NEW – Australian Gymnastics Blog – G’day

The best news on the internet in 2008 was the launch of a new gymnastics blog on January 1st.

Mez, from Melbourne, is the editor. She’s knowledgeable, opinionated and writes with cheeky, entertaining style.

I subscribed instantly.

Mez will report on Artistic gymnastics from the perspective Down Under. The Aussies have been the most successful Western gymnastics nation relative to population. We all have a lot to learn from them.

It’s worth reading all the posts from the start. But most interesting to me was the reaction there to Hollie Dykes retirement. (*Insert Expletive Here*) And how National Coach Peggy Liddick handled the troubled super talent.

Another post details the exclusion of Philippe Rizzo from the Beijing Olympics:

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Sam Simpson (QLD), pictured at top, is to be Australia’s sole representative at the 2008 Olympic Games after his placing at the 2007 Worlds and winning the Oceania Olympic wildcard slot. Sam is the 2007 national floor and vault champion. He also valiantly spoke out against team-mate Philippe Rizzo’s exclusion from the Games thanks to FIG technicalities which have been deemed controversial by many. …

The Summer of Sams

Click through for the specifics.

It’s tragic that Rizzo and Pommel Horse virtuoso Prashanth Sellathurai will not compete at the 2008 Olympics. Either could have reached the podium on their specialties.

media perpetuates the myth of Kerri Strug

by Rick McCharles

04719strug.jpgI’ve always admired Kerri Strug, “hero” of the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.

But not for landing her second vault on an injured ankle in the Team Final. That was a mistake. Kerri was a victim of bad coaching.

Actually, I admire Kerri for persisting to compete in two Olympics. For coming back from injury. For moving club-to-club after Bela Karoli retired in order to continue her career.

I admire the fact that Kerri persisted despite often being in the shadow of higher profile American team mates.

I admired her coverage of the 2004 Games as Yahoo! Sports’ Olympic gymnastics analyst. She was “disappointed in the actions of Paul Hamm” (my opinion too) while many other American analysts rushed to defend Hamm.

But the oft repeated myth that Kerri won the gold medal for the USA over Russia in the 1996 Olympics with the “famous” 2nd vault grates. Anyone who does even 5 minutes of research knows that the gold was clinched on her first vault.

… “We had no idea what the score was,” said co-head coach Mary Lee Tracy. ..

Time magazine

Click PLAY or watch Kerri in the team vault final on YouTube.

Why did the USA not have people assigned to track team scores?

I was outraged at the time. And it still irks 3 Olympiads later.

On the other hand, Bela or Mary Lee would have had to physically restrain Kerri from taking that second vault. It would have been a gutsy, decisive coaching move.

I would respect Bela a lot more if he had stopped her. (Certainly it was Bela’s call.)

I would respect the media more if they would report Kerri’s story accurately. How many times are we going to hear it misrepresented leading up to Beijing?

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The Official Web Site of Gymnast Kerri Strug

Kerri’s dismount on an injured ankle reminds old-timers of Shun Fujimoto — the World’s Toughtest Gymnast — who actually did win the team gold for Japan at the 1976 Olympics. Landing his rings dismount on a broken patella.

Many years after, Fujimoto admitted that doing that rings routine was a mistake. He was sorry he had kept the injury hidden from coaches who he felt, quite correctly, would have scratched him from the apparatus.

Perhaps I’m being too critical of Bela. Leave a comment below if you have anything to add.

sorry guys – Mohini Bhardwaj is married

Just heard the news on difficulty plus execution:

Yes, Mohini Bhardwaj, USA’s 2004 Olympian comeback kid, is married. To a military man.

Jeff Barry is one lucky guy.

Mohini’s story is one of the great ones in Olympic history.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube:

Other Facts

* In Sanskrit, Mohini means “illusion”. This fact has been repeated by commentators in almost every televised competition Mohini has competed in, and has thus become a running joke among some gymnastics fans, who often use the term “Mo’ Hiny means Illusion”.

* Her mother is from Russia and her father is from India. Her parents met in Toronto.

Mohini Bhardwaj – Wikipieda

2007 video interview on GymnastTV – Mohini as coach

use Style Ropes to teach artistry

This is good.

Donna Culp uses a 10min sequence of drills with a rope to develop artistic line, posture, arms and hands. Fast, easy and fun for the kids.

For example:

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Here’s her description of the program:

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Download a free ebooklet (PDF) on The Style Ropes Way.

If it looks like this is something you might want to add to your program (seeing as gymnasts are dancing less and less in training) check the accompanying video ($30):

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Building the Artistic Gymnast…the style ropes way – 10 Minutes in the Workout by Donna Culp. This instructional gymnastic DVD lays out a simple, daily plan for building and maintaining key elements of style for a more complete, competitive gymnast. Donna gives instructions on how to tend trouble spots and achieve the most distinctive line.

Gym Smarts – Gymnastics, Instruction, Coaching, DVD, Video, Training

The True Art and Science of Hand Balancing

The Lost Art of Handbalancing website is reselling an old classic book:

The True Art and Science of Hand Balancing written by two men, Professor Paulinetti and Bob Jones.

They’ve repackaged the original content in a modern format. Sounds expensive to me at $49. (Check the comments below for feedback from those who purchased it.)

Certainly hand balancers today are better than ever before. The art not at all “lost”.

Acrobatic gymnasts do the best stationary handstands. Break dancers the best dynamic handstand work.

Still, acrobatic historians may be interested in this product:

The True Art and Science of Hand Balancing

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Let the season begin – NCAA Gymnastics

By far the most exciting gymnastics competitions in the world are in the NCAA. (By comparison, some called the FIG Olympic Test Meet in Beijing “boring“.)

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GymGemz has the most complete Women’s NCAA coverage. Click through to read this post:

The regular season of NCAA women’s gymnastics gets underway in earnest this weekend. Several key early season match-ups are on tap. Let’s have a look at the top ten or twelve teams from our pre-season ranking to see what’s up:

GemGemz.com: Let the season begin! – focusing on NCAA Women’s Gymnastics

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Related post: 10 reasons for NCAA popularity

Last year I felt the Men’s Championships at Penn State was even more intense and dramatic than the Women’s Final in Salt Lake City.

When will FIG study the NCAA to see why Colleges are so successful in drawing fans?

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UPDATE: Florida coach Rhonda Faehn may not be there for the first competition:

… Rhonda Faehn, 36, gave birth to her first child late Tuesday night. Noah Emile Bayon was born at 11:10 p.m. He was 20 inches and weighed in at 7 pounds and 5 ounces. The family is resting comfortably, according to Florida’s sports information department.

Faehn said on Monday she hopes to coach her second-ranked Gators when they open their season Friday night against Illinois-Chicago in the O’Connell Center. However, it appears Faehn will wait until Friday to make a final decision.

UF gymnastics coach gives birth – News – GatorSports.com

gymnastics catastrophic injury: ban roll-out skills on Floor

Even before 1978 World Champion Yelena Mukhina became a partial quadriplegic in 1980 after under-rotating a “Thomas” salto, I’ve been very critical of one and three quarter somersaults to roll-out:

Previous post – Gymnastics Coaching » Blog Archive » should roll-out skills be banned on Floor?

When I was a gymnast (decades ago), we athletes called them “death skills”.

They are banned in women’s gymnastics. Sounds like the FIG Men’s Technical Committee is finally considering banning them in men’s gymnastics, as well.

Or, more likely, discouraging or banning them from “bounder” (somersault). You would still be allowed to do something like round-off, back handspring layout Thomas.

That’s a step in the right direction.

what the heck is limbo-skating?

You will have to see this to believe it.

Amazing 7-year-old Indian roller-skater Aniket Chindak:

“The wonder-kid, who started skating when he was 18-months-old, is now training for four hours a day and plans to break his world record of 57 cars with a 100-car skate in New Delhi.

“I first saw a girl skate under a car on TV two years ago and decided to learn how to do it myself. It took three months before I could get my body in the right position,”

“Since then, I have skated under lots of cars and have never hurt myself. …

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

(via Scott Bird on Straight to the Bar)

Dangerous?

Not as dangerous as what these kids do in Peru:

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(via Boing Boing and A Welsh View)