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Written by Admin    Friday, 11 January 2019 14:28    PDF Print
Epke Zonderland: ‘It’s A Special Year For Me’
(6 votes, average 4.33 out of 5)

Horizontal bar gold medalist Epke Zonderland of the Netherlands could be forgiven for feeling a bit distracted and overwhelmed in Doha.

It’s a special year for me,” said Zonderland, a new father and recent medical-school graduate. “Of course, it’s great to finish my studies, and last Saturday (October 13) my baby son, Bert, was born. It’s hard to stay focused here, but I’m really happy about it.”

After the award ceremony, Zonderland barely made it into the mixed zone when someone handed him a mobile phone, with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte on the line offering congratulations. “He said it was an amazing performance,” Zonderland said of the conversation.

“He didn’t see it yet because he was in the car, but he said his sister saw it on television and was very impressed. So he’s going to watch it quite soon.”

Zonderland also credited his wife, Linda Steen, for her wholehearted support of his participation.

“My wife did a great job in allowing me to go here,” he said. “She didn’t say she didn’t like it or anything, so I’m also really proud of her.”

It was Zonderland’s third high bar title. The first two were in 2013 (Antwerp) and 2014 (Nanning). He also won the gold on his best event at the 2012 London Olympics.

Zonderland is included in "Stories From Doha," which 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.

Written by Admin    Thursday, 10 January 2019 07:51    PDF Print
Matvei Petrov: 'This Is How My Albanian Story Started'
(6 votes, average 3.67 out of 5)

By way of Prague, former Russian national team member Matvei Petrov is enjoying an unexpected new phase of his career while competing for Albania.

Petrov, a three-time Russian national pommel horse champion, made his international debut for Albania at the Grand Prix of Brno, a mixed pairs competition in the Czech Republic last November that he and Dutch partner Neto Tanishaley won. He finished third on pommel horse at the Voronin Cup in Moscow in December.

The 28-year-old Petrov credits “a coincidence of various circumstances” for leading him to represent Albania.

“I had a long career in Russia,” he said. “That’s true, but I wouldn’t say that it was a very successful one. When I didn’t reach the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, I completely finished my sports career and moved to Prague to work as a coach. I didn’t think about continuing my sports career. But during my working day as a coach I had some free time, so I started to train again and realized that actually I was still in not-bad shape. And I was just lucky, because the director of the gym where I have been working is Albanian. This is how my Albanian story started.”

Petrov said the Albanian Gymnastics Federation obtained approval from the Russian Gymnastics Federation for him to compete for Albania. “Nobody was against it,” he said.

Former teammates and longtime coach Vladimir Tikhtman remain important in Petrov’s life abroad, he said.

“I still have a very good relationship with the Russian team,” Petrov said. “I have many friends there. I still support and wish the best to the guys in the team. (Tikhtman) was with me my whole life beginning from when I was 4. He knows me better than anybody else and that’s why I need his advice.”

Petrov trains under coach and gym director Alon Hasa (“my closest friend here in Prague”) from 9 a.m. until 12 p.m., and then coaches young gymnasts. He said he is optimistic that he can continue to progress as an international competitor for Albania.

“Albanian gymnastics is very young and I think it has only one gymnast right now,” he said. “But we’ll see what the future will bring. I think this situation can change, and already now I think Albania takes me seriously and it is ready to support me.”

Inspired by his new surroundings and training situation, Petrov is another year closer to, and only one year away from, his main target.

“My goals didn’t change that much,” he said. “I am still dreaming about reaching the Olympic Games. This year will be very important for me, because there will be a lot of competitions. I should show my best performance, mostly on pommel horse of course.”

Petrov’s high hopes for 2019 extend to his fellow gymnasts.

“As usual for the New Year, I wish to my friends and to myself to be healthy, happy and satisfied in work,” he told IG. “But in gymnastics there is really a lot of work. It doesn’t matter whether you are a coach or a gymnast."

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

Written by Admin    Monday, 07 January 2019 09:28    PDF Print
Sanna Veerman: 'Small Details Make The Difference'
(3 votes, average 3.33 out of 5)

Dutch gymnast Sanna Veerman told IG her role as Dutch team reserve at last fall’s World Championships in Doha, Qatar, provided exposure and insight that will benefit her in 2019.

“Of course I experienced all the traveling and practices in all the different gyms during the World Championships,” she said. “I was also able to perform during podium training, which was a very good learning opportunity. I also watched all the finals and that taught me that, in the end, it all comes down to the small details that make the difference.”

Veerman said Doha was “without a doubt” her most memorable experience of 2018.

“It was my first encounter with a big tournament as a first-year senior, and I enjoyed every minute of it,” she said.

Veerman placed first all-around at the 2016 Dutch Junior Championships, 16th all-around at the 2016 European Junior Championships, second all-around at the 2017 Dutch Junior Championships and fifth all-around at the 2018 Dutch Championships.

She trains at Turnz Amsterdam Gymnastics, where she is coached by the husband-and-wife team of Wolther Kooistra and Claudia Werkhoven. The couple train her on all four apparatuses; Kooistra’s emphasis is on vault and uneven bars, and Werkhoven’s emphasis is on balance beam and floor exercise.

To break into the Dutch team lineup at the 2019 Worlds in Stuttgart, she plans to add difficulty and improve her execution.

“I still need to make some steps on all apparatus, and work especially on perfecting the execution of my skills,” said Veerman, who will turn 17 on January 29. “Furthermore, on bars, I am working on new combos and elements which I hopefully will perform this year at a competition for the first time. This way my D-scores and perfected execution will optimize my odds to break into the starting roster.”

Veerman said she enjoyed the holiday season, highlights of which included a short trip to Paris just before Christmas, and celebration of Christmas and New Year’s Eve at home with her family and friends. She is hopeful for a hardy 2019.

“My New Year’s resolution is to stay fit and healthy,” she told IG.

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

Written by Admin    Friday, 04 January 2019 07:40    PDF Print
Vasiliki Millousi: 'I'm Full Of Gymnastics'
(3 votes, average 3.67 out of 5)

Three-time Greek Olympian Vasiliki Millousi felt out of her element as a contestant on the television show “Nomads” last year, but the experience made her tougher for gymnastics and life in general.

The 34-year-old Millousi said she was forced to push her physical and mental limits throughout her three-month stint on the show, as she and athletes from various sports faced off in grueling survival contests.

“It was a really unique experience for me, because I was used to being an athlete,” she said. “My life includes healthy food and healthy living, and everything was different there — no food, no power. And with no power you had to compete every day.”

Millousi, who announced her retirement in Doha, said overcoming the taxing challenges of “Nomads” empowered her. “Afterwards I was a really stronger person, and it helps me for gymnastics, too,” she said. “It helped me psychologically to see competition like a game, and to enjoy it more. I’m full of gymnastics. It’s my life and I love it.”

This story appears in the January/February 2019 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    Friday, 28 December 2018 08:49    PDF Print
Ri Se Gwang: 'It's The Spirit That I Will Be The Champion'
(1 vote, average 5.00 out of 5)

Perhaps signaling a new level of comfort and openness with international media, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s Ri Se Gwang spoke cheerfully through an equally friendly interpreter on the strategy that helped him win his third vault title at the 2018 World Championships in Doha, Qatar.

“I had no special thing,” said the 33-year-old Ri with a wry smile. “I was only focusing on my execution, to complete both vaults successfully. Every element I execute is not an easy one. They are very difficult, but I had full confidence that I could execute these difficult elements easily.”

Ri, the 2016 Rio Olympic vault champion, trounced the field in D-scores alone; his eponymous pair of vaults each carried a D-score of 6.0, whereas the highest D-score of any other finalist was 5.6. Ri said inventing and successfully performing such skills is easy, considering his internal drive.

“It’s the spirit that I will be the champion of the world,” he said.

Ri also won the gold on vault at the 2014 Worlds in Nanning, China, and the 2015 Worlds in Glasgow, Scotland.

“Stories From Doha” (11 of them) will appear in the January/February 2019 issue on 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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