Saturday, February 27, 2010


That's right guys, it's time once more for to ask you guys a question.  This time you know what it is for- The Couch Gymnast Magazine.  The new issue should hopefully be out in a week or two.  Yay!  Anyway, once again, I will give you the question and please email me your answer at

  DO NOT leave it in the comments.

Which gymnast in the last twenty years do you think has most exemplified everything that is great about gymnastics.... and why?

Okay, I am looking forward to hearing your answers!


Thursday, February 25, 2010


(pic from

According to Prosport, both Tamirjan and Dragoi are recovering slowly from their injuries.  It seems Tamirjan is having a better run, she is still feeling fit and is already training on bars, where there is no impact on her leg.  She, according to Forminte, still wants to have a run at the Euros even though they are very near.  He says he will wait and see, as he would prefer to have her in good shape for Worlds.

Dragoi's recovery is slower.  She hasn't been able to do anything with her leg at all and has been wearing an orthotic foot thingummy (that's the technical term!).  She is having a progress check in the next week to see how her cartilige is.  If it is looking better, they will make a plan to get her back into training.

(pic from

Claudia Voicu has a light knee sprain, which is why she won't be doing the American Cup.  She has had an MRI and it looks to be a mild injury.   She has already suffered another sprain earlier this year, after an awkward landing that hurt her foot.   Voicu will be sixteen this year, so let's hope she recovers quickly.  Her country needs her!!

Looking forward to seeing them all back at it!



So IG announced yesterday that Jessica Lopez has been added to the line up for the American Cup.  This is good news for Jessica, who was probably very dissapointed after her Worlds AA competition.  Hoping to be the first Venezuelan woman to make it into an AA finals, Jess missed out after a rough competition on beam and floor.  She wound up in 37th place in the qualifications.
I am very sad, on the other hand to hear that she is replacing Claudia Voicu whom I was very much looking forward to seeing.  Voicu has an injury- perhaps a continuing one if Youtube comments are anything to go by.
This will competition will be good for Lopez, however, if she wants to have another run at the Worlds.  She placed third in the Nadia Comaneci International the other week, but may have been hoping for a better finish.  Once again, she scored quite low on beam, something she will really need to focus on.  Bars are her strength.
Her career at Denver is finished, afer being named its MVP for 2009, making event finals in vault at Nationals and earnign2nd team all-american on beam.  This should give her more time for elite training and hopefully some rest too!  I look forward to seeing her compete.



That's right guys, it's time once more for to ask you guys a question.  This time you know what it is for- The Couch Gymnast Magazine.  The new issue should hopefully be out in a week or two.  Yay!  Anyway, once again, I will give you the question and please email me your answer.  DO NOT leave it in the comments.

Which gymnast in the last twenty years do you think has most exemplified everything that is great about gymnastics.... and why?

Okay, I am looking forward to hearing your answers!


Sunday, February 21, 2010


so my weekend gymnastics blogging was hindered by a variety of factors, including a countryside family 'do' that meant that I spent a weekend amongst tipsy (i am being gentle there) aunts and bored younger cousins (I had fun!), a lack of internet access at said family 'do', and the fact that the power/charging cord to my Macbook decided to erupt into a shower of crazy scary sparks and burning plastic smoke leaving me with no means to powering my computer (and a newfound knowledge that Apple have already been taken to task repeatedly for designing faulty power cords that have nearly resulted in many a housefire or spectacular injury)
So, I have quite a bit to catch up on.

One. thank the lawd UCLA won that meet against OSU.  I had it in my head that if they couldn't win this one, it was all but over for those Bruins.  This is the week Val had to get that line up right, the girls had to get their @#%* together and prove they can be as good as they promised to be at the start of the season.  It's not like I would have given up on them totally- they are my team- but I would have been feeling pretty dissillusioned I must say.
It was a smart move of Miss V's to try out her new tactic and put Li and EHH up in the first two spots on beam.  It seemed to work a treat, as they did not have to record a fall.
Vanessa Zamarripa is porving her sheer gutsy brilliance by pulling of her third AA win in a row too.  What a girl!

I was really happy to see Florida beat out Georgia in their weekend home meet.  Florida pulled out awesome performances, winning every title but beam (Ah McCool- you've done it again).  Ashanee Dickerson is once again proving her AA mettle and Marissa King has made an excellent transition to collegiate, proving this with her second place finish.

Poor ole Shawn Johnson is said to be recovering well from the knee surgery on her ACL.  I wonder, as did a commenter, on what impact this will have on her potential comeback?

What else?  Oh, I know!  Good news from our Italian correspondant GiulyX16.  It seems Paola Galante may has decided against retirement from international competition and Vanessa Ferrari is back competing.  Here is a video of Nessa competing beam at the Series A- Firenze Meet.

You can watch more on Illabrilla's Youtube Channel.

It's nice to see Kristina Vaculik back and winning the Nadia Comaneci Invitational this week.  She is a great gymnast.  She has returned from a long term elbow injury and will go compete for Stanford next year before returning to focus on Worlds.  Kristina, with her lovely floor will be a welcome addition to Stanfords floor-strong team.  Kristen Smyth, Stanford coach told journalists how excited she was to have Vaculik on board during recruiting.  "Kristina displays a maturity that is far beyong her years and carries herself with such poise and confidence.  She is a beautiful gymnast, a true artist and is really going to surprise people."
Check out her gorgeous dance here;

I was kind of excited to see that Sandra Izbasa was there, though of course she wasn't competing.  I thought it was strange too, that the Romanians would let her go at this point in time until I found out she would be receiving medical attention at the same time.  This is probably the same doctor Nadia Comaneci offered to fly Sandra over to see when the injury first happened. 
Nadia Comaneci is a truly, truly awesome ambassador for gymnastics. Not just because of her worldwide fame, but in the way that she retains such a connection with Romanian gymnastics whilst supporting US gymnastics, and also because of all the work she does with special needs kids.  So very cool.
According to IG Sandra is doing a little floor and beam at the moment but will probably not be ready for Rotterdam. It makes me wonder if Sandra can come back to form after a year away.  I certainly hope so!
Sandra also told them that she was offered a spot on Romania's dancing with the stars but refused.  At that point she was still focussed on continuing in the sport.

Videos of the recent Buckeye Classic are coming thick and fast on Youtube.  Here is Chelsea Davis so we can see how her return to competitive form is going.  She certainly looks more mature!

It is a terrific piece of music and Chelsea is certainly looking stronger. Her form needs a fair bit of work. Her leg-up full turn was horrid, but generally, considering how long she has been out, things are looking good. She moves quite well though she clearly isn't a dancer. The chorey could use some work, if anything just to live up to the music.

There is a bars video too.  Davis has lovely form on bars, but her Pak was a little bit of a scary mess.  Awesome dismount though!

In the crazy portion of this gymnastics newletter a gymnastics club owner has asked for more police patrol cars near her gymnastics club after she found out that a man offered the builder she had charged for not doing work on the club that she had paid him for his services as a hitman.  Luckily for the gym owner, the mant she had charged decided not only to refuse the offer, but to tell the police.  The 'hitman' who attributed his attempt at his new profession on the sad state of the global economy is now behind bars.

16-year old US freestyle skier, Ashley Caldwell made history by becoming the first US woman to make the Olympic finals in her event since 1998.  Asley stared out as a gymnast, but started training as a freestyler after moving to Lake Placid.  She claims she still misses gymnastics.  Interestingly, this model of gymnast-turned-freestyle skier is supposed to be a very Australian and Chinese way of entering the sport, according to the journalist who wrote about Ashley.  That I did not know- but apparently it is common in Oz at least. 

Australian, Lydia Lassilia who was also making a charge at freestyle skiing this week, had a similar experience, but she is competing after narrowly missing out on a berth to the Atlanta Olympic Games with the Australian gymnastics team.She was contacted after those Olympics by the Olympic Winter institute to see if she wanted to try her hand at freestyle.  She did.  She is a World Cup winner in the sport.

Okay, that's enough twittering away from me!



Pavs: Vot! I get zero!  A zero!  Hic!  Zat is so funny!


Thursday, February 18, 2010


Peggy: Sorry girls, but Gym Australia could only spring for one trophy this year.

Verona:  See Cata, there is sometimes such a thing as over-using the hair straightener.  Less is more, hon, less is more.

Random Man: Ladies and gentleman, the rainbow colours of the national costume represent peace and prosperity.  The hot pink under-cardigan is worn to bring joy and many babies.  The white collar is for luck.  The steel bra?  Oh no, that is just to make sure she keeps her top on.

Zammo:  No, this eez not what I am vearing.  But before meet, I go try out for A Chorus Line.  Maybe 
they can give me visa.

Veronika:  Salute?  You want me to salute?  I can't even lift my arms in this thing!

Yelena:  Ven I grow up I vill work in bank! Ow may I help you? Zee?

Verona:  Sheesh, why do I have to keep telling you people this stuff? When it comes to the forehead, girls, less is definitely more.

Elsa:  That eez not vat Nastia told me.  She said it vould bring me luck!

Verona:  And the fringe bump, Sandra?  It's got to go...

Sandra:  But Nastia told me eet vould make me more, how you say it?- Aerodynamic!

Verona: Okay, I am done with the hair advice peeps!

Beth:  Crap, the other way was up a second ago.

Zuzana: Zis eez definitely not ow I planned zis!

Simona: Lore, eez zis your shoe I zitting on?

Girl:  But please sir!
Bela:  No I am zorry.  Way too tall.  Maybe you could go into cheerleading?


Tuesday, February 16, 2010


Wow, Blythe from the Gym Examiner has reported on the remarkable rise of Oregon State in the NCAA competition.  Wouldn't it be awesome if OSU made it to Nationals!  It'd be greta to see girls like Leslie Mak, ranked #2 nationally on bars and Mandi Rodriguez ranked #9 nationally in the AA and who have been shining lights for OSU while they have been there make it to top. And also, then we'd get to see our two Aussies Melanie Jones and Olivia Vivian doing their thing in the college big time.  The way Oregon have been competing, this is definitely a possibility.  And, as Mez over at the Oz Gymblog has reported, Vivian is looking fantastic, and not just on bars.  Melanie is making a comeback from injury too, finding herself ranked in a tie for #3 nationally on floor.  In fact, three OSUers are ranked in the top ten on floor nationally.  Weeee!


Monday, February 15, 2010


Young Canadian upstart Dominique Pegg proved herself by  taking second place at the WOGA Classic this weekend. Though she traikled leader Sophia Lee by nearly two points, she beat out World vault Champion, Kayla Williams.  William, according to Aunt Joyce was looking sluggish and out-of-form, however.  Dominique, however, had an even performance, though some trouble on bars.  This all bodes well for Pegg's upcoming American Cup performance.

Sunday, February 14, 2010


It seems the Bruins have lost again to their favorite PAC-10 arch enemies, Stamford.  They really shouldn't have lost this meet statistically, but they did.
The UCLA press release puts the loss, which was a 195.975 to 195.165 difference down to out-of-bounds problems on floor.  They might just be right.  The Bruins got a staggering five out-of-bounds penalites on floor, demonstrating that they perhaps weren't as calm and controlled as they have been in previous meets.  Four tenths of those points were taken off the team total.

(Out of the Bruins) Zam won the AA again with a 39.55 and Anna Li came second (39.175) and McCullough (38.775) was third.
Apparently Elyse HH hasn't been doing AA because they are changing her bars dismount and she needs to train it more before she can compete it. 

The Bruins had a great bars set, with a total of 49.55 and Anna Li scored a whopping 9.975.

McCullough has brought in her new Yurchenko one-and-a-half ( a solution proffered by her inability to reign in a Yurchenko full- it paid off) with a 9.9.

Lichelee Wong pulled out a 9.9 on bars.

Zam and EHH carried the beam torch for Bruins while the first two girls fell.

Hopefully they can address these beam falls and floor isuues.  Zam is doing a great AA job.  I wonder if Marci Bernholtz is one of the girls that fell?  I know Miss Val is all happy she is in the line-up despite her other recent fall, but I am not that hot on her beam set.  I find it sluggish. 

Also, on a shallow note, I love the comp leo for this week.  Tre pretty!


It's kind of annoying being in Australia sometimes- when it comes to gymnastics blogging that is.  It's Monday morning here.  In my time, the Bruins should have competed yesterday afternoon and I would know how they did.  The WOGA Classic would be over and I would know how everyone did there too.
I particularly want to know how the baby Ruskies did in the US.
There are a few videos out there.  Rebecca Bross doing beam.  Kayla Williams doing vault (Aunt Joyce gives some interesting and honest feedback on Kayla's post-worlds form).  Some warm-up.  Ivana on beam- a warm up I think.. You know, I am not one of those people who thinks Ivana Hong is the height of grace and execution, but I have to confess I would rather watch her up on beam than bross sometimes.  Also, she gets such magnificent height on her layout stepouts.  Even when she messed her Onodi- it still looked kinda lovely until she stumbled.
You can watch a video of a girl callled Caryn Kardous win floor at her level with a kinda nice floor routine.  Very NCAA.  Didn't exactly light my fire.
You can see a girl called Abby Milliet do floor (labelled under Bridget doing floor(Abby probably got more viewers than she ever thought she would!!!)  Abby was actually interesting to watch.  She got some wicked height in her tumbling and leaps, and had a lovely physique.  Her lines make her look like she is going to be able to dance but girl is as stiff as a bloodt board!!  Makes you want to go and shake her loose and send her to yoga or something.  Then she'd be hitting some amazing floor with her double front and neat twisting.

Anyway, I'll come back when my Monday is your Sunday night- or something like that!


Saturday, February 13, 2010


So I know Gymnastic Coaching has already posted this, but I have to too- mostly because this montage makes me double happy.  One because it's beautiful, but also because it is set to one of my all-time favorite bands- The National.  I love it!!! Beautiful song.



Wednesday, February 10, 2010


So I haven't talked yet about this year's American Cup entrants.  I know the Cup kinda makes everyone sigh, and I don't want to be seen polishing a turd, but I am kind of looking forward to it.  One, because it is coming soon, and college gymnastics can only sustain me so much.  Also, I am looking forward to seeing many of the gymnasts who'll be there.  Some tend to dismiss the women's competition because of a 'weak' line up.  But a highly competitive field is not the only thing I look for in a meet.

We don't know who the second American will be, but Brossy is still in.  Part of me wants to yawn at the prospect of Brossy whooping these less-experienced, or less skilled gymnasts, but part of me wants to see if she can go four-for-four- something which should be expected of her by now.  The easier field should make her more relaxed and we will be able to see how much of her erratic performances last year can be down to being away through injury for so long and how much was nerves.

But anyway, let's face it, I never go into the Amercan Cup thinking "ooh who's going to win?" Instead, I treat it as an opportunity to see some interesting international gymnasts on a world stage in a well-covered event.  Thta's why I am kind of sad to see no Russians in this year's mix.  Are they keeping those wunderkinds in cotton wool?  Well, part of me hopes so.  But wouldn'tcha just love to see a showdown between Brossy, whatever other impossibly talented junior they can find and one Miss Komova?  That'd make my day!

It's very nice to see Elsa Garcia coming back to the meet that first brought her attention in the gymnastics world.  Who can forget the coverage of the charming Mexican girl and the coach who confessed his gymnast was so independant he mostly read while she trained!

It will also be awesome to see if Ariella Kaeslin is still riding that wave of improvement she surprised us all with last year.  I am interested to see how her all-around performances are coming on.  And who doesn't want to see her killer vaults again?  But please, Ariella, I am begging you- NO MORE BUTTERFLIES!!!!!

I am looking forward to seeing more of the lithesome and elegant young Elisabeth Seitz, and I am glad to see her on the roster.  Seitz has a cute floor routine which might tweak some memories of the US viewers as she uses Tasha Schwikerts old floor music, albeit less saucily than the Divine Miss S.

The announcement of Dominiqe Pegg on the list was great to hear.  This young gymnast has rapidly risen through the junior ranks of Canadian gymnastics and now needs to get used to major competition.  She has a very cool little floor routine and lovely arms on beam.  She made beam and floor finals at the Japan Junior International and now it is time for her to make an impact among seniors.

Yuko Shintake, who lives a little under team mate Koko Tsurumi's shadow is a welcome, seasoned (she's done an Olympics) addition to the line up.  She should not be forgotten.  At last years Japan International she snatched the beam prize out from under some balancing heavyweights like Deng Linlin, Ksenia Semenova and Koko Tsurumi.  She has wonderful control and mastery over the beam when her nerves don't get the better of her.

I am very very much looking forward to seeing how Claudia Voicu performs at this meet.  She is a terrific little gymnast but has, I understand, been hampered by injury and hasn't had great performance results.  She has some real flair, though, and if she can hit, she should make some international impact. 


To me, Claudia needed more amplitude on her leaps.  But it doesn't seem to me that it is her flexibility that was lacking, but merely that she was being too cautious.  Hopefully as she gains competition confidence, this will be addressed. She certainly gets great height on her skills (except that dismount) and although she dropped that aerial, she got it well into the air first.
But the best thing for me?  She's stylish.  As she matures, she is going to be even better to watch.  It kind of reminds me of Izbasa.  She is no swan like Porgras, but something about the way she moves catches your eye.  This is a good thing.
On floor she performs a mean double turn with leg up and executes better leaps than on beam.  I can't wait for more.

Sure, we can call it the Scam Cup, say the whole line-up thing is stoopid, pitting big senior US talents against less experienced, less highly ranked-at-home gymnasts.  And we do.  But one great thing it achieves with its narrow line up and large coverage is that audiences and commentators can hype up these 'new' gymnast.  And the one thing that this achieves is that it ensures that judges know who they are by the time they get to the next big thing.

Because recognition is a factor.  I tend to agree with those who believe Kayla Williams missed floor finals at worlds because she was a relative unknown.  Yes her dance makes my eyes hurt but her tumbling and difficulty should have pushed her into the top eight.  And it would have had she been Sacramone.

If these young up-and-comers can put themselves and their nations on show in a good way here at the American Cup, it will be rewarded later.

See?  there is an upside to everything.  Even the Scam Cup!

I have to say too that I am glad to see it is being held in Worcester, Mass.  I spent an amazing five weeks there a few years back! 


Tuesday, February 9, 2010


There have been a few upheavals in the Belgian gymnastics camp this past year. The appointment of new head coach Yves Kieffer has apprently rocked the Belgian boat a little (okay, a lot), particularly when Kieffer decided not to send gymnasts to last year's world Championships, but rather to concentrate on a future for the program. This and other issues that arose during the upheaval rankled with many, including VanWalleghem, who decided, after only just returning to the central training center after the 2009 Euros to return to her personal coach.

You might remember Triple Full reporting about all the issues that erupted in Belgian gymnastics after the previous head coach was fired in favor of Yves.  Many gymnasts went on strike and some left the gym. 
2008 Olympian Gaelle Mys decided to stay, and trains in the same facility as Julie Croket and Belgium's top male gymnasts. Joilien Eggermont, who has only recently become a senior, will also be there working on upgrading and improving for 2010

Croket will be particularly welcomed inot the senior ranks as Belgium's older gymnast's, Gaelle Mys and Aagje VanWalleghem. Aagje, who had such great results at the European Championshsips last year and was Belgian Women's Champion, has not been seen since she competed in the Stuttgart World Cup. Sick, she did not have the meet she hoped for.

The Belgian gymnasts also spent some time in Decemeber training at a Russian training camp. This should have given them ample opportunity to check out the competition!

I thought it was about time I checked in on those Belgian Croket sisters too.  You might remember I talked about Julie after the EYOF meet last year.  She is one of Belgium's greatest juniors on the rise.  Her sister Stephanie, younger than Julie, is having a great time in the sport too.

Julie had some terrific success last year at the TopGym contest in Charleroi, Belgium.  She placed second in the all-around after Larissa Iordache.  Gymnasts were only allowed to compete in two individual events after the all-around and Julie made a great showing in both, taking fourth in beam and winning the floor exercise.  Topgym had some very strong junior competition, including Iordache and Bulimar from Romania as well as Chiara Gandolfini of Italy, Madison Kocian of the USA and Lisa Van de Burg of the Netherlands.

This was all very good news considering Julie had hurt her foot during the Belgian Championshsips and had to be taken to hospital some months before.  She still won an award for being one of the most valuable sportspeaople in her home town.  Her sister, Stephanie, took third.

Julie is training 32 hours a week and has not competed yet this year.  I am looking forward to seeing her results this year, as it will be quite a test to compete well against those up-and-coming Russian girls.  She should be competing as a senior this year (born in 1994) i believe.

Watch her gold-winning Topgym floor routine, which in many ways reminds me of junior Romanian floor routines..


It remains to be seen if Kieffer's upheaval of the Belgian gymnastics program will do their gymnasts good.  Here is hoping it was people railing against much needed change, rather than a series of unnecessary upsets and Belgian gymnastics flourishes again as they take the time to build their program.


Monday, February 8, 2010


Elsa Garcia, who turned 20 yesterday.... and.....

And our to very own Belorussian Swan, who turned 37 today!

Two extraordinary gymnasts, for very different reasons.  One who stood out among her fellow countrywomen, and one who made her country stand out.  Best wishes for the year to come!


Sunday, February 7, 2010

Well Mostepanovafan is back and montaging with a vengeance.  It seems our favorite montager was rather busy for a while there uploading the Sydney qualifications (for which we are very grateful) but is back to the montaging we know and love best.  This week has seen a wee explosion of "most successful" montages, including the Top 10 most successful Romanian gymnasts, Chinese (no surprise who topped that one) and also the most successful Soviet gymnasts.  Here is the soviet one, which is awesome (and historic).  Go to Mostepanovafan's page to see the others.


(By the way, while we are on the subject of Russian/Soviet gymnastics- does anyone feel knowledgeable enough to take the Russian/Soviet gymnastics assignments for The Couch Gymnast magazine.  You must know your stuff and write pretty well.  If you think you fit the bill, go to the CONTRIBUTE page and find out how to go about it, or drop me an email at


Saturday, February 6, 2010

Okay guys, now many of you have had a chance to peruse the new COUCH GYMNAST MAGAZINE , its time to hear from people who would like to participate in the next one.  If you are thinking of contributing in any way, drop me an email on and let me know.  Also, have a look at the CONTRIBUTE page on the actual site to learn more about what we're interested in.
Also, don't forget THE LIST - it's your turn!  I want to see people's top 10 lists.  If you want to do one yourself, write it up and send it in by email.  Once again, check the contribute section for how to send it.
Your contributions don't have to be long, nor do they have to be perfect, and if English isn't your first language, I will help edit it.  If you have something you want to say about gymnastics, we want to hear it!
Also, if you have a hankering to write, but don't know what subject to write on, contact me anyway, because I can help you with ideas and send you off an a reporting job!



Bruins got their season high this week with a 196.725!  Yay!  it's no Arkansas 197+ but it's pretty great!


One of the most interesting/exciting tidbits from the meet is that crowd fave, Vanessa Zamarripa won the all-around competition with a 39.675.  She scored a 9.95 on bars and beam, and clearly she did step in for Anna Li, cos she did floor and gained a 9.9.  Bloody magnificent from that little bundle of energy.  The younger Bruins are really, really ripening this year.  It's so fun to watch it happen.

Other highlights included:

A 9.925 from Elyse HH on vault, which must be a personal best of some sort.  Hoppy also got a 9.925 on floor which really does make her one of the most consistently excellent gymnasts on floor this year.  Seriously, who'da thunk it?!!!  Beam maybe, but floor?

Brittani McCullough must have done a very clean floor, because she scored a 9.925.  I love it when she kicks butt on flor, which she generally doea, but often her form lets her down.

But it seems Zam was the star of the meet, with all those 9.9 plusses.  Very exciting stuff!


Friday, February 5, 2010


Things just got a bit more exciting in NCAA. It seems like the Gym dogs have finally, two meets or so too late, found their ground, beating the Kentucky Wildcats with a terrific meet score of 197.20.
Shayla Worley finally seemed to live up to expectations, scoring a 9.95 on floor, as did McCool.  All the girls got above 9.8, including Hilary Mauro who, though not the best or consistent gym dog, seems to have been picking up a lot of others slack this season.

Grace Taylor got a 9.95 on beam, showing shades of the Taylor we remember from the last few couple of years.
Shayla also got a 9.925 on beam.

Bars was awesomeness apparently...
Kat Ding got a 9.975
McColl a 9.9
Nuccio a 9.9

Vault not so great, quite a few 9.7s.

What can I say?  About time girls, about time.

There was no way that the disappearance of Yoculan could have had that bad an effect on y'all.  Championships are gonna be TIGHT this year if they keep this up.


Thursday, February 4, 2010


The Couch Gymnast Says "Wha?!?!"

So, if you have already read my post below, you know I am oft confused when I have to use babelfish to translate Romanina into English ("weave the golden diagonal" etc etc).

But what i discovered today is that it definitely goes both ways.  I was reading the Romanian online sport forum today, as I am wont to do from time to time, despite the aforementioned translation struggles.  Today I found that they had talked about the new Couch Gymnast Magazine, with particular reference to the Romanian articles and were asking if anyone would translate it into Romanian for them.
(Also Bea, they are talking about you and wether you wrote the Ceresela article which they liked very much)

But one of the funny things I realised is that one confused (i am not making fun as i am eternally confused- one day i may tell you that Gabi Dragoi is resorting to a diet of pure onion and constantly reciting Lady gaga lyrics because that is what babelfish told me Prosport said) reader was questioning wether I was, in fact, a famous gymnast. 

They asked BECAUSE the quiz in the new mag has aWho Am I section.  And the question is posed like so, "I was born in..." and "I won medals at..." etc etc and they thought the "I" was referring to me, the writer!.  i won't tell you who they thought I was in case you haven't done the quiz yet, but it was very funny.  Anyway, now I don't feel so bad.  We are all in the same boat!

Oh to be able to speak 28 or so languages!



Anna Li will only be competing bars and beam this week for the Bruins.  Part of the problem, Miss val attests, is her tumbling 'issues' on floor.  According to Val, Anna should be able to do a double pike "in her sleep", but because she gets such great height on her tumbling, she is finding it tremendously difficult to locate her landing.  Val wants this fixed. 

Luckily, UCLA is so deep right now that there are girls everwhere who can take her place- including Zam on floor, which is always fun.

The resting of Anna and the injury-rest Elyse Hopfner-HibbsH had to take last week means they must be levelling out in AA- at least if Val puts EHH up for AA this week.  Both these girls have really really discovered some consistency this year, making them both amazing AA contenders.  Unfortunately, neither of them have consistently entered the AA line up from week to week. Still, it has been great to watch them both step up.

I really hope Anna can fix her tumbling issues, because that floor routine is a miracle to watch.
As for E Hop-Hibbs, she is banging out that brlliant little floor number at a high level week after week.  As much as I love McCool, I am really, really hoping Hoppy kicks some butt in event finals if she qualifies!



Seriously.  It looks like a regular old gymnastics photos to me. The Romanian team in their competition leotards chucking that ubiquitous team photographic 'pose' in somewhat questionable leos.  There's plentty of familiar faces- some spanning gymnastics eras.  Steli's looking serious as usual.  Sandra is once again, Towering Moose to the rest of the midgets. And is that Dana Druncea on the end?  What a cutie!

But, you know, whatever. the picture doesn't exactly light my fire.

SO... why then, does this bloody picture appear nearly every single time I do any kind of gymnastics-related image search on google?!?!  Okay, maybe not every time, but it feels like it.  It is the first thing to come up for 'Gymnastics Team" that's for sure. But I swear, I could search "gymnastics cupcakes from Uzbekistan", and up it would appear, at least on the first few pages of my search.  It's WEIRD!

Is it like, the worlds most popular gymnastics photo for some obscure reason and I just don't know about it?

Does it have secrte code embedded in it?


That's all I'm saying...




It has been a loooong time- too long- since I have done a Cartwheels segment for the blog, and I thought it was about time.

Actually, what made me think it was about time was reading an article a few weeks back about how the Malaysian Gymnastics Federation were working on sending some of their best gymnasts overseas for more international competition opportunities than ever before in order to improve their competitive ability. They will be competing in both the Uzbekistan Championshsips and the Pacific Alliance here in Melbourne this year.  This plan included both male and female gymnasts and, if I remember correctly, also mentioned a training stint in Russia for the women, which will be an enriching experience.

Well, Malaysia is not a country that has been known for its artistic gymnasts, though it has a very healthy and enthusiastic rhythmic gymnastics communtiy.  Even among the Asian countries, Malaysia does not always fare as well as countries with huge and highly regimented training programs like China, Japan and Korea, or even Vietnam.  Artistic gymnastics does survive, however, as attested to by the latest sporting news out of Malaysia.

Apparently, a number of sports (eleven or so) are being removed from the National school sports calender.  In a debate that resembles Australia's larger scale debate about which sports to fund, the difficulty was in deciding wether to keep or cut sports with less participation across the states of Malaysia, or the sports  that have fewer participants but marked success for the country.  Gymnastics, though one paper claimed it did not have adequate participation across the states, survived the cut, testifying to its precedence in Malaysia.

Nurul Fatiha Abd Hamid was a gymnast who carried the candle for Malaysian WAG gymnastics for quite some time.  She competed at the 2006 Commonwealth Games where she placed 20th in the AA. She also placed 13th in the 2007 Asian Games. 

Nurul only retired from gymnastics in 2007 at the rip old age of 21.  Her last competition was the Korat SEA game, an annual meet in Kuala Lumpar.  Narual had won gold in each of these games she entered and was hoping, in her last meet to take gold on uneven bars.  Though her eyes were clearly on the prize, Narul also had her focus and her hopes pinned on the junior gymnasts who would carry on the legacy for Malaysion gymnastics. She told reporters;

 "I will motivate them to challenge for gold medals. It will be a great end to my career knowing that there are gymnasts ready to take over from me"

One of Malaysia's more successful gymnasts is MAG competitior Ng Shu Wai.  At the last Commonwealth Games, Shu Wai placed 5th in the AA, as well as earning a silver for floor and qualifying to four event finals.  His AA score in the team competition, an 86.450 was three points higher than his next placed team mate.  He also won silver at the previous Games too.

Shu Wai has apparently left the sport, but according to an article published in the Star only three weeks ago, Wai is planning to return- on his own terms.  He has told the Malay Fed that he will return to compete in both the Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games only if he can train on his own.  As the current batch of gymnasts are nowehere near the calibre of Shu Wai, it seems the federation will concede.

Malaysia did not seem to send any women to the 2008 Asian Games, though nor did China.  It may have had something to do with the Olympic year.  But they have competed regionally in other places.  Chan Sau Wah, won medals both at the SEA games, and oat the Vietnamese Open in 2008, winning her the unexpected accolade of school sportsgirl of the year.

Chan did not expect to beat the swiimers she saw as favorites, but winning medals at both the aforementioned meets helped her to be pushed forward into the limelight.  She continued to compete in 2009.

A newcomer to the scene is Cheong See Teng, a sixteen year old who overcame knee injuries at the Kuala Lumpar mini-Olympics, taking the gold in the AA out from under the noses of gymnasts far more seasoned than herself.  Funnily, Cheong, who had only joined the senior team the year before, had only decided to compete three days before the contest.  Cheong, modestly attributed her success to the fact that others (including Sau Wah who won silver)  were also suffering injury.

Nevertheless, her gutsy performance proves that there is still more talent rising in Malaysia and that their strong inter-state, inter-school competition regiment provides a much needed competitive basis for young athletes. 

Hopefully the new plan to bring their best gymnasts out into the world more often for competition will work to improve their international standings. Secretary of the Federation, N. Shamagarajah has also told reporters that the Fed has enlisted the help of foreign coaches to prepare them for the Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games.  Hopefully this will see them become competitiove if not in the world, then at least in Asia.



(pic from prosport)

I am not sure half the time if it is me, or just the horribly crazed translations provided by babelfish half the time.  But I just don't get Prosport.
(Also, try understanding what this sentence means; "Thus for every day she could weave gold diagonal"!)
But, from what I understand, Corina Ungureanu (remember the naughty Romanian who like to get her kit off and who could tumble like a demon?) is back visiting Deva.  She has been hanging out there and working out, because, despite trying aerobics, gymnastics is her one true love.  At age 27, apparently Corina is so small and youthful looking that she doesn't look much diifferent to the other girls.  Corina told reporters that although the training equipment had changed, and there was the new building on campus (those new dorms for the girls- will they ever be finished?!) everything feel the same, enough for a flood of nostalgia anyway.

The article of course, couldn't resist mentioning Corina's forays into nudity and her work in playboy.  It also, strangely in my opinion, included a photo of Svetlana Khorkina's photos for the same rag. 

Okay, so, I am not really sure what Corina is doing exactly.  I get the impression that it is just a visit, but then it seems like she is there to stay "a dream resumed 11 years ago today." I can't really imagine she is back for good.  That would be seriously FREAKY!

Who knows?  Well all the Romaninas do, and I am sure someone will fill us in.  But what I do wonder, is about the last lines of the article, which is a quote by Nicolae Forminte, saying basically that seeing a girl of 27 inspired back to gymnastics should show something to the girls of 18 and 19 who might be thinking of retirement.

A message to Sandra, perhaps?
Anyone heard any news on how her training is going?


Wednesday, February 3, 2010


(He Kexin- of the much-maligned sweet sixteenth!)

Hi guys!  I need to ask y'all a favor.  I am currently doing my Phd paper about sports and blogging, and I need to put together a short paper on sports controversies and blogging. 

Of course, one of these controversies will be about gymnastics-the Chinese age controversy during the Beijing Olympics to be exact  What i really need to know is where to find any blog (or forum) discussion of the Chinese girls being underage BEFORE the Olympics began.  I know it was out there, but I need to find it!\

If you participated in a conversation about it, read about it, or blogged about it before the Beijing Olympics, The Couch Gymnast would truly, really love it if you could let me know where to find it.

Muchas Gracias! (If i knew how the Chinese said it I would say it that way!)


Tuesday, February 2, 2010


Hi guys.  So, over the summer the Couch Gymnast has been working on a little project for y'all.  It's the new online Couch Gymnast Magazine!  Now, before you get too excited, it is not a big glossy mag with huge photos and competition reports.  It is a zero-budget webmagazine, produced by myself and readers of this blog.

I was inspired to do this project by my readers and their comments.  I believe that even though we don't have the means and money that big publications like IG and Inside gymnastics have (not knocking them of course) so many of my readers have a passion for gymnastics, a heck of a lot of collective, truly international knowledge of the sport, a sense of humour about it, and above all, strong and informed opinions about how this sport should be. That, to me, is invaluable and also, my favorite kind of gymnastics writing to read.  So I wanted to make a space where people who don't have time to make their own blogs and webspaces could contribute to this ongoing discussion about our favorite sport.

For the first issue, I contacted some of my more regular contributors to the comments section, but I am seriously hoping more people will come and take part in this collaborative project.  For more details, read the first issue your self!

The blog will stay here, partly because a website brings about a whole lot more copyright issues than the safety of a blog does, but also because I kind of like it here!

But I really hope you enjoy the magazine.  Thanks so muc for the first crew who took part.  It was so great working with you and I hope you do it again.


Monday, February 1, 2010


While I was checking to see if Nicolae Forminte indeed did not mention Amelia Racea in his Euros selection considerations (he did- it was brain fart on my part) I found Prosport had published a new article about Lili Cosma (beam coach- read more about her here) Once again, Lili has been honoured as the Coach of the Year for the Huneadora county (where Deva is situated and where Cosma comes from) after two of her gymnasts, Racea and Haidu had the best sporting results of any athletes in the area. Racea was ranked first, and Haidu fourth for the county.  This is also the fourth time in a row Lili has won this award.

When asked how she felt to win the award repeatedly, Liliana was quick to remind reporters of the work carried out by the girls previous club coaches, the gymnasts themselves and the other coaches at Deva that contributed to their success as athletes. 
The funniest part of it all, was that as well as earning the usual trophy, Cosma was awarded with....meat!

When asked what she will do with her prize, she said she would have the Deva staff to dinner.  I foresee many, many stomach pains ahead, which is probably why the gymnasts won't be getting any.

When asked what she hoped for the next year, it was for Romania to remain on the European and World podiums, and for all the competition-worthy girls at Deva to be able to participate in at least two major competitions.