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Written by dwight normile    Sunday, 19 May 2019 06:57    PDF Print
'Four Honored At IGHOF Hall of Fame Dinner'
(2 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

“It’s the athletes and their stories that make this a great event,” said emcee Bart Conner at the 23rd annual International Gymnastics Hall of Fame Dinner on May 18, at the Petroleom Club in Oklahoma City. The four inductees where Shawn Johnson, Ivan Ivankov, Maria Filatova and Li Xiaopeng, who could not attend.

Including those four honorees, the Hall of Fame has inducted 102 individuals from 22 nations.

Hardy Fink earned the International order of Merit, for his work with the FIG Academies where he goes literally all around the world teaching struggling nations how to improve their gymnastics.

“I am so delighted,” he said. “I am already a winner by being here; it is the highest award possible. Remembering will inspire our future!”

Fink was the youngest ever to become an international brevet judge.

Next was Maria Filatova and she wanted to speak in Russian and her daughter translated, and both teared up during her speech.

“Thank you very much for inviting me to this special occasion,” she said. “I want to thank everyone who helped me succeed. I am very happy that gymnastics was part of my life.”

Ivan Ivankov was next. Both Bart Conner and Paul Ziert sort of rescued him when he had multiple surgeries on his Achilles’ tendon. They offered him a job at Bart Conner Gymnastics Academy in Norman, Oklahoma. That put him on a path to win his second world all-around title at the 1997 in Lausanne, Switzerland. (The previous one was in Brisbane, Australia, in ’94.)

“Paul Ziert is the godfather of gymnastics,” said Ivankov, fighting back tears. “I am taking this to my heart. These guys helped me out when I needed it most.”

Last to speak was Shawn Johnson, whose husband, Andrew East, is a long-snapper for the Washington Redskins football team.

“When Nastia Liukin called she urged me to take this call from Bart Conner,” Johnson said. “Was I in trouble? I was in shock when he told me I was being inducted into the Hall of Fame. I never thought of myself as a legend. I did gymnastic because it was fun, and Chow always had a smile on his face. And sometimes when we finished what we were working on, he would take us out to Dairy Queen!”

Read the complete stories in the 2019 June issue of International Gymnastics Magazine.

To order back issues, or to subscribe to International Gymnast, click here.

 
Written by John Crumlish    Wednesday, 15 May 2019 07:33    PDF Print
Turkey’s Onder: ‘The Hard Work Begins From Now’
(2 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

Although Turkish gymnast Ahmet Onder finished 0.099 points short of all-around bronze at last month’s European Championships in Szczecin, Poland, he told IG he has shifted his focus to delivering a medal-worthy performance at this fall’s World Championships in Stuttgart.

“For Stuttgart I want to compete for a top place, so I must work hard, as it is not Europeans — it is Worlds,” he said. “Everything will be different. With the team we aim to achieve historic success. If we want this I must do an excellent job there. So the hard work begins from now.”

Onder, who qualified third to the all-around final in Szczecin, clawed his way up to fifth place after breaking form on pommel horse in the second rotation. He attributes his early error, which dropped his rank on the apparatus to 17th, to expectations he placed on himself heading into the competition.

“I was a little bit stressed before the all-around final because I knew that if I did all of my routines well I could be third, and this would be a historic moment for Turkish gymnastics,” Onder said. “So in the days before, I put pressure on myself. I think I couldn’t handle this so I made a mistake.”

Onder regained his regained his composure and completed the final smoothly, but said he was disappointed to end it without a medal.

“After this I understood that I must relax, and after the first two apparatus’, I did great routines,” he said. “At the end on high bar, after my routine and even with the mistake, I thought I took the bronze medal. But it was not a high enough score for the podium. I was so sad.”

Onder said his results in the apparatus finals helped inspire and appease him, despite the fact that he did not win medals. He finished seventh on floor exercise, fifth on parallel bars and seventh on high bar.

“In the floor final I made a mistake only on my dismount, but mostly I am satisfied with my performance,” he said. “For the medal podium, scores were high, so I understand that I must upgrade my D-score if I want to compete for the floor podium. Now I’m working on this.”

Onder said he was pleased with his performance on parallel bars and anticipated a good score.

“After I saw the score I was disappointed,” he said. “I was expecting higher. And when I lost my chance to stay on the (medal) podium my motivation was very bad. But I’m very happy that my teammate (Ferhat Arican) took the bronze medal. I hope one day both of us will be on that podium.”

On high bar, Onder missed a Kolman but ended the meet in high spirits nonetheless.

“I had some problems on my Kolman, also in training that day,” he said. “I went there to do my best again. But with a little bit of tiredness from the whole week, and like I said my motivation having gone down after the p-bars final, I couldn’t do what I wanted. I was also proud that I represented my country in three apparatus finals. After all I was happy.”

Onder plans to stay busy and productive until Stuttgart, where he and his Turkish team will attempt to earn a berth to next summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo. Turkey placed 15th at the 2018 Worlds in Doha, 1.007 points away from 12th place. Twelve teams, including the top three teams in Doha plus nine more teams in Stuttgart, will advance to Tokyo.

Onder is also positioned to improve upon his results at the last two Worlds; he was ninth all-around at the 2017 Worlds in Montreal and 15th all-around at the 2018 Worlds in Doha.

“First I’m working on my upgrades now,” he told IG. “We will go to several important competitions before Worlds. I want to try my routines and do a stable job. After this I can be ready for Worlds, and I hope it will be an unforgettable competition for me and my team.”

Read “Turkish Delight,” a collection of feature articles including Onder and fellow Turkish gymnasts Ibrahim Colak, Tutya Yilmaz and Goksu Uctas Sanli, in the October 2018 issue of International Gymnast magazine. To subscribe to the print and/or digital editions, or to order back issues for International Gymnast magazine, click here.

 
Written by Admin    Tuesday, 07 May 2019 07:39    PDF Print
‘It Just Didn’t Feel Real,’ Says Nichols of NCAA Repeat Win
(3 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

Travis Seefried (women); Jim Holt (men)

Maggie Nichols of Oklahoma University was blindsided by her second consecutive all-around win at last month’s NCAA Championships, which are featured in a 16-page cover story in the May 2019 issue of International Gymnast magazine.

“(Coach) K.J. Kindler was like, ‘You just won,’” Nichols said. “I was like, ‘What? What did I win?’ She was like, ‘You just won the all-around.’ It just didn’t feel real.”

Kindler was sure Nichols would come through, although a foot injury prevented her from competing on floor exercise since January.

“I knew if she was feeling great, she would make her floor routine,” Kindler said. “Honestly, I don’t lose my breath when Maggie goes. If we’re putting her up there, we feel really confident.”

Brody Malone led Stanford University to the men’s team title, and he earned the all-around title in the process.

“It feels great to win all-around, but the team title is what’s important,” Malone said. “We train together and we’re very close.”

He also became only the third freshman to win the NCAA all-around title, joining Sam Mikulak (2011) and Yul Moldauer (2016).

To subscribe to the print and/or digital editions of International Gymnast magazine, click here.

 
Written by John Crumlish    Thursday, 25 April 2019 07:40    PDF Print
Thomas Balances NCAA, International Careers
(3 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

U.S. national team member Trinity Thomas said she looks forward to returning to elite competition following her successful, just-finished freshman season competing for the University of Florida.

“I’m planning on doing summer meets and taking it step by step,” said Thomas following her performance at last weekend’s 2019 NCAA Championships in Fort Worth, where she competed on uneven bars and floor exercise.

Thomas, who said she plans to attend an upcoming U.S team training camp, relishes her experience as a member of the U.S. and University of Florida squads.

“To represent the U.S. is super incredible, and I’ve met so many people and been to so many places, so (it’s) really cool,” she said in a recent episode of “Gator Tales,” the official podcast of the Florida Gators.

Thomas likewise praised her teammates at Florida. “This team is just amazing,” she said. “They have pushed me and I know I have pushed them.”

Following her performance at NCAAs, she referred to the Florida team as a family.

“The coaches are so encouraging and loving and they just want what’s best for you,” said Thomas, who was named Southeastern Conference Freshman Gymnast of the Year in a vote of the league coaches. “I’ve been having the time of my life.”

Thomas, who turned 18 on April 7, trained under coaches Tony and Jen Fatta at Prestige Gymnastics in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, prior to enrolling at Florida.

Last year she placed second all-around at the World Cup of Tokyo, second all-around at the Senior Pan American Championships in Peru, and eighth all-around at the U.S. Championships. She was fourth all-around, third on balance beam and third on floor exercise at the 2017 P&G (U.S.) Championships.

Thomas’s athletic versatility extends beyond her roles on the U.S. and Florida gymnastics teams. In her final year of high school she competed in track and diving, and finished second at the 2018 Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) Class 2A Diving Championships.

With a return to international competition and a second season at Florida on her agenda, Thomas said she can and will improve.

“I know I’m not as good as I can be,” she said. “I want to keep getting better and keep working hard.”

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, 23 April 2019 09:11    PDF Print
Success At Recent Europeans Gives Kaeslin ‘Much Motivation’
(1 vote, average 5.00 out of 5)

Veteran Swiss gymnast Ilaria Kaeslin told IG that her success at the recent European Championships inspired her for competitions to come.

“To see the good level from the other nations motivates me a lot,” said Kaeslin, who finished fourth on balance beam and 20th all-around at Europeans that took place April 10-14 in Szczecin, Poland. “Also, to make two finals gave me much motivation.”

For the third time in her career, Kaeslin came close to a Europeans medal on balance beam. She placed fourth on balance beam at the 2016 Europeans in Bern, Switzerland, and fifth on balance beam at last year’s Europeans in Glasgow, Scotland.

Kaeslin, who was 0.067 points shy of third place on balance beam in Szczecin, said she understands what improvements she will need to make for a podium finish going forward.

“I have to work more on the dismount and on the stability of my connections,” she said.

Assessing her performance in the all-around final, Kaeslin gave herself a mixed review.

“The all-around final was not bad,” said Kaeslin, who placed 13th all-around at the 2013 Europeans in Moscow and 14th all-around at the 2017 Europeans in Cluj-Napoja, Romania. “I did my best, but my floor routine and bars routine weren't so good. On floor I didn't finish the pirouette turn and on bars I made a mistake.”

As Swiss superstar Giulia Steingruber continues to recover from injury, the 21-year-old Kaeslin said she is modestly assuming the extra responsibility that comes with her seniority.

“I don't feel a big difference of pressure, because I always want to make good results,” she said. “My role in the team is the same as before. Giulia is always in training with the Swiss team. She is the captain. I'm just one of the oldest of the team, and I'm present if there is some questions or problems. At the Europeans, the other two Swiss gymnasts were only 16, and I tried to help if there were some questions.”

Kaeslin’s next goal is a credible performance at this fall’s World Championships in Stuttgart. She said her team, like many others, has the potential there to earn a berth to next summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo.

The top three teams from the 2018 Worlds in Doha, plus nine additional teams from the 2019 Worlds, will advance to Tokyo. Switzerland finished 21st in Doha, about 6.965 points away from 12th place.

Preparation and confidence will be keys to a solid Swiss showing in Stuttgart, Kaeslin said.

“We want to be in the top 12, but it will be really difficult,” she told IG. “All nations have the same goal, to go to the Olympics, and I think that we have to work really hard if we want to achieve this place. It will be difficult, but the first important thing is to believe we can do it.”

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

 
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