Posts Tagged ‘John Geddert’

Should Jordyn Wieber compete at the American Cup?

January 14, 2009

Jordyn Wieber

Jordyn Wieber

News that the 13-year-old Junior U.S. champion will be making her (two years premature) senior debut at the American Cup next month in Chicago is turning some heads on two popular blogs.

2008 Olympian Bridget Sloan has also been confirmed as a competitor. The other two U.S. positions for the women’s competition have yet to be filled, although according to this article from the Los Angeles Times, the other women’s competitors will be Rebecca Downie (Great Britain), Koko Tsurumi (Japan), Ksenia Afanasyeva (Russia) and Jessica Lopez (Venezula and the University of Denver). That leaves two more (ostensibly U.S.) spots to be named.

Back to Wieber. The debate from commenters at Gymnastics Coaching and Triple Full includes these sentiments:

“I think [Wieber’s coach John Geddert’s] nuts… If she’s not going to be a senior for 2 two more years and he’s pushing her into a senior level comp this early? Nuts.”

“From what I have heard, the National Team Staff select the gymnasts to represent USA at certain meets. They can say no, but if they did they would be at the bottom of the list for a long time. That’s said to be why Melaine Sinclair and Kassi Price never made the teams that mattered.”

“I mean come on.. she can’t even compete as a senior! It’s just ridiculous…”

“Jordyn is one of the best in the US right now. Why shouldn’t she get the opportunity to compete. It’s not like the rules for junior meets are any different than senior meets.”

“USAG need a headliner for this meet. Bridget Sloan doesn’t fill the bill imo. They need to break the “next big thing” to get some attention.”

I’m not liking this. Seems to me that juniors should wait to compete at the AmCup until they get til senior status. I’d like to see Sloan, Lorthrop, Shaprio and Larson at the Cup.

Hmmm. If memory serves, the last super-young gymnast to compete at the American Cup was Kristal Uzelac of Parkette’s in 2001 (she would have been 14 at the time). Bianca Flohr of Cincinnati Gymnastics Academy competed in the preliminary round of the 2006 American Cup at 15. Uzelac had certainly proved that she deserved to be there — she was the two-time U.S. junior champion and being talked up as the next big thing.

It wasn’t her greatest competition. Uzelac was good on vault and floor but fell on beam on a Rulfova. Was she pushed into the senior ranks too soon? Maybe. In the long run her career fizzled because of injuries and burnout. Could those have been prevented by not training super difficult things at age 12? Maybe.

Then again, Nadia was at the inaugural American Cup (1976) at 14. And scored a 10 on floor.

Is this a good idea for Wieber? What do you think?

The Katie Teft retrospective

June 11, 2008

Katie TeftShergymrag pointed out in a comment that 2008 U.S. Junior champ Jordyn Wieber’s coach John Geddert also coached Olympic hopeful Katie Teft during the runup to the 1996 Games.

Teft’s breakthrough year really happened in 1995, when she (and to a greater extent a 13-year-old named Dominique Moceanu) made a splash at the Visa Invitational.

Teft had exceptional difficulty and extraordinary presentation for a 14-year-old. Check out this balance beam routine at the 1995 Olympic Test Event in the Georgia Dome. With her tumbling mount, dismount and flight series, this routine may have been more difficult than any member of the Mag 7’s beamwork in Atlanta.

Katie Teft, 1995 Olympic Test Event, Balance Beam:

Teft missed making the Olympic team by a pretty small margin. So what happened next? According to Gymnastics Greats

Katie pressed on with elite gymnastics, but in 1997 injuries caught up with her. Injuries were nothing knew to Katie. Prior to turning elite, she broke her ankles three separate times, and was later diagnosed with a calcium deficiency. In 1995, Katie suffered a herniated disc, and she reinjured the disc in 1997 on a fall from bars (ironically, bars is her best and favorite event). Due to her back injury, Katie took some time off the sport, returned to high school at Forest Hills Central High School, and began diving (a sport which did not aggravate her back injury like gymnastics).

Later in 1997, with her back injuries healed, Katie competed as a high school gymnast and won the Michigan state AA title, as well as the UB and BB titles. She recently returned to club competition, competing as a level ten at the Twistars Invitational. Katie has no intentions of returning to international elite gymnastics. Instead, she is setting her sights on college gymnastics, a more realistic goal due to her past back injuries.

Teft for Central Michigan University, with a fellow senior.Katie enrolled at the University of Massachusetts on a gymnastics scholarships in the fall of 1999. She competed for the U of M for three years, until they dropped their women’s program. She then transferred to the University of Central Michigan for her senior year. Competing for CMU, she qualified to the NCAA Championships as an individual qualifier on bars.

Too bad things didn’t work out for Teft as an elite. She was someone the U.S. desperately needed during those painful 1996-2000 years.

And if Geddert can create an athlete like that, Wieber’s in very good hands.