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Written by John Crumlish    Wednesday, 05 June 2019 07:41    PDF Print
Nedoroscik: ‘I’ve Learned To Trust My Training’
(2 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

Following his international debut this spring, U.S. pommel horse specialist Stephen Nedoroscik has made substantial upgrades as he aims for titles at this summer’s World University Games in Naples, this fall’s World Championships in Stuttgart and the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

The 20-year-old Nedoroscik, a Massachusetts native who is heading into his senior year at Penn State University, placed first on pommel horse at the 2017 and ’18 NCAA Championships, and second on pommel horse at the ’19 NCAA Championships. He was seventh on pommel horse at the ’17 U.S. Championships and ninth on pommel horse at the ’18 U.S. Championships.

Following his victory on pommel horse at the U.S. Winter Cup Challenge in February, Nedoroscik was named to the U.S. national team. He finished sixth on pommel horse at the World Cup of Doha in March, which was his first international start. In April he was named to represent the U.S. at the World University Games in Naples in July.

The ambitious Nedoroscik, who participated in the recent training camp at the U.S. Olympic Training Center, shared his thoughts in this IG Online interview.

IG: With only one international meet behind you, and having completed a long NCAA season, how are you physically and mentally preparing yourself for the challenge of competing at the World University Games?

SN: I am extremely excited for World University Games. I have continued to train just as rigorously as I did during the NCAA season. I’ve managed to escape injury thus far and feel great physically, good enough to upgrade my routine by six tenths. With the progression of my upgrades and consistency of my routines during the season, I feel confident going into the World University Games.

IG: Looking back on Doha, what do you think caused your fall in the final, and what steps have to taken since to avoid it going forward?

SN: During the competition at Doha, I experienced a nervousness I had never felt. Despite the complicated feelings going into competition, I was able to hit a solid routine in the preliminaries, qualifying for finals. Going into finals, I knew I was against the strongest horse competition in the world, but I wasn’t nervous about it. I was excited. I made a mistake during preliminaries on my Russian flop so I focused a lot during warm-ups to correct it. During my competitive routine I executed a phenomenal first half and was certain I’d finish the rest. It was my own confidence that diverted my focus and I accidentally rushed my reverse Roth, resulting in an unrecoverable front loop, and I fell. Since that competition, I’ve warmed up every skill equally. More specifically I’ve learned to trust my training despite how warm-ups feel and to stay focused throughout the routine.

IG: With two NCAA titles, a World Cup final and now World University Games participating to your name, what do you feel you can offer to the U.S. team in Stuttgart and Tokyo?

SN: I believe I can offer the USA a really good shot at the pommel horse title in Stuttgart and Tokyo. Although my international career is extremely young, so was my NCAA career when I won in my freshman year. Besides my gymnastics abilities, a (Penn State) teammate of mine, Samuel Zakutney, labeled me as a teammate that can keep the momentum rolling regardless that I only compete a single event. Whether it’s helping Team USA strive for a pommel horse medal, or it’s cheering and applauding my teammates, I offer Team USA a great teammate to have.

IG: What is your plan for bolstering your pommel horse routine for a better chance to make the U.S. teams for Stuttgart and Tokyo?

SN: Currently I am training a 16.8 start-value routine. I am upgrading to a Mikulak, G-Flop and Bezugo, a total of six tenths added from my previous routine. It has been two weeks of working the routine, and I have already gained consistency in all of my upgrades and even hit a routine last week. I have also been focusing on my swing in general, trying to eliminate any further deductions.

IG: Considering the competition to earn a spot on the U.S. team for Tokyo, what plans do you have for trying to earn an individual spot through participation in the World Cup series?

SN: To further my chances of making it to Tokyo, I must earn points through World Cups this coming year. My plan is to gain consistency with my new routine to increase my chances of winning at these World Cups. If I were to win three World Cups on pommel horse, scoring higher on average than the gymnast from Taipei who already has won three times, then I believe I would guarantee myself an individual spot for Tokyo. For now, my goal is to make the U.S. national team once again, and for that I need consistency and execution. I have goals that may seem improbable, but I trust with these goals in mind, I will pursue my dreams.

To subscribe to the print and/or digital edition, or to order back issues of International Gymnast magazine, click here.

 
Written by dwight normile    Monday, 03 June 2019 08:12    PDF Print
‘Commander In Chief’
(2 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

President and CEO of USA Gymnastics, Li Li Leung has a plan to get gymnastics back on the right track.

Leung was born August 20, 1973, and grew up in Ridgewood, New Jersey. She earned a bachelor of arts degree in psychology at Michigan, where she was a three-time Academic All-Big Ten conference gymnast. She won Michigan’s Athletic Academic Achievement award in 1994 and 1995.

As a volunteer assistant coach at the University of Massachusetts, she got two master’s degrees: she received her MBA and master of science in sports management. She competed in many USA Gymnastics events, and was a member of a U.S. junior national team and represented the U.S. in the 1988 Junior Pan American Games.

The following excerpts are engaging, and you can read the entire interview in the 2019 June issue of International Gymnast.

IG: It helps that you were a gymnast. Do you have a strategic plan to revert the path that the sport is currently on?

LL: I am in the middle of a “listening and learning tour,” where I am speaking with individuals throughout the gymnastics community—former and current athletes, coaches, judges, club owners, administrators, media and other stakeholders, both supporters and critics.  I need to hear from them and understand their thoughts and perspectives before I can begin to write a strategic plan. To write one without a 360-degree perspective would be a mistake.

IG: You said, “For me, this is much more than a job: it is a personal calling, for which I stand ready to answer.” What did you mean by that?

LL: I felt compelled to give back to the sport that has shaped me and has been a part of my life for more than 35 years. It broke my heart to see what had happened to the gymnasts, and I want to help make the changes needed to rebuild USA Gymnastics into an organization of which we can all be proud. Going forward, I believe I can make a positive impact, and we will be more athlete-centric as an organization, with their safety and well-being at the forefront.

IG: Do you consider yourself outspoken in what you truly believe?

LL: Yes, but it took me a while to find my voice. I had a very positive coach who stressed emotional, mental and physical toughness rather than punishment. I still made decisions that probably weren’t the best decisions for me, such as competing through injuries. I wish I would have had the tools when I was a gymnast to be aware of what was right and wrong in those environments. To be able to say, ‘Okay, I need to stop now. If I go beyond this point, then I will be pushing myself beyond the point of injury and not be able to come back.’ Our athletes’ voices are important, and I want to help give them the tools to know what is the right thing to do and that they have a voice to speak up.

To subscribe to the print and/or digital edition, or to order back issues of International Gymnast magazine, click here.

 
Written by dwight normile    Tuesday, 28 May 2019 12:06    PDF Print
'Amazing Grace: Valorie Kondos Field Has Had Quite A Ride'
(3 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

IG: Are you religious or spiritual?

VK: I am both religious and spiritual.

IG: What do you like to do to escape the gym?

VK: I love to have lunch or an early dinner on one of our many outside gorgeous patio restaurants near campus with friends. One thing I’m always grateful for living in LA, we don’t have a lot of bugs so sitting outside for a meal is heaven on earth.

IG: As a dancer in Sacramento and Washington D.C., what types of dances did you perform?

VK: Mainly the classics, Nutcracker, Giselle, Swan Lake, Coppelia.

IG: How did you beat cancer?

VK: I beat cancer because I live at a time that has the chemo for my particular type of breast cancer. Had I gotten diagnosed 10 years earlier they had nothing for this type. Also, my doctors believe my extremely positive and grateful attitude had a lot to do with it.

IG: How do you think your emotions will play out after retiring?

VK: I know I’m really going to miss seeing the girls on a daily basis. However, I’m going to be really busy so I don’t think it will set in until next Fall when I don’t report to UCLA for the next season.

IG: How will you remember Katelyn Ohashi?

VK: First of all, Kate and I have a lot of gigs already set up together for after NCAA’s. Gymnastically, I will remember Kate as one of the most talented and fun competitors I’ve ever coached.

Read the entire interview in the 2019 June issue of International Gymnast. To subscribe to the print and/or digital edition, or to order back issues of International Gymnast magazine, click here.

 
Written by dwight normile    Tuesday, 28 May 2019 11:36    PDF Print
'Amazing Grace: Valorie Kondos Field Has Had Quite A Ride'
IG: Are you religious or spiritual?

VK: I am both religious and spiritual.

IG: What do you like to do to escape the gym?

VK: I love to have lunch or an early dinner on one of our many outside gorgeous patio restaurants near campus with friends. One thing I’m always grateful for living in LA, we don’t have a lot of bugs so sitting outside for a meal is heaven on earth.

IG: As a dancer in Sacramento and Washington D.C., what types of dances did you perform?

VK: Mainly the classics, Nutcracker, Giselle, Swan Lake, Coppelia.

IG: How did you beat cancer?

VK: I beat cancer because I live at a time that has the chemo for my particular type of breast cancer. Had I gotten diagnosed 10 years earlier they had nothing for this type. Also, my doctors believe my extremely positive and grateful attitude had a lot to do with it.

IG: How do you think your emotions will play out after retiring?

VK: I know I’m really going to miss seeing the girls on a daily basis. However, I’m going to be really busy so I don’t think it will set in until next Fall when I don’t report to UCLA for the next season.

IG: How will you remember Katelyn Ohashi?

VK: First of all, Kate and I have a lot of gigs already set up together for after NCAA’s. Gymnastically, I will remember Kate as one of the most talented and fun competitors I’ve ever coached.How will you remember Katelyn Ohashi?

Read the entire interview in the 2019 June issue of International Gymnast. To subscribe to the print and/or digital edition, or to order back issues of International Gymnast magazine, click here.

 
Written by John Crumlish    Friday, 19 April 2019 08:10    PDF Print
Slovenia’s Sajn: ‘I Consider Every Competition A Gift'
(5 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

2008 Slovenian Olympian Adela Sajn turned 29 on the last day of the recent 2019 European Championships in Szczecin, Poland, and she continues to celebrate her lengthy and successful career.

A mainstay for Slovenia in three Olympic cycles, Sajn (pronounced “shine”) competed on balance beam and floor exercise at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. Best among her numerous performances in World Cup or Challenge Cup finals is her silver medal-winning routine on balance beam at the 2016 Challenge Cup of Ljubljana, the city of her birth.

Sajn, who finished 21st on balance beam and 35th on floor exercise in qualifications at Europeans that took place April 10-14, shares her thoughts and experiences in this IG Online interview.

IG: Was competing at Europeans a gift in itself?

AS: After all the injuries I dealt with throughout my career I take nothing for granted. I also battled through serious health issues in 2017 and 2018, which I thought might even end my career. I spent quite some time in and out of the hospital, which was really tough. Ever since my health improved I really consider every competition as a gift. I think I am very lucky I can still do what I love every day.

IG: How would you rate your performance on beam and floor in Szczecin?

AS: I was very nervous prior to this competition as I am not too comfortable performing on the new “soft touch” beam, so I am happy with what I managed to show in the end, although there was still some room for improvement in the execution area. I am very happy with my performance on floor as I managed to show some of my best landings since I started doing floor again, and my pirouettes were pretty clean, as well. But, I was disappointed with my final score. My routine was fairly simple but I thought the execution was not as bad as the judges decided. Overall I am very happy with my performance especially since my statistics at European Championships were not the best.

IG: You were 0.50 away from the beam final, so what do you think you will need to make it into the final in major competitions?

AS: I know where my weakest areas are in the execution department so I will try to work on that, and I definitely need to add a few tenths in my D(ifficulty)-score.

IG: How do you support yourself financially outside of gymnastics?

AS: I am lucky to be employed by one of our public administration departments, which enables me to be involved in sports professionally, but the standards to renew the contract each year are getting tougher and tougher. BTC City, my main sponsor, has been by my side for many years, and I have a scholarship from the Slovenian gymnastics federation.

IG: With so many years competing at the top level, what keeps you motivated to continue at age 29?

AS: I have been in love with this sport since the beginning of my career in 1995, and after investing so much in it, it is hard to just let it go. And I know that once I am finished, there is no turning back; you are done forever. That's why I want to continue doing gymnastics as long as my body lets me and as long as I enjoy it. Another thing that motivates me are my fans who continue to support me. It's really rewarding to see many of them stick around for so long. Gymnastics is not really popular in Slovenia so it is heartwarming to be well-accepted abroad. Gymnastics has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. Gymnastics is who I am and I love to express myself through it. So if fans like my gymnastics, that is the ultimate compliment for me.

IG: How many more years do you plan to compete, and how much better do you think you can get?

AS: When I was little I once wrote in my club's New Year's magazine that I will do gymnastics until age 28. How I did that math I have no idea, but obviously I have already surpassed that. I didn't set an exact date for myself but it will definitely not be much longer since there comes a time in life where you focus on other things, as well.

To subscribe to the print and/or digital edition, or to order back issues of International Gymnast magazine, click here.

 
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