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Written by Amanda Turner    Wednesday, 09 March 2016 14:39    PDF Print
Iordache Out of Rio Qualification with Injury
(6 votes, average 3.67 out of 5)

Romanian star Larisa Iordache will miss the upcoming Olympic qualification event due to a broken finger, the Romanian Gymnastics Federation reported Wednesday.

Romanian star Larisa Iordache is expected to miss the upcoming Olympic qualification event after breaking her finger, the Romanian Gymnastics Federation reported Wednesday.

Iordache suffered a broken finger while training on balance beam on Tuesday, fracturing her fourth metacarpal bone. The injury will require surgery, and she is expected to be sidelined for six weeks, forcing her out of the Olympic test event in Rio de Janeiro, April 16-18.

Iordache's untimely injury is a big blow to the Romanian women, who failed to qualify a full team to the Olympics at last year's world championships in Glasgow, where the top eight teams earned a team ticket to this summer's Olympic Games. Romania team must finish in the top four at the test event to clinch a team berth to Rio de Janeiro, where they will be competing against Olympic hosts Brazil, Australia, Belgium, France, Germany, the Republic of Korea and Switzerland.

Iordache has been Romania's top gymnast for the past four years, and won the individual all-around bronze medal in Glasgow and the all-around silver at the 2014 World Championships. She has won 11 medals at the European Championships, including five gold.

The Romanian women have won a team medal at every Olympic Games since 1976, winning in 1984, 2000 and 2004. From 1974 to 2014, Romania never finished below fourth in the team competition at the world championships, a success streak no other country can claim. Romania struggled in Glasgow, however, finishing just 13th.

External Link: Romanian Gymnastics Federation

Written by John Crumlish    Monday, 29 February 2016 08:54    PDF Print
Interview: Sophina DeJesus of UCLA
(6 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

Sophina DeJesus has enjoyed a decade’s worth of success as a hip-hop dancer and competitive gymnast, but it took a viral video of her February 6 floor routine to light up the Internet and place her in the public eye. Now pondering her next moves, DeJesus shares her thoughts and aspirations in this IG Online interview.

DeJesus is in the last season of her collegiate gymnastics career at UCLA, but mass interest in her trendy performance style has rekindled her passion for dance and acting.

As a child, DeJesus excelled in hip-hop dance, where in 2006 her talents earned her a role on Discovery Kids’ “Hip Hop Harry,” a part in Debbie Allen’s musical play “The Bayou Legend,” and performances with her dance crew on “Ellen” and other television shows.

DeJesus, who as a junior gymnast was featured in a profile in the April 2010 issue of International Gymnast magazine, placed 14th all-around at the 2008 U.S. junior championships and ninth in 2009. She finished fourth all-around and first on floor exercise at the 2009 Japan Junior Invitational. Although the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) approved her to represent Puerto Rico in 2013, she has yet to pursue that option.

Since DeJesus’s floor routine in the February 6 meet against the University of Utah made her an Internet sensation, she has been the subject of numerous feature articles, and segments on news and entertainment shows, including the February 17 episode of "The Ellen DeGeneres Show."

IG caught up with DeJesus, who discusses her recent fame, her lifelong passion for performing and the new opportunities she hopes to pursue.

IG: What was your reaction to the different stages of your performance against Utah, starting with the actual routine, continuing with the online views and finishing with all the media attention you’ve gotten?

SDJ: It was my first time competing that routine, so I was just excited to finally go out and do it, and then my day was kind of normal after that. The next day I woke up and my mom called and I asked her, “How are you doing?” And she said, “Honey, do you know you have like five million views on your floor routine?” I didn’t even know it was posted anywhere, and I thought that maybe she was just being nice because she’s my mother, and all moms are biased towards their children. So I was like, “OK, thanks, Mom. I’ll talk to you later.” Then my coach (Valorie Kondos Field) called me and said the same thing, so I thought, OK, then this has to be real. This is unbelievable. I was just super excited, and I was on this high-excitement roller-coaster.

IG: How have you coped with the expectations since then?

SDJ: We had a meet on February 13 (against Oregon State University), and I had thoughts like, Oh my gosh, what if I don’t live up to the expectations of all this excitement? I was up on bars, and those thoughts were going through my head. Bars is one of my best events, and I went up and face-planted my mount. That never happens. I think that, if I wouldn’t have thought of any of those things, I would have done better. After that, I recuperated and did the best beam routine I’ve ever done, and got a 9.975, so that was an amazing feeling. After that I have been soaking it up and accepting it all, and being excited with all the support from fans and my family and my team. It’s all been amazing.

IG: How are you managing to squeeze all of the interview requests and other demands on your time, logistically and emotionally?

SDJ: I’m taking it one day at a time, one hour at a time, one minute at a time, and enjoying every moment of it, because this doesn’t happen normally. I’m really blessed that this is happening, and I’m so happy that I’m getting any of these opportunities to talk to you, to be on the Ellen show and all of that awesome stuff.

IG: What do you think made your performance, and the routine itself, special enough to blow up as it has?

SDJ: All the routines that people do are amazing, and our team is known for doing really fun, crowd-pleasing routines. I think that mine was really pleasing to the whole population, because it was more of a worldwide dance that everyone could dance along with.

IG: How did you work several dance moves and styles into one floor routine that would be cohesive?

SDJ: I thought about it over the summer. I didn’t expect to put all of those dance moves in there. I thought of two. The two main ones I wanted to put in were the Whip and the Nae Nae. So I listened to music, and one of the pieces of music in my floor routine is one of the Whip and Nae Nae songs. So I thought those were perfect because they already kind of went into it. As I continued I accidentally stumbled upon the dab, because I ended my routine in a different way, and Miss Val (Kondos Field) said, 'You should change your ending.' And I said, 'OK, sounds cool.' I was talking to one of my teammates and asked, 'How funny would it be if I dabbed at the end?' They said, 'Try it.' I did, and they said, 'Yes, you have to keep it in!' When I was listening to my music, I was thinking about the Quan. At the end of my routine the music gets really fast, and I thought then would be a perfect place to put it in.

IG: How much has the impact and attention contributed to your interest in resuming your dancing and acting career?

SDJ: It came at the perfect time because I’m graduating, and it’s a great stepping stone to continuing to do things I love.

IG: What is your plan for getting out there professionally after the season?

SDJ: I haven’t had much time yet, because I’m in school and in season, and trying to graduate, so I think next quarter I will try. Because of NCAA rules I can’t really do any of those things (for money), but once I’m done with college gymnastics I will try to ramp it up and get an agent and keep it going from there.

IG: Even though you are in your last season for UCLA, and based on recent interest in your gymnastics, what kind of thoughts are you giving to a shot at international competition for Puerto Rico?

SDJ: I feel that would be an amazing opportunity, even it they don’t need me on their team per se. On my bucket list is to go to Puerto Rico, so even just to go there and be supportive or on the team or not, I think that would be an amazing opportunity. So I don’t want to close any doors.

IG: What are some of the most amusing or flattering comments you’ve read or received since your routine went viral?

SDJ: [Laughs] My marriage proposals and prom invitations on Twitter and places like that have been great, and when I went on the Ellen show, I met tWitch (dancer/actor Stephen “tWitch” Boss), and that was amazing. He said, 'You’re so awesome.' I was like, 'Oh my gosh, he just called me awesome. No, he’s awesome!' And then I recently found out that Chris Brown posted my video, and he was like, 'Work it, Sophina!' I am in awe, and bouncing off the walls right now!

IG: Although collegiate gymnastics seems to be more flexible in terms of choreography, how much further do you thing gymnastics rules in general could go, in terms of expression and creativity?

SDJ: In general, gymnastics is already a very subjective sport, so that would be a subjective thing, as well. In college gymnastics it’s about how much the crowd loves it, and that’s kind of what we do it for. In Elite (international) gymnastics it’s more about the judges, the critical, the technique and things like that. I think it could go a long way and people could have more fun doing it in Elite gymnastics, but also it would be a little difficult, because you’d have to do more tumbling passes and get in more things. So it’s a possibility, and you can have more fun and put your personality into it, but it’s really subjective, either way.

IG: What guidelines would you suggest to other gymnasts regarding expression?

SDJ: I feel that, if the judges see you’re having fun, they will tend to give you more points, if that makes sense. Because, if you make it look hard and not as fun, it’s not as pleasing to watch. Also, for me, my routine is my personality. If you put your personality into it and do “you,” it will reflect in your score. You don’t have to be a hip-hop dancer. It’s still subjective as to how you want to express it, but as long as you’re yourself and you show it in your routine, nothing can go wrong.

IG: What advice can you offer to young gymnasts who might not feel they have the potential to be as expressive as other gymnasts?

SDJ: My advice would be to, first of all, have fun. If you’re having fun, it will show. You have to be yourself. If you’re not having fun, you’re probably not going to do as well as you want to do anyway. Go out and do your best. As long as you’ve worked hard and do your best, it will show and you will get good scores. I don’t think anyone should ever change who they are or what their personality is, just because of what they think others will think of them.

Written by John Crumlish    Monday, 04 January 2016 09:35    PDF Print
IG Online Interview: Vid Hidvégi (Hungary)
(6 votes, average 4.00 out of 5)

A medal candidate on pommel horse at the last Olympic Games and other major competitions since then, Hungarian gymnast Vid Hidvégi is putting his 2016 focus firmly on earning a berth to this summer’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

A medal candidate on pommel horse at the last Olympic Games and other major competitions since then, Hungarian gymnast Vid Hidvégi is putting his 2016 focus firmly on earning a berth to this summer’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Hidvégi qualified third to the pommel horse final at the 2012 Games in London, but fell in the final and placed eighth. His best finishes on the apparatus at world championships include 10th place at the 2009 worlds in London, fourth place at the 2011 Worlds in Tokyo, and fifth place at the 2015 Worlds in Glasgow. Hidvégi was also fifth on pommel horse at the 2015 European championships in Montpellier.

Although Hidvégi continues Hungary’s tradition of strong pommel horse workers in his own right, he remains in a longtime friendly rivalry with teammate Krisztián Berki, who won gold on the event at the 2012 Olympics as well as at the 2010, 2011 and 2014 Worlds.

Both gymnasts are expected to contend for berths to the Rio Games at the Olympic test event, the second of two Olympic qualification meets, that will take place in Rio in April. Neither qualified directly to the Games via the 2015 Worlds, which served as the first Olympic qualification meet.

The 29-year-old Hidvégi is also a credible all-arounder. He placed 66th all-around at the 2010 Worlds in Tokyo, 55th all-around at the 2011 Worlds, 61st all-around at the 2014 Worlds in Nanning, and 70th all-around at the 2015 Worlds. Hidvégi is preparing his all-around program for the test event, with the goals of a spot at the Rio Games and a potential medal on his specialty apparatus.

In this International Gymnast Online interview, Hidvégi details his plans and goals for 2016.

IG: You were close to a medal at last year's Europeans and Worlds. Based especially on the field of finalists you faced in Glasgow, what will you need to break into the top three in Rio?

VH: The medal winners of those competitions did so well and they have a very high start value, as well. I definitely need to raise my start value by putting the skills I had been training the last few years. It is quite difficult to me to go above 6.6, but I want to go step-by-step and focus all my energy on getting the berth to Rio.

Hidvégi celebrates his routine in pommel horse finals at the 2015 Worlds in Glasgow.

IG: Between now and the test event, how will you be apportioning your training — for example, all six apparatuses because you need to do well to qualify for the Olympic Games, versus working on your pommel horse routine because you have a good shot at an Olympic medal?

VH: This is my chance to earn the right to go to the Olympic Games. Four years ago we had the test event in January which, first, did not seem very fortunate, although after that successful competition I realized that I still had six months just to train on pommel horse and concentrate only on that apparatus. This time, I have to be in the best shape of my life on six apparatuses, and if the test event is going very well, I will only have about three months to do the same. Well, not the same — a higher start value this time.

IG: Now you and Krisztián Berki are battling each other for medals on pommel horse. What is your partnership like, in terms of motivating and helping each other?

VH: I don’t think I am able to battle him. He is the best on the pommel horse. He had an unfortunate injury, but I know what he is capable of. We are friends, we grew up together and we have been training together for over 20 years. In sports, athletes are battling each other, and perhaps friendships change into something else that's more competitive and less friendly. We are nothing like that, luckily.

IG: With degrees from universities in England (Leeds Beckett University, formerly Leeds Metropolitan University) and Hungary, what are your career goals?

VH: I graduated from Budapest University of Technology and Economics in 2014. My major is Master of Business Administration. My career goals are related to management, although I have not looked for any jobs. I have a lot to do in gymnastics, especially this year.

IG: How did you celebrate the holidays?

VH: I spent Christmas with my brothers, sister and my mother. This is how we do it every year. New Year's Eve was spent with my girlfriend, her sister, one of my brothers, their boyfriends and girlfriends and other friends, too.

IG: What are your New Year's resolutions?

VH: I haven’t got any. If I feel like, and most of the time I do, I need to improve in something, I target it and do my best being better. That applies to the whole year.

Read "Making the Grade," a profile on Hidvégi earlier in his career, in the March 2009 issue of International Gymnast magazine. To purchase back issues, click here.

Written by John Crumlish    Wednesday, 16 December 2015 19:42    PDF Print
IG Online Interview: Jim Zona (France)
(2 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

International Gymnast Online’s annual series of holiday-themed features continues with this interview with 2015 world championships all-around finalist Jim Zona of France, who looks forward to a peaceful Christmas in the mountains before preparing to qualify for next summer’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

International Gymnast Online’s annual series of holiday-themed features continues with this interview with 2015 world championships all-around finalist Jim Zona of France, who looks forward to a peaceful Christmas in the mountains before preparing to qualify for next summer’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Zona finished 22nd all-around at this fall’s worlds in Glasgow, where the French team placed 10th. The top eight teams in Glasgow earned berths to the Rio Games, but France advanced to the Olympic test event in April, from which four additional teams will qualify for the Games.

Born February 12, 1992, in Dijon, Zona has been a steady member of the French team for the past several years. In 2010, he won the French junior all-around title and placed ninth all-around at the European junior championships in Birmingham.

Zona’s rise in the French senior rankings has been steady. He placed ninth all-around at the 2011 French Championships, fifth all-around at the 2012 French Championships, and third all-around at the 2013 and 2015 French Championships. Also, Zona won the French floor exercise title in 2013, and the French high bar title in 2015.

IG: Looking back on 2015, what are your fondest memories of competition, and why?

JZ: When I think about this past year I feel very happy and proud. I qualified for the European championships in France, which was a big goal for me because a big competition in your country doesn’t happen very often, and I would have been very frustrated not to be part of it. Sadly I did not make the all-around final (ed. note: he was third reserve). I was a little bit injured so it wasn’t a good memory after all, but still, I feel very happy to have been part of this event.

Jim Zona (France)

My greatest memory is for sure the world championships in Glasgow. This summer I did everything I could to get away from my injuries, to get back in good shape. Once my body felt better I could work very hard to Glasgow. This competition was incredible, the arena was so impressive, the organization was perfect and I did pretty well there!

IG: How satisfied were you with your advancement to the all-around final in Glasgow, versus making the team final?

JZ: This was one of my goals, to qualify for Rio with the team and be in the all-around final. First of all, we all feel disappointed with 10th place, but we are ready to get back to work to qualify the French team at the test event in Rio (in April). Personally, I feel of course very happy and proud to have done it. I knew that I needed to do a nearly perfect qualification. Despite the high pressure, I succeeded, and it felt so good. The final was a little bit less good. I made too many mistakes and a fall on my last rotation. I was a little bit tired from the qualification, but it is a great memory for me and a big achievement.

IG: What will it take for you to better your 22nd-place finish in Glasgow, in future all-around finals?

JZ: In order to do better next year I know exactly what I need to do — increase my difficulty scores, and keep good execution at the same time. I know that I can do much harder routines. That’s what I’ve been working on since the return from Glasgow, and hopefully it will pay off soon.

IG: What are your most important goals for 2016?

JZ: This year is a big year! Of course I want to get to the Olympics. In order to do that we need to qualify in April. I also want to get a medal at the European championships, and why not make a final in Rio? I also want to be the French all-around French champion, which is something I’ve never done before and something I deeply want.

IG: The French team will face tough competition at the test event, so what will your team need to earn one of the four spots for the Rio Games there?

JZ: Like I said, we were very sad about our 10th place in Glasgow. We deserved better, in my opinion, but it is gymnastics. All the work that we’ve been doing, unfortunately, didn’t pay off that day. We are already focusing on test event and making it to the top four. We know we have the potential but we also know that other teams are getting stronger every day. We are going to work as hard as we can to have five gymnasts in Rio, which will give me more chances to be in Rio obviously!

IG: How will you be celebrating the holidays?

JZ: I will spend Christmas with my family in Le Mont-Dore, which is in the center of France, in the mountains. I will enjoy those moments which are precious. Especially after what happen in France few weeks ago, we know how important family is. I will spend New Year’s Eve in Paris with some friends, and then I will go to London for a short vacation, before getting back to work very quickly!

External Link: Jim Zona's Official Facebook page

International Gymnast magazine’s coverage of French gymnasts includes:
"French Muse" - Claire Martin story (June 2015)
Arnaud Willig profile (January/February 2014)
"Marseille Magic" - IG’s visit to French training center (March 2013)
Samir Ait Said interview (June 2013)
"Catching up with Elvire Teza" - profile (January/February 2012)
"Uncorked" – Benoit Caranobe interview (April 2009)
"Shooting Star" - Youna Dufournet profile (April 2009)
"Debauve Departs" - Marine Debauve profile (April 2006)
Isabelle Severino cover photo (August/September 2005)
"French Evolution" - feature on Ludivine Furnon in Cirque du Soleil (April 2005)
"A La Mode" – Emilie Lepennec profile (August/September 2004)
"Taking Success in Stride" - Benoit Caranobe profile (May 2004)
"Horse Sense" – Coralie Chacon profile (March 2004)
"Karbanenko Makes It Count" - short profile (February 2003)
"Together Again" - Ludivine Furnon cover photo and profile (January 1999)
"Maree Makes His Move" - Florent Maree chat (July/August 1998)
"C'est La Vie" – Dmitry Karbanenko cover story (May 1998)
"Tempting Teza" – Elvire Teza profile (May 1997)
Elvire Teza cover photo (April 1997)
"Begging to Differ" – Laetitia Begue profile (January 1996)
"Little Elodie Can Win Big" – Elodie Lussac profile (January 1995)
Elodie Lussac cover photo (May 1994)
Elodie Lussac two-page center poster (August/September 1993)

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

Written by John Crumlish    Wednesday, 23 September 2015 10:33    PDF Print
IG Online Interview: Emma Larsson (Sweden)
(11 votes, average 4.09 out of 5)

Sweden's top all-arounder at last year's world championships and a gold medalist at one of this year's Challenger Cup meets, Emma Larsson hopes to lead her country to a top-20 team finish at next month's worlds in Glasgow.

Larsson helped Sweden place 21st at the 2014 world championships in Nanning, thereby advancing to Glasgow. The top eight teams in Glasgow, and four additional teams at a test meet early next year, will qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

A month after the 2014 worlds, where she finished 43rd all-around in qualifications, Larsson underwent foot surgery. Sixth months later she won the gold medal on balance beam at the Challenger Cup of Anadia, Portugal.

The 16-year-old Larsson is in the final stage of preparation for Glasgow. She placed third all-around, and was the top Swedish all-arounder, at a tri-meet among Belgium, Austria and Sweden held earlier this month in Belgium. This past weekend Larsson competed on three apparatuses at a friendly meet between Sweden and the Netherlands that the Dutch hosted.

As Sweden plans to select its team for Glasgow this week, Larsson shared her plans and hopes in this IG Online interview.

IG: How did this your third-place finish prepare you for the upcoming world championships?

EL: This competition was my first all-around competition in a year, and it felt so good to compete. Right know I'm in really good shape, and it feels good to back with my double layout in a competition before worlds. But I also had some mistakes at the competition that I need to fix, so I have more to give!

IG: You were the top Swedish all-arounder in Nanning, and this year, more is expected of you since Jonna Adlerteg has been injured (recovering from torn ACL). How do you view your new role on your team?

EL: It feels really good and I'm willing to take on that role. We are a team so everybody's effort counts, and it's important to not only think on yourself. But I'm going to do my best to help the team in everything that I can do.

IG: Sweden placed 12th on beam and 15th on bars in Nanning, but far lower on vault and floor. What improvements do you think your team has made since Nanning, to help earn a better finish in Glasgow?

EL: Last year we didn't show our true potential at all on vault and floor. We competed with only four girls on these two apparatuses. Also, I and two of my teammates that competed these two events couldn't do the same skills as usual because of health issues and injuries. And we had to just make sure that we had the requirements at the competition. So for three of the four girls competing on these two events it was a struggle, and therefore there were really low scores. This year will be different.

IG: What do you think of your team's potential for Glasgow?

EL: We know that it's never easy for a small gymnastics nation like ours. We have few girls on the team to choose from. If one is not healthy we almost don't have five gymnasts per apparatus. For a team it's very, very hard, but also very challenging, and we are very close friends. Seven of the nine gymnasts on the national team train in Eskilstuna together daily, so we know each other very well. Since we were 21st at the last worlds, we want to beat that, so we said top 20 is the official goal but all of us will compete for more.

International Gymnast magazine's recent coverage of Swedish gymnastics includes:

"Scouting Scandinavia" - IG's visit to Stockholm gym club (March 2011)
"Swinging for Sweden" - Jonna Adlerteg update (May 2015)
"Swedish History-maker" - Adlerteg profile (November 2010)
"Swedish Upswing" – Swedish women's team feature (November 2010)
"Swedish Achiever" - Ida Gustafsson short profile (June 3013)

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


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