Jim Holt on FIG Worlds format

American coach Jim Holt has coached 14 World Championships, with 7 different nations (BAR, BOL, ECU, IND, IRI, NAM, YEM).

He knows as well as anyone the benefits of having developing nations compete at the highest level.

In this post, Jim responds to Hardy Fink’s recent article on the unintended negative consequences of FIG increasingly making it more difficult for new nations to compete at Worlds.

Jim agrees with Hardy and adds specific examples from the past.

Gymnastics Worlds too Restrictive?

Working with the FIG dues paying Bermuda Federation, I can tell you it’s getting near impossible for any gymnast training there to compete at Sr. Worlds.

The career would have to go perfectly through the PAGU qualifying system.

Hardy Fink has attended more Worlds and Olympics than anyone. He feels that the restricted-access World Championship in this quadrennial and the next are a mistake. In an effort to make Worlds shorter, we’ve reduced the opportunities for elite gymnasts from developing nations. And for specialists worldwide.

In the case of Bermuda, for example, should the Federation continue with FIG? I’d still say YES for Commonwealth Games and PanAm Games, but there is an argument for withdrawing from FIG competition completely.

Read Hardy’s detailed analysis:

WAG Peaking and Tapering

Coaches now home from the World Championships will be reflecting on whether or not their gymnasts peaked at Worlds.

Coaches of the Canadian and Japanese teams will likely be answering yes as those athletes hit a high percentage of their routines near potential. Under pressure.

Others may be finding their athletes peaked too soon — perhaps at the trials for Worlds.

Here’s an article on the topic from William A Sands, PhD, FACSM.

GymCan Culture Report expected JAN 2023

Gymnastics Canada brought in McLaren Global Sport Solutions to review Ethics, Safety & Culture.

Richard McLaren, who led investigations into Russian doping and corruption in the International Weightlifting Federation, is well respected in the field.

I first filled out McLaren’s online survey. Better than most of those fill-in-the-blank forms.

At the end of that survey, I was asked if I would be available for an in-person online interview. Of course I was keen to do so — and that happened NOV 8th.

About 90 minutes long, I felt McLaren was very open to hearing everything I had to say regarding culture. We spent most of the time talking recommendations for the future.

For example, I was asked what 3 changes I’d make first IF I was suddenly in charge of Gymnastics Canada.

I did call McLaren out on independence and transparency. And left convinced GymCan will have no influence on their findings.

McLaren Global Sport Solutions and those within it are completely independent of Gymnastics Canada, its sponsors, and other stakeholders.

MGSS has been contracted by Gymnastics Canada to independently, and without any interference or dictates from the sport, develop a Roadmap to a Culture Review and a Safe Sport Policy Review.

Roadmap to a Culture Review & Safe Sport Policy Review terms of reference

For example, the McLaren Report of Canada Soccer published July 2022 was scathing.

I told my interviewers they should do exactly the same with Gymnastics if that’s what the investigation finds.

I’d recommend spokespeople from Gymnasts for Change Canada have interviews with McLaren. They will listen.

The documentary BROKEN – The Toxic Culture of Canadian Gymnastics was released this week.

Canadian victims can contact Gymnasts for Change:


Worlds Liverpool wraps-up

Worlds Liverpool went surprisingly well.

One of the better worlds in recent memory. Not Glasgow 2015 good — but very good.

35,000 tickets sold and sell-out crowds for the final weekend.

Local fans had much to cheer about. Men & women’s teams both were top 3 — automatic qualification to the Paris Olympics. Six medals total including Gold on Floor for Giarnni Regini-Moran & Jessica Gadirova.

The FREE Championships Fan Zone was great for the kids.

406 volunteers worked 15,000 hours total.

Despite no covid precautions, I didn’t hear of even one gymnast having to withdraw due to the virus. (One medal contender from Taiwan didn’t travel to Liverpool because he had covid, however.)

Nicolas Buompane, FIG secretary general, answered the toughest question at the final Press Conference: Norway and 6 other nations opting not to attend FIG Congress 2022 in Istanbul.

Nicolas explained that FIG currently has no process for banning delegates. It would need to be added to their rules. And that their lawyers have concluded that FIG would lose any court challenge to such a ban.

Watanabe was more philosophical. An international democratic organization should listen to all view points. He respects both the Russian Federation and those who oppose those delegates attending Congress. He hopes that all member Federations will soon be back together as a family.

Personally, I’m worried about China invading Taiwan. In that case, I expect Chinese athletes to be banned from FIG events.

British Gymnastics ETHICS

Here’s how British Gymnastics plans to improve the culture of the sport.

All should have equal opportunity.

AND end up with the greatest amount of GOOD for the greatest number of people.

Syque Caesar on Worlds trials

Syque is the new USOPTC Men’s Head Coach.

In this long Twitter thread, he lays out his impressions and recommendations for future Worlds trials.

  • Shane Wiskus was great. Trending upwards. It’s a shame he’s not at least the travelling alternate for Liverpool. But the numbers were correct.
  • Syque suggests 40% USAs, 60% trials in future. This year it was 50/50.
  • USA should go back to requiring the top 2 AA at USAs also finish top 3 on at least 3 apparatus for automatic selection
  • He was part of the group putting together the new bonus system. It worked. But needs to be tweaked.

USAG Xcel Program

The USA Gymnastics Xcel program was developed as an alternative competitive program offering a bit more freedom for gymnasts and coaches.

GymnasticsHQ compares Xcel with the traditional USAG Development Program (formerly Junior Olympic rules):

Canada also offers Xcel. And it’s used in some other nations, including Bermuda.

Sapphire is newest. It’s being piloted in USA Regions 3, 6, 7, and 8.

If interested, check the documentation on USAGym.org.

If you know Xcel, click over to GymnasticsHQ which has a succinct summary of changes for 2022-2026.

new USAG branding 2022