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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.

Written by John Crumlish    Monday, 18 March 2019 06:44    PDF Print
Katelyn Ohashi: ‘How I Entertain Is My Gratitude For Everyone’
(6 votes, average 4.33 out of 5)

UCLA senior Katelyn Ohashi has become a pop-culture phenomenon thanks to her joyous floor exercise routine that has has earned 117 million views and counting, but she intends to use her recent multimedia platform to better not only herself but the world.

Through her appearance on ABC’s “Good Morning America” and elsewhere, Ohashi has been open and vocal on the self-doubt and even self-hatred she suffered and has gradually overcome. She continues to reconcile her troubled past as she poises herself for altruistic ventures beyond the gym.

Since Ohashi’s 10.0-scoring routine at a January 12 meet went viral, it has become the most-watched sports video on social media so far this year. Janet Jackson, Kamala Harris, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Jesse Jackson and Troy Aikman are among the celebrities who have shared it.

Featured on the IG cover three times during her elite career, Ohashi finished first all-around at the 2011 U.S. junior championships, the ’12 Pacific Rim junior championships and the ’13 American Cup. She began competing for UCLA in the 2015-16 season. As a junior she shared the ’18 NCAA floor exercise title with another Michael Jackson-themed routine that went viral and enjoyed 90 million views.

IG spoke with Ohashi at Pauley Pavilion following her latest 10.0-scoring floor routine against Utah State University on March 16, her final home meet for UCLA.

IG: Was there a moment at which you finally accepted your past and yourself, and all the things that had been confusing and tormenting you?

KO: It’s been a really long process over the past four years, and I would say I started accepting it a lot in my sophomore year more so. Over last summer I had this crazy experience spiritually, and learning to forgive, move on and heal. All of it came together and I would say that was kind of the moment when I realized I was compartmentalizing a lot and there was still stuff I needed to deal with, and so a lot of it happened then.

IG: How are you coping with not only all the media attention you’ve been getting, but knowing you are contributing to bigger crowds at home and away meets? That is a lot of pressure.

KO: I don’t see it as pressure. Miss Val (UCLA coach Valorie Kondos Field) says we have to be grateful for all the people that are here, and really thanking all of them. How I entertain is my gratitude for everyone, and I go with the same every single time, which is to have as much fun as possible.

Read the complete interview in the 2019 May 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 John Crumlish    Tuesday, 12 March 2019 07:29    PDF Print
2017 World Beam Champion Schaefer Hopeful For Title Defense
(6 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

2017 world balance beam champion Pauline Schaefer of Germany told IG she is nearly recovered from a 2018 ankle injury and hopes to be ready for this fall’s World Championships in Stuttgart.

“My ankle is almost healed up,” said Schaefer of the injury that kept her out of the 2018 World Championships in Doha, Qatar. “I can do my training without any severe limitation.”

Schaefer said she has used the time since her injury to prepare diligently and patiently.

“I tried to do a little step forward every day,” she said. “I’ve done a lot of strength training and mental beam routines. On the one hand it was hard to be out of competition, but on the other hand I could concentrate on my health. There was no pressure to be fit at a special time, so I could cure my ankle injury and do a good rehabilitation.”

Schaefer is eager to compete at this year’s biggest international events.

“My target competitions are the European Championships and, of course, the World Championships in Stuttgart,” she told IG. “I really looking forward to that. I will do my best to compete there.”

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

Written by dwight normile    Monday, 04 March 2019 09:02    PDF Print
Moldauer, Wong Win American Cup In Greensboro, N.C.
(3 votes, average 3.67 out of 5)

Yul Moldauer is on a winning streak, both at Oklahoma gymnastics and the American Cup. His first American Cup victory was in 2017, where he defeated Ukrainian Oleg Vernyayev, an amazing gymnast in his own right. In 2018 defeated James Hall (Great Britain) and his third was on March 2 against Sam Mikulak, by 0.001!

“It was fun,” Moldauer said. “It's always a good time competing with him, because he's a veteran. I am so blessed, I don't even know what to say. I want to say thanks to all the OU coacheds and my club coaches, my family and all my friends and teammates to help me get where I'm at today.”

“Yul had a great meet and won by the closest margin in history,” said OU head coach Mark Williams. “Sam gave him an opportunity and Yul kept plugging away and made the end really exciting.” Moldauer stuck his double-twisting double tuck off rings, although he picked up swing earlier in the routine. On vault he nailed the landing on a Kasamatu-double twist. He stuck his barani-out of the parallel bars, as well.

Fellow American Mikulak has this to say about his performance: “Today, honestly, mentally I felt like I was in the right place, but there's just a couple things we need to refine over the next couple months. He's (Moldauer) got nothing but confidence and brings a lot to the table as a teammate.”

To Mikulak’s credit he said “Lets bring it home!” before Moldauer's routine, who was last up on high bar.

And afterward Moldauer landed his triple-twisting double layout, Mikulak said, "That a boy!”

In her first senior event, Leanne Wong, claimed the gold medal at the American Cup. She is trained by Al Fong and Armine Barutyan-Fong at Great American Gymnastics Express in Missouri.

“It was really exciting competing at my first senior meet, and I thought it went pretty well,” Wong said. “I’m most proud of my floor routine, because I was little nervous for that, and that was the last event, and I was last.”

Grace McCallum, usually solid on balance beam, struggled a bit.

“It went really good,” McCallum said. “It might not have gone the way I wanted it to, but I'm still really proud of myself. It's a different environment, different experience.

Men’s AA: 1.Yul Moldauer 85.932; Sam Mikulak 2. 85.931; Ma Yue 84.465.

Women's AA: 1. Leanne Wong 56.765; 2. Grace McCallum 56.465; 3. Ellie Black 55.732.

For complete results of the American Cup, click here.

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, 27 February 2019 08:12    PDF Print
Emma Nedov: ‘I Decided I’d Go For It One Last Time’
(3 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

Australia’s Emma Nedov told IG that longterm training and competitive readiness helped her win the first World Cup medal of her lengthy career, a silver on balance beam, at the early-in-the-season World Cup of Melbourne held Feb. 21-24.

“It actually doesn’t feel that early in the season for me,” said Nedov, who finished fifth, sixth and seventh on balance beam at 2017 World Cup meets in Melbourne, Baku and Doha, respectively. “I’ve been training full time since the World Championships in October, but I think what gave me the edge in this competition is good preparation, and being fit and strong both mentally and physically.”

Nedov said she was also satisfied with her fourth-place finish on floor exercise in Melbourne, especially considering that she injured an Achilles’ tendon two years ago.

“I think it goes without saying that had I not fallen that probably would’ve helped (score higher),” she said. “However, it was my first-ever floor final and the first competition I’ve competed a full routine in, since my Achilles’ (injury) in 2017. So I’m still pretty happy with fourth.”

Nedov’s aspirations to compete at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio were flustered when she and her Australian teammates finished fifth at the Olympic test event in Rio in April 2016, from which the top four teams advanced to the Rio Games. She previously faced a similar close call at the 2014 World Championships in Nanning, where she was first alternate for the balance beam final.

Time off from gymnastics in 2018 helped Nedov rekindle her passion for the sport as well as find a way to explore outside pursuits, she said.

“Last year I took about six months away from the sport and was ready to happily retire,” said Nedov, whose paternal grandparents emigrated from Croatia to Australia in 1958. “I felt that it was time to see what life can be without gymnastics as I’m 22 now and needed some money. I was fortunate enough to get offered a job in marketing at the place where I train, and that allowed me to decide what I want. After having the time off, experiencing life without gymnastics and getting a proper job, I decided that I’d give my all and go for it one last time.”

Wisdom and a creative professional venture inspired her refreshed outlook on gymnastics, she said. “Coming back after the time off, I found I had a more mature attitude towards training, as I was genuinely doing it for myself and not just because it was a habit,” said Nedov, who trains under coaches Ma Jun and Zhen Zhang.

“I’ve also started a brand with my teammate Georgia-Rose Brown called Artium Sport, which has given me something else to look forward to in gymnastics as it’s based around artistic sport.” Nedov’s main aim for 2019 is to help Australia win one of nine remaining team berths for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The top three teams from the 2018 Worlds in Doha, and nine additional teams from this fall’s Worlds in Stuttgart, will advance to Tokyo. Australia finished 15th in Doha.

“Definitely, as a country, we’re hoping to qualify a full team to Tokyo this year at World Championships,” she told IG. “To go to the Olympics as a team after missing out in 2016 would be a great achievement and resurgence of Australian women’s artistic gymnastics. As for my personal prospects, my goal is first and foremost to stay fit, healthy and happy in the sport. I’ll be hoping to help Australia qualify for the Olympics, and then to finally make that Olympic team would be my ultimate goal.”

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


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