Posts Tagged ‘Fabian Hambuchen’

12 to watch in 2009 — a recap

January 8, 2009

Japans Kohei Uchimura is likely to be very successful in 2009.

Japan's Kohei Uchimura is likely to be very successful in 2009.

Posted late last month and early into this one, here are my picks for who will make waves in 2009:

    Sabrina Gill, Canada
    Kohei Uchimura, Japan
    Jeffery Wammes and Epke Zonderland, Netherlands
    Viktoria Komova, Russia
    Fabian Hambuchen, Germany
    Larissa Iordache, Romania
    Samantha Shapiro and Jordyn Wieber, USA
    Alexy Bilozerchev, USA
    Tatiana Nabieva, Russia
    Nathan Gafuik, Canada
    Cui Jie, China
    Benoit Caranobe, France

Honorable mentions: Peng-Peng Lee and Charlotte Mackie, Canada; Becky Downie, Great Britain; Koko Tsurumi, Japan; Paola Galente, Italy, Ksenia Semyonova, Aliya Mustafina and Nailia Mustafina,  Russia; Sergei Khorokhordin, Russia; Alexander Vorobyov, Ukraine; Stephen Legendre, USA; Thomas Bouhail, France; Zou Kai, China; Louis Smith, Great Britain. Good luck to all in 2009.

The weeks in review

November 25, 2008

There should be a blog that keeps tabs on all the gymnastics blogs.

Tidbits of the week: Triple Full reports that 2006 World Champion Vanessa Ferrari is having a sort of identity crisis. Ongoing injuries have hindered her training, and she’s gained some weight. Nothing precipitates an identity crisis in gymnastics like the expansion of a couple inches of waistline. It seems doubtful that the feisty 2006 World Champion will be able to make a tremendously successful return to elite international competition.

Rick at Gymnastics Coaching reports that Georgia is once again on top of the yearly NCAA coaches poll, followed by perennial runner-up Utah. And that Bela Karolyi called accusers Trudi Kollar and fellow defector Geza Pozar “trash” for their accusations of Bela and Martha Karolyi’s abuse. Tactful. Very tactful.

Before becoming U.S. Team Coordinator, Martha Karolyi was the shadow behind Bela, who obviously prefers the spotlight. Rick calls for her to address the abuse allegations, as well. I kind of doubt she will. Or that USA Gymnastics will make her.

A flurry of competitions, including the Milan Grand Prix, Toyota Cup, Massila Cup, Asian Championships and DBT Cup have taken place in recent days. The rule of thumb has generally been that if you dominated during the Olympics, you dominated these competitions too. Stars include Cheng Fei, Jiang Yuyuan, He Kexin, Sandra Izbasa, Koko Tsurumi, Lauren Mitchell, Fabian Hambuchen, Maxim Deviatovskiy.

“Competing” against a weak field, U.S. gymnasts Samantha Shapiro, Corrie Lothrop and Olivia Courtney steamrolled everyone else at the Pan American Union Championships. Lothrop won vault, Shapiro bars and beam, and Courtney floor.

Fabian Hambuchen can dive (really, really well)

October 20, 2008

The personable German star proves here that gymnastics lends itself well to diving.

There’s two more:

Pretty impressive, no?

Chinese men: Gold!

August 12, 2008
The Chinese men's team reacts to winning the team competition in Beijing.

The Chinese men's team reacts to winning the team competition in Beijing.

It was expected — and not.

Everybody saw the Chinese men grabbing gold in spectacular fashion in team finals. But few could have seen the American resurgence. This blogger predicted to a friend that the team would finish fifth — the same as in Atlanta in 1996.

Put aside the whole Chinese domination thing for a minute. We’ll get there. To me the most compelling, most unexpected, most redeeming story of the Games thusfar is that of the U.S. men’s gymnastics team.

Jonathan Horton reacts to a hit parallel bars routine in team finals. The U.S. men, sixth after preliminaries, captured a surprising bronze medal in team finals.

Jonathan Horton reacts to a hit parallel bars routine in team finals. The U.S. men, sixth after preliminaries, captured a surprising bronze medal in team finals.

A team bronze is better than anyone — except maybe the U.S. men themselves — could have anticipated. They were sixth after prelims with very few errors. Few could have forseen Fabian Hambuchen faltering on high bar on his Takemoto, or Russia’s dismal rings performance.

Still, it was the U.S. who powered their bronze-medal run. They earned it, rather than achieving it because other teams faltered, which may explain why the Japanese looked a little disappointed on the podium. But in another four years, Japan may be an Olympic competitor again.

Somewhere around rotation three, a Canadian commentator noted that the U.S. men loved reading media reports saying they had no shot at anything, particularly after injuries forced Paul and Morgan Hamm off the team. And there was plenty of that to go around.

Maybe this was a gathering of strength for the U.S. men. Jonathan Horton finally showed a level of maturity and quality to match the difficulty that’s always been there. Sasha Artemev finally seemed to shrug off his demons, step out of his father’s shadow a bit. Wild Justin Spring delivered big scores and solid performances. I hope all three continue. They could be the lynchpins of a huge U.S. team come London 2012.

For a second after the fifth rotation, it even looked like the U.S. had a chance of upsetting the Japanese, the only team expected to be able to challenge China. But a biffed pommel horse routine from Kevin Tan in team finals resulted in a dismal 12.775, effectively eliminating the U.S.’s three point lead after five. Raj Bhavsar followed up with a 13.7, and Artemev’s hit routine wasn’t enough to make up the deficit.

Still, we knew pommels were the weak link. Perhaps we underestimated how strong everything else could be. “Nobody expected this from them,” Kyle Shewfelt said. “This is redemption. This is them saying to everybody, ‘We are a very strong team. We are someone to be reckoned with.'”

Japan's Takehiro Kashima vaults during the Olympic team finals. Japan was a distant second behind China.

Japan's Takehiro Kashima vaults during the Olympic team finals. Japan was a distant second behind China.

Silver medalist Japan didn’t perform to the standard they expected. But they’ve certainly come a long ways from the drought that plagued them for 20 years after Japanese coach Koji Gushiken’s all-around victory in 1984 — beating Li Ning and U.S. star Peter Vidmar. It’s a big competition for 19-year-old Kohei Ujimura, who may well be the next Hiroyuki Tomita.

You can sort of see the sun setting on Tomita, who qualified in sixth place to the all-around behind two of his teammates. Because he’s the Hiroyuki Tomita, Japan is withdrawing fifth-place finisher Koki Sakamoto.

It may be a good decision, and it may not. Tomita was the tiredest-looking competitor at the 2007 World Championships during the men’s all around competition only a day after the team final.

As for China, it was simply one of the great Olympic performances, from start to finish. Home turf? Who cares. China Syndrome? What China Syndrome? By the end of the fifth rotation, China would have needed all of its gymnasts to fall off high bar, multiple times. Instead, they get still-relative-newcomer Zou Kai, who behaves like the Olympic veteran he is now, with a Paul Hamm-like finish — a stuck double-twisting double layout.

Expected for China, but still incredible. Not for U.S. fans, and even more amazing because of it.

Other German Olympians

June 12, 2008

A little housekeeping: Germany named the rest of its men’s and women’s Olympic teams Tuesday. Joining Fabian Hambuchen, Marcel Nguyen, Philipp Boy and Eugen Spiridonov on the men’s team will be Robert Juckel and Thomas Andergassen.

On the women’s side, Jolene Mobius and Anja Brinker will join the University of Utah’s Daria Bijak, Oksana Chusovitina, Katja Abel and Marie-Sophie Hindermann. Kim Bui is the alternate.

Jolene Mobius, 2008 American Cup, Floor Exercise:

(via Gymnastics Coaching, Difficulty plus Execution)

Bijak to Beijing

June 11, 2008

Utah's Daria Bijak is headed to Beijing.The Desert News, one of two outlets that covers the University of Utah gymnastics team thoroughly, is reporting that Utah sophomore Daria Bijak has been named to the German Olympic team.

Long time coming. Bijak missed the 2000 Games with an injury, and Germany did not qualify a full team in 2004.

Germany named four men’s athletes: Fabian Hambuchen, Philipp Boy, Marcel Nguyen and Eugen Spiridonov — and three women: German champion Oksana Chusovitina, Katya Abel and Marie-Sophie Hindermann. The Deseret News article does not name who the other two female Germans named to the team were.

Bijak joins other Ute Olympic team members like Cheryl Weatherstone (Great Britain 1984), Missy Marlowe (USA 1988) and current teammate Gael Mackie (Canada 2004).

Bijak, 16th all-around at this year’s NCAA Championships, is one of the few (if not the only) NCAA vaulters to do a handspring laid-out front.

Daria Bijak, 2008 German Championships, Vault:

Daria Bijak, 2008 German Championships, Floor Exercise:

She keeps going, and going, and going, and…

June 10, 2008

Oksana ChusovitinaIt was a touching story of a mother’s love for her son and how she leveraged her sport to pay for treating his leukemia.

Then came the bang worthy of a surprise symphony:

“My goal is to keep going until London in 2012,” 32-year-old Oksana Chusovitina told Reuters in an interview last week.

Whoa. Chusovitina was tapped to lead the German women’s Olympic team, which will include Katya Abel and Marie-Sophie Hindermann, fourth on uneven bars at the 2007 World Championships. University of Utah sophomore and Olympic hopeful Daria Bijak kept herself in the running for a berth by finishing fourth at the recent German Nationals.

I suppose people were thinking Chusovitina might retire after Beijing. I’m beginning to assume she’ll be competing elite at 50.

German star Fabian Hambuchen will lead the men’s team, which will also consist of 2008 German Championships silver medalist Philipp Boy, Marcel Nguyen and Eugen Spiridonov.

Russian men on top at European Championships

May 9, 2008

Nikolai KryukovThe usual suspects — including Fabian Hambuchen, Yuri van Gelder and Nikolai Kryukov — all did very well during team qualifications at the Men’s European Championships in Lausanne, Switzerland, International Gymnast Magazine reports.

Going into team finals, the picture looks like this:

1. Russia 273.175
2. Germany 268.000
3. Ukraine 267.025
4. Romania 266.275
5. Belarus 265.150
6. Switzerland 264.800
7. France 263.300
8. Italy 262.950

Russia seems likely to win the team title, but some good races are shaping up for event finals, particularly on rings, where would-be Olympic rings contender van Gelder will go up against Jordan Jovtchev. 2007 World high bar champion Hambuchen will go up against 2001 World high bar champion Vlasios Maras of Greece in event finals as well.

Some surprises though: Veteran among veterans Kryukov is leading on parallel bars and pommel horse. I think of Kryukov as the veteran among veterans not because he’s 28, but more because he’s been around since 1996, when at 16 he was the youngest member of the gold-medal winning Russian team in Atlanta.

The best male gymnasts of the past 10 years — Li Xiaoshaung, Alexei Nemov, Ivan Ivankov, Alexei Bondarenko, Li Xiaopeng, Yang Wei, Yevgeny Podgorny, Rustam Sharipov, Marian Dragulescu, Hiroyuki Tomita, Paul Hamm — Kryukov’s gone up against all of them. And the 1999 World Champion has proven that he’s among the best too.

In other news, the Russians appear to have let Maxim Devyatovsky back onto the team after his stint of bad behavior at the 2007 World Championships.

Devyatovsky competed all six events and was the top individual, though the all-around will not be contested in Lausanne.

Eight 2008 American Cup observations

March 4, 2008

Shawn Johnson1. Shawn Johnson looked far more nervous at this event than she did in any meet in 2007. Even before her fall on vault during the first rotation, the big smiles were gone, and she often looked strained saluting the judges. By all indications, the pressure seems to be getting to her a little. Nonetheless, better to fall on an Amanar at the American Cup than in Beijing.

2. The judges seem to be finally loosening up on giving high execution scores. Still, a 9.525 B-score for a 1.5-twisting Yurchenko with a step to the side from Nastia Liukin? Her form, which is impeccable about everywhere else, did not likely deserve a 9.525. And above a 15 for that vault? Has that happened yet this quad? Maybe they were rewarding her for just standing it up.
 
(more…)

Anja Brinker: 2007 German Sportswoman of the Year

February 22, 2008

German giant Fabian Hambuchen deservedly got a lot of press when he became Germany’s Sportsman of the Year 2007 in December.

Much less fanfare has been made about rising German talent Anja Brinker, a 17-year-old from Herkenrath who was 10th all-around at the 2007 European Championships. Brinker’s specialty, like countrywoman Marie-Sophie Hindermann’s, is the uneven bars.

Anja Brinker, 2007 European Championships Event Finals, Uneven Bars:

Anja Brinker on balance beam.The German women’s team, which also includes Hindermann, former Soviet Oksana Chusovitina, Katja Abel and possibly Utah sophomore Daria Bijak, is formidable. Imagine if they had Jana Bieger as well!

It seems almost certain that the U.S. and China will be the top two women’s teams in Beijing this summer, but with those five, who knows? German gymnastics might even be in a position to upset a Romania or Russia for a bronze. Too bad Bieger resists trying to make the German team…

(via GYMmedia.com)