Iranian gymnasts invited to USA

Male gymnasts train in Iran and the nation even hosted a World Cup in 2006. (Sadly female spectators were disallowed.)

Now a welcome, though blatantly political, initiative:

America has made a dramatic attempt to repair its relations with the Middle East by inviting Iranian athletes to train in the United States.

The move was made with the blessing of the US State Department, said the US Olympic Committee’s chief of International Relations, Robert Fasulo.

The USOC hopes that repairing relations with Iran will help secure their goal of hosting the 2016 Games. …

The plan is for wrestlers to become the first Iranian athletes to travel to the US in August, with others – including water polo players, gymnasts and athletes – following. …

The American initiative has been welcomed in the Middle East, where the Americans are also reaching out with similar offers to Syria and Lebanon.

BBC SPORT Iranian athletes invited to USA

gym in Tehran – World is Round

best paid NCAA gymnastics coaches

photo – Sarah Patterson

Sarah.jpgOnly four teams have ever won the NCAA title in the 25 years of the Women’s Championships – Utah (9), Georgia (7), UCLA (5) and Alabama (4).

What do those successful programs pay their coaches?

Lya Wodraska writing in The Salt Lake Tribune just prior to NCAA Championships:

With 10 national titles, Marsden’s pay has risen from $1,500 to $154,000 a year.

As a graduate assistant in the P.E. department, Utah coach Greg Marsden was hired 31 years ago to coach the Utes’ gymnastics team for $1,500 a year, a meager salary that came with no benefits.

If his team wins the NCAA title this weekend, he’ll earn a little more than eight times that much in a bonus alone.

Marsden’s story of going from a paycheck well below the poverty level to one that is rather hefty isn’t unique, as college gymnastics is becoming more and more of a serious business for schools.

Marsden’s base salary is $154,350, making him the third-highest paid women’s college gymnastics coach in the country, behind Georgia’s Suzanne Yoculan ($189,000) and Alabama’s Sarah Patterson ($173,664).

The rise in salaries can be attributed in part to Title IX, the federal legislation that calls for equal opportunity for males and females in education programs and activities that receive financial assistance.

The legislation is why Utah started its gymnastics program in the first place, and was used by Yoculan in 1994 to successfully barter for a higher salary.

… Yoculan has won enough, seven national titles, that her base salary plus incentives gives her a package of more than $300,000.

Salt Lake Tribune – Gymnastics: Sport’s success means money for coaches

NCAA pushing salaries up should be good for the rest of us.

movie – “Lefty” starring Carol Johnston

Update 2010 – the movie is posted on YouTube.

johnston_book.jpgI trained and hung out with amazing Carol back in the day at Altadore Gymnastics Club in Calgary.

Old-timers will have seen the Disney film Lefty, a documentary of her rise to All-American NCAA champion while competing for Cal State Fullerton.


In her freshman season she became the conference beam champion.

In her sophomore year she won beam and placed third in floor exercise at her school's conference championships. She and her teammates traveled to Seattle, Washington for the NCAA Championships. Placing second on beam and floor, she earned All-American honours.

Carol's determination and accomplishments caught the eye of the Walt Disney company. You see, Carol had been born with only one arm. Borrowing a nickname friends had coined for Carol, the inspirational documentary "Lefty" was released.

The documentary details Carol's 1978-1979 NCAA Season. Determined to win gold at the 1979 NCAAs, Carol trained her hardest that season. Fate took a nasty turn however, and she tore her right ACL while warming up for a UCLA vs Cal State meet. The injury was devastating, but provided Carol with insight, "Now I really know what handicapped is." Whatever happened to Carol Johnston?

Movie – Lefty.

Rec gymnastics lesson plans

I’m the website editor for Ruschkin Publishing who provide the best lesson plans in the world for schools. (Many gym clubs use them, as well.)

What are the Up Down All Around lesson plans?

60 lesson plans divided into three Series (A, B, C) of 20 lessons:

* Series A for children in Grades 1 and 2
* Series B for children in Grades 3 and 4
* Series C for children in Grades 5 and 6

I’ve included a document on that site which can be republished anywhere — your club website or newsletter, for example. It’s linked on the bottom of this page:

Up Down All Around lesson plans


European Individual Championships 2007

Saturday, April 28 = All-Around Finals
Sunday, April 29 = Apparatus Finals

250 gymnasts from 37 countries will participate at the 2nd European Individual Championships 2007, which will held from April 26 to 29 in Amsterdam.

93 women (32 countries) and 157 men (38 federations; – out of 47 UEG members) have sent their definitive registration for this event….


official website

World Champion Ferrari will be there.

larger version – flickr

Christina Ghani – USA Gymnastics Collegiate Champion

There is a flood of information available on the upcoming NCAA Women’s Championships. It is superbly marketed.

In contrast, it is difficult to find details on the College Championship sponsored by USA Gymnastics.


Towson University’s Christina Ghani added two more titles to her all-around and team crowns by winning vault and tying for first on floor exercise during Saturday’s individual event finals at the 2007 USA Gymnastics Women’s Collegiate Championships at Seattle Pacific University’s Royal Brougham Pavilion in Seattle. Ghani finished with a total of five medals, four gold and one silver. …

The annual athlete and coach of the year awards were presented at the meet. The winners were: Ghani, Senior Athlete of the Year; Cornell’s Paul Beckwith, Head Coach of the Year; Cornell’s Melanie Dillaplane, Assistant Coach of the Year; and TWU’s Catherine Schnoes, Mari-Rae Sopper Award.

Results – USA Gymnastics Women’s Collegiate Championships

More on the Seattle Pacific University website.

Christchurch School of Gymnastics, New Zealand

Has the leader of your country ever visited your club?

The Prime Minister of New Zealand opened an extension at my former gym.

Christchurch School of Gymnastics, the largest club in New Zealand (1600 members) built an 880sqm extension. CSG was Top Club (gymnastics and trampoline) in the country in 2006.

Avril.jpgI give much of the credit to Executive Officer Avril Enslow. She built up this club from a church basement to one of the premier facilities in the Southern Hemisphere.

Avril is ultra-efficient, totally dedicated. And as one of the top FIG judges in the world, very well connected. Congratulations to the entire Flipping Brilliant team!

I started a club website back in 2002. But I see it has been upgraded significantly. Nice job. It’s one of the best club sites I’ve seen.

Christchurch School of Gymnastics – website


Incidentally, foreign coaches regularly travel to New Zealand to work for the club. In fact, Sheena Steacy from Altadore will be there for 3 months starting in May.

interview with President of the NCAA

James Madison University is cutting 10 teams including Mens and Womens Gymnastics.

I’m trying to understand why.

Is the NCAA administration to blame? What are they doing to support Gymnastics and other acrobatic sports?

Mbrand.jpgEach Monday, the Double A Zone website interviews NCAA President Myles Brand.

Here’s what the interviewer had to say:

I’m pretty vocal about my displeasure when athletics programs cut teams. I was a student-athlete in a Division III program that didn’t generate any money and I am eternally grateful that I was able to have that experience. If my program had been cut, I don’t know what I would have done.

Recently, the athletics programs at Rutgers, Ohio and Butler have cut a number of sports teams and it has infuriated a number of people …

There are hundreds of affected student-athletes who have had their college experience forever altered and I think it’s an absolute shame. What bothers me most is when athletics departments make these financial decisions to cut programs, but still pour more money into football. It’s not right.

On today’s edition of Mondays With Myles, I speak with NCAA President Myles Brand about this disturbing trend and the role the NCAA plays in helping institutions find a way to keep their program intact. While we don’t address the specifics of any one institution, Dr. Brand expresses his frustrations with the trend and speaks about the displaced student-athletes.

Double-A Zone

Listen to the interview with Myles Brand

train like the men of SPARTA

At a recent gymnastics meet, with a few hour free for a move before our plane, half the men’s judges went to 300 and half went to Blades of Glory .

Which would you have chosen?


I went for 300. Gory, but brilliant, I thought.

Now I want to know, how do you get abs like Gerald Butler?


You train with extreme alpinist Mark Twight. The founder of Gym Jones.

Mark Twight used a combination of weight training, gymnastics and cardio in order to get the cast and crew into incredible shape. The workouts he constructed involved using functional movements, assembled into brutal combinations and executed at high intensity. …

The Elite Rings were used to add extra challenge to pushups, pullups and provide a variety of ab work. According to Twight, “the rings demand a really high level of core tension”. Gymnasts are famous for their upper body and core strength. Training on the rings is one major secret behind their incredible definition and strength.

Click PLAY or watch the intense conditioning on YouTube.