Posts Tagged ‘Ivana Hong’

Hong dissatisfied with GAGE

October 29, 2008
Former GAGE gymnast Ivana Hong came oh-so-close to her Olympic dream.

Former GAGE gymnast Ivana Hong came oh-so-close to her Olympic dream.

Ivana Hong is not happy with her GAGE experience.

Hong, who left Al and Armine Fong and apparently showed up at the recent Karolyi camp without either coach or gym, and her family gave interviews to NBC Action News, disclosing that Hong had fractured her right ankle before the Olympic Trials, and Fong, apparently reverting to his less compassionate days, told her to ignore it.

“They kept telling me that nothing was wrong with my foot,” Ivana said. “I knew what was wrong with it, but I wasn’t going to be like ‘I have a fracture in my foot and I’m not gonna train.’”

Fong discouraged Ivana from seeking medical treatment. Against his wishes, Ivana’s mother took her to a doctor, who confirmed she had a fractured ankle.

With the Olympics looming, Ivana thought she had no choice but to trudge on.

Anne Phillips, who linked to this article on Gymnastike, prefaced it by noting “it’s a little dramatic”. It is, a bit — the article’s refernce to Joan Ryan’s book Little Girls in Pretty Boxes, which recounts both the stories of Fong’s ill-fated gymnasts Julissa Gomez and Christy Henrich, is what Ivana’s story is made to sound like here. But the book was published 13 years ago and, many would argue, represents a different era in American gymnastics.

Or does it? Hong’s claims that Fong turned away from her are disturbing. Fong didn’t exactly sound enthusiastic about their Olympic Trials preparations either. Instead of denying that he gave up on her, Fong contends Hong “flat-out quit.”

Whether it was her foot injury or not, many may say that Hong, a designated Olympic alternate, was simply the seventh-best gymnast in the U.S. this summer. Despite her third-place finish at the 2007 Pan-American Games, Hong’s routines weren’t received with much enthusiasm at the 2007 World Championships. Even in top form, she was still a bubble gymnast, and it can be argued that there was no place for her in the top five on any event.

While they may regret it, no one forced the Hong family to move from California, especially as there are many top-flight gyms in the state (All-Olympia, home to Mattie Larson and Samantha Shapiro, springs immediately to mind.) Still, if Ivana wasn’t given the training they were promised (and paid for) they certainly should complain.

The article does state that Hong plans to continue toward 2012.

Related: Al Fong’s second chance

Where should Ivana Hong train next?

October 22, 2008

She’s been at GAGE since 2004 and showed up at the recent Karolyi camp sans gym or coach. Rumor has it she’s considering All Olympia in Los Angeles and even Chow’s in West Des Moines, Iowa. Any gym in the U.S. would be thrilled to have her.

Recent U.S. camp report on L.A. Times

October 22, 2008

Recent U.S. training camp rumors confirmed by Diane Pucin, who covers gymnastics for the L.A. Times:

The assignments that USA Gymnastics announced for upcoming international competitions give some indication as to who is starting to be groomed for 2012 teams in London.

For example Glen Ishino of Santa Ana and Danell Leyva of Miami are being sent to the Pan American Gymnastics Union Individual Event Championships in Rosario, Argentina, Nov. 19-24.

Ishino won the 2008 junior all-around title and is considered a potential star for future U.S. men’s teams. Ishino is a freshman at California. Leyva is young enough to have been on the 14- to 15-year-old national team this year, but good enough to have finished eighth on the high bar at senior nationals

That’s just the beginning. Jana Bieger is apparently sticking around for now, as is Ivana Hong, despite showing at the recent Karolyi camp no longer affiliated with Al Fong and GAGE.

Word is Hong, who lived in California before moving to Missouri to train with the Fongs in 2004, may be heading to All Olympia, where Mattie Larson and Samantha Shapiro train. Seems like it would be a good fit for Hong, who like Larson and Shapiro is known for her artistry.

Bridget Sloan?!

July 20, 2008

Yes, Bridget Sloan.

The 16-year-old from the relatively unknown Sharp’s Gymnastics in Pittsboro, Ind. has made the U.S. Olympic team.

Bridget Sloan

Sloan was probably the biggest surprise of the six-member team, named today, which includes Shawn Johnson, Nastia Liukin, Alicia Sacramone, Chellsie Memmel and Samantha Peszek. Johnson and Liukin were technically confirmed for the team after going 1-2 at the Olympic Trials, and it was widely assumed that Memmel, Sacramone and Peszek had locked up their spots as well.

Alternates are Ivana Hong, Jana Bieger and new senior Corrie Lothrop, whose big skill is reportedly an Amanar vault.

Bieger, the all-around silver medalist from the 2006 World Championships, was thought to be putting a stranglehold on the sixth spot after hitting all of her routines at the U.S. Championships, but was eliminated after falling on uneven bars during both days of competition.

Bars will be a critical event for the U.S. during the Games. Liukin and Memmel have world class routines, but a third bars specialist was needed to round out the team.

The spot could (and likely would) have gone to Shayla Worley, had she not fractured her leg during the first day of competition Saturday at the Karolyi ranch in New Waverly, Texas.

That left things wide open for Sloan, a self-described all-around gymnast who can be a tad wobbly on beam but doesn’t have a real weak event. Sloan was third on uneven bars at the U.S. Championships only a few months after having surgery for a torn meniscus.

With her clean lines and nice movements, something commentators refer to as an “international look,” she’ll be a good tablesetter for the team. Certainly better than Bieger, who had big skills but messy form, or Hong, who has good variety and wonderful form but lacks consistency.

The other six…

June 10, 2008

Mattie LarsonEveryone who watched the U.S. Championships last weekend saw Shawn Johnson, Nastia Liukin and Chellsie Memmel dominate the competition. Samantha Peszek was fourth, Ivana Hong fifth, and Jana Bieger sixth.

Shayla Worley was out. Alicia Sacramone competed her three good events.

Sixteen-year-old Mattie Larson got some camera time. So did Bridget Sloan.

Here’s how the other half fared:

7. Mattie Larson 118.850
8. Corrie Lothrop 117.650
9. Randy Stageberg 116.000
10. Mackenzie Caquatto 114.850
11. Olivia Courtney 114.100
12. Alaina Johnson 113.000
13. Christa Tanella 112.800
14. Britney Ranzy 112.750
15. Ashley Stott 111.850
16. Katelyn Mohr 111.450
17. Kimberly Jacob 110.850  

A few, like Stageberg, are heading off to college, etc. But watch them. They’ll be on your NCAA teams. They’ll be the ones competing for spots on the 2009 World team.

Christa Tanella, 2008 U.S. Classic All-Around, Floor Exercise:

International Gymnast Magazine editor Dwight Normile posted his thoughts on the men’s and women’s U.S. Championships on the magazine’s website. The most interesting point, I thought, was that Liukin bested Johnson during day two of the competition.

Dead heat: Shawn Johnson and Nastia Liukin could go 1-2 or 2-1 at the Olympics. Their A Scores across four events on Day 2 were 26.20 (Johnson) and 26.10 (Liukin). Liukin actually beat Johnson on the second day, 64.20-64.05, but her fall and out-of-bounds deduction in prelims proved to be the difference in the end. If both hit in Beijing, I honestly couldn’t pick a winner — they’re that close.

Normile’s picks for the women’s Olympic team: Johnson, Liukin, Memmel, Sacramone, Peszek and…either Worley, Sloan, Ivana Hong or Jana Bieger. Dead right. Men: Paul Hamm, Kevin Tan, and, um…

The best of Boston

June 6, 2008

If there was any doubt as to whether Shawn Johnson was still the one to beat, night one of the U.S. Championships in Boston has effectively erased it.

Shawn Johnson, 2008 U.S. Championships Prelims, Balance Beam (partial):

Standings after day one:

1. Shawn Johnson

2. Nastia Liukin

3. Chellsie Memmel

4. Samantha Peszek

5. Jana Bieger

6. Ivana Hong

To this blogger, the biggest surprise was Bieger. Peszek has looked confident in competition since the 2007 World Championships, and Memmel has been a judges’ darling since becoming a senior in 2003.


— Liukin fell on her double front on floor exercise and scored only 14.25. She made up for it with a 17.025 on uneven bars, proving she can be scored as well as the Chinese.

— Johnson was on everywhere, including on her Amanar vault. The only thing mentioned was that she took a big step forward on her beam landing.

Ashley Priess pulled out of the competition completely. She’ll have a good time at Alabama next year.

Shayla Worley’s back problems continue to plague her, and she has chosen to petition to the Olympic Trials.

— On Memmel, from Inside Gymnastics Magazine:

Memmel, who vaulted only a Yurchenko-full on vault, is struggling with a sore quadriceps and contemplated not even competing. (Memmel’s coach-father, Andy, noted that the “powers that be” approved their easier effort on vault to keep them in the competition.)

Alicia Sacramone confirmed to Inside Gymnastics that she’s working on an Amanar vault herself. Ooooh.

Darling Hill had an unfortunate 12-something disaster on beam (just like last year) and didn’t compete uneven bars

— Johnson’s new floor music is called “August Rush”

Bridget Sloan, who competed bars and beam only, unveiled a new full-twisting double layout on bars

Claybabe6, editor of the Live.Breath.Love.Gymnastics blog has some videos on her Youtube page.

(via International Gymnast Online, Inside Gymnastics Magazine)

Memmel’s big scoring potential shouldn’t be overlooked

April 22, 2008

It’s easy to underestimate Chellsie Memmel.

Chellsie MemmelFew gymnasts are given less credit for being World Champion. Maybe it’s because she basically tied for the title with Nastia Liukin in 2005 at a time when many thought Liukin was more artistic and easier to watch.

It’s easy to forget that she nearly accomplished the same feat in 2006, leading eventual World Champion Vanessa Ferrari after the qualifying round. Ferrari went on to become the first World all-around champion in memory to count a fall during the all-around finals, something that hasn’t upped her credibility much since Aarhus either.


Ivana Hong’s untold story

April 15, 2008

Ivana HongActually, it’s Hong’s mom Michelle’s untold story — untold anyway until The New York Times published it today.

Ivana Hong is a gymnast hoping to make it to the Beijing Summer Games, a Chinese-American who figured to be asked to trace her roots by reporters who are here to familiarize themselves with likely United States competitors. That she did, explaining that her parents were actually born in Vietnam, leaving separately before they met in America, her mother on a boat that encountered a storm and some resistance before arriving in Thailand.

The detailed version, provided by Michelle Hong, was much more harrowing, and complex.

A new thought from Bruno Grandi

December 5, 2007

Bruno Grandi, President of the Federation Internationale de Gymnastique.FIG President Bruno Grandi  is saying he doesn’t want gymnasts competing internationally until age 16. Period.

China’s Xinhua news service reported today that Grandi, on hand for the Good Luck Beijing International Invitational, told a reporter he was pondering raising the age limit for all international competitions to 16 after 2008.

“Sports like gymnastics should not be there for kids,” said Grandi. “Gymnasts should only be allowed to compete in international stage when they are mature physically and mentally.”

A gymnast must already be 16 at the end of an Olympic year to be eligible to represent his or her country at the games. At the 2007 World Championships, several 14-year-olds, including the USA’s Ivana Hong, France’s Marine Petit and Japan’s Koko Tsurumi were allowed in because each be 16 by the end of 2008. The number of 15-year-olds who make an impact at international meets every year is beyond counting.

Junior international meets, while not necessarily indicative of who will be good once they reach the senior level, allow gymnasts to gain experience competing under pressure. Not only that, they get exposed themselves to international customs and friendships. Why Grandi would want to ban something so obviously beneficial seems extremely strange.

Grandi is already controversial for his outspoken stance on the current code of points. He was adament about shelving the perfect 10 system that was used before 2005 and still speaks favorably of the new system that seems to give difficulty an edge over execution.

“Gymnastics should not be framed by ‘a set mark ‘. The new scoring code is a way of encouraging athletes to challenge their courage and high-point.

“The increase of routine difficulty is a trend inevitable. This trend won’t change after the Beijing Olympics, but gymnastics is not acrobatics and keeps the traits of art and beauty in additional to competition,” commented Grandi, adding FIG won’t neglect the attraction of expressive force in the sport on its pursuit of difficulty.”

No comeback for Kupets

December 4, 2007

Difficulty Plus Execution reports via the University of Georgia that 2004 Olympian Courtney Kupets will not be attempting to qualify for the 2008 U.S. Olympic team.

2004 Olympian Courtney Kupets

But she did think about it, according to Gym Dogs coach Suzanne Yoculan.

“Our entire coaching staff supported Courtney during her deliberation concerning making another Olympic run and now respect her final decision not to try. The Georgia team has high expectations this upcoming season and we will look to Courtney for leadership.”

Whether or not Kupets really could have edged out Worley, Sacramone, Bieger, Hong, Sloan, Memmel, Peszek and everyone else who’s on the bubble for making the 2008 Olympic team seems kind of moot now. But one thing is clear: this girl only seems to get better with age.

Although she doesn’t perform all of her old difficulty, since coming to Georgia Kupets has added a toe-on Hindorff on uneven bars and a double layout dismount on that event, as well as a new mount combination of roundoff, layout stepout, back handspring, layout stepout on balance beam.

Few gymnasts seem to focus on learning new, more difficult skills in the NCAA — for many, college seems more about maintaining what you’ve got and watering down to make your routines cleaner.

Courtney Kupets, 2007 NCAA Championships Prelims, Uneven Bars: