Thursday, January 28, 2016

Stuttgart to Host 2016 World Cup

While the German Men’s and Women’s gymnastics team are awaiting for the Aquece Rio Test Event, another competition that they’re looking forward to is the FIG Stuttgart World Cup, which is set to take place at the country’s Porsche Arena on March 19. 

The Stuttgart World Cup would be a great opportunity for the local gymnasts to recalibrate their stunts in preparation for the Aquece Rio Test Event on April, where the German gymnastics team will aim to secure Olympic team berths for the Rio Summer Olympic Games. 

The German men’s gymnastics team finished 9th at the 2015 World Gymnastics Championships in Glasgow, just one place behind the eight-team cutoff for direct qualification to the Olympics. The women’s team finished 12th, winning themselves the opportunity to compete for the final Rio Olympic team berths at the Rio Olympic Arena.

The World Cup marks the 2016 international debut of fan favorite Marcel Nguyen, who will compete aside the German gymnast Fabian Hambuechen. Both Olympic medalists at the 2016 Olympic Games, Hambuechen and Nguyen are looking forward to make a strong start this Olympic year. Also to compete at the Stuttgart World Cup is Elizabeth Seitz, a German veteran gymnast who secured the 10th spot in the all-around event of the 2015 World Championships.

For the German newcomer Tabea Alt, who is in her first year as a senior gymnast, the Stuttgart World Cup would be a perfect training ground for her to perform before marking her international debut on the senior World Cup stage. Without an individual World medallist present in the women’s field, the competition between Seitz, Alt, Elissa Downie (GBR), Elisa Meneghini (ITA), Xie Yufen (CHN), Isabela Onyshko (CAN),Nia Dennis (USA), 2012 Dutch Olympian Celine van Gerner (NED) and 2014 Youth Olympic Games champion Seda Tutkhalian (RUS) is expected to be tight.

Hosting big events is never a new thing for Stuttgart, which have hosted the World Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships last September and also hosted the Artistic World Championships twice (1989 and 2007). The 2016 World Cup, proudly presented by the Schw√§bischer Turnerbund, will be book-ended by the 33rd EnBW DTB Pokal, a team competition that’ll feature up to five gymnasts per team, which would be held on March 18-20 at the Porsche Arena. 

Soon after the American Cup on March 5 and Glasgow World Cup on March 12, the Stuttgart World Cup caps off all the FIG’s All-around World Cup series in the Olympic year, giving the gymnastics stars another opportunity to hone their skills in competition before the Rio Olympic Games this summer.

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Monday, January 25, 2016

Azerbaijan's First Lady Receives EOC "Order of Merit" Award

In acknowledgement of her “contribution to sport and the Olympic Movement”, the Azerbaijan’s First Lady, Mehriban Aliyeva, has received the award of the EOC Order of Merit Thursday morning.

The award was granted to her because of her exceptional role as the chair of the Organizing Committee for the first European Games which was held in Baku last year.

Aliyeva, the wife of Ilham Aliyev – Azerbaijan’s current President, has received the award from the President of European Olympic Committee Patrick Hickey, holding its first Executive Committee meeting of the year later today. 

She was also granted with a special Baku 2015 commemorative gold medal.

“Thank you for such a warm welcome here today” Aliyeva told the European Olympic Committee officials.

Pere Miró, the deputy secretary general of the International Olympic Committee, an Azerbaijani delegation, and Azad Rahimov, the chief executive of Baku 2015 and the Minister for Youth and Sports have also attended the said ceremony.

“I was a bit surprised about this award,” Aliyeva stated.

“I am accepting it on behalf of the whole Baku 2015 Games, which marked a historic moment for the sport and Azerbaijan.”

“We had only two-and-a-half years of preparation, but it was a common opinion that the Games became a real success.”

The latest recipients of the European Olympic Committee’s highest distinction include Thomas Bach, the President of the Internation Olympic Committee and Russia’s Vitaly Smirnov, who, after 44 years of service, stepped down as an IOC member at the end of 2015, due to reaching the age-limit of 80.

The President of the European Olympic Committee praised Aliyeva for the “hands-on” commitment she displayed before and during the European Games.

She was originally scheduled to receive the award at the EOC’s General Assembly in November in front of the full EOC membership, but she was not able to attend because of a diplomatic engagement.

However, the honour she received might be criticized by some, unfortunately, due to concerns over Azerbaijan’s human rights record.

The European Olympic Committee, along with Hickey, received identical criticism in 2008 after Alexander Lukashenko, the President of Belarus, was honoured “for his Outstanding Contribution to the Olympic Movement”.

Hickey made a pledge to Aliyeva that the European Games dream will stay “alive and well” even there’s still no host that’s been named for its second edition in the year 2019.

Russia was about to be acknowledged as the replacement host after the withdrawal of the Netherlands last year, but it was delayed due to the World Anti-Doping Agency’s Independent Commision’s allegations of systemic doping across Russian athletes.

"There will be an announcement and one that you are very happy with," promised Hickey, a member of the IOC Executive Board.

Hickey also expressed his admiration for Azerbaijani’s President Ilham Aliyev, who also acts as the head of the Azerbaijan’s National Olympic Committee. Hickey described him as a “fantastic visionary” and “a great man”.

He was unable to attend the event as he was scheduled to attend the World Economic Forum in Davos at that time.

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Friday, January 15, 2016

2015 Fruitful Year for Azerbaijani Gymnastics

Azerbaijani gymnastics had a very productive and fruitful year in 2015, as the country took home a total of 157 medals during that year.

Rhythmic gymnastics appeared to be the most successful sport, obtaining a total of 81 medals. Men’s artistic gymnastics comes second with 32 medals followed by acrobatic gymnastics who took home a total of 15 medals. Meanwhile, women’s artistic gymnastics scored 11 medals, and finally, trampoline gymnastics and aerobic gymnastics achieved a total of 9 medals each.

18-year-old Azerbaijani rhythmic gymnast Marina Durunda has become the most fruitful athlete in the country in 2015, ending the year with a total of 22 medals. Just one medal was in the account of her compatriot Zhala Piriyeva and a gymnast Oleg Stepko, who was the champion of the First European Games.

Without any doubt, the very first European Games, the Baku 2015 European Games, was the most meaningful competition of 2015.

Oleg Stepko was the first ever Azerbaijani gymnast to score five medals in a historical sport festival such as this. One of the medals he won was a gold medal on the parallel bars. Additionally, he won another medal in a team competition along with Eldar Safarov and Petro Pakhnyuk.

Azerbaijani’s Ilya Grishunin took home the bronze medal in the trampoline gymnastics event, while Marina Durunda achieved the silver medal with her ribbon performance in Rhythmic Gymnastics.

Overall, it seems like ribbon became Marina’s most valuable 'asset' in 2015. She earned bronze in a ribbon exercise under the “Fantasy” musical composition by a well-known composer Uzeyir Hajibeyli at the European Championships.

For the first time, the Azerbaijan acrobatic gymnasts successfully captured medals at the European Age Group Competitions. The men’s pair of Seymur Jafarov and Murad Akbarov grabbed the silver medal, while the mixed pair comprised of Aghasif Rahimov and Nurjan Jabbarli took home the bronze.

The year 2015 was made memorable by the debut of the national gymnasts on the world arena. Therefore, Azerbaijan Gymnastics Federation brought its plan to completion regarding the development of gymnastics disciplines, and now, all seven gymnastics disciplines recognized by the FIG are being promoted in the country.

Azerbaijan’s president Ilham Aliyev presented a flat to a two-time Rhythmic Gymnastics European Championships prize-winner, Gulzum Shafizada.

The Azerbaijan Gymnastics Federation was recognized as the best federation and the National Gymnastics Arena, an iconic 9,000-seater facility designed to hold all seven gymnastics disciplines, was recognized as the best Arena by the Azerbaijan Youth and Sports Ministry.

Furthermore, the 6th General Assembly of the Azerbaijani Federation was held in Baku in December, where Azerbaijan’s First Lady, president of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation Mehriban Aliyeva was re-elected as its president.

Altay Hasanov will now take in charge as the Vice-president, while Rauf Aliyev and Rafig Beybutov will maintain their positions as Executive Committee members. Mariana Vasileva was appointed as the new member of the Committee.

Currently, the Azerbaijan gymnasts are getting ready for 2016, which appears to be a tough year ahead. The athletes will compete in various international events such as the European and World Championships, and most significantly, Durunda and Stepko will fight for an Olympic medal at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio.

The Rhythmic Gymnastics athletes and Artistic gymnastics participants will still have a chance to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics as Baku will host three World Cup series including Artistic Gymnastics in February, Trampoline Gymnastics in March, and Rhythmic Gymnastics in July.

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Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Benefits of Strength Training for Kid Gymnasts

Strength training is the act of using free weights, weight machines, resistance bands, or even own body weight in order to build or strengthen muscles. Due to resistance, the muscles will be forced to work harder, causing micro tears to occur in the muscle fibers. Combined with proper nutrition and adequate rest, this will result to a bigger, stronger muscles.

With strength training, children could develop healthier bones, joints and muscles. By following a carefully designed and supervised program, it can help them improve endurance, sports performance, and overall fitness level. Taking part in a strength training program can even help hasten recovery and prevent muscle and joint-related injuries.

Incorporating a strength training program could be very helpful for gymnastics athletes, as stronger muscles would be beneficial for them to perform better in their sport. Most gymnastics activities involve weight-bearing exercises (for example, the pommel horse). With an adequate amount of muscle strength and endurance, these exercises would be a piece of a cake.

Taking part in a strength training program can also help strengthen the ligaments and tendons that support your muscles and bones. It could also help to increase the strength and density of your bones, which will not only be beneficial for your sports performance, but also for your day-to-day activities.

The benefits of strength training may go beyond physical health. Strength training, when done on a regular basis, can help boost one’s self-confidence. As kids grow physically stronger, it can help them boost their sense of self worth and self esteem.

Kids should not lift weights that are too heavy as doing so might increase the risk of having an injury. Most gymnastics for kids participants haven’t yet reached the age of puberty, which means their bodies should not be subjected to too much trauma. Doing so could have an adverse effect on their growing bones, muscles and tendons.

The goal of strength training in gymnastics for kids is not to bulk up (or build bigger muscles). The objective here is to boost muscle strength, endurance and efficiency. These qualities would help the kids perform better in sports, or in any physical-related activities.

Since most of the participants are all young athletes, it is not a good idea to let them strength train on their own. It is important to have them supervised by a professional trainer to avoid mishaps and injury.

Strength training exercises should first be taught without the use of any resistance at all. Once proper form and technique is mastered, the child could gradually add small amounts of resistance (weights, body weight or resistance bands) to further develop strength. As the kids get older and stronger, they can start adding more weights to promote stronger, healthier bones and muscles.

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Thursday, January 7, 2016

USA Gymnast Simone Biles Aims for Olympic Gold

Simone’s mother, Nellie Biles, always knew where to find Simone whenever her daughter is missing. If 6-year-old Simone wasn’t performing back flips on their backyard, she probably might be playing on the trampoline with her two older brothers. There was even a moment that Simone ventured into their front yard – and believing that her parents wasn’t watching through their office window – she climbed the 4-foot mailbox and performed back tuck onto the grass below.

“Simone was a daring girl; she would do anything,” her mother, Nellie says. “If her brothers told her she couldn’t do something or challenged her, she would prove to them that she could.”

Twelve years later, Simone Biles -- now 18 years old -- still have a prosperous career as a professional gymnast. In August, she has once again emerged as the top U.S. gymnast after winning a third-consecutive national gymnastics title. Following that event, she had also won her third consecutive world gymnastics championship title, making her the first female gymnast to win three consecutive world titles.

However, despite all the success that has come across her way, the 4’8 ft teen gymnast is still far from the end of her journey. Next summer, Biles will fly to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where she will compete at the 2016 Rio Olympics to win another all-around gymnastics title. Being able to do so would fulfill her childhood dream and would solidify her place as the most successful gymnast in the U.S. sports history.

When Simone Biles was young, she had an unexpected opportunity to show off her skills in public.

Due to a bad weather, Simone’s daycare cancelled their field trip to a farm, and they visited a local gymnastics gym instead. After watching the athletes perform gymnastics stunts, Simone fearlessly (and flawlessly) started to imitate the older athletes she had been watching.

The coaches that were watching was impressed with Simone’s ability, and just a week later, her gymnastics career officially began.

“At a very young age, Simone had endless energy from the time she woke up to when she would go to bed,” Nellie says. “She loved life, period.”

Biles have adapted quickly to the gym. At the beginning, Simone Biles had been training for 16 hours per week, and each year she progressively added hours to her training schedule. Even as her training has increased in difficulty, she has still maintained her lively and bubbly attitude, focusing on all of the positives that would arise from all of her hard work in the gym. 

“At times the lifestyle was overwhelming,” Biles said. “But I knew that’s what I needed to do to get better and achieve my goals.”

Years later, the American artistic gymnast has improved and grew physically stronger. Soon enough, she was already performing some of the most difficult skills in gymnastics. 

Biles’s skill level was pretty outstanding, already making a quite good impression on two gymnastics legends – Former Olympic all-around champion Mary Lou Retton and Former Olympian Shannon Miller. Retton said that Biles was “the most talented gymnast” she had ever witnessed, recognizing her as “unbeatable.”. Miller agreed and said, “Simone is the one everyone is trying to catch up with,”. “She takes these very intricate, demanding skills and makes them look so incredibly easy.”

“Simone is able to go seamlessly from the power event, like vault or floor,” Miller said. “And then stay on that four-inch wide beam and be completely steady.”

“The skills Simone is performing are mind-boggling,” says Miller. “Every four years, we think this is it. You can’t add another flip, you can’t add another twist, and then they do. Simone is spearheading that right now.”

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