kumar, both of whom have earned medals at the Asian Games and Commonwealth Games.

In Melbourne, Reddy wrapped herself in the Indian flag for the medal ceremony to celebrate her achievement. She averaged 13.649 to win the bronze medal behind Slovenia's Tjaša Kysslef (13.800) and Australia's Emily Whitehead (13.699). She also finished seventh in the floor final, an improvement of one place from the qualification.

"This is my first international medal," Reddy said. "I don't have words to describe my feelings. It's been 13 years since I've seriously pursued a career in gymnastics and finally, I have a World Cup medal."

With the Commonwealth Games coming up in April in Australia, the news of her historic medal sent India's media flocking to interview the Reddy family, who live in a suburb of Hyderabad, and gymnastics officials in her home state of Telangana.

"We are so happy for her," said her sister, Pavani Reddy. "We were confident that Aruna had it in her to make it big. We have been waiting for this moment. I am sure she will bring more laurels to the country."

Karmakar, who is still sidelined after undergoing ACL surgery last year, sent out her support.

"So proud of you Aruna!!" the world and Olympic vault finalist tweeted to Reddy. "Congratulations on your outstanding achievement!"

Indian media have devoted several stories to Reddy's late father, as well as the plight of her long-time coach, who is seriously ill and was unable to accompany her to Australia.

Reddy's first steps in sport were in karate, but her father noticed her natural flexibility and thought she might excel in gymnastics. When she was 7, her father brought her to Lal Bahadur Stadium in Hyderabad — and she hasn't looked back since.

"Every medal I will win is dedicated to my father," she said of her father, who died in 2010.

Reddy was first coached by Swarnalatha, Giriraj and Ravinder (in some parts of India, particularly the south, it is common for Indians to use single names only, without surnames). After Giriraj, who was Swarnalatha's husband, was killed in an accident a decade ago, Reddy began training with Brij Kishore. Since 2011, she has trained in New Delhi, nearly 1,000 miles away (1,500 km) from home, alongside Karmakar under national coach Bisweswar Nandi.

Kishore remains her personal coach and usually attends training camps and international competitions with Reddy, but she was without him in Australia. While at a training camp in Uzbekistan prior to the Melbourne World Cup, illness forced Kishore to return to India, where he has been hospitalized at the Asian Institute of Gastroenterology outside Hyderabad. Kishore already struggled to make ends meet prior to his illness and blames the contract he is employed under via the Sports Authority of Telangana State (SATS). Kishore pointed out that SATS recently hired yoga instructors on full salary.

"Then why the partiality towards us?" he asked The New Indian Express. "This contract-based system is a menace. I do this out of interest. There are no other sources of income for me. I get paid Rs 43,000 per month (US$660). I have been coaching for 25 years, and this is what I get. With this salary, I can barely do anything. My wife's brother is helping out with the expenses right now."

When Kishore's plight made national news, the chairman of SATS visited him personally in the hospital with a check for ₹2 lakh (US$3,000) to help alleviate his medical expenses.

"My student got a great result," said Kishore, who was presented with the check two days after Reddy's medal. "That is the reason behind why I got the check. It should not be like this."

According to its own officials, the Sports Authority of Telangana State will not hire coaches over 49 years of age on salary, only on contract. This age discrimination may be based on not wanting to contribute to retirement pensions in the near future; Kishore's wife said he will have no pension to count on.

Bureaucracy and infighting have notoriously plagued Indian gymnastics. When Russian-American coach Vladimir Chertkov was hired as national coach prior to the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, he frequently complained of the absurdity and incompetency that hindered the team's growth.

Bureaucracy and factionalism were once again on display after a scandal erupted over the selection of India's Commonwealth Games team that was resolved only after the intervention of the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG). The FIG and the Asian Gymnastics Union (AGU) both recognize the Gymnastics Federation of India (GFI) as the governing body for gymnastics in the country, but neither the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) nor the Indian Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports recognize the GFI (or any other authority). Originally, the Indian Olympic Association held a Commonwealth Games trials in New Delhi in mid-February, but only one of the three-member selection panel had any knowledge of gymnastics. The chairman of India's Commonwealth Games gymnastics selection committee was the president of the Indian Lawn Bowling Federation.

To the exasperation of the GFI, rings and parallel bars specialist Rakesh Patra was left off the six-member squad to the Commonwealth Games, which takes place in April in Gold Coast, Australia. Patra, along with Kumar, is considered one of the country's only hopes for apparatus finals. The selection committee was apparently unaware of the relevance of apparatus specialists and selected the top three all-around gymnasts. Patra, who was never informed that the all-around score would be part of the selection criteria, petitioned the Delhi High Court to hear his case. Additionally, two gymnasts were put on the team who are not eligible to compete in the Commonwealth Games as they do not currently hold FIG licenses. The FIG told the IOA to respect the authority of the FGI in selecting its team for the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, where the gymnastics competition will be held under the auspices of the FIG, per the authority of the Commonwealth Games Federation.

"While we fully recognise that it is the prerogative of the IOC to register the gymnasts for the Olympic Games and the Youth Olympic Games, this is not the case for the Commonwealth Games," the FIG informed the IOA president on February 28, according to the letter circulating in the Indian media. "The registration and selection of the Gymnasts who participate in the Commonwealth Games is the prerogative of our National Gymnastics Federation."

Following the FIG's instructions to the IOA, the GFI selected Patra and Yogeshwar Singh to India's Commonwealth Games team, along with Kumar. Reddy headlines the women's team along with Pranati Nayak and Pranati Das. Rhythmic gymnast G. Meghana Reddy, who recently began training under 2016 Greek Olympian Varvara Filiou, is India's lone representative to the Commonwealth Games rhythmic competition.

Aruna Reddy, who vaulted a clean piked barani and a full-twisting Tsukahara in Melbourne, holds an outside shot for a medal at the Commonwealth Games, where she will be competing with top gymnasts from not only the host country but also Canada, England and Wales. Karmakar, who also overcame financial difficulties to reach the world-class level, became a national heroine for her bravery in attempting the extremely difficult Produnova vault (handspring double front).

Reddy said Karmakar remains an inspiration as she attempts to match her teammate's 2014 achievement by winning a medal on vault at the Commonwealth Games.

"We have been training together since 2011," Reddy said of Karmakar. "We are not rivals and can't be. We are each other's support system during training and competition time. We treat each other as sisters and are close friends. Her hard work actually inspires me. Even before leaving for [the World Cup], Dipa had motivated me by telling me to give it my best shot and not to feel the pressure."

Reddy, who said she hopes to win a medal in Karmakar's honor next month, is enjoying her own hard-fought success and recognition.

"Indian gymnastics is synonymous with Dipa, but now people will know that there's Aruna Reddy as well," she said.

Written by dwight normile    Thursday, 08 March 2018 09:36    PDF Print
Hamm, Liukin, Nemov, Raducan To Be Inducted In 2018
(2 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

The International Gymnastics Hall of Fame will include 98 individuals from 22 nations on May 19, 2018, in Oklahoma City. Paul Hamm and fellow American Nastia Liukin will be inducted along with Romanian Andreea Raducan. Alexei Nemov entered the Hall of Fame last year, but could not travel at the last minute. He plans come this year, however.

Paul Hamm was the first American male to win a world all-around title, which he did at the 2003 Anaheim World Championships. A year later, he became the first American male to win an Olympic all-around gold, at the 2004 Athens Games.

Unfortunately for Hamm, he had to travel to Switzerland and let the Court of Arbitration for Sport decide if the gold was rightfully his. South Korean Yang Tae Young had been erroneously docked a tenth of a point on parallel bars by the judges. Hamm was awarded the gold by the CAS but was robbed of celebrating his accomplishment. Feeling a lack of support from his own federation, he retired at 21 at the height of his career.

He attempted to make a comeback for the 2008 Olympics, but a broken hand derailed that dream. Hamm was a well balanced all-around gymnast and always a gentleman in interviews.

After battling various injuries, Nastia Liukin peaked at the right time. During the 2008 Olympic all-around final she had the meet of her life. She edged teammate (and Beijing roommate) Shawn Johnson for the gold. Johnson had just won the 2018 U.S. Championships and the Olympic Trials. Liukin finished second at both meets.

In Beijing, Liukin also tied for first on uneven bars with China's He Kexin, but was dropped to second-place via tie-break. She also earned the silver on beam and bronze on floor.

Andreea Raducan will always be remembered for being stripped of the all-around gold she won at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. There is no escaping it. She had been given cold pills from the team doctor. A drug test showed that the pills tested positive for a banned stimulant. Raducan was able to keep the gold that she and her Romanian teammates won, however.

Raducan did not turn her back on the sport despite numerous attempts to reclaim her Olympic all-around gold. She competed at the 2001 Ghent World Championships, where her team won the gold. Raducan placed third all-around and won golds on beam and floor. She also earned the bronze on vault.

At 33 years of age, Raducan was elected president of the Romanian Gymnastics Federation in 2017. After Romania did not qualify a full team to the 2016 Olympics, she promised “profound change” to make sure that never happens again.

Alexei Nemov had quite a career. At the 1996 Olympics he led Russia to its first team title. He won a total of six medals at those Olympics: team and vault golds; silver all-around; bronzes on floor, pommels and high bar.

He repeated that six-medal feat at the 2000 Olympics while rearranging his medals a bit: all-around and high bar golds; silver on floor; bronzes for team, pommels and parallel bars.

For an encore, his high bar routine at the 2004 Olympic event finals literally led to the open-ended Code of Points, which was implemented two years later. His thrilling, six-release routine had fans in a frenzy, but his 9.725 angered the crowd so much that they wouldn’t stop booing. Finally, Adrian Stoica, the FIG Men’s Technical Committee Director, walked over to the judges and convinced them to raise Nemov’s score, which they did. A 9.762 did nothing to placate the audience, which booed and jeered again. Meanwhile, Nemov acknowledged the crowd for their support but realized Paul Hamm was next to compete.

”I saw that Paul and his coach were unclear of the situation,” Nemov said. “The judges’ panel slightly lost control…. So I automatically attempted to go onto the podium again to ask the people to quiet down. It was an act of sport ethics. I am sure that my colleagues would do the same in similar circumstances.”

It was a magnanimous gesture nonetheless.

Slava Corn of Canada will receive the International Order of Merit. Corn is an Honorary Vice President with the International Gymnastics Federation.

For information on how to reserve tickets for the Hall of Fame dinner, email or phone Lynn Landis: (405) 364-5344; This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Written by Amanda Turner    Tuesday, 06 March 2018 11:14    PDF Print
FIG Adopts Policies Aimed at Fighting Abuse, Misconduct in Gymnastics
(2 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

The International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) has adopted official policies aimed at curbing abuse and ethical misconduct in the sport of gymnastics in the wake of the sexual abuse scandal that continues to plague USA Gymnastics and most recently led to the resignation of the CEO of the United States Olympic Committee. Pictured: FIG President Morinari Watanabe of Japan

The International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) has adopted official policies aimed at curbing abuse and ethical misconduct in the sport of gymnastics in the wake of the sexual abuse scandal that continues to plague USA Gymnastics and most recently led to the resignation of United States Olympic Committee CEO Scott Blackmun.

"Every sporting organization has a responsibility to foster a healthy and respectful environment in which athletes can develop without being harassed, assaulted or abused," the FIG stated.

The FIG confirmed Friday that its Executive Committee formally approved a new set of guidelines, Policies and Procedures for Safeguarding and Protecting Participants in Gymnastics, during its meeting Wednesday and Thursday in Lausanne. The FIG EC also approved the establishment of an Ethics Foundation as part of the promise made last year by FIG President Morinari Watanabe of Japan, who said the FIG should be allowed to issue sanctions in cases of misconduct.

"As FIG President, I declare that we will not tolerate abuse or sexual harassment in the gymnastics community," Watanabe said. "In the sporting community, we observe the rules because we are educated to do so. But rules cannot be observed only through education and legislation. Severe sanctions are needed. The same level of severe measures as anti-doping is necessary for eradicating harassment."

Initially proposed as the Duty of Care Code, the FIG's new guidelines govern the policies regarding misconduct in the sport, including education to combat abuse; reporting and investigating incidents; and issuing sanctions.

Watanabe, who was elected president in the fall of 2016, has taken a proactive approach to the crisis since he formally took office January 1, 2017. While in the United States for this past weekend's American Cup, Watanabe sat down with several American gymnasts to talk about abuse in the sport and how the FIG could be of assistance, an FIG spokesperson told IG on Monday.

Following the International Olympic Committee's Session last month in PyeongChang, where IOC President Thomas Bach addressed the sexual abuse scandal in USA Gymnastics, Watanabe reiterated his committment to the issue pledged to listen to the American gymnasts who have loudly called for major changes in the sport, spreading the #MeToo revolution and #TimesUp movement to the sports world.

"However, the most important thing for me is how our athletes feel," he wrote February 8. "For this reason, I will remain available to listen to the US gymnasts who have asked for change. I would like not only to praise their courage but to listen to their ideas on measures that might be taken to foster a culture of mutual respect within the sport."

Watanabe also flew to meet with Kerry Perry, the new USA Gymnastics CEO, during her first week on the job last December. During Larry Nassar's first state sentencing hearing in January, Watanabe expressed his shock at the stories of horrific sexual abuse that so many had endured by the once-respected team doctor for USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University, with several survivors also sharing stories of physical and emotional abuse. Watanabe stated that the FIG would establish a fund to benefit the survivors of abuse in the sport.

According to the FIG, the Ethics Foundation will a contain a new security and protection group, a compliance committee, a disciplinary commission and an appeal tribunal.

"This new entity, which will be independent of the FIG authorities, will be responsible for dealing with any issue related to ethics, misconduct, aggression and other rule violations. It will be responsible for contacting the relevant legal authorities and offering support to those affected by these incidents," the FIG stated.

Nassar, whose medical license was revoked in April 2017, was sentenced to a combined 300 years in prison by three judges. More than 150 people have filed lawsuits against USAG, MSU, the USOC, as well as individuals who have been accused of enabling Nassar to sexually assault vulnerable patients. Nassar pleaded guilty and admitted that he had sexually assaulted numerous individuals in the guise of treatment he claimed was a legitimate osteopathic procedure to ease pain and help injuries heal. Among the survivors are six U.S. Olympians and three world championship team members, including one who only last week filed a civil suit as a Jane Doe.

The massive fallout since the first Nassar sentencing hearing in January has continued to shake up the sports world and has led to multiple criminal and legislative investigations that remain ongoing. The entire USA Gymnastics board of directors has resigned, along with the president and athletic director of Michigan State University, and most recently the president of the USOC. USA Gymnastics has pledged to reform its entire organization, but has faced continued criticism for its handling of the scandal to the survivors of Nassar's abuse, as well as its historic handling of sexual abuse in the sport. Last week, two-time Olympian Aly Raisman also filed a civil lawsuit, stating she was tired of the lack of meaningful action from USAG, USOC and MSU, and the organizations' refusal to take responsibility for the systemic failures that allowed Nassar to prey on women and children for more than 20 years.

In addition to the 300 individuals — the majority athletes or dancers — who have reported Nassar for sexually assaulting them, several other gymnasts have recently come forward to share stories of sexual abuse or rape. 1978 world uneven bars champion Marcia Frederick, the first female American gymnast to win a world championships title, went public for the first time with her story of being sexually abused by her coach. 1992 Olympic champion Tatiana Gutsu and current Icelandic team member Tinna Óðinsdóttir both came forward to allege they had been victims of acquaintance rapes in German hotel rooms by male gymnasts, with Gutsu reporting an assault in 1991 and Óðinsdóttir one in 2016.

Gymnastics Canada has overhauled its policies after allegations of sexual abuse against two high-profile coaches, including the women's national team coach Dave Brubaker, who was suspended in December pending the outcome of 10 criminal charges against him.

The creation of the Ethics Foundation will be presented for approval at the next FIG Congress, scheduled for December 2-3 in Baku, Azerbaijan.

Written by Travis Seefried    Saturday, 03 March 2018 17:24    PDF Print
Moldauer, Hurd Win American Cup Titles
(5 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

HOFFMAN ESTATES, ILL.—In her first competition of 2018, world champion Morgan Hurd of the United States proved that winning the all-around in Montreal was no fluke. With a new found confidence and upgrades on three of her four events, Hurd defeated reigning world floor champion Mai Murakami of Japan and two-time U.S. Junior Champion Maile O'Keefe to take her first American Cup title.

2018 American Cup champions Yul Moldauer and Morgan Hurd (United States)

In a crowd of almost 4,000 in the Sears Centre, Hurd placed first on bars, beam and floor on her way to the all-around crown and an impressive 56.599 four event total. "I feel ecstatic!" Hurd said after the meet. "Following worlds, I went home and I didn't stop working hard. And now, my hard work is paying off."

Murakami, 2016 Olympian and fourth all-around at the last worlds, also turned in four solid routines to finish second. Murakami showed the same routine and tumbling she used last fall to win the world title on that event. She shared the floor title this weekend with Hurd (14.033). She also tied for first on vault with O'Keefe with scores of 14.600 for beautifully executed Yurchenko-double fulls.

Despite several errors in her senior debut, O'Keefe won the bronze thanks in part to strong vault and floor routines and costly errors from the rest of the field. She did show tremendous difficulty and potential on all four events and will definitely be one to watch in the months ahead to the U.S. nationals and this fall's World Championships in Doha, Qatar.

Rounding out the women's field were Lorette Chirpy (France), Kelly Simm (Great Britain), veteran and fan-favorite Elisabeth Seitz (Germany), who tied Hurd's top bar score of a 14.20, and the always entertaining and elegant Brooklyn Moors (Canada). Fabiane Valentin (Brazil) and Mao Yi (China) both withdrew after vault, with Mao being carried out on a stretcher.

The University of Oklahoma's Yul Moldauer easily defended his American Cup title from last year to become the first man to win back-to-back titles since fellow Sooner Jonathan Horton did so in 2006 and 2007.

Though he led the field on only one event, still rings (14.333), Moldauer competed aggressive, consistent routines with clean execution to easily top the field by almost three points. He scored an impressive 85.964 and placed in the top three on every event.

Finishing second all-around was 2017 European Championships bronze medalist James Hall of Great Britain (83.297). Hall showed consistency on all six apparatus as well, and added the event titles on pommel horse (14.166) and high bar (13.866).

Ukraine's Petro Pakhniuk finished just over two tenths behind Hall with an 83.064. Like his countryman and American Cup favorite, Oleg Vernyayev, Pakhniuk excelled on the parallel bars earning an event high 14.933.

Pre-meet favorite to challenge Moldauer for the all-around, Olympic and world champion Kenzo Shirai of Japan recorded the two highest scores of the entire competition on floor and vault (14.966 and 15.066 respectively). However, falls from pommel horse and high bar left him in sixth place finish.

The rest of the men's roster included Phillipp Herder (Germany), Allan Bower (USA), Sun Wei (China), Francisco Barretto Junior (Brazil) and Nestor Abad (Spain).

The 2018 American Cup served as the first of four in a series of FIG World Cup all-around competitions to be held throught the year. This was also the first major competition to be held in the United States since the Larry Nassar hearing and the restructuring of USA Gymnastics.


Written by Amanda Turner    Friday, 02 March 2018 15:27    PDF Print
Fragapane 'Heartbroken' After Achilles Tear
(3 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

British star Claudia Fragapane has suffered a torn Achilles' tendon and will miss the upcoming Commonwealth Games, the 2016 Olympian announced on Friday.

British star Claudia Fragapane has suffered a torn Achilles' tendon and will miss the upcoming Commonwealth Games, the 2016 Olympian announced on Friday.

Fragapane, the defending Commonwealth Games champion, won't get a chance to defend her title at next month's games in Gold Coast, Australia.

"Yesterday I was on floor and I felt something go on take off and sadly I have snapped my Achilles," Fragapane posted on Twitter. "I feel so upset and heartbroken. Words can't describe how I'm feeling right now!"

Fragapane, who turned 20 on October 24, was the breakout star of the gymnastics competition at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, where her four gold medals (team, all-around, vault and floor exercise) was a first for an English female at the Games since 1930.

Fragapane is a two-time world championship medalist, winning bronze medals with the British team in 2015 in Glasgow and on floor exercise last fall in Montreal. On February 21, she was named to England's Commonwealth Games squad, along Amy Tinkler, Alice Kinsella, Georgia-Mae Fenton and Kelly Simm.

Fragapane's injury is another blow to Team England that has already lost Olympians Becky and Ellie Downie to injuries in the past month. Ellie Downie, the reigning European champion, was forced to withdraw from the upcoming Birmingham World Cup with an ankle injury and was replaced by Tinkler.

After her announcement, Fragapane said she was touched by all the messages of support she had received.

"[Heartbroken] for our team pocket rocket but your our pocket rocket for a reason & I know you'll be back stronger than ever @claudia_frag," Becky Downie tweeted.

"@claudia_frag I am absolutely heart broken for you. Sending you so much love right now ❤️ Keep being your positive self, you will be back in no time. Love you frags xxx," Simm tweeted from Chicago, where she is scheduled to compete Saturday in the American Cup.

After helping the British women place fifth at the 2016 Olympic Games, Fragapane starred on the popular BBC series Strictly Come Dancing.

"I don't know when I will be back competing again," Frapagane wrote, "but I have the greatest people around me that will help me recover mentally and physically. This won't be the end for me. I will come back stronger."

Fragapane will also miss the upcoming British Gymnastics Championships, which return to Liverpool March 8-11, and likely this year's European championships in Glasgow. For the first time, the European championships will be part of a multi-sport games, which gymnastics sharing the stage with several other sports in August.

Update: Alice Kinsella will replace Fragapane in the Birmingham World Cup, March 21-22.


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