Saturday, July 31, 2010


This little number won the last heat of the World's Worst Leotard competition.  Anyone all that surprised?  Even she looks distressed by her outfit!



Now that's what I call a typo!!!

Had Khorkina had eighty coffees that  morning, or is she always like that?

And also, does she think if she shouted Russian it would give Mo Huilan a better chance at understanding her or something? I swear, Mo did eventually get a few (revealing) words in edgeways too!

Interesting Mo Huilan likening Cheng Fei's vault to Svetlana khorkina's last bars final (in part 2) AND hearing Khorky talk about Nastia!

Love the mutual ego-stroking at the end too!


Or was it Khorky who was supplying Pavs with the tequila all along?!!



Things may not be going so smoothly during Forminte's return to Izvorani as Elaine over at the IG Forum pointed out.  He's posted his CV in the Gymmedia employment section.


Friday, July 30, 2010


I received this touching question today on my Formspring;

Why don't you write your blog entries on a word processor, or in Firefox using an English dictionary for spelling? You could really do with some proofreading. No offence, but on top of typos, sometimes you don't even get the gymnasts' name right.

Touching.  Let me remind you, this blog is a voluntary activity.  I am not employed by you or anyone.  When I started writing this blog, I didn't think anyone would read it.  I still don't expect that they would want to.  If you don't like the posts I write, often in a big hurry because I have two jobs, a full time research project and a social life, go and find a source of gymnastics information more suitable to your delicate tastes.  There's plenty out there and they can spell.

People like you take the fun out of this.

The Couch Gymnast. 



Apparently, according to the Jakarta Globe, China is getting all tough on themselves.

Chinese sports officials said that tighter checks introduced after the scandal would eradicate the problem. Cai Zhenhua, head of China’s delegation for next month’s Youth Olympic Games in Singapore, said the country had adopted a zero-tolerance policy toward potential cheats. 

Stringent documentation checks on China’s 70-strong squad have been carried out in addition to X-ray bone analysis on members of the team who are under 16 years old, Cai added. 

“We’ve scrutinized every athlete’s age for the Youth Olympic Games to make sure there is no one going to Singapore with a fake age,” he told Thursday’s China Daily. “We have to be very clean and transparent for the benefit of the athletes and the spirit of fair play.”


Thursday, July 29, 2010


Zam the Ham (Photo: The Daily Bruin)

Oh, I have missed her speaking!  Bring on college season!  Post-Classics quote:

Our goal with Vanessa for her first elite meet was to hit clean, beautiful gymnastics and to thoroughly enjoy the experience.  Mission accomplished.  We could not be more happy for Mattie Larson.  She has battled back from months of injury and rehab and is stronger and more beautiful than ever.  Both Mattie and Vanessa bring out the artistry in "artistic gymnastics"
Lawd, wouldn't you just love to know what was going through Val's mind as she watched some of those Classics floor routines?

I just watched the entire Classics coverage last night too.  How hilarious when Vanessa Zam waves to the camera and say "Hi Mom! Hi Dad", then points off to the side and says "Oh you're right here!"

Funnier Tim Dagget saying "It's got to be fun to coach her in the gym.  Fun...or hard, I don't know...."
And a Tim Dagget intentional funny doesn't come around to often!


Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Photo: German Bundesarchive

So, in my recent reading for school, I have been reading a critique of what is called "high performance sport' culture, of which gymnastics is certainly a part. 

One of the chapters is devoted to the German Democratic republic's sports training system.  Athletes in this time were precious to socialist systems.  Their success was one way for nations like Russia, the GDR and later Romania to prove that their system was superior in the "war against capitalist imperialism". 

Karin Janz in the era before the 'report' which changed life for GDR Gymnasts.

Nations like the GDR poured huge amounts of money into producing super athletes who could prove this, and employed thousands of researchers, technicians and medical and training staff to devote knowledge on how best to produce these athletes.

This, of course was the era when anabolic steroids came into common usage.  In 1977 a  summary report was released in the GDR by the Ministry for State Security (Stasi) that told of the success doctors and trainers had experiences using steroids, noting that athletes from all sporting events except gymnastics and skating had utilised the performance enhancers and that they had found the "positive value of the anabolic steroid for the development of a top performance is undoubted".

It was initially thought that women would not be able to retain flexibility while taking steroids, hence the gymnasts did not receive them at first.

Don't forget too, the search for synthetic substances that would improve performances has been going for a long time- and it was not even considered wrong at first. Take for example, the runner who won the marathon at the St Louis Olympics. During the race his trainer gave him a mixture of strychnine (poison, basically) and brandy to drink. He unwittingly drank it, crossed the finish line second (but wound up winning by default because it was discovered the guy who won had driven part of the route in a newly invented automobile!) The runner then collapsed, and if there hadn't been several doctors on hand, probably would have died.  He was not, however, punished for taking anything as the IOC did not yet have mandates on substance use.

According to the report made by the Stasi, within four years of steroid usage, visible improvement was seen in many sports.  It also concluded that women would experience the greatest advantage in using the drugs.

And what happened then?

Well, within two years of the report, they started using the steroids on the women gymnasts in GDR.  Remember, most of these girls were minors at the time too. While some accounts still say that German gymnasts were kept clean of steroids (though given drugs to retard their development), this book found that they had, in fact, been part of it.

The powers-that-be decided that because they had discovered a particular psychotropic steroid called mestanolone, which created a "positive aggressiveness", which allowed the gymnasts to train more and for longer, but did not increase muscle or body weight, thus they could maintain flexibility, to use administer it to girls in gymnastics programs.

On the downside for these gymnasts- this drug was known to cause a higher risk of what is called "virilization" in female gymnasts.

Virilization is when women begin to take on some of the gender characteristics of males because of the drugs, including increased body hair, acne, facial hair, the lowering of the voice and loss of natural fat including breast tissue.  Even worse, virilization was often irreversible.  This, of course, was not always the case.

Gymnast Maxi Gnauck had great success in the late seventies and eighties.

Although I have not found much out there on gymnasts personal experiences of steroids, if you would like to read more about how athletes have suffered because of this crazed desire for national success, read the account of shot-putter Gerd Jacob who has had lifelong medical complications because of having unknowingly taken the drugs, which were given to him as 'vitamins'.  Jacobs has had multiple organ transplants and felt incredible bitterness over the years since his reign in the sport.

Robert Haring- amped after winning- his coach, however, allegedly supplied steroids
to unknowing athletes in the time of the GDR.

Like many socialist sporting systems, the GDR's could be a cruel one.  One athlete, a skier, reporter once,
"For every Olympic champion there are at least 350 invalids.  There are gymnasts among the girls who have to wear corsets from the age of 18 because their spine and their ligaments have become so worn.  There are young people so worn out by the intensive training that they come out of it mentally blank...."

A BBC report stated that as many as two million tablets were given out each year.

Another article in Salon, reported'

The most common substance employed was the anabolic steroid Oral Turinabol from the VEB Jenapharm plant in Jena, which the athletes were given as “vitamins” or “regeneration” tablets. Alongside its effect on muscle growth, Oral Turinabol influenced hormone production and promoted risky and aggressive behavior. Female swimmers and track and field athletes were particularly affected, suffering from odd body hair patterns, deepened voices, a generally masculine build and appearance, and sterility. Shot-putter Birgit Böse, for example, was told by her gynecologist at age twenty-four that she had the reproductive apparatus of an eleven year-old girl. She remains childless to this day. Gymnasts and figure skaters as young as ten or twelve were given steroids mixed into their food. Many of these women did go on to bear children, but their offspring frequently suffered from chronic ailments directly related to the massive use of illegal medications
One female athlete (not a gymnast) had been given so many steroids, that afterward, it was easier for her to have gender reassignment and become a man than to salvage what was left of her original body.

Photo: from Germna Bundesarchive

And one could never blame the athletes, or even fault gymnasts like Gnauck their massive success in this era.  Not only did they probably not even know they were taking it as it was often mixed in their food or administered under the guise of another drug.  Besides, they lived in a republic where taking steroids wasn't just advised , it was state policy.

In fact, after the GDR dissolved, many trainers and official were arrested or charged with lawsuits for giving performance enhancing drugs to athletes.  This included many who were supplying not just teenage girls, but athletes in sports who were as young as ten years old.



Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Bit of a stunner from Kayla Williams ain't it?  That vault talent was indeed a flash in the pan for elite gymnastics.  Girl had potential. Was being a vault specialist not enough for Marta?   Clearly, I know nothing.
Actually, it sounds like she has made this decision on her own.  Maybe just getting on with school is her thing.
Also, am I going to hell for immediately thinking "Woo Alicia is IN, baby!!".  Really?  is that bad?  What kind of karma should I expect?
Oh well, Kayla will be a good strong college gymnast.  And maybe she just doesn't want all the eilite stuff.  Good on her if this really is the case.  Anyway, she probably didn't want to hold out for Olympics, and already being a World Champion in your specialty.  Why push crap uphill unless you really, really, really want it?



Yep, finally it's finished!  Issue Five of the Couch Gymnast Magazine!

In this issue you will find;

A feature discussing the reasons behind China's slow, though deserved rise in the sport.

 Interview: Chris interviewed ex-Romanian beam coach Maria Cosma, responsible for the routines of legends Aurelia Dobre and Daniela Silivas.

Interview: Marlies Rijken, Dutch National beam and floor champion talks about her life in the sport.

Justin Caouette analyses the potential of gender neutrality in gymnastics.

Interview: Meet Gina Robertson and find out what it is like to raise an international elite gymnast and keep a normal, happy family together as she talks about her daughter Brittany.

A profile on the career and potential comeback of everyone's favorite absentee, Anna Pavlova by Suna.

Ashlyn discusses Colombia's improvement in the sport, particularly its two young stars, Natalia Sanchez and Jessica Gil Ortiz.

Amy is back and training again.  Catch up with her latest gymnastics adventures in her gym diary.

The List: Tom Lane's late and great gymnasts of bygone days.

Italy report: Giuly witnessed some spectacular gymnastics from Italy's 1997/8 babies in a recent competition.

Romania- Bea takes a look at the next batch of juniors on the way up the Romania ranks.

Thanks to everyone who participated in this issue. It was great fun working with you all!
A big thanks to Eliana for the editing too!

As usual guys, it would be really nice if you could leave some feedback in the Guestbook for the writers who work really hard on this magazine.


Monday, July 26, 2010



I was watching Mattie Larson's Classics floor routine last night and started to get annoyed.  Mattie wasn't the problem.  She tumbled well, pulled out her spanking new and excellent double layout for all to admire. Her chorey is quite decent for the contemporary level of floor work.  The problem was, it just reminded me of everything I hate about the code.
I think most of us probably agree that the dance part of floor exercise and beam has gone downhill somewhat in the past decades. Floor routines just aren't what they used to be, and beam isn't nearly as interesting or attractive either. 

But it's not so much the choreographers as fault as it is the code. 
In the last twenty years the definition of dance in the code has become so prescriptive rather than descriptive

 In the eighties, floor routines were full of exciting and original leaps and jumps where, for the sake of the chorey, legs made crazy, fun, and even beautiful shapes to match the mood of the piece.  What mattered was how the dance presented itself, how innovative and appealing it was, not the individual point value of every. single. move. Though the gymnasts back then often did hit their splits- not all leaps were about that. Dance elements weren't counted and graded individually.
Nowadays all these crappy requirements make floor and beam dance about how many and how high? 

Bogey at the barre (Getty Images)

This is one of the things that have really dragged down the floor routine.  Who else is sick of watching a gymnast waste valuable 'choreography' time taking a long run up across the mat just to ensure she hits that split leap or switch ring because it is required by the code?  Or take seconds to prepare for the turn that is too big and they inevitably fall out of anyway?  Not only does it just look like an gymnast frantically taking vault run-ups all over the mat, it turns dance into an athletic event.  It's not dance anymore.

The other thing is, that it actually doesn't always benefit the dancers either.  Take Shawn Johnson.  Dance wasn't her strength- tumbling and sheer dynamism was her bag.  Because of that, and her quick twitch muscles, she could throw dynamic leaps on beam like her pike jump and hit it hard.  And sure, that was impressive.  But was it dance?  I don't think so.  So, on one hand it is good because the not natural dancers could benefit, but those who could really move were too tackling these athletic feats instead of showing what they can do in the 'artistic' part of gymnastics.

For example, when gymnasts like Comaneci and Turischeva did those small leaps- I want to call them stride leaps, but I don't really know what they are.  All the old gymnasts did them, and it was about a three quarter split- that looked like dance.  They were graceful, and involved great deportment and lovely arms.  That, to me, was dance.
And it's not that I don't like watching a gymnast do a big beautiful Yang Bo or a well executed sheep jump, but I do get sick of seeing how much effort they take for the gymnasts, and I hate seeing the same leaps over and over.  Yawn.


It's great that Nelli Kim said in that article with IG that the FIG will be addressing these messy moments between elements, but the more I think about it, the more I think that would just be treating the symptoms.

Besides, it looks like that because dance elements are no longer integrated with the actual dance.  There is now tumbling, then dance elements, and then choreography, and rarely ever, do the three meet, unless a gymnast is 'dancing' out of an awkward landing.

Wouldn't it be awesome if there was just some sort of stipulation that there must be a certain ratio of dance rather than a prescriptive rule how many and how exactly they should be performed?

At the moment the code is designed only for code whoring, and it is glaringly obvious.  It makes even quite nice floor workers like Larson  look bad.  The problem is, I am getting used to it.  And on most days I wouldn't have even blinked at Larson's routine.  I would have just enjoyed it.  But something yesterday made me stop and think.  Then, as you have found out, it made me rant!

Here is a Svetlana Baitova floor routine.  I haven't included this because I think it is incredible, but because I think it is good example of how leaps, jumps and turns were integrated with the choreography.  Groshkova's choreography was another great example- or even Baraksanova in 1985.  She did take a few runs into big leaps, but she at least danced out of them and integrated her turns into the choreography.




Ostapenko in the Brazil days.

An interview with Oleg Ostapenko at the All-Around.  A great insight into how Team Russia is preparing to stay deep.

Are you only currently responsible for gymnasts born in 1995/1996?
No, we are looking at younger girls already. The girls born in 1995 have nearly completely been handed over to Alexander Alexandrov [senior head coach] who will work with them from now on. We will keep a couple of the gymnasts born in 1996 with us. Grishina, Sidorova and a few others but we will mostly be working with younger girls. We have already invited girls born in 1997 and 1998 to the training camp [at Round Lake] and even one girl born in 1999. We are already looking towards and preparing for future competitions. For instance, the next Junior European Championships will be for girls born in 1997/1998, so we have to work with them now to strengthen the team.

via Gymnastics Coaching.


Sunday, July 25, 2010


Alicia's vaults cos it's the kind of thing that must be watched again and again....




I should also talk about Va-zam a little I feel, as she is doing something pretty special by making a push at elite. She did a great job at Classics, tying for seventh, and would have done even better had it not been for her slip on beam. Sure, she doesn't really have much of a chance of a run at the Worlds team, but hell, isn't it great to watch her up there? Despite that almost paralysingly slow beam chorey, I would much rather watch her clean, pretty beam work than so many of her contemporaries out there this weekend.
Considering she didn't have time to do much with upgrades- except utilise skills she already had used in the past, she did extremely well.  I think she and her coaches have probably been quite realistic in seeing that World is a long shot- and it's not exactly as if she has stated that's her aim.  I think she is being wise and heading toward a more long term goal. 

And we know she already qualified for Nationals, but it is great for her to get in as many competitions as she can at this level.  As long as they don't break her at camp.  That would blow.

Vanessa told a UCLA journalist recently,

"I just feel like each year I keep getting better and stronger and I thought since I'm healthy and everything has been going well so far, why not give it a shot. I love competing so I want to compete as much as I can and see where it takes me. I feel like every gymnast at this level has the Olympics in the back of their head."

Gymnastics Videos on Gymnastike

And you know what?  Even if the Olympic Dream doesn't end up being realistic for Vanessa- which there is no reason why it shouldn't, really- I am so glad she is going for it.  It's a real love of the sport that gets you to a place like this, and it is just awesone she is being supported so much by UCLA.  And while she is having a great time, why not?

"The amount of talent that I had didn't change; it was mainly my mental discipline. I have a different outlook of how I view gymnastics - I am enjoying it more, living in the moment, and having a lot of fun with it. I feel like a lot of people forget that it's just gymnastics and you should have fun doing this sport. I have a good time with it."

And if she can lead by example among the elites, if she makes it there, her atitude has got to be a good thing.

Read the latest Bruin Profile on her here.



So, I just watched the video of the beam medal podium for Classics.  I squealed just like one of those tween-agers in the crowd (which is kind of embarrassing at the ripe old age of thirty-two) when Alicia Sacramone was called up.

But don'tcha just feel so smug right now?!!  That she put in one of the best shows of the day?  Don't you just wanna call Andrea Joyce and make sure she was watching?

Yep, I feel smug, and satisfied and it just makes me so gosh darn happy to have these older, exciting athletes back in the sport.  I feel bloody grateful that she has even attempted this comeback. The US gymnastics team just got a whole lot more fun!

Gymnastics Videos on Gymnastike


Saturday, July 24, 2010


Mattie Larson

So, Mattie Larson won the Cover Girl Classic.  Good for her. But from simply reading the live blogs comments all over gym town, it seems it was a pretty sad sack Senior meet.  And yes, before anyone else tries to point it out, I do know that the top AAer's were not doing all-around.  Bross still didn't do brilliantly in the events she did compete in. What happened to Raisman?  Apparently even she was a mess.  This may not be a wonderful worlds for the US.



Sam Shapiro seems to be all outta luck.  According to Aunt Joyce, she was injured on vault at the Classic.

Shapiro- injured again?

When will the injury Gods cut this girl some slack already?  Also, she needs to sort out her college career like right now!

I don't know exactly what I just did, but it did involve me writing html code, which then allowed me to embed Gymnastike videos!!  Yay!  So, to celebrate, here's Jordyn Wieber the Wunderkind's Amanar- impressive, but perhaps not as good as its score, 15.900 no?

Gymnastics Videos on Gymnastike



Cuddly Shawn Johnson- scaring strapping male gymnasts everywhere!

The British newspaper The Telegraph  published a London 2012 Olympics Guide, presumably for people wo know nothing about gymnastics.  My favorite part;

Three names to watch?
Louis Smith, Daniel Keatings, and Beth Tweddle.
Biggest international rivals?
Comeback kid Shawn Johnson (USA), Chinese women’s team, Zhang Hongtao (China).
Um, has this person watched any gymnastics since 2008?  Seen any Russian girls lately?  Or the other US kids for that matter?  Sure, they should be scared of the Chinese women, but even if SJ does claw her way back in, since when has she been a threat to Tweddle on bars, or a threat to Keatings or Smith for that mater (yes, for the very earnest person who was going to comment and correct me, I do know that is not what they meant)?!!!  I love it when non-gymnastics people cover the sport.  It's always entertaining!

And shouldn't Louis and Smith be more worried about Kohei Uchimura than little old Shawn Johnson!!


Most of you already know, but here you go!  Jordyn Wieber won the AA- at least it wasn't quite by a country mile- just a city one. She did her Amanar, which she enlightened the press by telling them it 'felt' great.  Despite the media training and that almost boring invincibility, I don't feel that same antagonism, or just mild dull headache I have felt when US junior wunderkinds have risen before.  I like Jordyn.  Her talent still excites me.  Maybe that injury break was good for all of us!!!

 Katelyn Ohashi, whom everyone has been rightly impressed with lately took second and won floor.  Kyla Ross took third and beam, leaving Sabrina Vega in fourth.  Lexie Priessman, who won that Nastia Cup thingy, also seemed to put on a great performance.

Women's  Junior All-Around
1.  Jordyn Wieber, DeWitt, Mich., 59.950
2.  Katelyn Ohashi, Plano, Texas, 59.100
3.  Kyla Ross, Aliso Viejo, Calif., 58.700
4.  Sabrina Vega, Carmel, N.Y., 57.250
5.  Madison Kocian, Dallas, Texas, 56.200
6.  Lexie Priessman, Cincinnati, Ohio, 55.900
7.  McKayla Maroney, Niguel, Calif., 55.650
8.  Mackenzie Brannan, Austin, Texas, 55.450
9.  Gabrielle Douglas, Virginia Beach, Va., 55.250
10.  Claire Boyce, Lee's Summit, Mo., 55.150
11.  Sarah Finnegan, Lake Latawanna, Mo., 54.800
12.  Brenna Dowell, Odessa, Mo., 54.200
13.  Amelia Hundley, Hamilton, Ohio, 54.150
14.  Elizabeth LeDuc, Plano, Texas, 54.000
15.  Elizabeth Price, Coopersburg, Pa., 53.750
1.  Jordyn Wieber, DeWitt, Mich., 15.900

2.  McKayla Maroney, Niguel, Calif., 15.800
2.  Lexie Priessman, Cincinnati, Ohio, 15.800
4.  Kyla Ross, Aliso Viejo, Calif., 15.200
5.  Madison Kocian, Dallas, Texas, 14.900
6.  Gabrielle Douglas, Virginia Beach, Va., 14.850
7.  Elizabeth Price, Coopersburg, Pa., 14.800
8.  Katelyn Ohashi, Plano, Texas, 14.600
8.  Brenna Dowell, Odessa, Mo., 14.600
10.  Ariana Guerra, League City, Texas, 14.500

1.  Jordyn Wieber, DeWitt, Mich., 14.850

2.  Katelyn Ohashi, Plano, Texas, 14.700
3.  Madison Kocian, Dallas, Texas, 14.600
4.  Kyla Ross, Aliso Viejo, Calif., 14.550
5.  Mackenzie Brannan, Austin, Texas, 14.100
6.  Sabrina Vega, Carmel, N.Y., 13.950
7.  Claire Boyce, Lee's Summit, Mo., 13.850
8.  Lexie Priessman, Cincinnati, Ohio, 13.750
9.  Mary Maxwell, Germantown, Tenn., 13.700
9.  Brenna Dowell, Odessa, Mo., 13.700
11.  Elizabeth Price, Coopersburg, Pa., 13.650

1.  Kyla Ross, Aliso Viejo, Calif., 15.250
2.  Katelyn Ohashi, Plano, Texas, 15.050
3.  Gabrielle Douglas, Virginia Beach, Va., 14.650
4.  Sabrina Vega, Carmel, N.Y., 14.600
4.  Elizabeth LeDuc, Plano, Texas, 14.600
6.  Jordyn Wieber, DeWitt, Mich., 14.500
7.  Sarah Finnegan, Lake Latawanna, Mo., 14.050
8.  Ariana Guerra, League City, Texas, 13.950
9.  Lauren Marinez, Orlando, Fla., 13.900
10.  Claire Boyce, Lee's Summit, Mo., 13.850

1.  Katelyn Ohashi, Plano, Texas, 14.750
2.  Jordyn Wieber, DeWitt, Mich., 14.700
3.  Sabrina Vega, Carmel, N.Y., 14.300
4.  Sarah Finnegan, Lake Latawanna, Mo., 14.150
5.  McKayla Maroney, Niguel, Calif., 13.900
6.  Lexie Priessman, Cincinnati, Ohio, 13.800
7.  Amelia Hundley, Hamilton, Ohio, 13.750
8.  Mackenzie Brannan, Austin, Texas, 13.700
8.  Kyla Ross, Aliso Viejo, Calif., 13.700
10.  Elizabeth LeDuc, Plano, Texas, 13.550



This is how the WAG quals will go!

Subdivision 1 -ITA, CHN, ARG, MX1 
Subdivision 2 -JPN, NZL, SLO, UKR 
Subdivision 3 -POL, ROU, BRA, ISR 
Subdivision 4 -ISL, IND, SIN, BLR
Subdivision 5 -AUS, DEN, MX3, GRE 
Subdivision 6 -RUS, SWE, FRA, GBR 
Subdivision 7 -HUN, USA, RSA, PRK 
Subdivision 8 -CAN, COL, AUT, CZE 
Subdivision 9 -ESP, POR, BEL, ECU 
Subdivision 10 -SUI, KOR, TUR, MX4 
Subdivision 11 -MEX, GER, NOR, VEN 
Subdivision 12 -UZB, NED, MX2, FIN

Sucks for Italy and China going up so early, but it will make it exciting from the start!



Jordyn Wieber's (semi) new floor music?  Which I kind of love for it being like the late eighties/early nineties floor music version of a power ballad?  I finally worked out what it reminds me of....

Ever seen the film American Anthem?

Well, methinks Jordyn's Russian choreographer (who is not Russian!) really wanted her to do a classical piece, all strings and sweetness.

But all Jordyn really wanted to do was show the world she could dance.  That's when her wheelchair bound cousin, who devotes his life to belting out cheesy but cool electro-rock-orchestral pieces (in fact,I think the psycho base riff in the middle may actually be from American Anthem) out of his home synthesizer steps in and tailors something that showed the world that gymnasts can make an Olympic team and be like totally sassy too!  He also, of course, tailored it to sartorial stylings of her backless training leotard. So eighties.  I love it.  I mean it.



Want some pretty?  Get it right here with Polina Schennikova.  She's got a ways to go, but she is doing it with some rare style and grace!  Pretty, yet simple mount sequence too.

I wish I could work out why I can't embed Gymnastike videos.  It's so freaking annoying.  Anyway, watch her HERE

Also Katelyn Ohashi's beam set?  Between her and Polina, you can see Ana Porgras has kicked off a bit of a beam trend of full scales and actual mount sequences.  Ohashi has some pretty fab skills too.  Apparently all this improvement has come with her move to WOGA.


Friday, July 23, 2010


Bless Alicia Sacramone for coming back to entertain us all.  There is a scarcity of gymnastics personality right now.
The LA Times featured an interview with Miss Sacramone.  Sounds like she's enjoying herself.

I like this journo's description of her style too;

Her routines were done with a style and sass the folks in Vegas would envy, and her oversized personality gave the Americans swagger as they ruled the world in the lead-up to Beijing.
Red the rest of the article HERE


Thursday, July 22, 2010

MAKING AMENDS WITH KYLA and other things......!

Classics are a' coming which should inject a bit of excitement in the great big lull that has been the gymnastics world this past couple of weeks.  I am very interested to see how a lot of the juniors are coming along.  I mean, I can't imagine anyone even giving Jordyn Wieber a minor fright if she shows the level of gymnastics she performed at Pac Rims.  But you know, seeing how the other kids measure up will be fun.
I watched this video of Kyla Ross on floor again, today.  I seem to have it in for Ross- and it's only because she pips Sabrina Vega and I like Sabs style so much better.  But even I have to admits, Kyla walks all over her in the tumbling department.  And she is so light on her landings!  Even when she sticks she looks as though she is as light as a piece of cotton.  It reminds me of Carly Patterson's landings on beam.

I mean, she can't dance to save her life, and her chorey is dreadful, but since when has that ever stopped a US gymnastics from dominating?!!
It wasn't that hard to tell myself I like her after this routine- girl's got big skills.

It will also be fun to watch how Lizzy Leduc does. Another tiny girl with mad skills.  It's hard not to imagine her burning out before she is of age, but the US are getting better at that I think, and maybe being at WOGA will help.  Shrug.
I may have already posted this beam set- I can't remember- or if I just though of posting it.  Anyway, biggest score of the meet- 14.85- nice original mount-big skills-nary a wobble- Marta watching- yada yada yada!!!


Bring on Classics!!


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

BERLIN EUROS 2011.....

So Germany will be hosting the European Championships in Berlin next year.

 This should be fun!  The German Gymnastics Federation have just announced the logo and motto for their Championships.
I get the logo business- it's all about branding sports these days- but the motto?  Lordy, the only place one sees the motto is on the press release!

Anyway, the German motto is supposed to be the four 'F's.  But of course, in English, it is two 'f's, a 'p' and a 'h'. 

But, you know, whatever.  It's 'fresh, happy, pious and free' in translation.  I am down with the fresh, happy and free- particularly the fresh- let's have some new skills!  But pious?  How Victorian!  of course, it probably means something diffierent in Deutsch! 




Little Tess Moonen of the Netherlands is very excited about being her countries representative to the Youth Olympics in Singapore.
Moonen, trains at Pro Patria Zoetermeer with Frank and Patrick Kiens the same club as National Champions Mayra Kroonen and Marlies Rijken.

Tess proved her spot by winning the Dutch Junior Championships this year by two whole points and winning a medal on every apparatus- including golds on beam and bars!  She also won the only Dutch medal at the European Championships, with her clean and tidy bronze-winning beam set.

Tess had a short holiday at the beach after Nationals, but could only take six days before she then had to return to training for the upcoming meets.  She said her mind was rested but she still had some very sore rips on her hands!
She will train, then head to Budapest for a meet, and then on to Singapore where she will be up against a field of great gymnasts.  We wish this very talented junior the best of luck!



The Rotterdam Worlds Gymnastics Championships Site has announced the draw for the World Gymnastics Championships  for Saturday the 24th of July.  Then we will know who will be competing when during the qualification competitions in the first days.
A number of FIG bigwigs, including Nelli Kim, and Adrian Stoica will joing the organising commitee to perform the draw.  Sounds like it will be all pomp and ceremony over there! 

But it brings us one step closer to the Worlds Competition, which I am looking forward to more and more every week.  I love the run-up to Worlds, as we all anticipate the teams that will be chosen, and hedge our bets for individual and apparatus winners.  It's almost as fun as the competition itself!



(Pauline Morel.  Photo: Stefan Wurzer.

It's also about time we had some French gymnastics news.   A group of French girls  participated in a training camp to prepare for the upcoming Worlds from the 12th to 17th of July.  They will then begin a long period of preparation.

Pauline Morel

Rose Eliandre Bellemare
Aurélie Malausséna

Eva Maurin

Aurélie Orivelle

Youna Dufournet

Marine Brevet
Clara Della Vedova

 Marine Petit

Laurie Antoniazzi

Junior gymnast Sophie Serseri will also be joining the girls to prepare for her competition at the Olympic Youth Cup.
The team was coached by Eric and Cecile Demay and Eric and Monique Haggard

It looks likely that Dufournet, Morel and Brevet would make the worlds team.  Youna Dufournet is their strongest gymnast is she can be healthy, ready and not prone to the spectacular stacks we have witnessed over the years.  Marine Brevet is a great flloor performer, making event finals both in Birmingham and in Bercy this year as well as winning the French Elite Championshsips this year and taking the beam title.  Pauline Morel has lots of experience, gorgeous lines and has a strong beam set. 
Aurelie Maulessena was the fourth gymnast used on the Euros team., and was used on vault and bars, possibly to balance Brevet, who competed on neither.  Aurelia placed second at the French elite Championshsips this year, apparently, and won vault.  No wonder Yelena Zamolodchikova is her favorite gymnast!
I wonder if Marine Petit will be utilised?  I belive she won the French Championships last year.  And was in the all-around finals in Beijing.  I am not sure of her injury or difficulty status, however.



(Andreea teaching the kids... to breakdance from the looks of it! Photo: Libertatea)

I just love how gymnastics and even just gymnasts as 'celebrities' is part of everyday news in Romania.  This week, so far in the Rom rags;

Libertatea informed us that Teodora Ungureanu has a new granddaughter (whoops!!), who makes her 'melt' with the cuteness.  Her daughter Adriana had a daughter called Amelia who was baptised in an orthodox church in New York this week.
I like Teodora.  i remember thinking she came off pretty gruff in Gymnastike interviews a long time ago, but when I met her at Pac Rims she was quite lovely.  I think she really let's the pressure of Sabrina Vega doing well get to her during competitions, making her tense and stern, though, and Sabrina seems like a sensitive kid who'd react to that.

(Teodora's daughter, Adriana, and baby Amelia. Photo: Libertatea)

Andrea Raducan has taken part in a project in Romania encouraging kids to discover the 'spirit' of sport.  Andreea talked to them about sport and then taught them some simple skills.  She told the paper she loves working with kids because they are "honest and beautiful".  She also invited them to come and see the National team train in Izvorani.



For Commonwealth Games.  Thanks for the tip off anonymous.  This here was announced at the Australian Sports Commission site.

Georgia Bonora (VIS – AIS Camp based), Mary-Anne Monckton (AIS), Ashleigh Brennan (VIS), Lauren Mitchell (WAIS – AIS Camp based), Emily Little (WAIS – AIS Camp based).
Non travelling reserves:
Shona Morgan (VIS – AIS Camp based), Georgia Wheeler (VIS - AIS Camp based)
The following girls together with the Commonwealth Games team will go into camp on 12th September.  There will be a selection trial on 17th & 18th September for the World Championship team.
Emma Dennis (Waverley Gymnastics Club), Britt Greeley (VIS – AIS Camp based), Georgia Simpson (WAIS), Larrissa Miller (Morton Bay College – AIS Camp based), Natasha Hammann (SASI).
 It looks like a solid team has been picked, and I am very happy to see Mary- Anne Monckton in there as I thought she was a reserve.  I am, on the other hand, not too surprised to see that Larissa Miller wasn't named.  Though a lovely gymnast, she struggled A LOT at Pac Rims this year and seems to be having both growth and strength issues.  She needs some time to adjust.  Perhaps by Worlds selection, she will be ready to make another run at the team.
Here's hoping Australia can stay healthy and whip some Queen- bowing butt at the Commonwealth Games.  They'll just have to get past Great Britain first......


Sunday, July 18, 2010


(Wheeler with MLC cohort McGrath- Photo: M. DeHighden)

Gymnastics Australia still hasn't announced the women's team for the Commonwealth Games this year.  What I do know is that Georgia Wheeler, who had her major debut at the Pacific Rim International this year has just been named as second reserve.  This is excellent news as it means she is also part of the 10-12 women squad who will be travelling to Rotterdam in contention for a sport on the Worlds team.
This decision comes off the back of Georgia placing fifth all-around at last week's Australian Nationals and taking three bronze medals in the EFs.

Because the Comm Games and Wolrds are so close together,  and conditions in both places will be so very different, GA is hedging bets by first sending a team from the final training camp to Delhi, who will then join another group who will fly straight from the training camp to Rotterdam where the whole squad will train while the final Worlds team will be decided.  Complicated but necessary methinks!!
Congratulations Georgia!



Here too is a video of another very talented and lesser known gymnast, Marlies Rijken, who was an alternate at this year's Europeans.  Marlies will also be featured in the magazine this month. She is a very stylish, tall gymnast. She won both floor and beam at this year's Dutch Nationals.
Marlies is hoping for a place on the Dutch Team for the Rotterdam Worlds this year.




It is safe to say we will be hearing more about this kid. For starters, you will hear about her in Giuly's regular Italy Update for the upcoming TCG magazine, but also, with a DTY under her belt already (she competes a single one here), this thirteen-year-old girl, Serena Bugani should make a splash in a few years.
It seems like Italy has a great propensity for serving up two kinds of gymnasts- the compact, strong kids with the bis skills, like Ferrari or the twiggy ethereal types with lovely moves like Lia Parolari. I am thinking Seren'a of the first group!
Thanks for the tip, Giuly!



Thursday, July 15, 2010


You gotta admit, this is pretty darn impressive from Capital's Junior International elite, Mack Brannan;


The only question is, can she hold onto these skills?



Romanian rag, Libertatea, reports that Octavian Belu is working under duress with back pain.  The National team coach suffered from a herniated disc in his back, which was operated on in February.  If it had not been for the operation and subsequent recovery, he claims he may not have even considered returning to coach.
Belu told the press he still cannot work without some pain, which must make spotting fun, and his sporting activity has been restricted to swimming.

Earlier this week, he also spoke to the paper about the health problems that continue to affect the Romanian squad, including the retirement of the largely untested talents of Claudia Voicu due to knee issues.
Belu told Libertatea that three weeks into his having taken over the program, he asseses the gymnasts as being at 90% of their potential.  There is little time, he says, to introduce new skills, so the team is just focussing on performing the difficulty level's they already have cleanly and confidently so as not to lose in the execution scores.

In terms of Sandra Izbasa's recovery, he describes her as a 'warrior' saying that she is working terrible hard, looking well and is very much considered a strong part of the Worlds mix.  She wants to be completely ready, however, to compete.
This is lovely news, considering that it has seemed as though Sandra may never return to the sport.  I an very much looking forward to seeing her compete again.
He also cites Corina Ungureanu as an example of tenacity and deication in her willingness to fight biology.

In other, more inane news.  Nadia and Nastia once got to visit the cockpit of a plane in Copenhagen.  Nadia expressed her interest in learning to fly.  Because it was the Golden N's, this thought-provoking look into Comaneci's psyche was considered worthy of news!


Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Hi guys- just letting you know that the next issue of The Couch Gymnast Magazine will be out by the end of the month.  It has some great stories and interviews
I also wanted to remind you that, although we have a swag of great writers, the mag is always looking for more contributors to the magazine. Wether you want to submit stories, interviews, personal anecdotes, or even photos, you can look at the Contribute page at the magazine, or simply email me at
I am especially interested in finding writers who are interested in writing from/about specific nations involvement in the sport- such as Japan, Germany, France, Spain and Australia.

If you are interested but don't know what to write, get in contact, I always have projects in mind!