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Written by Araceli Martinez-Rose    Thursday, 21 November 2019 10:58    PDF Print
Moreno Wins Mexico's Athlete Of The Year Award
(3 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

The Mexican gymnast, has given a huge vitality to this sport in her Aztec land. For two decades, Alexa Moreno has been practicing artistic gymnastics in Mexico.

The young Olympic athlete concludes with great emotions this 2019, after being nominated to receive the Sport Person of the Year award twice. Considering her sporting achievements, she was chosen as winner of the National Sports Award in Mexico, and also the Sports Award in her state of Baja, California where she lives and trains. The awards gave her a prestigious and significant Diploma, money and two cars, a new model for each award.

It is the first time that a female gymnast has achieved national and state distinctions, such as those won by Alexa, in a country that begins to stand out internationally in the sport. "I am very excited about my awards, because I did not expect them. I am very grateful for these recognitions. Tokyo will be my last Olympic Games; I intend to give my best and try to step up at the Olympic podium." - said Alexa, while already training for her Olympic performances in Tokyo.

Alexa began in gymnastics at age 9. Her mother Mrs. Yenderina de Medina, enrolled her in a local gym because Alexa was a restless girl, who kept jumping and hanging upside down on everything.

Since starting to qualify to compete internationally, Alexa quickly won a bronze medal at the 2015 Kazan World Cup which brought great joy to Mexico, a country that had never before won a medal in women's gymnastics.

In addition, Alexa, led Mexico for the first time, to participate in the Summer Olympics in Rio 2016, where she had a prominent presence. However, social media started a war, when some were used as a forum and platform to criticize their physical figure, different from the other ones known in the world. For Mexico female public, that network war was very strong because so many were talking about her physical appearance rather than about Alexa's significant sporting achievements.

She was able to stay oblivious to cruel comments and did not participate in the negative game of tweets, Facebook comments or Instagram debates, but focused on the hard training with Alfredo Hueto her Spanish coach and former male gymnastics Olympic trainer.

Being a gymnast isn't easy. Sacrifice and absolute dedication robbed her of many family moments, her chances of having some fun with friends was null. She loves reading, watching movies, and mainly enjoying learning about the Japanese culture. Alexa has a long and an inexplicable love for everything Japanese, enjoys and knows the comic series perfectly, loves Japanese food and even speaks the language.

"It is my pride and it is my great passion to practice gymnastics, and it strengthens me to try new challenges and compete internationally." My life has been artistic gymnastics. I have participated in five World Cup finals, the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, and in Stuttgart Germany, I managed to make the Vault final finishing in sixth place, after failing on my first vault, but I did my second vault impeccably. The most important thing is that I also got my Olympic ticket. I'll be the only Mexican (on the women’s side) to represent my country in Tokyo 2020 and I intend to get it right," Alexa said.

Vault is her favorite discipline. It is unbelievable that she flies free with her vaulting, after a serious accident she had in a previous practice, before traveling to the Pan American competitions in Canada. Her knees did not reach her descent, and she crashed into her eyes, breaking her cornea and fracturing her cheekbones. Alexa lost consciousness, was hospitalized, but with great willpower, even with purple evidence of the accident, she was training and competing again within 3 months.

Alexa's daily routine isn't glamorous. She must train early, then go home and cook her food, then return to training at the gym, and also attend media interviews constantly regarding Sports awards and Tokyo. But now, she has a PR agency that helps her with press requests and that selects endorsements requests; she will also receive a ready-made food under an established nutritional regimen, so she can rest more.

"I have started my journey by adding more difficult elements in my quest to do my best work yet, to do it in an impeccable and unforgettable way and with the illusion of finally climbing the Olympic podium-a great dream, which I would like to fulfill.”

Mexico has a new awakening in the Olympic women's gymnastics, which resembles those years after Montreal 76, when Nadia Comaneci 'the perfect 10' arrived at the Mexican auditoriums with the Romanian delegation causing great upheaval among the young women in different Mexican cities, who fell in love with gymnastics while watching Nadia Comaneci perform.

Alexa lives and trains in the city of Tijuana, just across the border from San Diego, California. Her family (parents and siblings) live in Mexicali, the capital city of the state of Baja California. She had to move to Tijuana, a city that provides her with the best gym, coach and sports facilities to advance her international participation. She is accompanied by a small pet; it is a curious and affectionate hedgehog whom she loves very much.

This is Alexa, that has become the great ambassador of Gymnastics and a beloved face of the hard work to achieve an Olympic Dream.

SPANISH

La deportista mexicana, ha dado una enorme vitalidad a este deporte en su tierra azteca. Desde hace dos décadas, Alexa Moreno practica la gimnasia artística en México.

La gimnasta concluye con grandes emociones el año 2019, siendo campeona del deporte dos veces. Considerando sus logros deportivos, fue elegida la gran ganadora del premio Nacional del Deporte en México, y también el Premio al deporte en su estado de Baja California en donde vive y entrena. Los premios le significaron un prestigioso y significativo Diploma y con los premios recibió dinero y automóviles.

Es la primera vez que una mujer gimnasta, ha alcanzado las distinciones nacionales y estatales, como las que ha ganado Alexa, en un país que empieza a destacar internacionalmente en este deporte.

“Yo estoy muy emocionada de mis premios, porque no los esperaba. Estoy muy agradecida por estos reconocimientos. Tokio serán mis últimos juegos Olímpicos, pienso dar lo mejor de mí de nuevo”. - dijo Alexa que ya se prepara para su entrenamiento olímpico en Tokio.

Alexa comenzó en la gimnasia a los 9 años de edad. Su mama Yenderina Medina, la inscribió en un gimnasio porque Alexa era una niña inquieta, que no dejaba de dar saltos, se colgaba de todo y evidenciaba que la acrobacia era una flexibilidad favorita.

Desde que comenzó a clasificar internacionalmente, Alexa rápidamente gano una medalla de bronce en el Mundial de Kazán 2015 lo que dio gran alegría a México, país que nunca antes se había ganado una medalla en gimnasia femenil.

Además, Alexa, llevo a México por vez primera, a participar en los Juegos Olímpicos de verano en Rio 2016, en donde tuvo una presencia destacada. Sin embargo, las redes sociales iniciaron una guerra, cuando algunas fueron utilizadas como foro y plataforma para criticar su figura física, distinta a la conocida en el mundo. Para México, esa guerra de redes fue muy fuerte pues se hablaba mas del físico, que de los logros deportivos tan significativos de Alexa.

La gimnasta pudo mantenerse ajena a los comentarios crueles, y no participo del juego negativo de las redes y se concentro en el entrenamiento duro de cara a mundiales de la mano de Alfredo Hueto su entrenador español.

Ser gimnasta no es fácil. El sacrificio y la dedicación absoluta le roba muchos momentos familiares, es nula sus posibilidades de tener alguna diversión con amigas. Ama leer, ver películas, y principalmente la cultura japonesa. Alexa tiene desde hace mucho tiempo, un inexplicable amor por todo lo japones, disfruta y conoce a la perfección las series de comics, le encanta la comida japonesa e incluso ya habla el idioma.

“Es mi orgullo y es mi gran pasión practicar la gimnasia y me fortalece el intentar nuevos retos y competir internacionalmente”. Mi vida ha sido la gimnasia artística. He participado en cinco finales mundialistas, los Juegos olímpicos de Rio 2016 y en Stuttgart Alemania logre quedarme en la final de Salto de Caballo quedando en un sexto lugar, por un fallo en uno de mis dos saltos, el segundo fue impecable. Lo más importante es que también obtuve mi clasificación olímpica. Seré la única mexicana que representara a México en Tokio 2020 y pienso hacerlo bien”- dijo Alexa de 25 años de edad.

El salto de Caballo es su disciplina preferida. Es increíble que vuela libre en los saltos, tras un grave accidente que tuvo en una practicaba previa, antes de viajar a las competencias Panamericanas en Canadá. Sus rodillas no alcanzaron a descender y se estrellaron contra sus ojos, rompiéndole la córnea del ojo y fracturando los pómulos. Alexa perdió el conocimiento, fue hospitalizada, pero con gran fuerza de voluntad, aun con el rostro con evidencias del accidente, ya en 3 meses estaba entrenando y compitiendo de nuevo.

La rutina de Alexa no es glamurosa. Debe entrenar temprano, luego, ir a su casa y cocinarse sus alimentos, después debe regresar a entrenar al gimnasio, y además, atender entrevistas de medios constantemente cambiara de cara a Tokio. Pero ahora, tiene una agencia de PR que le ayuda con las solicitudes de prensa, selecciona las solicitudes de patrocinadores; otras cosas también cambiaran para Alexa, quien recibirá sus alimentos ya listos bajo un régimen nutricional establecido, para que pueda descansar más.

“He comenzado mi rutina agregando elementos de mayor dificultad en mi búsqueda de hacer primero mi mejor trabajo, hacerlo de forma impecable e inolvidable, y, con la ilusión de subir al podio olímpico finalmente”- un gran sueño, que desearía cumplir.

México tiene un nuevo despertar en la gimnasia olímpica femenil, que se asemeja a aquellos años después de Montreal 76, cuando Nadia Comaneci ‘el 10 perfecto’ llegaba a los auditorios junto a la delegación rumana causando gran revuelo en las jóvenes que se enamoraban de la gimnasia artística viendo las presentaciones de gimnasta Nadia Comaneci en distintas ciudades mexicanas.

La atleta, vive y entrena en la ciudad de Tijuana, frontera con San Diego California. Su familia, padres y hermanos viven en Mexicali la ciudad capital del estado de Baja California. Ella tuvo que trasladarse a Tijuana, ciudad que le proporciona el mejor gimnasio, al entrenador y las facilidades deportivas para avanzar en su participación internacional. Se acompaña de una pequeña mascota a la cual tiene muy consentida, se trata de un curioso y cariñoso erizo a quien Alexa quiere mucho.

Alexa se ha convertido en la gran embajadora de la Gimnasia y el rostro mexicano del esfuerzo por un sueño Olímpico.

Read complete coverage of the 2019 World Championships in the November 2019 issue of International Gymnast magazine, available now.

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

 
Written by John Crumlish    Thursday, 21 November 2019 00:00    PDF Print
Padurariu Pushes To ‘Come Back to Prime Competition Shape’
(2 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

Featured in a chat in the December 2019 issue of International Gymnast magazine, Canadian gymnast Ana Padurariu told IG she is hopeful to return to all-around competition in February following a foot injury that prevented from competing on all four apparatuses at this fall’s World Championships in Stuttgart.

“I am currently training on all four events and trying to get all my skills back,” said Padurariu, the 2018 world silver medalist on balance beam. “The goal is to compete all-around at Elite Canada in February.”

Padurariu said the prospect of competing at next summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo helps her persevere as she rebuilds her all-around program.

“I stay optimistic and get the strength to push through by thinking about my ultimate goal, the Olympics,” she told IG. “Being injured also gives you that spark of motivation to get back into training as soon as possible, as just conditioning all day gets boring very fast. My coach Elena (Davydova), Gymnastics Canada and I work hard together to get through any setback and come back to prime competition shape in the best and most successful way possible.”

Read the complete chat with Ana Padurariu in the December 2019 issue of International Gymnast magazine. The March 2019 issue features Padurariu on the cover and “Ana Hits Her Stride,” an in-depth interview with her.

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

 
Written by John Crumlish    Sunday, 17 November 2019 08:10    PDF Print
Switzerland’s Gischard on Tokyo 2020: ‘We Are All Hungry’
(3 votes, average 3.67 out of 5)

Celebrating his 24th birthday on November 17, Swiss gymnast Benjamin Gischard has important goals for the coming year that include competing at his second Olympic Games and making apparatus finals after two close calls at the 2016 Rio Games.

Gischard, a Zurich native, competed on four apparatuses at the ’14 World Championships in Nanning, where Switzerland placed seventh. At the ’16 Olympic Games in Rio, where Switzerland placed ninth, he finished 12th on floor exercise and 12th on vault. He was 11th on floor exercise at the ’18 Worlds in Doha, where Switzerland placed sixth. Gischard helped Switzerland earn a team berth to next summer’s Tokyo Olympics by virtue of its seventh-place finish at last month’s World Championships in Stuttgart.

At the Swiss Championships held a month before Worlds, Gischard placed third all-around behind gold medalist Oliver Hegi and silver medalist Pablo Braegger, as well as first on floor exercise, first on vault and third on pommel horse. Hegi and Braegger went on to finish 23rd and 15th, respectively, in the all-around final in Stuttgart.

Gischard has proven himself to be a reliable team performer, but he has also earned individual international accolades. He won the bronze medal on vault at the ‘16 Challenge Cup of Cottbus, and bronze medals on floor exercise and vault at the ’18 Challenge Cup of Koper. Gischard was sixth on vault at the ’15 European Championships in Montpellier, and eighth on vault at the ’16 Europeans in Bern, where Switzerland won the team bronze. He placed fourth on floor exercise and fifth on vault at this spring’s European Championships in Szczecin.

Gischard shares his perspectives and hopes in this IG Online interview.

IG: With so many teams at the same level in Stuttgart, what do you think were the reasons that Switzerland was able to earn one of the coveted team berths for Tokyo?

BG: I think it was due to the consistency in our preparation and the hard work in the gym. We are a bunch of good gymnasts and only the five best can go to the World Championships, so we have a strong rivalry that pushes us to our limits and we have to give our best also in the training. At the same time, we are all good friends and team players. We all live in the same house and are really close friends. The mix is perfect for us. No one has time to relax too long because otherwise some of the younger generation takes your place on the team.

IG: Now that your team has qualified for Tokyo, what do you think your team will need to qualify for the team final there?

BG: We are really hungry. We want by all means to qualify for the final. We had a chance in 2016 (Olympic Games) but we failed. Now that we are given a second chance I’m sure everybody will give his best to profit from this opportunity. We need to work exactly in the same way we did for the World Championships. We’ve learned a lot from our mistakes in 2016. Now we know that we have to take our time to take breaks and to train hard. In 2016, we worked a little bit too hard. In other words, we didn’t take enough breaks so that we were already a bit tired on the competition day. Furthermore, we were very nervous but now we have much more experience in the whole team and we are ready.

IG: At Rio 2016 you came very close to making the floor and vault finals. What changes and improvements have you made, or will you make, in order to make those finals in Tokyo?

BG: I’ve changed a lot on floor since 2016. My D-(difficulty) score is higher and, at the moment, I’m learning two or three new upgrades. My goal is to adapt my floor routine to my current power. If I feel the floor or have really strong legs I will do a 6.4 and if I have weak legs I will just perform a 6.0. My new elements are Zapata double piked ½ , double back with 2-½ twists and double twist forward to 1-½ twist forward. This enables me to vary my D-score between 6.0 and 6.4. On vault I’m learning a Roche and my goal is to compete Dragulescu or Yeo 2. The second one I already competed at several competitions but I stopped because I’m not sure yet which one I will compete. My second vault will be the Driggs and it has to be a very clean one if I want to get into the final.

IG: Although you competed on three apparatuses in Stuttgart, what aspirations do you have for competing all-around in Tokyo?

BG: At home in Switzerland I always train on the six apparatuses. I know that I have to compete on all the six apparatuses in Tokyo so I’m aware of the work to be done. On parallel bars and high bar I’m not good enough for the Swiss team but I can generate good values on floor, vault and pommel horse. So I really hope that I can compete on the team and do all-around in Tokyo. I’ve already showed the federation that I can compete all-around. At the Swiss Championships I was third place in 2019, and in 2018 I was second. This makes me confident that I can be one of the four best all-arounders in Switzerland. I have to give my best in the gym and improve on high bar, p-bars and also rings because we, Team Switzerland, are not the best on rings. This has to be improved by the Olympics.

IG: The competition within the Swiss team is already tough because your team has several good all-arounders. What will you need in order to earn a sport on the team in Tokyo?

BG: My job is to improve my D-score on high-bar and p-bars in order to achieve an average score so that I could secure the team if someone came off an apparatus. On rings I have to improve my strength so that I can generate an end score of 14.00. The weakness of the Swiss team is rings. If I can show the coaches that I’m able to get a good score on rings, pommel horse, floor and vault and secure the team with an average but not very high value on high bar and p-bars, I have real chances to earn a spot on the team. I really have to make the points on floor, pommel, rings and vault, and be one of the best at those apparatuses in Switzerland, so that I become interesting for the team.

Read complete coverage of the 2019 World Championships in the November 2019 issue of International Gymnast magazine, available now.

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

 
Written by John Crumlish    Thursday, 14 November 2019 20:46    PDF Print
Visser On Worlds: ‘We Were One Team With One Goal’
(3 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

Two-time World Championships all-around finalist Naomi Visser of the Netherlands told IG she was delighted that she and her teammates earned a team berth to next summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo through their solid performance at last month’s World Championships in Stuttgart.

“My biggest goal in Stuttgart was to get the Olympic ticket with the team,” said Visser, who placed 23rd in the all-around final after the Dutch team finished eighth in the team final. “So all the focus was on that competition. I’m really happy and proud of the team that we made it.”

Visser attributed her team’s success to a unified effort to earn one of nine remaining team berths to Tokyo that were available in Stuttgart. Three teams qualified for Tokyo via their performances at the 2018 Worlds in Doha.

“We were one team with one goal,” she said. “Each team member did everything that was needed to achieve the goal. No matter what. And that’s why our team had a very good performance in Stuttgart.”

Visser, who placed 14th all-around at last year’s Worlds in Doha, said she was glad to achieve a personal best on balance beam in the Stuttgart all-around final despite an illness that sapped her strength.

“My all-around final didn’t go as planned,” she said. “During the competition I became a little sick, so I was under my energy level. I hoped for a better competition, but I did everything I could in the moment. Despite that, I’m happy that I made the final and achieved a personal record on balance beam.”

Visser said a combination of time and optimal performances will tell how high the Dutch team can finish in Tokyo.

“That’s really hard to say,” she said. “We are going to do our best and then we will see. But our ultimate goal is to make the team final.”

The 18-year-old Visser said she will concentrate on adding difficulty to her routines and remaining healthy so she can make the Dutch team for Tokyo.

“My focus will be on getting a higher D (difficulty) score on every apparatus and get this stable,” she said. “But the most important is to stay fit.”

Referring to Visser’s calm demeanor, coach Vincent Wevers refers to her as “Cool Frog,” a nickname that amuses her.

“I think it’s really funny,” Visser told IG. “In the Netherlands ‘cool frog’ is a saying, so that’s why he says a frog and not another animal.”

Read complete coverage of the 2019 World Championships in the November 2019 issue of International Gymnast magazine, available now.

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

 
Written by John Crumlish    Tuesday, 12 November 2019 20:31    PDF Print
Britain’s James on Worlds Debut: ‘I Felt Like I Delivered’
(2 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

British gymnast Taeja James told IG she was gratified by her World Championships debut last month in Stuttgart, where she helped her team qualify for next summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo and finish sixth in the team final.

“I was definitely proud of myself,” said James, who competed on two apparatuses in qualifications and the team final. “My job for the team was floor and vault, and I felt like I delivered and didn’t let the team down.”

As the only British female gymnast in Stuttgart without prior Worlds participation, James said she relied on her previous Commonwealth Games and European Championships experience to manage the unique stress in Stuttgart.

“I felt a lot of pressure as this was my first World Championships and an Olympic team qualification event,” said James, who turned 17 on October 15, two days after Worlds concluded. “I felt qualifications could have gone better. However, I made the corrections for the team final.”

Both of James’ scores counted in qualifications, where teams dropped the lowest score on each apparatus. In the team final, where all scores counted, she earned the highest British score on floor exercise.

James is confident that cooperation and focus can help her and her team perform to potential at the Tokyo Games.

“I feel as a team we need to continue to work together and support each other to get the best result in Tokyo,” said James, who trains under coach Jody Kime at the City of Birmingham club. “Personally I want to work on consistency when dealing with pressure on the world stage so I can deliver in both qualifications and finals.”

James said stronger vaults and all-around effort will help her in her quest to earn a spot on the British team in Tokyo.

“My biggest goal is to make sure I have my double twisting Yurchenko (vault) for the team, and I’m working on a second vault,” she told IG. “I’m also pushing to work all four pieces again after a number of injuries have set me back a little bit.”

Read complete coverage of the 2019 World Championships in the November 2019 issue of International Gymnast magazine, available now.

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

 
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