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Written by John Crumlish    Saturday, 25 January 2020 13:56    PDF Print
Turkey’s Savranbasi on Tokyo 2020: ‘I Dreamed, I Believed, I Succeeded’
(3 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

Turkish gymnast Nazli Savranbasi told IG that desire, faith and hard work produced her berth to this summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo.

“I always believed that I had a chance,” said Savranbasi, who earned an individual spot for Tokyo based on her performance at last fall’s World Championships in Stuttgart. “I was less experienced than my teammates but I focused on this for four years. I dreamed, I believed and I succeeded in it.”

Savranbasi is the third Turkish female gymnast to qualify for the Games, following teammates Goksu Uctas Sanli (2012) and Tutya Yilmaz (2016), both of whom have inspired her as she makes her own mark on the sport at home and abroad.

“Goksu and Tutya always supported me,” said Savranbasi, who was born October 9, 2003, in the Konak district of Izmir. “I learned a lot of things from them. And of course, I want to represent my country just like they do. Also, I want to be in the final for the the all-around and uneven bars, which will be the first time in our history.”

Savranbasi’s ambitious targets for Tokyo are based on her respectable all-around and apparatus results in the past couple of years. She placed 19th all-around at the 2018 European Junior Championships in Glasgow, 31st all-around in qualifications at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires and 61st all-around in qualifications in Stuttgart. Last year Savranbasi was first on uneven bars and fifth on vault at the Challenge Cup of Mersin, seventh on uneven bars at the Challenge Cup of Koper, and ninth on floor exercise at the World Cup of Baku.

“Of course, I’m training on all four apparatus and I will do my best to be in the apparatus finals,” said Savranbasi, who trains in Izmir under coaches Ozgur Gumuslu (vault, uneven bars and floor exercise) and Aysel Gumuslu (balance beam and floor exercise).

Savranbasi said she is also benefiting from mental coaching that helps her manage the pressure unique to preparing for and competing at the Olympic Games.

“I’m getting professional help from a psychologist,” she said. “We are doing really good work with him. It will be my first Olympic Games experience. Therefore, I feel excited and a bit stressed. But I believe I will overcome it, too.”

Since qualifying for Tokyo, Savranbasi has welcomed the attention she has received from Turkish media, as well as from Turkish youngsters for whom she is a new role model.

“I learned that I have become an example for the children,” she told IG. “This made me very happy. It has positively affected my training and boosted my motivation. I think I could show people that women can perform sports that require strength, such as artistic gymnastics. And I think I’m an example for my little ‘sisters’ in this sport.”

International Gymnast magazine’s coverage of Turkish gymnasts includes:

“Turkish Delight” - interviews/profiles of Goksu Uctas Sanli, Tutya Yilmaz, Ibrahim Colak and Ahmet Onder (October 2018)

Onder on cover photo collage, Onder profile (July/August 2019)

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, 21 January 2020 08:48    PDF Print
Black ‘Progressing Every Week’ Following Ankle Injury
(2 votes, average 3.00 out of 5)

Diligently rehabbing from an ankle injury she suffered at the World Championships in Stuttgart last fall, two-time Canadian Olympian Ellie Black updated International Gymnast Online this week on the status of her recovery, her training progress and her hopes to lead Canada at this summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo.

The 24-year-old Black, who has won six Canadian national all-around titles and two Pan American Games all-around titles, sprained her right ankle on landing her vault, her last event in the all-around final in Stuttgart. She nonetheless finished fourth, which marked her second-best all-around ranking in the six Worlds in which she has competed and her best all-around finish since she won silver at the 2017 Worlds in Montreal.

At full capacity, Black looks to lead the Canadian team in Tokyo, where she could well improve upon her achievements at the past two Games. She placed eighth on vault at the 2012 London Games and fifth all-around finish at the 2016 Rio Games. The gallant Black shares her thoughts in this IG Online chat.

IG: Your vault landing aside in Stuttgart, you made an impressive improvement from the 2018 Worlds in Doha (12th place) and came close to your performance in Montreal in 2017. What about your Stuttgart performance gave you the most satisfaction?

EB: For me I was satisfied with hitting all four events, and doing good routines on each. I scored one of my highest beam scores in a while in the all-around competition and improved my floor and vault scores. Placing fourth in the all-around, with so much depth and these high-calibre athletes, was very satisfying, and I am very proud of my whole performance. It’s great to show that Canada can be near the top.

IG: What was the official diagnosis of your ankle injury, and what is the expected recovery time until you have 100% strength on it again?

EB: I had a high ankle sprain and a tightrope surgery repair. The expected recovery time until I am back to full strength on it is around four to five months. Things are coming along well and I am happy with the recovery progress thus far.

IG: Given the time needed to rest and rehab your ankle, how are you adjusting your training program - for example, perhaps spending more time on non-leg events and upper-body conditioning?

EB: After surgery we took some time to rest my ankle and the rest of my body, mentally and physically. Since then we slowly started to work on ankle rehab, strength, stability and proprioception. While in the early stages of rehab I continued to work on conditioning the rest of my body, and maintaining some basic bars. Once I was able to start walking, doing low-impact jumping and landing, I was able to start training a higher load on bars and continue building the strength back in my leg and the rest of my body. Now I am able to continue more normal bars workouts and start some basics on all of the events, progressing every week as long as the ankle handles the new things we try. We are still managing the load and how many repetitions we put through the ankle to give it the best healing and recovery increase.

IG: With several teams now bunched together in a fight for a podium finish, what do you think Canada will need to consolidate between now and Tokyo, to challenge for a team medal there?

EB: We are very excited to have qualified a team for Tokyo. It is going to be a great year and journey to build towards the Olympics in the summer. I think our team needs to continue to increase difficulty, execution and consistency on all our apparatus. We have been working hard to come together and push one another to be better. We are working on the confidence and unity of our team. Belief and confidence will be key as well. All of these things will play a part in being the best team we can be for Tokyo.

Ellie Black is featured in the following issues of International Gymnast magazine:

Black on cover photo collage, 2019 Worlds preview (October 2019)

Black center poster (September 2019)

2017 World Championships special issue (November 2017)

Black on cover photo collage, 2017 Worlds preview (September 2017)

“Canadian Candor” - Black interview (July/August 2017)

“Canadian Beacon” - Black interview (September 2015)

“Canadian Promise” - Black chat (July/August 2014)

“Canadian Diversity” - Black profile (July/August 2013)

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, 16 January 2020 09:49    PDF Print
IG Online Interview: Courtney McGregor (New Zealand/Boise State Univ.)
(3 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

Although a torn left Achilles tendon has sidelined Olympian Courtney McGregor of New Zealand at the outset of her senior season at Boise State University in the U.S., her focus and enthusiasm remain intact as she prepares for surgery and her future.

McGregor, who suffered the injury on vault at a January 12 meet at UCLA, has been a competitive standard bearer for her native country as well as at Boise State. Her coaches include Mary Wright (all events internationally), Tina Bird and Patty Resnick (balance beam and floor exercise at Boise State), and Ivan Alexov (vault and uneven bars at Boise State).

Born November 17, 1998, in Christchurch, McGregor finished 41st all-around and 13th on vault in qualifications at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. She competed at the 2014, 2015, 2017 and 2019 World Championships, earning her best individual ranking, 17th place, on vault in both 2015 and 2017. Her other top international finishes include eighth on vault at the 2015 World Challenge Cup of Doha and eighth on balance beam at the 2015 World Challenge Cup of Anadia.

McGregor’s accolades at Boise State include honors in the gym and classroom, including the Mountain Rim Gymnastics Conference (MRGC) all-around title in 2019, and designation as a Women’s Collegiate Gymnastics Association (WCGA) Scholastic All-American in 2017, 2018 and 2019. In her freshman through junior years she helped Boise State earn three consecutive MRGC team victories.

In this IG Online interview, the resolute McGregor shares her insights on her lengthy career, the challenges of competing simultaneously at the international and collegiate levels, her recent injury and her post-gymnastics plans.

IG: You have had a long and prolific career competing for New Zealand and Boise State, so what do you feel has kept you motivated to continue training and competing at such a high level?

CMcG: I like to set big goals for myself and give everything I have to achieve them. I hold myself to a high standard and have always been someone who doesn’t struggle to push myself to the absolute maximum of my abilities. I enjoy the feeling of satisfaction that comes from knowing you have done everything in your power to make something happen!

IG: How have you been able to manage the physical demands of the sport, especially since you compete more or less on a weekly basis during the NCAA season and have also had your international season to prepare for while at Boise State?

CMcG: It has been a huge challenge! I have competed in the all-around at almost every single meet over the past three years here at BSU. Combining that with the elite season is definitely a challenge physically. After my freshman season I had knee surgery, after my sophomore season I had ankle surgery and now I am about to have my Achilles repaired. The physical demands of gymnastics definitely add up. I spend a lot of time in the training room!

Photos courtesy of Boise State University.

IG: As a captain of the Boise State team and a marquee performer for the New Zealand team, how do you view the extra responsibility your roles bring, and how do you manage the extra pressure that comes with them?

CMcG: As a team captain my role is to make sure the team environment is everything it needs to be for us to perform to the best of our abilities. It has been a particularly challenging pre-season for us with coaching changes. Issy — Isabella Amado, my co-captain — and I have done our best to help the team stay in a good head space and prepare for this season. Back home I was always part of a smaller team so my role was more to set a good example for the younger kids. It’s amazing knowing the little ones look up to me and it is a responsibility I have always taken seriously. I don’t feel any extra pressure being a team captain or performing for New Zealand. Like most athletes, all the pressure I feel comes from my own desire to succeed!

IG: How have you processed and reconciled your performance at last fall’s World Championships in Stuttgart as it relates to qualifying for Tokyo 2020?

CMcG: It was disappointing not to qualify to Tokyo in Stuttgart, but I was hoping to qualify at the continental championships which are being held at home in New Zealand (in April). Unfortunately, after tearing my Achilles that will no longer be an option for me.

IG: In addition to providing experience and high scores to the Boise State team, what do you feel have been your biggest, but perhaps less obvious, contributions to the team?

CMcG: I have a calm personality and always try to enjoy what I am doing. I think this rubs off on my teammates and helps them to stay calm under pressure, too.

IG: What inspired you to continue your international career after Rio?

CMcG: After Rio I felt a responsibility to keep competing for New Zealand and guide the next generation of girls that were coming through. I know that would have been invaluable for me growing up — to have someone who had been there and done it before help me through those big experiences.

IG: We understand you intend to go to medical school. What specialty or specialties are you considering, and do you plan to study somewhere in the U.S. or home in New Zealand?

CMcG: I’d like to go to medical school in New Zealand or Australia, because I plan on living in New Zealand. I have done some job-shadowing with orthopedic surgeons in the clinic and operating room, and I enjoyed that. But there are so many things that interest me, so I am not 100% sure which specialty I would like to go into yet.

IG: Over the years you have acquired a global fan following. What about your gymnastics and personality do you feel appeals to people around the world?

CMcG: I’m not sure what I have done to deserve all the support that I receive, but I am grateful for everyone who continues to encourage me. I’m someone who loves gymnastics and interacting with gym fans on social media. I think that has helped me build relationships with people in the gymnastics community.

IG: What plans do you have for continuing your international career beyond 2020?

CMcG: Right now, I do not have any plans to continue my international gymnastics career.

IG: What legacy do you hope to leave for both New Zealand gymnastics and Boise State gymnastics?

CMcG: I hope I have inspired some Kiwi kids to try gymnastics! My time at BSU has been life-changing. I’m happy to be part of a program that has such high academic standards, gymnastics abilities and cares about creating good people.

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, 12 January 2020 15:47    PDF Print
‘All-Around Is Always The Main Focus,’ Says World Champion Fraser
(3 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

2019 world parallel bars champion Joe Fraser of Great Britain told IG that his and others’ view of his gymnastics has been altered since his gold medal-winning performance at last fall’s World Championships in Stuttgart.

“I think people maybe look at me differently, being world champion,” said the 19-year-old Fraser, who is only the third British gymnast to win a world title. “I don’t think people can not give you respect for what you’ve done. I also think people now see me as a parallel bars worker when I would always say I’m an all-arounder that’s good on p-bars. Maybe it’s now more a p-bars specialist who’s a good all-arounder, so maybe that perception has changed.”

Fraser’s credentials in the past few years confirm that he is also a contender for international all-around medals. He finished fifth all-around at the 2017 European Championships, fourth all-around at the 2019 Europeans and eighth all-around in Stuttgart.

Considering the robust assortment of strong all-arounders and apparatus specialists on the British team preparing for this summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo, the confident Fraser said he hopes his versatility will earn him his spot on the British team at the Games.

“All-around is always the main focus, and I feel success on individual apparatus comes on the back of all-around development,” said Fraser, who trains under coach Lee Woolls at City of Birmingham Gymnastics Club. “I’m still looking to increase difficulty on all six pieces to get the best scores, but parallel bars is clearly one area I’m looking to make the hardest and cleanest possible.”

Victory on that apparatus in Stuttgart has greatly inspired Fraser as he enters 2020.

“Overall the Worlds has just been a huge motivation and a positive experience to progress in the best way I can this year,” he said.

Fraser said he is adapting well to the potentially disruptive media attention he has received since Stuttgart.

“It’s been very different,” he told IG. “I’d say the first month after the Worlds I was just on the road nonstop. I didn’t really know where home was but after that it's calmed down. I’ve learnt to balance and be more organized in my life and my training. You get used to the busyness and ‘adapt and overcome’ as my coach Lee always says.”

International Gymnast magazine’s recent coverage of British gymnasts includes:

Brinn Bevan interview (May 2018)

Ellie Downie on cover (May 2017)

Claudia Fragapane profile (December 2017)

Joe Fraser short profile (June 2017)

James Hall short profile (June 2017)

Coach Scott Hann interview (September 2017)

Daniel Keatings interview (March 2017)

Alice Kinsella interview (December 2016 and July/August 2019)

Catherine Lyons interview (June 2015)

Lisa Mason interview (May 2015)

Maisie Methuen interview (December 2016)

Amelie Morgan interview (June 2018)

Kelly Simm interview (May 2018)

Louis Smith interview (March 2016)

Amy Tinkler interview (June 2015)

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, 05 January 2020 18:29    PDF Print
Slovakia’s Mokosova Aims For ‘Personal Maximum’ At Tokyo 2020
(4 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

Slovakian Olympian Barbora Mokosova told IG that, although competing at the 2016 Rio Games was a career highlight, she aspires to give an even better performance at this summer’s Tokyo Games.

“We want to add new elements and connections to my routines to have higher difficulty,” said Mokosova, who qualified for her second Olympic Games through her results at last fall’s World Championships in Stuttgart. “I will have to be 100 percent ready to show everything I know, and I believe we will succeed and improve my personal maximum.”

Mokosova said she shifted her focus to Tokyo right after Rio, where she placed 45th all-around in qualifications.

“The Olympics in Rio has always been my biggest dream to come true, and when I came home I knew this was not the end of my career,” said Mokosova, who was born March 10, 1997, in Bratislava. “I wanted to experience that feeling again and get to the Olympics even though I knew it would be very difficult.”

To optimize her chances to qualify for Tokyo, Mokosova and her coach, Martin Zvalo, upgraded her program between Rio and Stuttgart. She gained psychological calmness in the process.

“In my gymnastics we added new elements and changed the routines,” Mokosova said. “I was much quieter in my head and I knew what I wanted. I fulfilled my dream and everything else was just a bonus for me.”

Mokosova, who won a total seven Challenge Cup medals in 2017 and 2018, said she has also become more mature and conscientious since Rio.

“I think I have not changed but I have grown up and understood the things I have to do to qualify for Tokyo,” she said.

While Tokyo was Mokosova’s target, her path leading there was nearly blocked by consecutive injuries. She injured her right ankle in September 2018 and had surgery on it in December 2018. She injured her left heel just prior to the 2019 Worlds.

“The goal was clear for me,” she said. “It is always difficult to keep motivated especially when it is not possible and I have a hard time. Last year was for me very mentally and physically demanding. I got injured (right ankle) and I had to have surgery. This moment was very difficult for me but I knew I could not give up and I fought. A week before Stuttgart, I tore ligaments in my (left) heel and it looked like I wouldn't even start, but I said, ‘This is your one and only chance, and you have to risk it,’ and I succeeded.”

Mokosova’s pre-Tokyo agenda includes a possible training camp in Russia and “above all to keep healthy.”

Beyond Mokosova’s competitive career, she would like to own her own gymnastics academy, and work with the Slovak Olympic and Sports Committee. Tokyo may not be her competitive finale, however.

“I love gymnastics, I love competing, I love training and everything about gymnastics,” Mokosova told IG. “If my health is all right I will continue to do what I love.”

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

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