Thursday, 28 March 2013

A Rising Star: Gabby Jupp (GBR)

A few weeks ago, a young Gabby (Gabrielle) Jupp from Great Britain impressed many at the American Cup, her first international competition as a senior gymnast. She held her own against gymnasts much older and much more experienced gymnasts than herself and produced four solid routines to finish 6th in the all-around. Her routines may not be among the most difficult out there, but she has clean execution and a great presence on the competition floor.

Jupp competes on floor at the 2013 American Cup held in March this year (photo credit: Melissa J Perenson)

The beam and floor routines that she performed at the American Cup were especially impressive. Most rookie gymnasts succumb to the pressure of huge international meets like this, which is completely understandable. However, young Gabby has already displayed that she has the discipline to calm her nerves in these situations and this experience will help her greatly in years to come.

A confident beam set from Gabby at the 2013 American Cup

Last weekend, Gabby took the all-around title at the British Gymnastics Championships in one of the deeper fields that we have seen over the years from British Gymnastics. She won the title over Charlie Fellows (another 1st year senior), Niamh Rippin and London Olympian Hannah Whelan. I especially love her expressive floor routine, she has some great tumbling too. In the apparatus finals, Gabby took first place on both floor and beam.

Gabby on floor in the finals at the 2013 British Championships (1st place)

Gabby Jupp and Ruby Harrold were selected to represent Britain at the Doha World Cup this weekend. Both girl have done extremely well by coming 2nd (Harold) and 3rd (Jupp) in the uneven bars final. This is a fantastic achievement for the two girls! Gabby will also compete in the beam and floor finals- best of luck to her!

Jupp, Fellows, Harrold and Downie have been selected to represent GB at the European Championships held in Moscow in April this year. Downie and Harold will certainly be contenders in the bars final! Jupp and Harrold are expected to have strong performances in the all-around.

British gymnastics is in an exciting place now. There are many talented juniors moving up the ranks along with many new an veteran seniors. Some of the younger girls include Tunney, Jupp, Harrold, Fellows, Raer Theaker, Angel Romaeo and Georgia Hockenhull. Older seniors are Hannah Whelan, Becky Downie and Niamh Rippin. I can;t wait to see how this team develop over the next quadrennium. 

From left to right: Charlie Fellows, Gabby Jupp and Niamp Rippin (photo credit: British Gymnastics)

Article by Imogen Browne (Follow me on Twitter @Iflip4GymBlog)

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Coaches Corner: Online Leotard Shopping!

There are many fantastic websites where you can order leotards both for competitions and training. If you live outside of the country where they are made, you often have to pay extra for postage. Bulk ordering for your club is recommended!

1/ GK Elite (USA)
Gk Elite is the obvious choice for leotards. They have a huge range of styles and sizes for both competition and training. They also supply other gym gear such as shorts, hand guards, tracksuits and wrist-supporters. Gymnasts such as Nastia Liukin, Shawn Johnson, Aly Raisman and Gabby Douglas have their own line of leotards which they have designed themselves. Very cool! They are well-made, can put through the washing machine and are very comfortable to wear. Also watch out for the sales and 'value tanks' for something different.

Find their website here

One of Aly Raisman's tank leotards (photo credit: GK Elite)

2/ Milano Pro-sport (UK)
Milano also have a range of training and competition leotards. They are good quality and reasonably priced. British Olympians Becky Downie, Beth Tweddle Hannah Whelan, Imogen Cairns and Rebecca Tunney are featured throughout the catalouge.

Find their website here
British Gymnasts Becky Downie and Danusia Francis model some of Milano's styles (photo credit: Milano Pro-Sport

3/ Sylvia P Gymnastics Leotards (Australia)
Australian brand Sylvia P leotards offer short and long-sleeved leotards. They are happy to produce customised leotards for clubs (like GK). Their leotards are very classical and elegant.

Find their website here

An elegant Sylvia P competition leotard (photo credit: Sylvia P Gymnastics Leotards)

4/ Foxy Fitness Fashions (US)
For something different, why not try Foxy Fitness Fashions? Run by a gymnastics family, they produce fun training leotards for all ages. They are very reasonably priced and have some very cool designs.

Find their website here

Foxy Fitness Fashions leotards for all ages! (photo credit: Foxy Fitness Fashions)

Article by Imogen Browne (Follow me on Twitter at @IFlip4GymBlog)

New Faces: Nadine Jarosch (GER)

Nadine Jarosch is a German gymnast who was part of the team that competed at the 2012 London Olympics. She is a strong all-arounder with consistent scores on all apparatus. Born on the 28th of April, 1995 she is now a third year senior gymnast.

Jarosch at the 2012 London Olympics

She is an extremely elegant gymnast with clean technique. I love her artistry especially on floor, which helps her to stand out from the other gymnasts. See her routine below that she performed at the Cottbus Cup in 2011, her first year as a senior gymnast.

Nadine's floor routine from 2011

On beam, she performs her acrobatic skills easily, but does struggle on some of the leaps. She also takes risk in her routine, showing a double turn and an illusion turn. Here is her routine from the 2012 German National Championships.

Nadine will be a great asset to the team in the years to come. My hope is that she will continue to develop her potential as an all-around contender. It was a disappointment for the German team to be bumped out of the Team Finals by Canada at the 2012 Olympic Games. I'm sure that they will work hard to rebuild their Women's team over the next quad. Veterans Elizabeth Seitz and Oksana Chusovitina are also continuing, which is great news for German fans!

Article by Imogen Browne (Follow me on twitter at @Iflip4gymblog)

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Princess Mustafina

Aliya Mustafina is an extremely well-known name in the sport of gymnastics. She emerged as a senior in 2010 and had good success at both the European Championships and the World Championships in Rotterdam, where she helped Russia to win the team title for the first time in years. She has elegant lines and expresses herself beautifully in her gymnastics. She is also well known for her dramatic eye make-up and bold nail polish that she wears during competitions. American commentators love to refer to her 'diva' attitude and compare her to the likes of Svetlana Khorkina.

Mustafina competes on floor during the team final at the 2012 Olympic Games in London

She excels on all four apparatus and has good technique across the board (apart from some questionable leg form on her twisting elements). She is daring on beam and performs difficult dance and acrobatic skills with ease (double turn and standing arabian). Here is a very young Mustafina competing on beam in 2006. Even at 12 years old, she was a precise and confident performer and already has many difficult moves packed into her routine.

She was extremely confident coming into the AA final at the 2010 World Championships in Rotterdam. She told her father "I cannot loose". She was one determined 16 year old! At this stage she performed an Amanar vault, which gave her an added 0.7 edge over her fellow competitors. Perhaps most impressive were her beam and floor routines which she performed with confidence and style to take the AA title in her first ever World Championships.

Aliya's beam routine during the AA final at the 2010 World Championships

Aliya's gorgeous floor routine during the AA final at the 2010 World Championships

At the 2011 European Championships, Aliya severely injured her knee performing an Amanar vault during competition. This was met with cries of outrage and many debates were fought over whether or not gymnasts should be encouraged to perform these dangerous vaults. The FIG have now lowered the start value of the Amanar vault, in the hopes of discouraging gymnasts to perform them before they are ready. In Aliya's case, the accident was extremely unfortunate.

A scary reminder of how dangerous gymnastics can be

Many thought that this potentially career-ending injury would prevent Mustafina from attending the 2012 Olympic Games. Aliya proved what a fighter she was by resuming training as early as possible and by spending extra time on bars to rest her leg. Right up until the Olympic Games, many questioned her ability to perform well in the all-around. She delighted fans around the world by pulling together a performance that won her the bronze medal in the all-around competition behind Gabby Douglas and Viktoria Komova. Despite a fall on beam, her beautifully executed double turning Yurchenko, stellar bar routine and solid floor routine secured her a place on the podium (was awarded the tie-break over Aly Raisman).

Mustafina, Douglas and Komova on the podium at the all-around final at the 2012 Olympic Games

Mustafina helped the Russian team win silver in the Team finals in London. However, her proudest moment came with winning an individual gold medal in the uneven bars final. She is a beautiful bars worker and competes many difficult connections with huge amplitude and ease. Mustafina has overcome so much adversity to become Russia's most accomplished gymnast at the 2012 London Olympic Games. She is an inspiration to many across the globe and we hope to see much more of her beautiful gymnastics in the coming years!

Mustafina finally wins her individual gold medal for Russia on the uneven bars at the 2012 London Olympics

She's not done yet- see you in 2013!

Article by Imogen Browne (@Iflip4GymBlog)

Friday, 15 March 2013

Then and Now: Anna Pavlova (RUS)

Anna Pavlova is a Russian gymnast and has competed in two Olympic Games, Athens in 2004 and Beijing in 2008. She has a balletic style and performs many difficult and original moves, especially upon the balance beam. She is coached by her mother Nadejda Pavlova and, despite her immense talent has never won a gold medal at an Olympic Games or a World Championships. She is often known as the gymnast who just missed out, having finished the 2004 Athens Olympics all-around final in 4th place, 0.025 points behind China's Zhang Nan. She had a rough time at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, accidentally scoring a zero for her second vault in the final and finishing the beam final in 4th place, 0.05 points behind China's Cheng Fei.

Pavlova flashes a pose on floor at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games

Perhaps unusually for a Russian gymnast, she is a strong competitor across all four events. She is a strong vaulter and won the bronze medal at the 2004 Athens Olympics, with two very well executed vaults.

Anna's vaults during the vault final at the 2004 Athens Olympics

She is perhaps one of the most expressive floor workers of her generation. She marries beautiful dance, impressive flexibility and powerful tumbling in her 2008 routine performed to 'Exodus'. This is quite possibly one of my favourite floor routines of all time (see Fav Floor Routines series).

Pavlova's exquisite floor routine during the all-around final at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games

Unfortunately, Anna tore ligaments in her knees at the end of 2008 and required surgery. In the years after, she made a comeback to gymnastics but only competed watered-down routines and did not compete in many meets outside of Russia. Recently, she has appeared at more bigger meets, including the Voronin Cup. Watch her beam routine below where she performs unusual skills. 

Anna's beautiful beam from a competition in November, 2012

It is unlikely that Anna will make any Worlds teams in the next quad, because of the talent of the up-and-coming juniors such as Kharenkova and Shelgunova, and the presence of gymnasts such as Mustafina, Komova, Afanasyeva and Grishina. However, she is a strong performer on vault and beam and could potentially fill a void in those roles. Nevertheless, it is fantastic to see her still enjoying the sport at age 26!

Anna, still in it for the love of gymnastics!

Article by Imogen Browne (@Iflip4GymBlog)

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Montage March

There are several great montages on YouTube which capture the beauty and emotions involved in the sport of gymnastics. A few are displayed here, from different years and competitions.

1/ USA Juniors 2012. Shining by AshleyakaFlipper2

Shows what a powerhouse in gymnastics the US is at the moment. Their talent is so deep and there are many talented juniors due to move up into the senior ranks over the coming years

2/ Not Always Happy Endings by nade00

While gymnastics is a beautiful sport it is also extremely difficult and much sacrifices are made. This montage tells the very sad stories of several young girls in the sport. Unfortunately gymnastics can be a heartbreaking sport.

3/ Jordyn Wieber. 2012 Olympics. Little Wonders by Jamie Nicole
One of the most shocking moments of the Olympic Games in London was 2011 AA champion Jordyn Wieber failing to qualify for the Olympic AA finals due to the 3 per country rule. This montage captures the emotional roller-coaster that she experienced, and shows how she was able to pull herself together for the team final and win gold for Team USA. She impressed the world with her bravery and her class.

4/ They Can't Dance by Spanny Tampson

This beauty from Spanny is just plain hilarious! There has truely been some TERRIBLE choreography over the years, it's about time someone made fun of it!

Article by Imogen Browne (@IFlip4GymBlog)

New Faces: Sydney Johnson-Scharpf (USA)

Sydney Johnson-Scharpf is the 12 year-old daughter of Brandy Johnson-Scharpf, a US Olympian from 1988. Sydney was born in 2000 and named in honour of the Olympic Games held that year. She is a level-10 gymnast and trains at her Mother's gym in Florida. At the Eastern Nationals in 2012, she placed first on beam and second on vault, floor and all-around.

Sydney Johnson-Scharpf, a first year level 10 (credit: Sydney's website)

Sydney displays her flexibility on beam at the 2012 Eastern Nationals

Her favourite event is floor, where she has an amazing presence for such a young gymnast. There are some things in gymnastics that you just can't teach, either you've got it, or you don't! Perhaps gymnastics talent does run in the family, I mean- look at the Liukins! I feel as though the Johnson-Scharpf story is going to be one that commentators will LOVE. She is aware that people look at her differently because she is the daughter of a famous gymnast, although she still feels 'the same as everyone else'!

See the interview with her here after she qualified for the 2013 Nastia Liukin Cup.

Sydney performed recently at the 2013 Nastia Liukin Cup, which is a J.O competition held in the same arena as the American Cup. Sydney was one of the youngest performers there and competed in the Junior division. After a mistake on bars at the start of the competition, Sydney came back to perform an excellent beam routine earning a massive 9.7, which placed her second on the event. Not bad for a kid in her first year of level 10! Although she may not have placed as high as she could have, she gained valuable competitive experience in that moment and certainly proved that she is a fighter.

Here is her delightful floor routine from the 2013 Nastia Liukin Cup

In her spare time she enjoys shopping, driving her golf cart and doing science experiment- this kid is going far! It will be great to see Sydney's gymnastics developing over the next few years and hopefully we will see her on the elite scene before to long. She is set to attend her first gymnastics camp at the Karolyi Ranch at the conclusion of the American Cup.

Sydney Johnson-Scharpf's Website

Article by Imogen Browne (@IFlip4GymBlog)

New Faces: Simone Biles (USA)

Simone Biles is a name that is beginning to become familiar in the gymnastics world. As a junior, she was well-known for her abilities on the power events, showing an explosive Amanar on vault and dynamic tumbling on floor. Born in Ohio in '97, she now trains at Bannon's Gymnastix in Spring, Texas. 

Simone competes on floor exercise at 2012 Secret Classic

The height of this stag jump shows the immense height that she gets in her rebound after a tumble run! 

She has made rapid improvements over the past two years and, along with Katelyn Ohashi (WOGA), was selected to represent her country at the prestigious American Cup held this weekend. Simone already has impressive skills including a stellar Amanar (which she plans to upgrade to a triple-turning Yurchencko). If she competes this at an FIG-sanctioned event, she will be the first woman ever to compete this vault. 

Here is Simone's Amanar from the Secret Classic last year, where she earned a whopping 16.05

She uses a full-in dismount off beam, which is extremely difficult to perform (the same dismount used by Shawn Johnson in 2008). She also has impressive leaps but will need to learn to harness her power! However, the apparatus where she really shines is the floor exercise. She has is capable of major tumbling passes, including a full-twisting double layout, a double-double and a double-layout to name a few! I have a feeling that she will emerge as one of the top floor workers of the American squad over the next quadrennium.

Here is her floor routine from podium training at the 2013 American Cup, held this weekend

Simone performed extremely well for her senior debut and despite a fall on beam performed well against Olympians to take 2nd behind Katelyn Ohashi. Her nerves showed a bit, but she did extremely well under the pressure. More confident performances will come with experience and I can't wait to see how this gymnast progresses over the years to come- good luck to Simone! She seems like a lovely and fun-loving person and is delighted to be part of such a big event.

Media Day at the 2013 American Cup

From the camp: Getting to know Simone

Article by Imogen Browne (@Iflip4gymblog)