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Written by John Crumlish    Monday, 15 April 2019 08:25    PDF Print
‘Humble and Determined’ De Jesus Dos Santos Wins Europeans
(8 votes, average 4.38 out of 5)

In an International Gymnast magazine cover story nearly two years ago, French coach Eric Hagard confidently acknowledged the winning potential of his gymnast, Melanie De Jesus Dos Santos, who took the all-around gold medal at the European Championships that took place April 10-14 in Szczecin, Poland.

“Melanie’s best abilities are good spatial awareness, an extraordinary sense of rhythm and very good muscle explosion,” said Hagard in the four-page feature on De Jesus Dos Santos. “She is humble and determined.”

In Szczecin, De Jesus Dos Santos, the 2017 bronze medalist, scored 55.433 points to become the first French woman to win the European all-around title since Marine Debauve took it in 2005. France’s Elodie Lussac won the junior title in 1993.

Defending champion Ellie Downie of Great Britain won silver (55.365), and top qualifier Angelina Melnikova of Russia won bronze (55.065).

“I told myself to grab any tenth possible by going strong and clean aiming for the medal,” De Jesus Dos Santos said. “I was both nervous and relaxed. Hearing my teammates cheer for me helped a lot. This gold medal represents all the work done in training.”

Hagard said De Jesus Dos Santos is on track for success at next summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo.

“The strategy is to include, step-by-step, new elements or combinations to keep her motivated for the rest of the Tokyo cycle,” he told IG. “Of course, staying fit and healthy is the major concern as an elite coach.”

Read “French Force,” a four-page cover story on De Jesus Dos Santos in the July/August 2017 issue of International Gymnast magazine; and read coverage of the 2019 European Championships in the May 2019 issue.

To subscribe to the print and/or digital editions, or order back issues, click here.

Written by John Crumlish    Monday, 08 April 2019 07:45    PDF Print
‘Even Better Results Are Coming,’ Says Finland’s Soravuo
(2 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

As Finland’s Emil Soravuo prepares for this week’s European Championships in Szczecin, Poland, he told IG that finishing fourth on floor exercise behind three world championships floor exercise medalists at last month’s World Cup of Doha has inspired him for even stronger performances ahead.

“I’m really satisfied with my execution in Doha, especially being able to stay composed in the final,” said Soravuo, who turned 22 on March 28. “Fourth place is by far the best achievement I’ve had so far. Third place was only 0.033 points away. Of course it’s a pity that I was so close to third place. Yet I’m still happy.”

In Doha, Soravuo placed one rank below 2018 world floor exercise bronze medalist Carlos Yulo of the Philippines. First was two-time world floor exercise medalist Alexander Shatilov of Israel, and second was 2015 world floor exercise bronze medalist Rayderley Zapata of Spain.

Soravuo, who was sixth on floor exercise at the 2018 World Cup of Cottbus, said he intends to continue applying pressure to the Doha medalists in future competitions. He, Shatilov and Zapata are on the roster for Szczecin.

“My plan to challenge those three gymnasts is to execute my routine even better than in Doha,” said Soravuo, who trains under coaches Dmytro Gorbachov and Mati “Pappa” Kirmes at Espoon Telinetaiturit in Espoo, Finland. “I’m not ready to add more difficulty to my routine just yet, so my plan is to perfect my routine right now.”

Among Soravuo’s other best results, he was seventh on vault at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games and seventh on vault at the 2017 Challenge Cup of Osijek.

“Strong vaulting has always been natural for me since I was a kid,” he said. “The way I always bounced around the training hall starts to pay off. Results of having strong legs have been achieved. And even better results are coming.”

As a senior gymnast, Soravuo has mainly competed internationally on floor exercise and vault. He plans to continue as a two-apparatus specialist to give him a better shot at earning a berth to the Olympic Games.

“For now I’m focusing only on floor exercise and vault,” he said. “I believe I have a better chance of qualifying to the Olympics by competing on those two apparatus. By adding more difficulty to them I think that’s the best way to be able to achieve a spot at the Olympics.”

Should Soravuo continue his ascent, he could match the international success of recent Finnish team standouts Tomi Tuuha and Oskar Kirmes. Tuuha won vault at the 2010 European Championships. Kirmes, a top-40 all-around finisher at the 2016 Olympic Games and three World Championships, has made 11 World Cup or Challenge Cup finals and placed second on floor exercise at the 2015 Challenge Cup of Ljubljana.

“That’s indeed a lot to digest,” said Soravuo of the prospect. “Hopes are high here in Finland as are mine, as well. I don’t think about that too much, just to keep the pressure under wraps. I’m doing my thing like I’ve done so far. I think that’s the major key to success.”

As Soravuo paces his career, he already has at least two Olympic Games in his sights.

"My main goal at the moment is Tokyo 2020,” he told IG. “I’ll do everything to make my way there by living the life of a full-time gymnast. Of course after that I’ll focus on Paris 2024. But for now I’m keeping my eyes on Tokyo 2020.”

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, 01 April 2019 07:40    PDF Print
Petrounias: ‘I Will Be Undefeated'
(1 vote, average 5.00 out of 5)

The April 2019 issue of International Gymnast magazine contains an in-depth interview with three-time world rings champion Eleftherios Petrounias of Greece, who told IG he is on the mend and eager to compete following shoulder surgery last November.

Moreover, Petrounias intends to remain atop the medal podium through the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

“I will be undefeated in the competitions in which I will compete,” he told IG. “So until Tokyo we have Worlds (in October) and the 2020 European Championships. Not many competitions to look impossible. I’m going to make it happen.”

Petrounias, the 2016 Olympic rings champion, is confident that he will have a well-paced recovery.

“The forecast for a surgery to the supraspinatus is around three months, and five months to start full training,” he said. “When we heard from the doctor that he also fixed the tendon of the biceps, we realized that it will take more time to get ready. But I’m going to try to do whatever I can from my side.”

When Petrounias returns to competition, he plans to perform at complete difficulty, rather than ease back into it with a lesser routine.

“Definitely I will be back with my full routine, and I will be ready to defend my titles and continue to follow my dreams,” he told IG.

Read the complete interview with Petrounias in the April 2019 issue of International Gymnast magazine. To subscribe to the print and/or digital editions, click here.

Written by John Crumlish    Monday, 25 March 2019 09:34    PDF Print
Israel’s Shatilov Enjoys Golden Birthday In Doha
(2 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

Three-time Israeli Olympian Alexander Shatilov told IG he enjoyed celebrating his 32nd birthday with a gold medal-winning performance on floor exercise at the World Cup of Doha on March 22.

“It was really nice to compete on my birthday and I am really happy that I could give myself a present,” said Shatilov, who outscored 25-year-old silver medalist Rayderley Zapata of Spain and 19-year-old bronze medalist Carlos Yulo of the Philippines.

Zapata and Yulo won bronze on floor exercise at the 2015 and 2018 World Championships, respectively.

Shatilov, who won bronze on floor exercise at the 2009 and 2011 World Championships, said his age does not limit his potential to better his gymnastics.

“I’m already 32, but it absolutely does not bother me,” said Shatilov, who also won bronze on floor exercise at the 2017 European Championships. “I feel that I can still improve my skills, and that is why I continue my sports career.”

Shatilov said he is confident he can earn a berth for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, which would be his fourth Olympic start. He made the floor exercise final at the 2008 and 2012 Games, finished 12th all-around at the 2012 Games, and competed on two apparatuses at the 2016 Games.

Following his success in Doha, Shatilov plans to fortify his program for a good showing at this fall’s World Championships in Stuttgart, and thereby qualify for Tokyo.

“I am sure that I have chances,” he told IG. “I must continue to work and get in good shape for the World Championships. For Stuttgart, I have to try to raise the difficulty on floor exercise, and of course work on the all-around, in order to increase the chances of getting to the Olympics Games.”

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, 20 March 2019 07:35    PDF Print
Jamaica’s Francis: Tokyo 2020 Is ‘Within My Reach’
(3 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

2012 British Olympic team reserve Danusia Francis, who now represents Jamaica, told IG she is confident she can qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games through a good performance at this fall’s World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany.

“Unfortunately Jamaica is not strong to qualify a team yet, but maybe in the future,” said Francis at the March 16 meet at UCLA, for which she competed from 2012-16. “At the moment I’m looking to qualify as an individual, so I would have to be the highest-scoring Jamaican at the World Championships and come in the top certain percentage. As long as I have a good competition, I know that’s within my reach.”

Francis, whose father is Jamaican, began competing for Jamaica in 2015 after contemplating her prospects for the 2020 Games.

“Loads of people were asking me, ‘Are you going to make a comeback? Are you going to go for Tokyo?’ ” she said. “It literally hadn’t even crossed my mind, but then I thought, ‘I have nothing stopping me and I would love to go to Tokyo, and I need to give it a shot.’”

Francis said she was also influenced to resume her international career by the perspective on life shared by UCLA coach Valorie Kondos Field.

“That’s something Miss Val taught me — give it a shot,” said Francis, who trains under coaches Vince and Michele Walduck, and Natalia Ilienko-Jarvis, at Heathrow Gymnastics Club in London. “You have one life to live — don’t live with regrets.”

Francis said she enjoys performing novelty skills such as her dismount combination on balance beam, which consists of a side aerial across the beam into a full twist. She competed this combination at UCLA and restored it to her international routine following a rules change that now credits it.

“Before, you had to have a certain value dismount, but now they’ve changed the rule and the rule is that you have to count your dismount,” said Francis, who has worked as a stuntwoman and doubled for Rita Ora at the 2017 MTV European Music Awards where she performed a somersault into a car. “So I count a full twist, which is the second part of the dismount. I think it’s worth it, having the first part into it, because it’s such a crowd-pleaser and the judges never see it. I’ve competed it a few times now and I’ve gotten the reward back, so it’s really cool.”

Francis also plans to compete a side aerial into a momentary manual hold at the Superstars of Gymnastics event on March 23 at The O2 Arena in London.

“I played with that a little bit and we did send it to the Code of Points to submit it, but they said I would have to hold it for three seconds after to get it named,” she said. “That’s a bit hard, especially under the pressure of a World Championships or other competitions where you can get skills named. So I’m going to do it at Superstars of Gymnastics. I’ll do it there because it will be a crowd-pleaser.”

Francis said her view of gymnastics has changed as she extends her career towards Tokyo.

“As an adult doing gymnastics, I have a completely different perspective,” she said. “It’s more like quality over quantity when it comes to training. Recovery is key.”

Faced with an occasional wane in enthusiasm, Francis said she relies on lessons learned from Kondos Field to keep her motivated.

“When it comes to the days when I maybe don’t want to train, I take on what Miss Val taught me, and that is that I get to do this,” she told IG. “When she was going through chemo (therapy for breast cancer), she was always like, ‘It’s not that I have cancer, it’s that I get to recover from it.’ That’s an outlook on life that I’ve taken on from her. I look at it like get to do gymnastics today.”

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


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