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Written by John Crumlish    Sunday, 11 August 2019 08:02    PDF Print
Chiles ‘Very Proud’ Of First-Day Performance
(2 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

Jordan Chiles found herself in seventh place all-around after the first day of the U.S. Championships, but she is pleased with her opening-round performance and confident about upgrades she can make prior to this fall’s World Championships.

Chiles, who recently left Naydenov Gymnastics in Washington and began training at Simone Biles’ club, World Champions Centre in Texas, spoke with IG after Friday’s competition in Kansas City.

IG: How did you feel your performance went today?

JC: I feel very proud of myself, considering I haven’t competed in a year and I had some minor hiccups here and there with some minor injuries, but my day went as well as I know it would have gone. All of my events went great. I started on floor and ended on beam. I am proud of myself, I hit four-for-four and I can’t wait until Sunday (second and last day of the Championships).

IG: What kind of changes have you noticed since you began training with Laurent Landi and Cecile Canqueteau-Landi?

JC: There’s weren’t any big changes because my old coach was friends with Laurent and they’re kind of similar. It wasn’t a big change for me, and I had seen Cecile and Laurent coach so I knew it wasn’t going to be a huge change for me. I’ve gotten used to their coaching pretty quickly. At first I was like, “Woah, this is weird.’ I’ve never done two-a-days (workouts) and other stuff, and after the first two weeks I was understanding what they do.

IG: Were there any other changes?

JC: At my old club, I was the only elite, so coming to Cecile and Laurent and having multiple elite athletes, I felt very welcomed because it wasn’t just me. I had teammates. That was a big change, also, because I wasn’t the only one (elite) who was getting coached.

IG: Do you have upgrades planned between the Championships and the World Championships team selection camp?

JC: Yes. I don’t know at this point what they’re going to be. Hopefully I’ll bring back my Amanar vault and [doing] a second vault. For (Sunday) I’ll be doing the same thing. There’s no upgrade for that. Hopefully by World Championships I will have the upgrades.

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, 06 August 2019 08:09    PDF Print
Nabiyeva: 'Her Face Speaks For Her Emotions'
(2 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

Profiled in the 2019 September issue of International Gymnast magazine, Russia’s Tatiana Nabiyeva admits that her face speaks for her emotions, but she did a masterful job of hiding the pain and frustration that made competing at this summer’s University Games in Naples, Italy, a wonder in itself. She nevertheless unleashed her characteristic grit to win three medals in Naples, a feat that stunned even Vera Kiryashova, who with husband Alexander Kiryashov coaches her.

“A fighter! A character!” says Kiryashova of Nabiyeva, who won team gold and placed seventh all-around at the 2010 World Championships, and won team and uneven bars silvers at the 2011 Worlds.

IG: How did the accident happen?

TN: Yes, I remember that day! I was well prepared, I trained, I did the all-around. But in one of the control training sessions, we started on balance beam and on a dismount, when I did a step ahead of the roundoff, my heel slipped off and my big toe was left on the beam. At first I did not understand what happened. I went to redo the dismount. Then when I saw blood on the beam, I realized that everything was bad!

IG: How are you inspired by your loyal fan base?

TN: I really love my fans. I really cherish this support. It motivates me and gives me strength! I am very grateful to my fans for looking out for me and following my performances. I thank them very much.

IG: How would you describe your character?

TN: My character is very difficult. I’m a Scorpio and half of Caucasus blood. In sports it helps a lot. And it will probably be difficult for me to describe it. This is most likely from what is visible. The fact that you cannot argue with me is 100 percent. When I am not in shape at competitions, I talk, I look after the other girls. I get caught up in the competition. I do not like to lose. I am very emotional. Most likely all of my emotions can be read on my face, by my facial expressions.

Read the complete interview in the 2019 September issue of International Gymnast. To subscribe to the print and/or digital edition, or to order back issues of International Gymnast magazine, click here.

Written by John Crumlish    Wednesday, 17 July 2019 08:55    PDF Print
McCusker: ‘I Am Really Focusing On My Execution’
(5 votes, average 4.40 out of 5)

As 2018 World Championships team gold medalist Riley McCusker readies for the upcoming Pan American Games, U.S. Championships and World Championships, she told IG she is primed to refine and fortify her competitive program.

McCusker, whose virtuosity and precision have established her as one of the top U.S. all-arounders in this Olympic cycle, trains under coach Maggie Haney at MG Elite in Morganville, New Jersey. She placed third all-around, first on uneven bars and second on balance beam at the 2017 P&G (U.S.) Championships; and third all-around, second on uneven bars and third on balance beam at the 2018 U.S. Championships.

At last fall’s World Championships in Doha, Qatar, McCusker helped the U.S. easily win the team final and finished eighth all-around in qualifications. A maximum of two gymnasts per country could advance to the all-around final, so as the third-ranked U.S. gymnast, she did not move on.

Upgrades and consistency could help McCusker affirm and better her position this year. She is one of eight gymnasts in contention for a spot on the U.S. team at the Pan American Games that begin July 26 in Lima, Peru. (The U.S. team will be named following the GK U.S. Classic on July 20, where McCusker is slated to compete.) Beyond Lima, McCusker looks forward to a solid performance at the U.S. Championships in Kansas City in August and a return to Worlds, which will be held in Stuttgart in October.

McCusker, who turned 18 on July 9, speaks about her strategies and aspirations in this IG Online chat.

IG: Between now and the end of the selection process for the Pan American Games, what will you be focusing on so you can secure one of the spots in the lineup for Lima?

RM: We are really focusing on two different aspects of my gymnastics. One part is finalizing all of my skills and upgrades for the upcoming season, and the second part is being very detail-oriented and cleaning up the rest of my routines. We are always focusing on my execution score.

IG: How have you evolved as a gymnast, physically and mentally, since last year's World Championships?

RM: I definitely believe that I have evolved and matured since last year’s Worlds. Being able to compete in Doha was an experience that helped me grow tremendously as a person and a gymnast. It was great to get a taste of performing on a big stage. I also feel very confident in my skills now, so that’s super helpful.

IG: With three important meets coming up (Pan American Games, U.S. Championships and World Championships), what are your planned upgrades, and how do you intend to pace their roll-out?

RM: Because of the three major competitions back-to-back, our plan is to add some of the easier upgrades in the beginning of the season, such as a new flight series on beam. Then mid-to-later in the season, my goal is to put all of my other new skills into my routines. So, I will probably save my double layout for Worlds Selection just so I can save my body some.

IG: This year you face some new competition from the former juniors, as well as the seniors with whom you are very familiar. What will it take for you to hold your own against the experienced seniors and the ambitious newcomers?

RM: In my experience, I perform my best when I’m just focused on what I can control, which is my gymnastics. But I am really focusing on my execution, so I am hoping that helps me. I also believe that my artistic quality stands out!

Read “Ms. Consistency,” a four-page feature on McCusker, in the November 2018 issue of International Gymnast magazine. To subscribe to the print and/or digital editions, or order back issues, click here.

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

Written by John Crumlish    Monday, 08 July 2019 08:56    PDF Print
GB’s Carter on NCAA Life: ‘It’s An Awesome Thing, Really’
(4 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

British national team member Hamish Carter has found a new academic and training home at the University of Illinois, where he heads into his sophomore year with big goals for more international and collegiate success.

Born November 24, 1998, in West Bridgford, Nottingham, Carter trained at Notts School of Gymnastics until the age of 12. He then moved to Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham , where he trained under coach Lee Woolls at City of Birmingham.

Carter finished second all-around at the 2015 British Under-18 Championships, third all-around at the 2016 British Under-18 Championships, 10th (tie) all-around at the 2017 British Championships and fifth all-around at the 2018 British Championships. A genuine all-arounder, he has won at least one medal on five of the six apparatuses in the junior or senior level at the British Championships.

Carter’s international achievements also span the junior and senior levels. He was a team gold medalist and floor exercise silver medalist for Great Britain at the 2015 European Youth Olympic Festival. He represented Scotland at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, where he placed sixth all-around, fourth on floor exercise and eighth on high bar.

In his freshman (2018-2019) season at the University of Illinois, he earned NCAA All-American honors on high bar, the apparatus he won at the Big 10 conference championships.

The ambitious Carter recently shared with IG Online his thoughts on representing himself well at the national, international and collegiate levels.

IG: You have had success at the junior international, senior international and U.S. collegiate levels. What has been the key to your apparently smooth transition from one level to the next?

HC: After I completed my A-levels exams in 2017 at Bishop Vesey’s Grammar School, I decided to train full-time at the GMAC centre in Perry Barr, Birmingham. At this time, I was relieved of my rigorous academic schedule and was able to dedicate many more hours to my training. I went from 23 to 32 hours a week, which initially took a great toll on my body. I developed a few repetitive injuries, some of which put me out of competitions. But within in a few months, I had become used to the increase in workload and the extra hours in the gym, and noticed it began to strengthen me physically and mentally. I acquired a toughness. 
 Also, none of this would’ve been possible without the constant support of my family — my mum, dad and brother. My parents have picked me up at my lowest and helped me get to where I am today, which happens to be thousands of miles from them. They have done nothing but give unconditionally to me and my love for the sport, which I why I owe a lot of my success to them.

IG: What led to your decision to compete for a U.S. university, and what made you choose the University of Illinois?

HC: Really, this all happened by complete chance. I was catching up with an old coach of mine, Nick Blanton, when I casually asked him about the NCAA and, should I wish to ever go, how I would go about it. Nick coached me at Notts School of Gymnastics and was an NCAA gymnast himself in his day. He is also very close friends with (University of Illinois head coach) Justin Spring and was able to put me in contact with him, and from there things just took off. I was already aware of the NCAA and the University of Illinois in particular, but just never considered it an opportunity for me. Earlier in 2018, Australian gymnast and good friend of mine, Clay Stephens, committed to the University of Illinois.

IG: Given the timing of your university studies and the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, what is your plan for combining your NCAA study/competitive obligations with the chance you have to try for Tokyo?

HC: The initial reason I came to the NCAA was because I had found the place where I could become the best gymnast I could possibly be. My move was purely to further my chances of making it to major championships and becoming an Olympian, Tokyo and beyond. But a huge benefit of me joining the NCAA is I can gain a degree whilst doing that. The school has around 500 student-athletes, so it is expert in dealing with academically driven athletes. I have everyone’s total support in fulfilling my dreams outside of my collegiate career and studies. The gymnastics team has access to an academic support system and is in direct contact with an academic counselor at all times. We have specially made class schedules that make balancing our studies with our training plans as smooth and efficient as possible. Although there is not much let-up from studies and my schooling commitments, here is really the best place to do it. Going into next semester I’ll be continuing with my chemistry and kinesiology classes. As our official NCAA competition season ended in April, I was able to start planning new and upgraded routines for my return to the U.K. in August. I plan to compete in the London Open and the British Team Championships with the hopes of qualifying to the World Championships in October, which will be the true beginning of my senior gymnastics journey.

IG: How does the NCAA’s restriction on training hours impact your international program, for better and for worse?

HC: With classes normally running to midday, just before usual practice hours start, there are only so many hours we can physically spend in the gym. However, my new training schedule here in Illinois suits me much better than my previous one. My training is very efficient. I would describe it now as quality over quantity. I have very clear and very well thought-out goals for each piece every day, even down to every go I take. My coach, Daniel Ribeiro, and I are constantly planning my progression with the very smallest of details. All in all, if I am fitter and healthier, whether that be because I’m training 20 or 40 hours, I’m happy. I’ve found a great formula to allow me to train at my best.

IG: What is your agenda for training and competition between now and Tokyo?

HC: As I mentioned, I am traveling back home to compete in the two World Championships qualifiers that British Gymnastics is hosting to help me cement a solid position in the G.B. senior national team. After that I will come back to Illinois to continue preparations for any internationals that come up and the beginning of my 2020 college season. Over the years, as my gymnastics continues to develop, I hope to be a regular in the major championships teams for my country.

IG: How are you coordinating your training between your longtime club coaches and your university coaches?

HC: I remain in close contact with my head national coaches, Paul Hall and Barry Collie. I share my progress with them and I’m kept informed of any potential international competitions which suit my annual schedule. Both are hugely supportive of my collegiate commitments and am happy that I am progressing so well in my time here. I also remain in close contact with Phil Barrow, gymnastics development officer at Birmingham City Council, who helps me greatly in arranging club commitments and competitions on my return to the U.K.

IG: What aspects of U.S. life have been enlightening, difficult or amusing to you?

HC: At Illinois, we do extensive work on building team philosophy and culture. In our locker room, we have our “Core Values” plastered on the wall. They are Preparation, Purpose, Passion, Growth Mindset, Fight, Illini Pride and Attitude. … One thing I will forever be grateful for is the brotherhood and bond I have with my teammates that is created by the NCAA. I am even luckier to still have that relationship with my Birmingham teammates Joe Fraser, Joshua Nathan, Dom Cunningham, Donell Osbourne and Korben Fellows back home.

For our Spring Break, we spent an extra week at Penn State and trained at the famous International Gymnastics Center, a place I grew up watching on YouTube. That of course led to some great memories that we shared together. But some of my fondest memories so far come from spending my time with my class at IT (Illini Tower, freshman dorms). As a class, we would come home from our practice, and finish any homework or studies we had as quickly as possible, just so we could hang out together. You develop very strong relationships with all of your teammates over your NCAA career, but your class never leaves your side. We all came in together as freshmen, and will finish our college careers together as seniors in time.

IG: For how many more years do hope to represent Scotland and/or Great Britain?

HC: Simply, for as long as I can. My coach Dan is totally invested in my journey. He recognizes my full potential in the sport, my strengths, my character and my emotional needs intrinsically. For this reason, I don’t doubt that I will be able to a strong and consistent member of the GB team in my senior years. The 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, where I will get to represent Scotland at my second games, happen just a few months after I am set to officially graduate from the university. And of course the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris will be fast approaching once my time here at Illinois is done, so I plan to be as ready for that as possible.

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

Written by dwight normile    Wednesday, 26 June 2019 12:32    PDF Print
‘Tom Forster Has Been The High-Performance Director For The Women’s Gymnastics Team’
(4 votes, average 4.75 out of 5)

Tom Forster has been working for a full year and attempting to improve the women’s elite program.

The women’s team has won three Olympic Games: 1996 in Atlanta, 2012 in London and 2016 in Rio.

The women’s gymnastics team has also won gold medals at six World Championships: 2003 in Anaheim, 2007 in Stuttgart, 2011 in Tokyo, 2014 in Nanning, 2015 in Glasgow and 2018 in Doha. The 2018 Worlds were under Forster’s tutelage.

Forster, who was born in Wichita, Kansas, is one of the best uneven bars coaches in the United States, if not the entire world. He takes a more humbled approach to the gymnasts he is currently coaching, whereas Marta Karolyi was rather stern.

He is CEO and owner of Aerials Gymnastics in Colorado Springs, and Co-Owner of Uneven Bar Boot Camp. His wife, Lori, majored in dance at the University of Northern Colorado, and she choreographs all of the women’s floor routines at Aerials.

Lori Bresciani and Tom Forster have been married for 38 years, so let’s hear from him now…

IG: How many times per year do you go to the EVO gym in Florida?

TF: Between the national team camps and selection camps we meet between five and six times a year.

IG: Who handles the junior team, or do you also invite them?

TF: The High Performance Team Coordinator is responsible for both divisions. Both juniors and seniors come to every national team camp. I have the ability to invite more athletes than just those officially on the national team which I do depending on the time of year and what events we are preparing for.

IG: Are there strictly test skills every now and then, or is it a hybrid of gymnastics training too?

TF: It has long been established as a successful model to instill in our athletes that two things occur at every camp: 1) The athletes are scored and awards given for Physical Ability testing which encompasses strength and flexibility exercises. 2) They are required to officially verify something at every camp. Depending on the time of year it would range from a full routine to a new skill.

IG: What do you think of Simone Biles?

TF: I first met Simone when she was invited to the Development Camps many years ago. I was the staff member responsible for bars. Simone didn’t appear to enjoy bars at that time. I remember watching her vault and thought to myself, “She can do anything she wants on that event.” She was unbelievable.

Not too long after those years Simone has become the greatest of all time in women’s gymnastics. She is determined and a tenacious competitor. Simone has the rare combination of having tremendous natural talent, excellent technique and the determination to do the work required to be the best every time she steps on the podium.

She is an inspiration and has raised the level of gymnastics in our country more than anyone in our history. I’m truly grateful to be part of her journey and thankful for all she gives to our wonderful sport.

Read the complete interview in the 2019 July/August of International Gymnast.

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


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