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Photo by Silvia Vatteroni

Dutch gymnast and European Games beam champion, Lieke Wevers, is training the highest rated mount on balance beam.

She is training round-off at end of beam take off bwd with ½ turn tucked salto fwd to stand AKA Arabian mount which is rated a G, the highest rating for skills on the apparatus.

The super difficult mount was previously rated an F and got upgraded a G starting from 2013. It was first performed by Croatian gymnast Tina Erceg in 2004. Erceg was the first female gymnast ever to represent independent Croatia at the Olympic Games. 

Lieke's teammate Tisha Volleman competed the mount recently but was unsuccessful.

No gymnast has ever successfully competed it but Erceg.

Lieke is the twin sister of the 2016 Olympic beam champion Sanne Wevers. In Rio, She helped the team to qualify to the final where they had their best finish ever, 7th place. She also qualified to the individual final and placed 20th.

Written by Gigi Farid

Photo Ginnastica Artistica Italiana

Brazilian gymnast Flavia Saraiva has pulled out of the Brazilian championships due to previously sustaining an injury.

The national championship will be held on August 5th and 6th. Not participating at the competition will not prevent gymnasts from making it to the upcoming World championships which will be held next October in Canada.

While the details of the injury wasn't announced, Flavia was reported to be working on her recovery in time for Worlds. 

She was set to compete at the upcoming Pan American which will take place in Lima between 8th and 13th August. However, it is expected of her to withdraw from the competition.

It is rumored that Rebecca Andrade will compete only on uneven bars. Olympians Daniele Hypolito and Jade Barbosa will take part in the championships.

It is said that the World team will be announced on August 21st.

Written by Gigi Farid 

Ellie Black is one of the four gymnasts selected to compete at the World Championships. Photograph: Silvia Vatteroni

The host nation, Canada, has announced the four-member team that will compete at the World Championships in Montreal next October. The team will be formed of Olympians Ellie Black, Isabela Onyshko and Shallon Olsen and first-year-senior Brooklyn Moors. Olympians Brittany Rogers and Rose-Kaying Woo were selected as alternates.

The team choice came at the end of a selection camp in Sarnia two weeks ago, which followed Canada’s National Championships in May. After their performance at Nationals, Ellie Black and Shallon Olsen seemed locks for the World Championships team. Black won the all around with a 54.318, as well as the floor title with a 13.350. Olsen won the vault title with a 14.375, which virtually guarantees her a place in the vault final at Worlds if she lands her vaults on her feet in qualifications. Isabela Onyshko also seemed to be in a good spot after Nationals, winning her best apparatus, balance beam, with an excellent 14.034, the only Canadian gymnast to score over 14.000 on this apparatus. All three of them have tons of competitive experience.

Ellie Black made history at the Olympic Games in Rio last summer, when she finished fifth in the all around, the best ever result by a Canadian woman in this competition. Black is also the 2015 Pan-American Games champion in the all around, on balance beam and on floor exercise, as well as the 2015 Commonwealth Games champion on balance beam, and the 2014 Pacific Rim champion on vault.

Isabela Onyshko also made history at the Rio Olympics in 2016, becoming the first Canadian woman to advance to a balance beam final. Onyshko is also the 2015 Ljubljana World Cup champion on uneven bars and balance beam.

Shallon Olsen is the 2016 Pacific Rim champion on vault and silver medallist with the team. She is known for competing the very difficult Amanar vault, which helped her qualify to the vault final at the Olympic Games in Rio last summer, where she finished eighth.

After Nationals, however, the fourth spot on the team remained very much open between Brooklyn Moors, Brittany Rogers and Rose-Kaying Woo. Rogers won bars at Nationals in May, but her 13.634 is hardly enough for a World-Championship final. Woo finished second on bars and floor, and third on beam with scores in the 13-range, and was second in the all around with a 54.051. She could advance to the all around final, but she would not be in medal contention.

Brooklyn Moors is a different story. The sixteen-year-old turned elite as a junior last year, and since then she has remarkably climbed up the rankings. Last fall she competed at the Elite Gym Massilia with her club, and this year she made her senior international debut at the Jesolo Trophy, where she scored a 50.950 in the all around. At Nationals last May she finished seventh in the all around with a 51.151 and third on vault with a 13.725. Considering that Moors has very little elite experience, taking her to the World Championships in front of a home crowd is risky, but it is also great competitive experience. This is also the perfect year to give her such opportunity, as there is no team competition. Moors would therefore not have to sustain the pressure of competing for her team and to qualify for the Olympic Games.

The last word, however, is still to be spoken. Women’s national team coordinator Dave Brubaker, The Gymternet reports, said that all six gymnasts did ‘very, very well’. Alternates are as strong as the gymnasts going to Worlds, and ‘could step in depending on how the ongoing verification goes between now and the final camp.’

By Talitha Ilacqua

Ellie Downie became the first British gymnast to win a European all around title. Photograph: Ellie Downie/Twitter

European all around champion Ellie Downie will miss the upcoming World Championships that are taking place in Montreal, Canada in October, as she recovers from ankle surgery, the BBC reports.

Downie, 18, injured her ankle last March, but she pushed through to win a gold, two silver and a bronze medals at the European Championships in Cluj Napoca, Romania in April.

Last Monday, however, Downie finally underwent surgery, and will miss Worlds to allow full recovery.

‘My eyes are now set on getting ready and fit for the Commonwealth Games next year’, Downie said. ‘I’m very excited to be on the road to recovery and get fit again. A minor setback is a pathway for a major comeback.’

British Gymnastics backed Downie, stating that she is expected to be ‘fully fit for an important year of competition in 2018’.

Despite Downie’s positive attitude, however, the news comes as a shock to her fans, as Downie was one of the favourites to win the World all around title. Last April, she became the first British female gymnast to ever win a European all around title. If she wins the World all around title, she will break another record, becoming the first British gymnast to win such title. Expectations, however, are postponed to 2018.

Ellie’s sister Becky Downie will also miss the World Championships, as she recovers from an elbow injury sustained at the European Championships in April.

The absence of the Downie sisters opens up a chance for younger gymnasts to make their mark. Alice Kinsella, Georgia-Mae Fenton, Kelly Simm and Maisie Methuen now are all in contention for a place on the team, alongside Olympian Claudia Fragapane and Olympic medallist Amy Tinkler.

By Talitha Ilacqua
Vanessa Ferrari at the Rio Olympics. Photograph: Silvia Vatteroni

Vanessa Ferrari is Italy’s most decorated gymnast, with a total of five World medals and seven European medals. She however still misses an Olympic medal, after narrowly finishing fourth on floor exercise both in London 2012 and Rio 2016.

Ferrari had surgery on her long-time aching Achilles tendon after Rio. The operation went well, and the World all around champion is now back training with only one goal in mind: to compete at the Tokyo Olympics in 2020 and finally bring home an Olympic medal.

In order to healthily make it to Tokyo, however, Ferrari and her coaches have studied a new training plan, which will allow Ferrari’s body to bear the toll of elite gymnastics for other three years, OA Sport reports.

Ferrari, who will be 29 in 2020, will not compete in the all around any longer, and will instead focus on her two best apparatuses, the balance beam and floor exercise.

The 2020 Olympic teams will be formed of four all arounders, but each team will have the right to qualify also two additional specialist gymnasts, who will qualify through World Cup competitions between 2018 and 2020. Ferrari hopes to obtain one of these two latter spots.

She will have to compete at the Apparatus Specialist World Cups, which will take place between November 2018 and March 2020 (four competitions in the 2018–2019 season and four in the 2019–2020 one). The three best results from each competition will be counted and the highest-ranking gymnast on each apparatus will qualify to the Olympics.

If Ferrari qualifies to Tokyo 2020, it will be her fourth consecutive Olympic Games.

By Talitha Ilacqua
Sanne Wevers is training a new beam mount. Photograph: Sanne Wevers/Instagram

2016 balance beam Olympic champion Sanne Wevers keeps impressing, showing off difficult new skills in training.

This week she showed off a brand new balance beam mount: a round-off to an Onodi.

Un post condiviso da Sanne Wevers (@sannewevers.official) in data:

The new mount looks very solid, but is only the last one in a series of balance beam mounts Wevers has performed. These include an easier back-handsping, as well as a more difficult 3/4 back-handsping mount.

Last year at the Olympic Games, Wevers became the first Dutch gymnast to win an individual gold medal on balance beam. This year she won silver on beam at the Melbourne World Cup and was fifth on beam at the European Championships. She aims to compete at the World Championships in Montreal, Canada, next October.

By Talitha Ilacqua

Four of the five members of the 2016 Olympic team will compete at Worlds this year. Photograph: Silvia Vatteroni

After last weekend’s All-Japan Event Championships, the Japanese gymnastics federation has officialised the team that will compete at the World Championships in Montreal, Canada, next October. The four gymnasts selected to represent Japan are two-time Olympian Asuka Teramoto and 2016 Olympians Mai Murakami, Sae Miyakawa and Aiko Sugihara.

The Japanese team will have plenty of international experience under their belt, and have a real chance of winning individual medals. This year’s Worlds includes no team competition. Four athletes for each nation are allowed to compete, three of which on each event.

Mai Murakami and Aiko Sugihara were named to the team last month, after placing first and second at the NHK Trophy, with Teramoto narrowly finishing third. She was expected of gaining a specialist spot, because of her strong bars and beam work. Miyakawa, on the other hand, struggled in the all around, because of her weaker events, bars and beam, but, she was expected on gaining the other specialist spot for her world-class work on vault and floor.

MAI MURAKAMI is the star of the team. This year, she won the All-Japan Championships in April and the NHK Trophy in May, posting the top scores on beam and floor at both. She scores very well on vault, thanks to her powerful DTY and on floor, she has scored 14.0 or better on all her five floor routines. She also owes the highest floor score in the world this year, a 14.250. She is also incredibly consistent, she has hit every routine since the Rio Olympics so far!

AIKO SUGIHARA is currently injured, but has plenty of time to go back to full strength before Worlds. Despite the injury, at All-Japan Sugihara made the bars and floor finals, finishing fourth on bars with a 13.400 and fifth on floor with a 13.250. Her execution was spoiled only by minor landing deductions, which can be easily fixed once she is back on top form.

SAE MIYAKAWA is potentially very strong on vault and floor. On vault, she performs a Rudi and a DTY, which gives her one of the highest combined difficulty scores in the world right now, just behind China’s Wang Yan. She performs the same two vaults as France’s European champion Coline Devillard, but Miyakawa has better execution. At All-Japan, for example, she scored an excellent total of 14.850 (VT1: 15.100 and VT2: 14.600). On floor, her difficulty is a 6.2, the highest in the world by half a point right now. She performs four incredible tumbling passes: a front full to double front, a full-twisting double layout, a double double and a double layout. Her execution has been up and down this year, but if she hits, as she did during the All-Japan event finals, she is virtually unbeatable.

Finally, ASUKA TERAMOTO is very strong on bars and beam. Last week at All-Japan, she won silver on bars with a 13.800 and gold on beam with a 14.100, which is a huge score, considering that she had a big wobble on her Onodi. Despite being selected as an event specialist, Teramoto is also a strong all arounder, and could easily replace Sugihara in the all around, if the latter is unable to be back to full strength by October.

Overall, after a historic fourth-place finish in the team competition at the Olympics last summer, Japan keeps showing great depth and significant improvement. They certainly aim to increase difficulty and improve execution, with an eye on the next Olympic Games, which will take place at home, in Tokyo, in 2020.

By Talitha Ilacqua

Giulia Steingruber in Rio. Photograph: Silvia Vatteroni

Giulia Steingruber’s sister Desirée has died aged 26 of viral pneumonia, the Tages Anzeiger reports.

Désirée Steingruber was born with severe health issues, and used to live in a special clinic.

In a long interview for the series The Hard Way to Success last year, Giulia gave a moving account of their sisterly bond. Since her sister was paralysed, Giulia explained, her gymnastics was a way to move for her too.

Giulia Steingruber won a bronze medal on vault at last year’s Olympic Games in Rio, and made history, becoming the first Swiss female gymnast to win a medal at the Olympics. She is currently recovering from a surgery she underwent last January.

By Talitha Ilacqua

Rebecca Tunney training for the 2012 Olympics. Photograph: Rebecca Tunney/Instagram

Great Britain’s Olympian Rebecca Tunney, 20, has announced her retirement from elite gymnastics. She will now focus on her university studies and plans on moving into gymnastics coaching in the future.

The City of Liverpool gymnast was twice crowned senior British all around champion, in 2012 and 2014, and was part of the 2014 European silver-medal-winning team in Sofia, Bulgaria. She also won two golds (team and vault) and a bronze medal (floor) as a junior at the Commonwealth Youth Games in the Isle of Man in 2011.

Rebecca Tunney is however most famously known for being Great Britain’s youngest Olympian at the 2012 London Olympic Games, at the age of 15.

After the London Olympics, Tunney went back training, eyeing Rio 2016, but her Olympic dreams were marred by a series of injuries. She was named an alternate to the 2016 Olympic team.
Scheduled to compete at the AT&T American Cup in March 2017, Tunney withdrew from the competition a few days before, and announced her retirement from competitive gymnastics a month later.

Tunney released a statement announcing her retirement, which was published on Twitter by British Gymnastics. She said: ‘I’ve enjoyed some incredible moments as a Great Britain and City of Liverpool gymnast. It’s a huge honour to have represented my country at the sport I love, especially at the London 2012 Olympic Games which were so memorable for so many reasons.

Competing for my club at British Championships in Liverpool and winning European Championship silver also stand out for me. I want to thank all the people who have supported me, my coach Claire and her family, my family and all the support team at British Gymnastics.

I hope to go into coaching in the future and will definitely stay in contact with all my amazing teammates who have been like an extended family. Finally, I want to say a huge thank you to all the incredible gymnastics fans who have supported me throughout my career – you’ve been amazing!’

We wish Rebecca Tunney a bright and successful future!

By Talitha Ilacqua

Mihai Brestyan and Aly Raisman attend a press conference. Photograph: Mihai Brestyan/Twitter

Aly Raisman and Alicia Sacramone’s coach Mihai Brestyan has been appointed team coach of the Australian women’s gymnastics programme.

‘We are thrilled a coach with the experience and proven results of Mihai will be guiding our next generation of gymnasts and coaches as we look towards the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast next year and the Tokyo Olympics in 2020 and beyond’, Gymnastics Australia president Sam McKay said in a press release.

Brestyan’s new job as head coach is starting immediately. Brestyan will succeed Peggy Liddick, who coached Shannon Miller to seven Olympic medals, and then spent twenty years working with the Australian national team.

Australia is hoping to achieve important results this quad, building their gymnastics programme on the new seniors and young hopes, after a disappointing last Olympic cicle. Australia did not win any medals during the last quad at Worlds and did not qualify as a team for the Olympic Games.

Their best placement as a team was the historic sixth-place finish in the team competition at the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008. Individually, Lauren Mitchell finished fifth in the floor final in London 2012. Mitchell is also the 2010 world champion on floor, and the 2009 silver medallist on floor and beam.

The Romanian-born Brestyan, who shines as a coach especially on floor and vault, seems a good choice for the Australian team, which seems particularly strong on these two apparatuses. Brestyan coached Alicia Sacramone to an Olympic silver medal in 2008 and three world gold medals (2005 and 2007). He is also the coach of three-time Olympic champion Aly Raisman. Raisman has been training with Mihai and Silvia Brestyan in Massachusetts since 2004, and under their supervision she has won six Olympic medals, three of which gold, and two world gold medals.

Brestyan’s appointment also sheds new light on the reason behind choosing Aly Raisman as ambassador for the Australian World Cup last week in Melbourne. Raisman is currently taking a break from gymnastics, and has not yet released any comments on her future training plans.

Good luck to Mihai Brestyan with his new job!

By Talitha Ilacqua