Gymnicetics on the US Gymnastics Classic

UPDATE: photos from the competition – Gymnicestics

In Houston I was happy to meet Penguin888, the young editor of the Gymnicetics blog.

He posted some commentary on the The 2008 US Classic women’s competition:


Ashley Stott was a surprise. She has a DTY and a VERY nice floor. So much personality, reminds me of Joura. Marta was giving her a serious talk after she won the AA. =]


Caquatto fell on her 5/2 dismount on beam. Her head almost hit the end, it was scary.

Britney Ranzy was also a surprise. She had a HUGE double layout on floor, and a very nice DTY.

Carly Patterson was there, she was signing autographs and giving pictures (which I got both of). The “World Debut” of her music video happened also. It wasn’t bad. =]



Polish101 was there too – U.S. Classic Update

The 12 Senior women were trying to achieve a qualifying score to be invited to Boston for the VISA National Championships. (I’ve not heard if any were added.)

Regarding the other little publicized event:

Also going on this weekend in Houston, the U.S. Challenge, an event for gymnasts formerly known as National-Level Elites and now referred to as “Pre-Elite” and “Hopes,” based on an athletes age. (Technically, all the Challenge athletes are Level 10s, and the “Pre-Elite” and “Hopes” classifications are part of TOPS, USA Gymnastics’ Talent Opportunity Program, designed to identify and foster gymnastics talent in American youngsters.) …

Inside Gymnastics

I’ve not seen any results on that, either.

The new USA Gymnastics website is still not up working well. At least the calendar and results should be kept up-to-date.

the USA points system is B.S.

rockygaz in a comment on this site:

… the points system the US is using at the moment is BS

He’s right, of course.

I was shocked to hear that gymnasts at the 2008 Men’s VISA Championships were ranked so simplistically.


… I got my computer to test all the possible team combinations to find the highest scoring team in a team finals format.

Based on day 1, the highest possible team score is 280.15 (lower than China from 07) with Paul Hamm, Hagerty, Horton, Durante, Morgan Hamm and Kevin Tan.

Based on day 2 (+ Paul Hamm’s scores from day 1) the highest possible team score is 282.05 (higher than China from 07) with Paul Hamm, Horton, Hagerty, McNeill, Morgan Hamm and Kevin Tan.

Custom coded software like this will undoubtedly be used for final team selection.

You can argue that the simple point system used in Houston was “good enough” to choose 10 of the eventual 14 competitors for Olympic Trials in Philadelphia.

… NOW, McNeill in the best case scenario score. That’s interesting. He wasn’t at his best on parallel bars, even on day 2.

Here’s what he did to win both PBars and Pommels at NCAA Championships 2008. Click PLAY or watch Tim on YouTube.

Another point of interest: McNeill, Morgan Hamm and Tan all do not normally compete All-around. That’s half the team picked by the computer. Recall that Japan required that ALL athletes at their first trial to compete All-around. That was a mistake. It makes me wonder what else Japan is doing wrong in preparation for the Battle in Beijing.

McNeil’s coach at Berkeley, Barry Weiner, feels the USA could beat China at the Olympics, never mind Japan. He’s also told me that Cal has a bigger scholarship budget for the future. They’re on a recruiting binge and plan to challenge for the NCAA Team title over the coming years with a young, talented squad.

David Sender kisses the Pommel Horse

David Sender reacts after his routine on the pommel horse during the final round of the US Gymnastics Championships Saturday, May 24, 2008 in Houston. Sender won the overall title with a score of 180.7.

(AP Photo/Dave Einsel) – ESPN

The first day of competition was ruined for David Sender because he fell on Pommel Horse.

He knows the Olympic Team selectors are looking for consistency. Pommels is not his best event. He MUST hit that routine.

HOUSTON — When he landed, with a little buckle in his knees but with both feet planted safely on the mat, David Sender bent over and kissed the pommel horse. The routine hadn’t been spectacular. But Sender’s final score of 13.750 was just good enough.

Sender, 22, of Arlington Heights, Ill., was a surprise winner Saturday night of the Visa National Championships men’s gymnastics all-around gold medal. …

David Sender gets big return on pommel horse routine – Los Angeles Times

I recall a few years ago a lady coach friend of mine saying, “David Sender breaks your heart.”

What she meant was, he’s a fantastic gymnast … who often disappoints by “missing” routines in the competition.

David is in the groove right now. His timing may turn out to be just about PERFECT. Good luck to him at Olympic Trials.

adult gymnastics competition in California

Masako Kardos wrote to tell us of an upcoming FUN meet.

Azarian US Gymnastics Training Center in Aliso Viejo, CA on June 14.

… beginner to advanced, age 18+, are all welcomed to compete! You can choose either competition (scored) or non-scored exhibition … Events are, including Men and Women’s Olympic apparatus, Rope Climb, Tumbling and Tumble trak.

Please contact April Littlejohn, the meet coordinator.

e-mail alittlejohn7 AT

Azarian USGTC


The left picture shows Eduard Azarian, and the right one shows his father Albert. – source

The Azarian (back roll to Iron Cross on Rings) is named after Albert, the father, an Armenian.

Eduard Azarian, the son, is club President, Program Director & Boys Team Head Coach. And 1980 Olympic Gold medalist.

Is Eduard competing in his own meet, I wonder.

14 American gymnasts to Olympic Trials

Olympic-Trials.jpg2008 National Champion David Sender of Stanford is going to Philadelphia!

Who else?

Ten of the team members advanced to Olympic Trials based on their two-day point totals. The men’s program committee named the four remaining gymnasts. Six of these athletes will win Olympic berths following the Trials, June 19-22 in Philadelphia.

Both Paul and Morgan Hamm of Waukesha, Wis., made the national team based on their point totals. Paul Hamm, who had to withdraw from Saturday’s competition after fracturing his hand during the opening night on the parallel bars, was still fifth overall with 46 points. Morgan Hamm was one point behind his brother.

Jonathan Horton (55 points)
Kevin Tan (54)
Joseph Hagerty (50)
David Durante (42)
Alexander Artemev (38)
Raj Bhavsar (36)
Sean Golden (36)

In the competition to determine who advanced to Trials, points were awarded on each event. Gymnasts earned 11 points for first place, 10 for second and so on down to 1 point for 10th place.

USA Today

The only question at the arena following the meet last night was: “Which 4 additional athletes would be invited?”

Justin Spring
Tim McNeill
Yewki Tomita
Guillermo Alvarez

These guys can thank the selection committee. They live to fight another day. All are legitimate candidates for the final team.

I talked to Guillermo’s father and he was very positive and confident that his son would be going to Beijing. All 14 athletes believe.

What great gymnasts does this leave off the possible team?

Steve Legendre (awesome Floor and Vault)
Todd Thornton (tons of experience)
Sho Nakamori (great Pommels, elegant gymnastics)
Wesley Haggensen (strong All-around)
Kyson Bunthuwong (young with terrific potential)
Clay Strother

And many more …

Congratulations to those who got through. It was a terrific battle. (If any of the 14 are injured for trials in Philadelphia — Paul Hamm, for example — I’m not sure if an “alternate” can be added. Leave a comment if you know.)


  • As We See It: Men’s Finals – Inside Gymnastics
  • Sender Wins U.S. Championships – International Gymnast
  • Glen Ishino dominates Jr USA Championships

    UPDATE: Juniors Danell Leyva, Alexy Biloserchev & Edward Mesa competed Senior in order to gain experience in an Olympic Trial meet. Thanks to Coach Sommer for pointing this out.

    ===== One to watch for the future.

    Ishino, the 2007 silver medalist, won the 16-18 age division by nearly three points. He added individual titles on floor exercise, pommel horse, parallel bars and high bar, and won silver medals on still rings and vault.

    Ishino said hitting his pommel horse set was the highlight for him. “Vault could have been a little better, but I’m glad I ended on p-bars, ended on a good event,” he said.

    Ishino, a high school junior, has committed to attend Cal Berkeley. Sister Allyse Ishino, an alternate to the 2004 U.S. Olympic team, attends Bay Area rival Stanford University. …

    International Gymnast

    Junior 16-18 All-Around
    1. Glen Ishino (SCATS-HB) 87.150
    2. Donothan Bailey (Azarian) 84.250
    3. Jake Dalton (Gym Nevada) 82.750
    4. Russell Dabritz (Legends) 82.500
    5. Alexander Naddour (Arizona Flairs) 82.350
    6. Austin Phillips (US Dev Center II) 80.950
    7. Christopher Stehl (Cypress Academy) 80.900
    8. Glenn McCuen (WOGA) 80.400
    9T. D.J. Repp (Gold Cup) 80.250
    9T. Mackenzie Dow (Surgents Elite) 80.250

    The youngest competitors are even better.

    Junior 14-15 All-Around
    1. John Orozco (World Cup) 86.000
    2. Sam Mikulak (SCATS-HB) 84.450
    3. C.J. Maestas (Gold Cup) 84.000
    4. Jacoby Rubin (Buffalo Grove) 83.800
    5. Cameron Rogers (Weyandts) 81.100
    6. Dylan Akers (Cypress Academy) 80.650
    7. Preston Ellsworth (WOGA) 80.450
    8T. Matthew Del Junco (New Hope) 80.350
    8T. Devin Burnett (WOGA) 80.350
    10. Sean Senters (Parkettes) 80.250

    Hamm, Horton, Artemev, Hamm, Tan and …

    U.S. Men’s Olympic Gymnastics Team prediction:

    The first place I look for analysis on the Olympics is Andrew Thornton:

    … at this point, my Olympic team would consist of Paul Hamm, Jonathan Horton, Sasha Artemev, Morgan Hamm, Kevin Tan, and still waiting to determine the last spot! Things can definitely change at this point as there are several guys right on the bubble. …

    read why on

    Of course it is very, very early to be making these predictions. Not even the Olympic Team selectors will be looking that far forward yet.

    Artemev needs a good meet tonight, Day 2, for sure. Certainly I expect him to hit and win Pommel Horse.

    Who is the 6th man?

    It may come down to who can score highest on pipe. Joseph Hagerty placed second on HBar Day 1 with a 6.60 A-score and a 8.700 B-score. 15.300 total. Plus he could be the second All-Arounder ahead of Horton and Artemev. Doing the AA gives Joseph an advantage, I think, over Justin Spring who finished 5th on HBar with 14.900 and 3rd on PBars with 15.350. Justin competes only 4 apparatus.

    Under this scenario I would have Tan, Horton and Paul Hamm doing rings, still the team’s weakest apparatus vs the friendlies, China.


    Paul Hamm has been through this twice before. I heard him say that the real contenders for the Olympics tend to stabilize performances as the Games approach. The team will become more obvious with each successive trial meet.

    retired gymnast Chloe Sims speaks out

    Chloe-Sims.jpgChloe is a brilliant but inconsistent gymnast who surprisingly retired in the months leading up to Beijing.

    I was sad to hear the reasons why. From a newspaper article:

    … Battling an eating disorder and mental fatigue, [Sims] chose personal happiness over the ultimate prize of a shot at winning gold. It was the most difficult decision of her life, but for Sims it was the only way she could overcome her inner demons. “I was mentally unhealthy. I had a lot of problems. I had an eating disorder and I was under a lot of pressure,” she said. “Every morning I woke up and didn’t want to go to training. It felt like I was wasting my time and other people’s doing something I didn’t want to do.” …

    Since severing ties with the inner-circle of the Australian gymnastic squad, Sims said she has experienced feelings of social alienation.“It’s hard not to go to the gym every day and see all my beautiful friends. We were very close but it’s hard to maintain that bond outside the sport,” she said. “My parents and my brother and sister are very supportive and have been incredible through all this.”

    read more on the Gymnastics Australia blog

    Chloe is only one of a number of Olympic candidates who stopped training in Australia. All for different reasons. Still, the National Team program, excellent in the past, needs to reassess.

    Gymnastics Australia bio

    larger photo – Chloe Sims official website

    USA selects 2 trampolinists for Olympics

    Only one man and one woman will compete in Beijing. The VISA Championships are the first step. (I was told the American alternates will also travel to the Olympics.)

    HOUSTON, Texas, May 23, 2008 – 2005 U.S. trampoline champion Alaina Hebert of Broussard, La., and Steven Gluckstein of Atlantic Highlands, N.J., lead men’s and women’s trampoline, respectively, after the preliminary round at the 2008 Visa Championships at Reliant Park in Houston, Texas.

    … read more — including Tumbling and Double-mini results — on USAG: Gluckstein, Hebert lead men’s, women’s trampoline at 2008 Visa Championships

    The post links to photos and results. Here’s the ranking, so far.