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Written by John Crumlish    Wednesday, 13 February 2019 08:04    PDF Print
Mexico's Fabian DeLuna Bright On 2020 Olympic Chances
(2 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

Mexico’s Fabian DeLuna told IG that, despite his team’s uneven performance at last fall’s World Championships in Doha, he is optimistic he can qualify as an individual for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

“With the improvements and strategies we looked into, I have very good chances to make it to the 2020 Olympics,” he said.

DeLuna said Mexico could have fared better than 42nd in team qualifications in Doha with steadier, cleaner work, as well as a stronger mindset.

“On high bar we were a bit messy, but more than anything, pommel horse wasn't being very friendly that day,” he said. “I think as a team we needed to be better prepared to deal with the nerves. Ending on pommel is already tough, and adding nervousness to the mix was catastrophic.”

DeLuna came close to qualifying for the apparatus finals on rings (12th) and vault (14th) in Doha, and said better execution might have gotten him even closer.

“Getting a little bit more difficulty would've helped, but I think straightening out my knees is key for a better score,” he said.

Until 2015, DeLuna trained in Las Vegas under Belarus’ Vitaly Scherbo, who won six gold medals at the 1992 Olympic Games.

DeLuna, who is now coached by Pablo Moguel in Guadalajara, keeps close ties with his former coach.

“I have a lot of respect for Vitaly,” DeLuna said. “He still helps me out when I go to Vegas to visit my family every year.”

DeLuna said making the switch from U.S. to Mexico was a matter of heritage and pride.

“I decided to represent Mexico because I had already competed for USA for so many years it was time to represent my Mexican side of the family,” said DeLuna, a dual citizen whose father was born in Mexico and whose mother was born in the U.S.

Although DeLuna has earned his best international results on rings and vault, he plans to better his execution scores and boost the difficulty in his all-around program.

“Execution is definitely something that is always going to need some work, so as long as the new skills I'm working on are perfect, I will be adding them to the routine,” he said. “I will be adding a lot of difficulty to my floor routine, and we have found my key skills on pommel horse. Everything else is minor adjustments and consistency.”

DeLuna also explained the variations used for his family name.

“In the U.S. my last name is spelled Deluna, but in Mexico it’s De Luna,” he said. “My way of combining both countries to my name is by joining the two together, so I prefer DeLuna.”

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

Written by John Crumlish    Friday, 08 February 2019 08:54    PDF Print
France's Celia Serber: 'To Bring Freshness To The Team'
(2 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

First-year senior Celia Serber of France told IG she hopes her performance at next month’s American Cup in Greensboro, North Carolina, will be a clean, safe learning experience.

“The American Cup is a great competition that I watch each year,” said Serber, the 2017 and 2018 French junior national all-around champion. “It will be my premier competition for 2019 and a return to competition after missing the end of the 2018 season due to injury. My objective is to perform cleanly and safely. I have a lot to learn from this competition. I will gain experience and take pleasure performing at this level.”

Serber enters 2019 with impressive junior international credentials, including a first-place all-around finish at the 2016 Top Gym juniors meet in Belgium, a sixth-place all-around finish at the 2017 European Youth Olympic Festival in Hungary, and a third-place all-around finish in the junior division at the 2018 City of Jesolo Trophy in Italy.

Born August 13, 2003, she trains under coaches Martine George, Dimitru (Nellu) Pop and Cedric Guille at l’Institut national du sport, de l'expertise et de la performance (INSEP) in Paris.

George, who hails from Australia, previously coached 2010 world floor exercise champion and two-time Australian Olympian Lauren Mitchell. Pop coached 1995 world floor exercise bronze medalist and 2000 European floor exercise champion Ludivine Furnon of France. Guille competed for the French team for 10 years.

“In general Martine works on the beam and artistic preparation, Cedric on bars, and Nellu on vault and floor, although the coaches all work together very closely as a team,” Serber said. “I am also lucky to have great teammates and training partners, including Coline Devillard and Marine Boyer.”

Serber, who trained at the Espoir Pole in Dijon before moving to INSEP, said she is eager to prove herself in the senior ranks this year, including at the World Championships in Stuttgart in October.

“It is an exciting time for me,” she said. “Now as a senior I hope to get into the French senior squad and be a part of the French team in Stuttgart.”

Although the French team already includes several established senior gymnasts, Serber said she is confident she can break into the ranks and offer her own assets to it.

“The team has a lot of great gymnasts, older and more experienced than I, and at the moment France has good depth,” she told IG. “I think it will be a real fight to earn a position for Stuttgart, but I am an all-around gymnast and strong on vault, which I believe is important for the team. I also hope I can bring freshness to the team.”

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

Written by Admin    Monday, 04 February 2019 08:04    PDF Print
Samuel Zakutney: "I Believe We'll Be Ready Sooner Than Expected'
(1 vote, average 5.00 out of 5)

Canadian gymnast Samuel Zakutney told IG that, although the Canadian men’s team finished only 18th at last year’s World Championships in Doha, it has the potential to earn 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games qualification at this fall’s Worlds in Stuttgart.

“After analyzing our performance in Doha, we could have easily made top 12, if not top 10, with a better pommel horse showing,” said Zakutney, who competed on five apparatuses in Doha. “I don’t believe increasing difficulty is in our greatest interest. The main goal is for everyone to hit well-executed routines. If we do that, I believe we have a decent chance of qualifying a team to Tokyo.”

In qualifications in Doha, the Canadian team ranked 33rd on pommel horse with counting scores of 10.000 and two 11.366s. Despite those low marks, Canada finished 3.375 short of 12th place, indicating its potential for a top-12 ranking there with a better outing on pommel horse alone. The team was seventh on horizontal bar, and 16th-20th on the other four apparatuses.

“We can't afford any major mishaps like what happened in Doha,” said Zakutney, a junior and three-time All-American at Penn State University, where he is majoring in biomedical engineering. “We just need to remain focused and learn to not dwell on little mistakes so larger ones can be easily averted.”

While not excusing Canada’s performance on pommel horse in Doha, Zakutney said he sensed that the apparatus itself was problematic.

“If I'm perfectly honest, it seemed like a lot of countries were struggling on horse in Doha,” he said. “When I was watching some qualification sessions the day after ours, I witnessed many officials — judges and Taishan (apparatus supplier) employees — fiddling around with the equipment to check for structural integrity. Nonetheless, we didn't perform as well as we wanted.”

Zakutney said no single factor contributed to his team’s mistakes on pommel horse in Doha.

“It’s hard to think of one reason as to why since I'm not as familiar with the world competition setting, but I guess we just put too much pressure on ourselves to hit instead of rolling with our incoming momentum and just being confident,” he said. “We tried to be too technical with our gymnastics and ended up overthinking a bit.

Zakutney also said his team can achieve far better results on pommel horse in future competitions.

“I believe Team Canada has a great amount of talent on pommel horse and when the team hits, they score pretty well,” he said. “I think all we can work on is performing more routines in uncomfortable settings. For instance, training horse routines with little to no warm-up and at the end of training sessions in order to build endurance and confidence. Regardless, I believe everyone, including myself, is more motivated than ever to refining and mastering the beast.”

Twelve teams will advance to Tokyo. The top three teams in Doha earned direct berths, and nine more teams from Stuttgart will advance to the Games.

For his part, Zakutney said Canada’s focus heading toward Stuttgart will be on perfecting what they already do, as opposed to taking on substantial new elements.

“I absolutely believe the main goal for this team is just executing,” he said. “We could use a little more difficulty on rings and vault, but overall, Team Canada has good foundation of difficulty. I believe learning and implementing new skills for these Worlds is cutting it a little close. However, they'll definitely be considered for the following year.” Zakutney is also confident in his personal prospects to make the Canadian team for Stuttgart.

“Unfortunately, I will not be able to attend any major competitions until May,” he said. “Luckily, none of the more significant Canadian competitions happens until then. Following the NCAA season, my plan is to attend both the Canadian national championships and then Elite Canada in July. Hopefully, I'll prove myself strong enough to make the Pan Am Games team. From then on, I believe I have a fairly good chance of making it Stuttgart. We'll see what happens.”

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

Written by Admin    Monday, 21 January 2019 07:29    PDF Print
Ana Padurariu: 'I Treat Each Competition As The Most Important One'
(6 votes, average 4.67 out of 5)

Called Anne-Marie, Ana Maria or simply Ana, 2018 world balance beam silver medalist Ana Padurariu has cheerfully and efficiently responded to the summons to help her Canadian team continue its upward surge towards the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.

Padurariu and her teammates earned a historic fourth-place finish in the team final at last fall’s World Championships in Doha, Qatar, where in addition to Padurariu’s beam silver medal, Shallon Olsen took silver on vault, Ellie Black made three finals (all-around, vault, beam) and Brooklyn Moors made two finals (all-around, floor exercise). The 17-year-old Padurariu shares her Doha experience, and her insights and hopes, in this IG interview.

IG: As soon as you landed your dismount in the beam final in Doha, you looked delighted and you clapped. What was your first thought as you saluted and ran off the podium?

AP: Once I finished the routine, I was just very happy that I ended without any big mistakes. I did not know the outcome at that time, but I knew that I did not let my coach and my team down.

IG: When you reflect on your performance in the beam final, what do you feel it demonstrated to you, in terms of your ability to hit under tremendous pressure in the biggest competition thus far of your career?

AP: I treat each competition as the most important one. This one was a bit different from the others because of the qualifications to the (2020) Olympics, and of course the pressure and the stress was to another level to not let your team down. Being part of the top eight gymnasts to compete in the beam final and against the most powerful and talented gymnasts in the world was already a huge accomplishment, so as the final came along, I just wanted to go out there and show the routine that I have trained so many times, and most importantly, have fun.

IG: In between your good beam performances in qualifications and the apparatus final came your routine with a fall in the team final. Was your fall the result of nerves, a technical issue or something else?

AP: My nerves did in fact get the best of me, and the fact that everybody had high expectations from me, including myself, was definitely a big factor.

Read the complete interview in the 2019 March 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 Admin    Thursday, 17 January 2019 09:05    PDF Print
Marian Dragulescu: 'My Stamina Is The Same As Always'
(2 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

Winner of eight world titles, Marian Dragulescu of Romania recently conquered his most daunting challenge — on the operating table, not the vaulting table. Dragulescu, who underwent a successful cardiac ablation procedure in May to reduce his abnormally fast heart rate, has not missed a beat in his speedy return to competitive form.

“They removed some electric points which trigger the heart to beat more than regular,” Dragulescu said. “I had one month of recovery and since then it’s like before. I have no problems. My stamina is the same as always.”

Dragulescu’s sense of humor is intact, as well.

“Now I have harder problems, like with both of my Achilles tendons, my knees, my hand, my back, everything,” he joked.

Dragulescu said he is flattered and often amazed by younger gymnasts who successfully perform his namesake vault.

“I’ve seen a lot of gymnasts do it very well, and sometimes it’s hard for me to do this vault,” said Dragulescu, who turned 38 in December. “I’m getting old and some of the gymnasts do it better than I do, but you cannot stop age.”

The self-effacing Dragulescu said that, despite his seniority among his vault rivals, he still sometimes manages to perform the vault better than they do.

“If I catch a full moon, and the universe, stars and the planets align, I can,” he said.

This story appears in the 2019 January/February issue 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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