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Written by dwight normile    Monday, 19 March 2018 13:11    PDF Print
Uchimura Featured In April Issue Of IG
(2 votes, average 3.00 out of 5)

The April 2018 issue of International Gymnast is coming out soon, and will include a feature on Kohei Uchimura of Japan. Its title is “Snapped Streak: At age 29, can Kohei Uchimura win another World all-around title?”

It’s a question worth pondering, especially since more men’s all-arounders are closing in on him.

Recently, IG was able to secure an exclusive interview with Uchimura.

Following are a few excerpts.

"My ankle (which he injured on vault during the 2017 Worlds qualifications) is recovering well,” says Uchimura, who plans to begin his 2018 season at the Doha, Qatar, World Cup this week. That will enable him to get a feel for the Aspire Dome, the same arena that will host the 2018 World Championships in Doha, Oct. 25 - Nov. 3.

Of his ankle injury he says, “I am very frustrated with myself that I could not compete in all six events (at the 2017 World Championships).” Asked if he plans to do the all-around at the 2018 Worlds, he says, “Yes, of course.”

Even at his age, Uchimura says he is not training fewer hours than he did when he was younger. “It hasn’t changed much."

But the aches and pains are always a factor. “As a gymnast, everyone has nagging injuries. In my case, it’s back pain.”

Uchimura’s consecutive world all-around titles ended at six, but his gymnastics philosophy just might have been the reason for such an amazing, unprecedented streak.

“I think the performance that touches people’s hearts is beautiful,” Uchimura says.

Read the whole story in the April 2018 issue. To subscribe to the print and/or digital edition, or to order back issues of International Gymnast magazine, click here.

Written by Amanda Turner    Friday, 16 March 2018 21:39    PDF Print
Grateful Nastia Liukin Reflects on Legacy
(12 votes, average 3.00 out of 5)

Nearly a decade after achieving her ultimate dream, 2008 Olympic all-around champion Nastia Liukin (USA) is set to make history again as the first second-generation inductee into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame. Liukin, 28, said she is grateful for all the support she has received for the Nastia Liukin Cup, which she launched in 2010.

Nearly a decade after achieving her ultimate dream, 2008 Olympic all-around champion Nastia Liukin (USA) is set to make history again as the first second-generation inductee into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame. Liukin, 28, said she is grateful for all the support she has received for the Nastia Liukin Cup competition, which celebrated its ninth edition this month.

Nastia Liukin with her all-around gold medal at the 2008 Olympics

In May, Liukin will be inducted into the Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City, joining her father, Valeri Liukin, who won four Olympic medals as a member of the the legendary 1988 Soviet men's team. Valeri Liukin was inducted in 2005, when Nastia was 15. She attended the celebration that honored her father and his achievements in the sport, such as being the first gymnast to compete a triple back on floor exercise.

"I am beyond honored to be inducted into the IGHOF, but this is even more special because my father was also inducted," Nastia Liukin told IG. "I remember being at the induction ceremony the year he was inducted in a pink dress, thinking to myself that maybe one day if I continue to train really, really hard, I could join him in this incredible group of gymnasts."

Nastia will be inducted along with fellow Olympic all-around champions Andreea Răducan (Romania), Alexei Nemov (Russia) and Paul Hamm (USA). Nastia's induction will be the first second-generation induction as the daughter of a previous inductee.

Born in Moscow, Nastia Liukin moved with her family to the United States in the early 1990s. She is the only child of Valeri Liukin, a native of Kazakhstan, and Muscovite Anna Kochneva Liukin, a former rhythmic gymnast and the 1987 world champion with clubs. Her parents worked first in Louisiana before opening their own club in Texas, World Olympic Gymnastics Academy, with former acrobat Evgeny Marchenko.

Though a near clone of her mother, Nastia gravitated toward artistic gymnastics, the sport where her father was a legend. Valeri Liukin was a daredevil as an athlete and brought the same drive toward his coaching career. First coached by her mother, Nastia inherited Anna Liukin's long lines and flexibility, and Valeri Liukin's fierce intensity. From a young age, Nastia's stunning artistic mastery was matched by a stubborn drive to be the best, and it was clear she could go very far in the sport.

That worried her parents, who knew the difficult road ahead. Worried about the injuries and accidents common in the artistic gymnastics, her mother would joke it was time to trade in grips for a set of clubs. But Nastia, who as a young girl would sleep in her leotard at night, was insistent and pushed herself to train with the elite ranks by age 10. Valeri would be shaking his head; "she's too early," he worried. He had to balance his role as dad and coach of a very stubborn daughter, a task probably harder than a triple back.

Valeri and a young Nastia Liukin

This difficulty was evident at Nastia's first U.S. junior championships in 2002, in a memorable moment when she was nearly forced to withdraw after her first event. Just 12, she was the youngest and tiniest gymnast in the field, but she was determined to make the national team. She was spectacular, particularly on uneven bars, which was her first event on the first day. Nastia impressed with gorgeous elgrip work into a beautiful layout Gienger that she floated up into the air before missing the regrasp. She crashed into the mat, where she landed on her elbow. Valeri the dad was so struck with nerves watching his daughter compete at the national championships that Valeri the coach forgot to spot her, leaving him wracked with guilt as she burst into tears, grabbing her elbow. Unable to finish the routine, she scored just 6.800, seemingly ending her competition.

The elbow was fortunately only jarred, and Nastia refused to withdraw from the competition out of precaution, even though any hope of a good finish seemed lost. She nevertheless regained her composure and was competing on beam within 20 minutes. In last place after bars, she climbed up from 28th to 21st on the first day. On day two, she tallied the sixth-best total to place 15th overall, just making her first national team, which was the top 16. Afterward, Nastia's eyes shined with as much pride as if she had won as she described her joy of making the national team, while Valeri, always shaking his head with worry, vowed to be more careful. It was a truly remarkable comeback that hailed her arrival as more than a phenomenal talent, this tiny gymnast had a drive as unstoppable as a runaway freight train. Behind the scenes it showed that Valeri Liukin was not only human, he had his hands full coaching his daughter. For the next six years, they shared the same goal: the Olympic all-around gold in 2008.

Nastia Liukin dominated the next several years of U.S. gymnastics, winning back-to-back junior national titles in 2003 and 2004. She struggled with a back injury in 2004, but recovered to win back-to-back senior titles in 2005 and 2006. In 2005, she technically tied Chellsie Memmel in the all-around at the world championships in Melbourne, but the truncation of the scores (for example, 9.6375 being truncated to 9.637) left her with the silver medal by .001. In Melbourne, she won world titles on uneven bars and balance beam, and the silver medal on floor exercise. A severely sprained ankle limited her to one event at the 2006 World Championships, but after a long recovery, she returned to the all-around for the 2007 U.S. championships, finishing third.

Nastia and Valeri Liukin at the 2005 World Championships

When Shawn Johnson burst onto the senior scene in 2007, Liukin was unfairly depicted as too old by some media to create a narrative of extra drama before the 2008 Olympic Games. Still recovering from her ankle injury, Liukin had frequent mistakes at U.S. competitions, but she was focused on the big ones: the world championships in Stuttgart and Olympic Games in Beijing. In Stuttgart, she had mistakes in the team and all-around final, but still helped the U.S. win the team gold medal, and she added gold on balance beam and silver on uneven bars. While Johnson became the favorite for the Olympic all-around title, Liukin's mistakes apparently led some to claim she was no longer a lock for the Olympic team. She blocked out the negativity and prepared intensely for the Olympics, with Valeri devoting 100 percent of his efforts to help her achieve her dream (he even coached her on beam). In Beijing, she contributed three events to the U.S. team silver. She gave the performance of her life in the all-around, opening with a beautifully stuck Yurchenko 1 1/2, and nailing her other three events with hardly a major deduction. A stunned Johnson, who pushed Liukin with her own big scores, competed on floor exercise as the final competitor, knowing she mathematically couldn't win the gold. Two decades after Valeri came in second at the Olympic Games in Seoul by just .1, Nastia Liukin clinched the Olympic all-around gold in Beijing. With exceptional style and grace, she somehow made winning the Olympics seem easy as she knocked out four near-perfect routines; it wasn't an upset as much as it seemed like destiny.

Nastia Liukin on uneven bars at the 2008 Olympics

In finals, Liukin was unfairly denied a second gold medal on uneven bars, when she tied for first place with China's He Kexin, but the Olympic tie-break rules forced them to break the tie and award her the silver. (The same tie-break rule also cruelly cost France's Thomas Bouhail a share of the title on men's vault in Beijing.) She added the silver medal on balance beam and bronze medal on floor exercise to tie the U.S. gymnastics record of five Olympic medals in an Olympic Games.

After a break, Liukin made a comeback on bars and beam to try to help the U.S. team for London in 2012. She was hampered by a shoulder injury, but pushed through and competed through the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials in San Jose. The shoulder injury left her unable to get the numbers she needed, but she refused to withdraw. Liukin's mistakes on bars left London unlikely, but she ended her career with a near-perfect beam routine that earned an emotional standing ovation from the sold-out arena.

After many years of success at WOGA, Valeri Liukin joined the USA Gymnastics national coaching staff in 2013 as the elite developmental coordinator, overseeing the women's junior team. He wanted to coach the coaches, and help them learn from his mistakes, he told IG at the time. He then succeeded Marta Karolyi as the U.S. women's national team coordinator in September 2016.

Valeri Liukin resigned from the position in February, amidst the continuing crisis at USAG, citing the stress it was putting on himself and his family. The difficult decision brought Nastia only more admiration for her father.

"My father was my biggest inspiration ever since I was a little girl, and continues to be today," Nastia Liukin said. "I always wanted to grow up to be just like him. To see what he has done with his career, and how many he is respected by, idolized by, loved by and support by, through the good and difficult times, makes me so proud to be his daughter. I am truly excited to see where his next chapter takes him, as I know he is currently in very high demand around the world... and who knows maybe one day we can work together again (smiles)."

Liukin, who now divides her time between Boston and Los Angeles, recently celebrated the ninth edition of the Nastia Liukin Cup. Senior Haleigh Bryant (Everest Gymnastics) and junior Tory Vetter (Universal Gymnastics) won this year's event, held March 2 in Chicago, Illinois.

First established in 2010, the Nastia Liukin Cup is an event for Level 10 gymnasts — the top level in the Junior Olympic system below the elite level — held in conjunction with the long-running American Cup. Up to 36 gymnasts qualify to the competition through a series of designated invitationals. The competition, which was split into junior and senior divisions in 2014, has become the most prestigious event on the Junior Olympic calendar outside of the national championships, held each May.

Since 2010, 233 gymnasts representing 121 clubs have competed in the event, organized by 2008 Olympic all-around champion Nastia Liukin. The past editions have been a stepping stone for dozens of future elite gymnasts and college gymnastics standouts, including world and Olympic champions like Gabby Douglas (fourth in 2010), Mykayla Skinner (seventh in 2010, fifth in 2011), Maggie Nichols (20th in 2011), Ashton Locklear (seventh in 2013) and reigning world champion Morgan Hurd (14th in the junior event in 2014), who won her first American Cup title on March 3.

It was in 2008 that Liukin first came up with the idea for holding a Level 10 event in conjunction with the American Cup, the biggest international gymnastics competition held in the U.S. She said she is tremendously grateful for the support she has received to make the competition a success.

"To be completely honest, when I had this vision 10 years ago, I never would have imagined 10 years later it would grow into what it has become," Liukin said. "I remember the very first year we held the event, a lot of people were unsure what exactly this was, what it would become, etc. I truly am so thankful that the entire gymnastics community — coaches, athletes and fans — have embraced the Cup this much. Without the overwhelming support of the gymnastics community, this competition wouldn't be possible, and I am so thankful for that. I have gotten so many messages, emails, and notes from coaches, parents, and athletes telling me that they actually plan their competition schedule around the NL Cup qualifying events now, which is pretty cool."

The success of the Nastia Liukin Cup has led to USA Gymnastics expanding the American Cup weekend even further. In 2015, the Elite Team Cup for boys was added to the weekend events, in which the top Junior Olympic male gymnasts compete in a team competition among the eight USA Gymnastics regions. More international events have also added side competitions, such as this weekend's DTB Cup, an annual FIG World Cup which in 2013 launched a Team Challenge for men and women in Stuttgart. Last year's Swiss Cup, the long-running mixed pairs competition, was also held in conjunction with a junior quad challenge for women featuring hopefuls for the 2024 Olympics in Paris.

Giving young gymnasts more competitive opportunities — and a chance to train alongside their idols — is invaluable, she said.

Liukin with Natalie Wojcik at the 2016 Nastia Liukin Cup

"These young women are our future," Liukin said. It's so important to teach them, nurture them, and provide them with opportunities like these. I remember being one of them when I was a young girl. I craved being able to be around athletes like Lilia Podkopayeva, learn from them, be inspired and motivated by them. I hope by giving them the opportunity to share the spotlight with some of their heroes, it inspires them to achieve whichever goal they have in life. Winning Olympic gold is amazing, but that isn't what life is all about. That isn't what the NL Cup is about. Of course I'm always proud to see our NL Cup alumni go on to win Olympic gold, like Gabby Douglas did. Or become world champions like Morgan Hurd, Maggie Nichols, Mykayla Skinner... But I always encourage them to find their passions, stick to their goals, no matter where their journeys take them."

Liukin reflected on her own career as an athlete and how her father's career as a coach has impacted her view.

"You know, I was too young to make the Olympics in 2004," she said. "That being said I don't know if I would have been as prepared as I was in 2008. Having four years of competition experience and growing as a person and as a gymnast, helped me achieve the success I had in 2008. But I hope that countries all around the world create competitions similar to the NL Cup, or the Swiss Cup junior meet, etc. My mission in life has always been to inspire the next generation. These young girls are our next generation. We focus so much on the athletes competing now, which is obviously great, but it's just as important to focus on the up-and-coming generation. I learned that watching my dad through his time as the developmental head coach. He first had (world champion) Morgan Hurd at a Devo Camp when she was just 10 or 11 years old... Seeing the program my dad created through the developmental team really has continued to inspire me. A lot of the girls on the current national team went through that developmental program with him, and I am just so proud to see that."

Nastia Liukin now divides her time between her home base in Boston and Los Angeles, where she has been working for the bid that won the 2028 Olympic Games. Her recent ventures include a new app, Grander, aimed at helping female athletes succeed. The first episode will be released February 23.

The uncertainty with USAG right now makes it difficult to think about expanding the Nastia Liukin Cup even further, such as increasing the number of gymnasts to add a team competition.

"As far as growing this competition, I think there is so much unknown in the gymnastics world and out of my hands, unfortunately," Liukin said. "I have so many ideas and dreams of how to expand, grow, and continue this competition and series, so I am hopeful I get the chance to do that."

Who's Who of the Nastia Liukin Cup: 9 Years of Results

2018 Nastia Liukin Cup

Senior All-AroundVTUBBBFXTotal
1.Haleigh BryantEverest9.8759.6509.5259.65038.700
2.Andrea LiLegacy Elite9.7509.7009.7259.45038.625
3.Raegan WalkerSCEGA9.7259.7009.6259.52538.575
4.Natalie WojcikStallone9.7509.4259.8259.55038.550
5.Kiya JohnsonTexas Dreams9.7509.7009.3509.62538.425
6.Rachael LukacsNorth Stars9.9259.4009.5009.57538.400
7.Chae CampbellMetroplex9.9009.5509.2259.62538.300
8.Derrian GobourneLakewood Ranch9.7509.5759.4009.52538.250
9.Jaedyn RuckerDesert Devils9.9009.4009.3759.55038.225
10.Daniela CastilloAmerican Twisters9.5259.6259.7509.27538.175
11.Gabryel WilsonOlympia9.7759.5509.2509.57538.150
11.Makarri DoggetteBuckeye9.7509.6259.2259.55038.150
13.Rylie MundellCGI9.7009.5259.4509.32538.000
14.Chloe WidnerTexas Dreams9.8509.0259.3509.67537.900
15.Kennedy QuaySCEGA9.7508.7759.7009.42537.650
16.Ashley LaneMetroplex9.5259.5759.4508.65037.200

Junior All-AroundVTUBBBFXTotal
1.Tory VetterUniversal9.5009.3509.7509.57538.175
2.Jacey VoreJPAC9.7259.3759.4259.47538.000
3.Faith Torrez-FosterLegacy Elite9.6759.0759.6009.60037.950
4.Kate GreeneBull City9.6259.5509.4009.35037.925
5.Lali DekanoidzeSoutheastern9.6509.5259.2509.45037.875
6.Gabrielle GladieuxHigh Point9.7259.1759.4759.35037.725
7.Bella SalcedoTexas Dreams9.8009.0009.3509.55037.700
8.Ava PiedrahitaHill's9.3759.4759.2509.55037.650
9.Amari CelestineSCEGA9.6009.4509.1509.35037.550
10.Olivia GreavesMG Elite9.6759.1509.1009.57537.500
11.Anapaula GutierrezTIGAR9.4759.3759.0509.40037.300
12.Kaylen MorganEverest9.2009.6509.2009.20037.250
13.Rose CasaliSoutheastern9.4009.5258.8259.37537.125
14.Jimena GutierrezTIGAR9.4009.3009.3508.87536.925
15.Kailin ChioGymcats9.5008.5259.4259.45036.900
16.Velandra BrochiPlatinum8.9759.2509.2509.35036.825
17.Baleigh GarciaAmerican Twisters9.5509.1259.2758.82536.775
18.Anna RobertsMetropolitan8.6008.6758.5009.07534.850

2017 Nastia Liukin Cup

Senior All-AroundVTUBBBFXTotal
1.Kai RiversTwistars9.7509.5259.5509.82538.650
2.Rachael LukacsNorth Stars9.8259.3259.6009.77538.525
3.Andrea LiLegacy Elite9.5509.5759.6759.62538.425
4.Natalie WojcikStallone9.7009.4509.5509.70038.400
5.Abby HeiskellSoutheastern9.6009.5259.6009.65038.375
6.Abigail BrennerMetroplex9.4259.5759.5759.57538.150
7.Rylie MundellCGI9.4509.5009.5259.47537.950
8.Lynnzee BrownGAGE9.8009.0259.4259.67537.925
9.Anastasia WebbIGI9.5759.5509.4509.32537.900
10.Rachael FlamStars9.8259.5008.8009.75037.875
11.Cassie StevensArizona Sunrays9.6009.1759.4259.62537.825
12.Nevaeh DeSouzaDream Xtreme9.4509.5009.4259.42537.800
13.Gabryel WilsonMAG9.7758.8759.4259.70037.775
14.Cristal IsaGymcats9.3758.9509.3509.55037.225
15.Amoree LockhartEmpire9.4758.2509.5009.52536.750
16.Mikayla MageePearland Elite9.4509.4008.9008.82536.575
17.Jaedyn RuckerDesert Devils8.3508.9508.85026.150

Junior All-AroundVTUBBBFXTotal
1.Carly BaumanChow's9.5259.7009.5759.62538.425
2.Rose CasaliSoutheastern9.4259.3259.6759.65038.075
3.Lali DekanoidzeSoutheastern9.2759.4009.6009.55037.825
4.Gabrielle GallentineEverest9.4259.3759.4259.37537.600
5.Abigail MuellerClassic9.4009.2259.4259.52537.575
6.Sophia GrothChow's9.4259.0509.4259.65037.550
7.Lillian LippeattCincinnati9.1008.9009.7509.67537.425
8.Colbi FloryTexas Dreams9.4758.6009.6259.67537.375
9.Emma PritchardGym X-Treme9.4008.8009.5259.52537.250
10.Nicole RiccardiInfiniti Elite9.0759.0759.4759.50037.125
11.Quinn SmithArizona Sunrays9.4758.6509.3259.42536.875
12.Jacey VoreJPAC9.2009.0258.7009.52536.450
13.Gillian RutzPerfection9.4008.9009.4258.62536.350
13.Nicola St LouisNorth Stars9.3009.0259.4258.60036.350
15.Mia FalconeBrandy Johnson's9.3758.2009.0759.27535.925
16.Elizabeth GantnerJPAC8.9008.4509.2258.75035.325
17.Kennedy QuaySCEGA8.6509.37518.025
17.Teagan TorgerudOrlando Metro9.3258.70018.025

2016 Nastia Liukin Cup

Senior All-AroundVTUBBBFXTotal
1.Rachael LukacsNorth Stars9.9009.3009.4259.85038.475
2.Missy ReinstadtlerNorth Stars9.5759.5009.5009.82538.400
3.Rachael FlamStars Houston9.7009.4009.5509.72538.375
4.Natalie WojcikBerks9.6009.3009.6009.77538.275
5.Kimberly TessenAAG UT9.7009.4759.3759.55038.100
6.Abigail BrennerTCT9.8009.4259.2259.62538.075
7.Rachel BaumannWOGA9.5009.3259.5009.72538.050
8.Makarri DoggetteBuckeye9.6259.4759.2759.65038.025
9.Chloe WidnerTexas Dreams9.4759.2509.5259.70037.950
10.Kyla BryantGEG9.5759.5759.1009.67537.925
11.Alexandria RuizACE9.4759.2509.3009.80037.825
12.Olivia RaymondNorth Stars9.6509.5008.9509.57537.675
13.Gracen StandleyCincinnati9.2759.3759.3009.45037.400
14.Abby HeiskellSoutheastern9.6009.3258.8509.47537.250
15.Jenna SwartzentruberBuckeye9.5009.0259.2259.47537.225
16.Wynter ChildersSpearfish9.6008.8009.2509.42537.075
17.Evanni RobersonEmerald City9.5009.3508.6259.55037.025
18.Abbey NkansahLegacy Elite9.0509.0008.4009.35035.800

Junior All-AroundVTUBBBFXTotal
1.Andrea LiLegacy Elite9.5009.5509.5759.65038.275
2.Lali DekanoidzeSoutheastern9.4509.5509.4759.60038.075
3.Amanda CashmanArena9.4759.1759.4509.80037.900
4.Gabryel WilsonMAG9.7758.3009.5259.77537.375
5.Abbie ThompsonOrlando Metro9.0259.0509.5759.65037.300
6.Haleigh BryantEverest9.5509.4258.5759.70037.250
6.Elexis EdwardsVIG9.5009.3759.0009.37537.250
8.Nevaeh DeSouzaDream Xtreme9.3259.0759.2759.50037.175
9.Akoray SubjectTCT9.3509.2508.9259.57537.100
9.Lauren LittleEverest9.4259.4758.7009.50037.100
11.Brooklynn BloxomWOGA9.4259.2758.7759.55037.025
12.Hunter DulaSoutheastern8.7759.3259.3259.45036.875
13.Helen HuIK Gym8.8508.9009.5009.52536.775
14.Cassie StevensArizona Sunrays9.6259.3008.3009.47536.700
15.Matilyn WaligoraOlympia9.3009.3009.5008.42536.525
16.Gabrielle McLaughlinTexas Dreams9.2509.1508.5009.60036.500
17.Jah'Liyah BedminsterGGA9.2258.7509.2259.27536.475
18.Rylie MundellCGI9.3759.3508.3008.60035.625

2015 Nastia Liukin Cup

Senior All-AroundVTUBBBFXTotal
1.Maddie KarrTCT9.8259.4759.4009.57538.275
2.Anna GlennSoutheastern9.7009.5759.6009.37538.250
3.Olivia KarasIK9.8259.3259.4509.60038.200
4.Lexi GraberCoast Elite9.7509.3759.5259.50038.150
5.Alicia BorenNorth Stars9.8758.7509.7509.75038.125
6.Makenna MerrellAA UT9.8259.3509.4509.30037.925
6.Rachael LukacsNorth Stars9.8009.0009.6259.50037.925
6.Maggie O'HaraSoutheastern9.5509.4009.5759.40037.925
9.Cassidy KeelenTexas Dreams9.8259.0259.6509.37537.875
10.Macy ToronjoTexas Dreams9.7009.4509.7009.00037.850
11.Evy SchoepferTriad9.7509.4509.3759.15037.725
12.Madison OsmanOrlando Metro9.7759.3509.1259.05037.300
13.Emma McLeanStars and Stripes9.6759.3008.8009.42537.200
14.Kassidy CumberGymstrada9.3509.1509.4009.00036.900
15.Alexia BurchGym NV9.6008.3509.4509.00036.400
16.Kynsee RobyTriad9.6259.4259.7257.45036.225
17.Madison McHaleLegacy Elite9.4759.5008.6007.70035.275
18.Maya WashingtonSan Mateo8.7008.700

Junior All-AroundVTUBBBFXTotal
1.Kiya JohnsonTexas Dreams9.7509.4509.6259.45038.275
2.Shaylah ScottMetroplex9.7259.1759.4259.55037.875
3.Alexa Al-HameedTriad9.6509.5009.3509.10037.600
4.Amoree LockhartEmpire9.5509.1509.4009.47537.575
5.Chae CampbellMetroplex9.5759.2758.8759.65037.375
6.Nicoletta KoulosWildfire9.6759.2509.2009.12537.250
7.Carly BaumanChow's9.5259.2009.3509.15037.225
8.Abbie ThompsonOrlando Metro9.3259.0009.5009.17537.000
9.Abby HeiskellSoutheastern9.5259.0509.4008.90036.875
10.Cassie StevensArizona Sunrays9.6759.2258.5759.15036.625
11.Kaitlin DeGuzmanMetroplex8.8009.0009.2009.42536.425
12.Kourtney ChinneryWorld Class9.7508.5009.1508.80036.200
13.Karley McClainAA UT9.1008.9758.7509.25036.075
14.Sadie MinerAA UT9.5009.0008.4509.00035.950
15.Hannah McCraryCincinnati9.5509.3008.3508.47535.675
16.Emily Holmes-HackerdBrestyan's9.4508.1009.0258.95035.525
17.Jacqueline KranitzColorado Aerials8.9509.2008.8507.70034.700

2014 Nastia Liukin Cup

Senior All-AroundVTUBBBFXTotal
1.Mackenzie BrannanCapital9.7509.7009.5009.47538.425
1.McKenna KelleyStars Houston9.7509.3509.6509.67538.425
3.Kari LeeFlames9.7009.5509.6259.40038.275
4.Brehanna ShowersR-Athletics9.8009.5759.5259.35038.250
5.Grace GlennSoutheastern9.7509.4509.7509.22538.175
6.Olivia KarasIK Gym9.7259.3509.4009.62538.100
7.Wynter ChildersSpearfish9.7259.1509.5259.60038.000
8.Reagan CampbellTexas Dreams9.6259.3759.4509.47537.925
9.Brianna BrownCincinnati9.6009.4509.6259.22537.900
10.Nikole AddisonCoast Elite9.6009.1509.5009.52537.775
11.Kyana GeorgeMetroplex9.3509.4009.1259.27537.150
12.Anna GlennSoutheastern9.6757.8009.8509.47536.800
13.Kennedi EdneyPrecision9.8758.9759.2508.65036.750
14.Stefani CatourDesert Lights9.6009.1008.8508.90036.450
15.Maddie KarrTwin City Twisters9.7009.3508.8008.55036.400

Junior All-AroundVTUBBBFXTotal
1.Rachael FlamStars Houston9.7509.5509.5509.25038.100
1.Lauren RamirezGold Medal9.6259.4259.5009.55038.100
3.Rachael LukacsNorth Stars9.8759.1259.4509.60038.050
4.Bailey FerrerOrlando Metro9.6759.4759.4509.37537.975
5.Makarri DoggetteBuckeye9.6509.2009.6009.47537.925
6.Kelsey KnoxDynamo9.6759.4009.4509.37537.900
7.Alexa Al-HameedTriad9.6759.4009.4259.30037.800
8.Madison DagenSan Mateo9.6509.1009.3009.40037.450
9.Rachel BaumannWOGA9.2758.8759.6009.55037.300
10.Kai RiversTwistars USA9.5759.3758.5259.50036.975
11.Madison BrunetteSeattle Gym Academy9.6259.1508.8009.30036.875
11.Hannah McCraryCincinnati9.5508.7259.3509.25036.875
13.Courtney KlausenHead Over Heels9.3509.1009.3508.85036.650
14.Morgan HurdFirst State9.3009.0508.8509.32536.525
15.Kiya JohnsonTexas Dreams9.6758.8509.3508.50036.375
16.Kaitlin DeGuzmanMetroplex9.1758.5009.0509.50036.225
17.Alyona ShchennikovaTIGAR9.0008.8509.1758.90035.925
18.Emma BrownChow's9.2258.4008.8508.97535.450

2013 Nastia Liukin Cup

1.Alex McMurtryRichmond Olympiad9.9758.9259.7509.80038.450
2.Aja-Monet SimsBrandy Johnson's9.6009.3509.6759.55038.175
3.Samantha PartykaChampions9.8259.3259.3009.62538.075
4.Kari LeeFlames9.7509.4009.4759.42538.050
5.Reagan CampbellTexas Dreams9.6259.2509.4259.62537.925
6.Mackenzie BrannanCapital9.7509.3509.3009.50037.900
7.Ashton LocklearEverest9.5009.4759.3509.55037.875
8.Ashleigh GnatAce (FL)9.9009.1509.3009.45037.800
8.Charity JonesDynamo9.7009.3009.2509.55037.800
10.Bridget DeanOrlando Metro9.5259.3759.2259.35037.475
11.Kaytianna McMillanNAAG9.9009.4008.4509.67537.425
12.Kiera BrownWorld Class9.6759.4008.9009.42537.400
13.Lindsey LemkeR Athletics9.5509.3758.8009.57537.300
14.Alicia BorenNorth Stars9.9259.3008.4509.60037.275
15.Kendal MossEverest9.4509.3009.1009.30037.150
16.Rachel DaumStars Houston9.6759.2508.6009.60037.125
16.Lauren RamirezGold Medal9.5259.2758.8009.52537.125
18.Miranda CabadaWinners9.5258.4259.5009.37536.825
19.Emily SchildEverest9.8008.5008.9009.60036.800
19.Emily GaskinsCincinnati9.4259.3008.7009.37536.800
21.Drew WatsonTexas East9.4758.9259.0509.30036.750
22.Kyana GeorgeMetroplex9.4509.3008.5509.40036.700
23.Sydney Johnson-ScharpfBrandy Johnson's9.4257.8509.7009.52536.500
24.Alexis MatternASAP9.8258.3508.9009.32536.400
25.Felicia HanoWest Coast Elite9.6259.2758.7508.70036.350
26.Bailey FerrerOrlando Metro9.2509.0009.2008.75036.200
27.Mariah PetersonUSA Gym World9.5508.5008.6509.45036.150
28.Hannah MillerOlympus9.3008.7008.8009.25036.050
29.Amanda WellickLegacy Elite9.5258.2008.7509.40035.875
30.Sydney DoggetteBuckeye9.5008.7758.2009.25035.725
31.Lexy RamlerKidSport9.2757.7509.0759.17535.275
32.Jenna SwartzentruberBuckeye8.9509.0008.0509.15035.150
33.Brianna BrownCincinnati9.5509.45019.000
34.Alma KucAll Olympia8.5508.00016.550

2012 Nastia Liukin Cup

1.Charity JonesDynamo9.7759.3759.6259.30038.075
2.Alexandra McMurtryRichmond Olympiad9.9009.0509.5759.35037.875
2.Polina ShchennikovaTIGAR9.4259.5509.4509.45037.875
3.Grace WilliamsTwistars USA9.6009.3759.4759.30037.750
4.Lauren BeersSouthern Tier9.6509.1759.5259.35037.700
5.Nia DennisBuckeye9.5509.1509.3509.50037.550
6.Randii WyrickBrown's LV9.5009.3009.3509.20037.350
7.Baely RoweAuburn9.4509.3509.3009.22537.325
8.Emily BrauckmullerOrlando Metro9.4259.2759.2259.35037.275
9.Caitlin AtkinsonCypress Academy9.7259.0509.2259.25037.250
9.Alicia BorenNorth Stars9.6008.9009.2009.55037.250
10.Wynter ChildersSpearfish9.2259.1259.7009.15037.200
10.Briley CasanovaWOGA9.4759.1009.0759.55037.200
11.Lisa BurtAce (FL)9.2009.2259.2759.32537.025
12.Alyssa ShermetaroOlympia9.5259.2009.0509.10036.875
13.Lauren RamirezGold Medal9.3009.0009.3009.15036.750
14.Kristen NogakiWildfire9.5258.8759.0759.25036.725
15.Lauren MarinezOrlando Metro9.1508.8509.6259.05036.675
16.Sydney McGloneUniversal9.3758.7509.3259.15036.600
17.Jessica LingOakland GTC9.0008.9759.3259.10036.400
18.Kari LeeFlames9.3008.8009.3758.85036.325
18.Alexis CappalliIGI9.3758.7508.9509.25036.325
19.Felicia HanoWest Coast Elite9.5008.9258.5509.25036.225
20.Meredith SylviaParkettes8.7259.3508.9009.22536.200
21.Alexandria RuizAce (FL)9.1508.3509.3259.30036.125
22.Ashleigh GnatAce (FL)9.7257.6509.6009.12536.100
23.Charlie OwensGliders9.1259.2009.3008.45036.075
24.Hollie MinichielloOrlando Metro9.2258.8009.2258.75036.000
25.Kathryn KluzOakland GTC9.2008.8258.6009.10035.725
26.Kendal MossEverest8.8008.5759.3008.95035.625
26.Alyssa NocellaSilvia's9.0758.1009.2759.17535.625
27.Kennedi EdneyPrecision9.3008.6508.8008.75035.500
28.Lauren BancroftTwistars USA9.0258.6758.9008.65035.250
29.Taylor RiceGymcats9.1507.1259.6009.12535.000

2011 Nastia Liukin Supergirl Cup

1.Grace WilliamsTwistars USA9.4509.6509.7009.72538.525
2.Amelia HundleyCincinnati9.4509.7509.3009.65038.150
3.Rachel SpicerMetroplex9.4009.6009.4259.55037.975
4.Kayla WilliamsCincinnati9.5009.4009.4509.55037.900
5.Mykayla SkinnerDesert Lights9.3509.0259.6509.65037.675
6.Kassandra LopezTumbleweeds9.1009.5009.4509.40037.450
6.Alyssa JacksonXtreme9.4759.4009.1759.40037.450
8.Kiersten WangColorado Aerials9.1259.3759.5259.40037.425
8.Caitlin MannTumbleweeds9.0009.4759.5009.45037.425
10.Asi PekoBrown's LV9.1259.0259.6509.52537.325
10.Georgia DabritzAce (MA)9.5509.6259.0759.07537.325
12.Alina CartwrightLegacy Elite9.3759.2259.2259.47537.300
13.Mackenzie BrannanCapital9.1259.5008.9759.52537.125
14.Megan JimenezPrecision9.3259.2259.2009.32537.075
15.Alexandra McMurtryRichmond Olympiad9.8008.6759.3009.22537.000
16.Annette MieleParkettes9.1259.4008.9259.52536.975
17.Michaela WoodfordSun Country9.1759.1759.1509.42536.925
18.Tory WilsonGold Cup9.2509.1759.2259.17536.825
19.Sachi Rose SugiyamaTop Flight9.3509.4508.5759.42536.800
20.Maggie NicholsTwin City Twisters8.7759.3759.1759.45036.775
21.Lisa BurtAce (FL)9.1508.9009.2759.42536.750
22.Maile'ana KanewaThe Gymn Acad9.3009.0008.9509.45036.700
23.Stefani CatourDesert Lights9.1259.0009.3009.20036.625
24.Ashley LambertWorld Class9.4009.0258.7759.25036.450
25.Kathryn KluzOakland GTC9.1259.2008.6259.45036.400
26.Alyssa NocellaSilvia's8.7009.0759.2509.30036.325
27.Mary Kaitlyn BaileyHigh Point9.3008.5509.0259.32536.200
28.Rebecca TutkaParkettes8.5508.4259.5759.60036.150
29.Mary Jane HorthGymnastics World9.0508.9759.1008.97536.100
30.Kaitlyn HallKGDC Twisters8.6008.9009.2508.80035.550
31.Brittney SooksengdaoMcCracken's8.7508.5259.3008.95035.525
32.Miya DotsonOakland GTC8.3259.3508.7508.62535.050
33.Kelsey LawlessElite GTC8.1009.0008.9508.50034.550
34.Jennie LaengOlympic Dreams8.8508.8758.2008.40034.325
35.Jordan NalewayAerial8.5507.5509.1008.85034.050
36.Lauren MarinezOrlando Metro9.5509.0007.75026.300

2010 Nastia Liukin Supergirl Cup

1.Lexie PriessmanCincinnati9.7509.4509.7259.47538.400
2.Kassandra LopezGym World East9.4509.4259.4259.37537.675
3.Diandra MillinerFolgers9.8509.3508.6509.55037.400
4.Gabrielle DouglasExcalibur9.6259.3259.4508.80037.200
5.Marie CaseLakettes9.3509.0259.4259.37537.175
6.Jaclyn McCartinGliders9.3508.8759.7009.22537.150
7.Mykayla SkinnerDesert Lights9.6508.9509.3009.20037.100
8.Sammie MustoAtlantic Coast9.6259.3258.9509.15037.050
9.Shealyn FarleyPrestige9.7009.1009.1509.07537.025
9.Megan MarenghiWOGA9.3509.2759.2509.15037.025
11.Amelia HundleyCincinnati9.2009.0509.3259.42537.000
11.Kimberly JacobSuperior9.3009.0759.2009.42537.000
13.Lloimincia HallTexas Dreams9.4258.9759.3259.17536.900
14.Sarah LokosHill's9.5009.2009.1509.02536.875
15.Kiersten WangColorado Aerials9.7008.9008.8509.35036.800
16.Alexis CarrollHill's9.3509.0509.1009.27536.775
17.Shonacee OlivaBrandy Johnson's9.1008.9759.3509.25036.675
18.Nina McGeeGym-Nation9.2258.7759.2009.42536.625
19.Shelby SalmonSharp's9.4508.7759.2009.17536.600
20.Pauline HansetPremier9.4009.1509.3508.57536.475
21.Ashleigh GnatAce9.3509.0508.7009.35036.450
22.Summer GarciaUltimate9.3509.1758.9009.00036.425
23.Madison KrentzArizona Sunrays9.3009.2508.6009.05036.200
24.Hallie BenjaminDeVeau's8.8508.8009.0759.42536.150
24.Maggie LundeenPalmer's8.9508.7509.1009.35036.150
26.Alexa DavisCentral Pa. Acad9.2008.8759.2008.80036.075
27.Lia Del PrioreParkettes9.2258.5008.8509.35035.925
28.Mary Jane HorthGymnastic World9.1508.5509.0259.00035.725
29.Nikole AddisonCoast Elite8.9258.7758.8509.00035.550
30.Stephani CanizaroMemphis GymStars9.5008.8758.9758.17535.525
31.Megan WalkerSouthern Tier8.6509.1008.7008.72535.175
32.Hayley SandersWOGA8.9259.1508.1258.80035.000
33.Maliah MathisAerial Athletics9.4758.8758.1008.47534.925
34.Jazmyn EstrellaParkettes8.8008.6758.2008.87534.550
35.Kylie FischerPalmer's8.8258.0008.3508.65033.825
36.Lauren BeersSouthern Tier9.3009.300
Written by Amanda Turner    Thursday, 15 March 2018 21:02    PDF Print
IG Online Interview: Nick Ruddock (Great Britain)
(2 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

British coach Nick Ruddock, who branched out on his own after successful coaching stints at the national and club level, talks to IG about his life as an international coaching consultant and speaker.

British gymnastics coach Nick Ruddock, who branched out on his own in 2015 after successful coaching stints at the national and club level, talks to IG about his life as an international coaching consultant and speaker.

A native of Woking, Surrey, England, Ruddock was active in recreational gymnastics from age 5 to 15. He began coaching at a young age, but decided to take coaching seriously after the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. From 2011-13, he was part of the third class of UK Sport's Elite Coaching Apprenticeship Programme. Ruddock was one of only 12 emerging high-performance coaches in various sports who train alongside masters of coaching; in Ruddock's case, Canadian-born Olympic gymnastics coach Carol-Angela Orchard and mentor Dennis Edwards, who works with Performance Impact for UK Sport, served as his mentors.

Ruddock served as junior national coach for the British women's team from 2010-14. In the team competition at the Junior European championships, the British women rose from fifth in 2010, to fourth in 2012 and then to second in 2014, placing behind gold medalist Russia and ahead of Romania. The team also won five more individual medals that year in historic success: the all-around bronze and vault gold for Ellie Downie, floor exercise gold for Catherine Lyons, floor silver and vault bronze for Amy Tinkler.

He then spent a year as personal coach to Durham's Amy Tinkler, the 2015 British national champion who helped Britain win a team bronze medal at the 2015 World Championships and then captured the bronze medal on floor at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.

In 2015, he saw an opportunity to go out on his own and begin consulting as a coach and speaker. He has since consulted with more than 15 international gymnastics federations including Australia, Germany, Japan, Italy and most recently, Romania, where he has been brought in as a much-needed expert on uneven bars. He has also launched an annual symposium, which he recently rebranded GymCon, that is scheduled for its third edition in June.

In this IG Online interview, Ruddock shares his observations on online coaching advice, why he chose to broaden his coaching career outside Britain, what he believes is an overemphasis on technique, building a healthier gymnastics community, and more.

Ruddock with British Olympian Amy Tinkler, whom he coached in 2015

IG: British Gymnastics is booming right now, but instead of working at a club, you became an independent consultant. Why did you decide to go out on your own and do something different?

NR: After my national coaching position I spent some club-based time with Amy Tinkler before moving into my current consultancy role which I absolutely love. The learning opportunities in my nature of work are enormous, and I enjoy being able to help the gymnastics community get closer to their goals. In recent months, I've really felt the responsibility that I have to help coaches improve best practice and knowledge, in order to improve the lives and results of the gymnasts they are coaching. It's a lot of fun and takes me all over the world. Regarding returning to club coaching, watch this space, it's not too far away.

IG: You've said that most coaches focus too much on the technical side, instead of what you have called the big picture of "happy/healthy/hungry to learn." How did this idea come to you?

NR: Having had access to 17 national teams and thousands of coaches and clubs, I've been able to get a really good idea of patterns which emerge at federation, club and personal coaching level. I too have been magnetised as a coach to the technical side of the sport, for obvious reasons. It's the fun part, and I'm certainly not disregarding its importance. But after time you realise that technical and methodological knowledge can only take you and your athletes so far. It is mastering the art of coaching that really propels results.

Coaches now have access to every single drill and exercise ever used, so these no longer form part of a competitive advantage for people. It's now the application of this knowledge, the standards and crucially; the delivery of the content that is the "difference that makes the difference."

Soft skills such as communication, emotional intelligence and relationship management should be at the core of a coach's skill set, but I don't know too many coaches who sign up for online courses or workshops in these areas. They're not as glamorous, but will have a far greater effect on their performance.

IG: Congratulations on your course in Romania. You may be the first non-Romanian/Hungarian expert to instruct coaches in Romania. How many coaches attended and will you be going back again? How do you evaluate the current gymnastics situation in Romania — besides lack of funding, what other issues do you think are affecting them right now?

NR: I've got my third trip to Deva next week, where the national team is currently located. At this point, I have eight short trips planned this year, with the initial primary focus being the development of bars, but I've already branched into other areas too. As a centralised system, it is running like a club, therefore the work is directly with the national team and their coaches.

There are a few main challenges for them at the moment, one of which as you mentioned is funding. Like many federations, coach education is also a key factor of results, and with so few high-performance coaches being active within Romania at the moment, it's always going to be difficult to sustain results at the level they previously were. That's certainly going to be a long-term project for them and not something that can change overnight.

Soft skills such as communication, emotional intelligence and relationship management should be at the core of a coach's skill set, but I don't know too many coaches who sign up for online courses or workshops in these areas.

IG: You've also been in Australia recently, which has undergone some coaching changes with Mihai Brestyan taking over. What do you think Australia needs to get back into the top group of women's teams?

NR: Yes, I've spent some time consulting for Gymnastics Australia over the last few years, mostly prior to Mihai's arrival/position. I always enjoy my time there.

At federation level, it's important to differentiate between "tactics" and "strategy." Tactics can improve performance within the gym, but without a strategic backbone on a much larger scale, these results can only go so far. I was happy to advise Gymnastics Australia in some of these areas and I'm sure they'll go from strength to strength with fresh leadership at managerial level.

IG: You've launched probably the first "GymCon" — an independent symposium not associated with any federation. How did you come up with this idea, and where do you see this going in the future?

NR: This year will be my third national conference, but I've recently rebranded the event as GymCon. I'm extremely passionate about my own personal development and love creating opportunities for other coaches to have access to a high standard of education also. I'm really proud of the event which is growing fast. We're expecting our highest attendance figures this year and over 200 coaches from nine countries have already secured tickets, including those travelling as far as Australia and Hong Kong for the one-day event.

There's a lot of noise online these days, much of which is poor advice or misguiding for new coaches. It's really important to me that I provide a platform for coaches to learn accurate and credible information in areas which have an impact on the lives of both athletes and coaches. As I said before, that's not always the technical side of the sport.

IG: Who have been the most influential coaches in your career as an athlete and gymnastics coach, and what did you learn from each of them?

NR: There are just so many. Due to the nature of my work, I'm blessed to have been able to rub shoulders with some of the greatest coaches in the world. I sought the very best mentors early on in my coaching whom I owe an awful lot to, notably Al Fong and Armine Barutyan-Fong, and Valeri Liukin, who all took me under their wing, and continue to guide me. The Fongs have created a truly remarkable environment, one which I have never seen emulated elsewhere, and amongst many other things, Valeri taught me all-things-technique at the purest level. I'd like to think that combining those two aspects of the sport has served me well and will continue to do so.

More recently, I've learnt a lot from working directly with many head coaches including Germany's Ulla Koch and Netherlands' Gerben Wiersma, both fantastic leaders whose values and philosophies have helped shape a great team of gymnasts and coaches.

But there really are too many individuals to mention. I owe an awful lot to others and like to reciprocate this by offering multiple education opportunities for the community, irrespective of people's location, budget and experience. The vast majority of my education has been overseas, so I feel no problem assisting coaches from all over the world, irrespective of nationality, giving back what many foreign coaches have given me.


Ruddock in Germany with sisters Helene Schäfer and Pauline Schäfer, 2017 world champion on beam

IG: Egotism seems to plague a lot of coaches. Some seem overly concerned with how their gymnasts' performance reflects on them, and they don't make appropriate adjustments in their own approach to coaching when things don't go well. Would you agree, and if so, how do you think should be addressed?

NR: Any competitive sport or activity will always breed egotism. Many coaches (including myself) grew out of it as they gained more experience but it's unfortunately not always the case. Some coaches can go for years and years without self-reflection or awareness about themselves, resulting in them repeating the same mistakes time and time again. Addressing this is tough as it's evident on such a mammoth scale, but in principle, if all coaches could further their understanding of themselves through reflection, self-awareness and emotional intelligence work then the community would be in a better place. Fear is the underlying reason which causes egotistic behaviour, so breaking that down is critical as a catalyst for change.

IG: The mental health of gymnasts is, of course, a huge topic right now, considering various abuse allegations of the Karolyi system in USA Gymnastics that has created a major controversy. Yet, I've heard coaches say that regretfully, being psychologically abusive is the only way you "get results" at the elite level, and that's why they prefer not to coach the elite level. What do you have to say about that?

NR: I would challenge any coach who says that the only way of producing elite athletes is by being abusive, and I'm sure many other coaches would too. If that was the case, I wouldn't be involved in the sport at the level I am. I've been exposed to many great coaches who work with passion, amazing values and methods and are producing athletes at the highest level of our sport, whilst simultaneously putting the welfare of the athlete first. In our current climate, there is a lot of attention on negative experiences and situations, but we shouldn't forget the army of phenomenal coaches out there doing a fantastic job.

IG: The FIG is implementing new policies to prevent sexual abuse and other misconduct in gymnastics, and many prominent American gymnasts have called for a complete culture change. What do you hope that coaches and national federations learn from the tragedy in USA Gymnastics?

NR: Well like many others, I hope that robust measures, systems and policies are put in place to mitigate the risk of anything like the recent events ever occurring again. I would like to think that the FIG and USAG can filter these lessons through to other federations around the world to ensure they are all aware of potential risks and are also adopting similar measures, irrespective of culture, previous events etc. Everybody has got to come together.

IG: UCLA head coach Val Kondos Field is joining your seminar this year. She's a legend in American gymnastics because of her positive approach. How did you get to know Miss Val? Any idea what she is going to talk about?

NR: Miss Val was an obvious choice as she epitomises the theme of this year's event, Happy, Healthy and Hungry. We met for the first time in London at the Olympics when we had dinner along with my former national coaching partner Carol-Angela Orchard. I'm incredibly excited to welcome her to GymCon and know she'll add tremendous value to the audience, where she'll be sharing her knowledge and expertise on creating the right climate within the gym, and balancing "getting the work done" with enjoying the process. We also have Dr. Dave Tilley and Olympian Nile Wilson on stage at the event, and of course myself. It's going to be a great event which really serves the audience well.

IG: Any other thoughts on the state of gymnastics today?

NR: Most nations are actually in the same kind of position. Limited funding, resources, high-level coaches etc. British Gymnastics has done a fantastic job at creating a self-sustaining system, with an abundance of education opportunity, plus facilities etc. This is the only way to ensure long-term results irrespective of the climate, and I'm sure will serve BG well for many years. Other federations should endeavour to do the same (easier to say than do!) and focus on "war planning," not just "battle planning." That means looking at the long-term strategic plan and not just cycle to cycle.

There are some great minds in the sport sharing a very important message of athlete welfare and prioritising both their physical and mental health. We quite rightly will see a greater emphasis on this area in the future and I think we have some catching up to do within the world of sports science and medicine in comparison to many other sports.

I'm optimistic that with collaboration, we can all move the sport forward positively, and I'm happy to be part of that journey.

External Links: Official Website | GymCon Website

Written by John Crumlish    Thursday, 15 March 2018 08:46    PDF Print
Norway's Skjerahaug Hopes for 'Good Feeling' at Baku World Cup
(1 vote, average 5.00 out of 5)

Following last year's intricate shoulder surgery, 2016 Olympian Stian Skjerahaug of Norway told IG he aims for a promising resumption of his career at the Baku World Cup that starts Thursday in the Azerbaijani capital.

Stian Skjerahaug (Norway)

"My goals for Baku are to get a good start competing again, and hitting my routines cleanly and without big mistakes," he said. "That will give me a good feeling looking forward to the European championships and world xhampionships."

Skjerahaug, who placed 32nd all-around in qualifications at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, said his 2017 shoulder surgery was complicated but successful.

"I had what is called a SLAP (superior labral from anterior to posterior) lesion, an injury on the long head of my bicep tendon in my right shoulder," he said. "The surgeon had to go into my shoulder and repair my labrum by 'sewing¨ it back on. Then he had to move the long bicep tendon a little bit down, so it wouldn't make problems again for the labrum."

Skjerahaug said he has developed physically and mentally since last year's injury and subsequent rehabilitation.

"It's difficult to say, but I think my body has changed a little bit," he told IG. "I'm a little bit bigger, so I've had to get used to that. And I think I'm stronger in my legs than before, so that's bonus for floor and vault. I've had to visualize a lot during my period of not competing, so hopefully, I have grown mentally and become a bit stronger on that point."

Written by John Crumlish    Thursday, 15 March 2018 08:18    PDF Print
Xoulogi on Baku World Cup: 'I Wish and Hope for a Medal'
(2 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

Veteran Greek gymnast Ioanna Xoulogi told IG Online that she is eager to use the World Cup of Baku that starts Thursday as a launching point for a series of key events on her agenda this year.

Ioanna Xoulogi (Greece)

"Although it is very early in relation to other big and important competitions like the European Championships in August and the world championships in October, I think I'm ready enough for this World Cup," she said. "My preparation goes very well."

Xoulogi, who turns 26 on April 16, said Baku will help her assess her potential for good results in other big meets in 2018.

"This competition is a test for me to see my weak points," she said. "Then I will have a lot of time to be better and be ready for the Greek national championships, the Mediterranean Games, the European championships and finally for the most important competition of the year, the world championships. My target for there is to place in the top 24 with my team."

In Baku, Xoulogi said she has high expectations on balance beam and floor exercise, the two apparatuses on which she plans to compete.

"My first target is to compete in the finals and then I wish and hope for a medal," she said.

Xoulogi credits outside support for contributing to her longevity and rejuvenation.

"I want to thanks my sponsors, Sigoa, for my beautiful leotards and Healing Art Massage that helped me in my recovery," she said.

Xoulogi said she is confident that she can continue to progress as she also eyes a return to all-around competition this year.

"Since 2017, I have changed my routine a little on balance beam, which is my favorite apparatus, and I will compete in the all-around," she told IG. "But first of all I have to protect my body from injuries, and I wish that I will be fine until the next competition."


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